It’s a new year! Time to set a new personal goal!
(But really, even if it’s May and you’re reading this, who cares? Set a new goal anyway. There’s no bad time!)
Good for you if you’ve set a goal to increase your fitness or just get out and move more. No matter when you start, increasing your physical activity can have very big benefits for you now and well into your future.
However (you probably saw this coming)…
The ways in which you approach your activity goals can mark a difference between hitting your milestones and falling to the wayside with a painful sports injury. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out or have already been around the track a few times; an injury is more likely to happen to anyone who doesn’t pay their body’s needs enough heed.
Brook Valley Podiatry is here to help anyone who is suffering from sprains, heel pain, or a host of other problems that can result from sports injuries. Sometimes you just can’t prevent them from happening.
But we also hate to see anyone’s goals get waylaid or dashed by injuries as well, and would rather you avoid them altogether when you can. Following are a few tips on preparing yourself for great returns with lower risks to your feet and ankles.
Give Your Body Time
Our bodies are wonderful creations because they adapt to the stresses placed upon them.
If you drive a car into the ground, it’s going to stay busted until you repair it (or the rental agency repairs it).
When we place stress on our bones and muscles and break them down, they will actually rebuild all by themselves. They come back stronger and better able to bear the demands we place upon them. That’s what working out and training are all about!
However, our bodies are not invincible. If we go too hard, too fast or make our bodies endure repetitive stress without enough recovery time, the odds of suffering an injury rise.
For our feet, these kinds of risks can take several forms:
- Deciding to break out into a dead sprint without warming up.
- Hitting the field or court as a “weekend warrior” and playing at a higher intensity than your body is used to.
- Running every day without taking days off to rest or cross-train other areas.
Such stresses can lead to injuries ranging from plantar fasciitis to Achilles tendinitis to stress fractures. They will slow your progress down a great deal (and trying to ignore them will make things even worse!).
To help guard yourself against overuse, commit to the following:
- Warm up before getting active. Whether it’s a big run or a friendly soccer match, get your body ready to go. Perform a mix of static stretches as well as a bit of light jogging and movement before you begin. This will help ensure your feet and legs are prepared to handle sudden shifts in intensity. We can help you determine what kinds of warm-ups would benefit you most.
- Gradually increase your intensity. Your workout goals must be realistic. Push yourself too hard and you are much more likely to have a blowout. Be patient with yourself and set your goals to an increase of no more than 10 percent intensity per week. That can be 10% more distance, 10% more time, 10% more weight—whatever you are working on.
- Listen to your body. Remember that 10 percent is a guideline. There may be time or situations where even 10 percent is too much, or things just don’t feel right. If you feel things are too much, you are much better off dialing your increase back a bit than trying to push through.
Have the Right Shoes for the Job
Committing to an activity goal and then running out in your same old everyday shoes is a big no-no.
Having shoes that don’t conform to the needs of your feet in action can mean you don’t have the right support when you need it. That, in turn, can lead to pain.
Shoes are designed for a variety of sports and pursuits. Even shoes made for a specific sport will have different varieties depending on what position or style you play. Basketball shoes, for example, can be lower tops for speed or higher tops for greater ankle stability.
Such a large amount of choices can feel daunting, but many places are happy to offer you help. A specialty store for sports and running will have trained associates that know what kinds of footwear are best for certain goals and needs.
In addition to the activity itself, you must also consider the structure of your foot. For some, an abnormality in foot shape (such as high arches or flat feet) can cause gait conditions (e.g. overpronation) and an excess amount of stress to be placed upon certain areas of the foot. This can lead to heel pain and other problems over time, even if you are using good technique.
In instances when arch problems are at play, a custom-made orthotic insert can add important cushioning and correction where a standard shoe might not. Not only can this provide more comfort and safety; in some cases it can provide a slight boost in performance by helping the body expend less energy on remaining stable!
Take Care of Current Problems Now!
If you have active goals, but are already suffering from foot or ankle pain, odds are high you won’t be able to “walk it off.” In fact, you may risk chronic pain and instability by pushing already injured or irritated parts!
By addressing your problems before you start, you can ensure you are heading out at your best, most comfortable stride. We’re happy to help you now and as you work toward your goals!
Call our Spring Valley office at (845) 352-7507 to schedule an appointment. If you prefer to reach us electronically, you can fill out our online form instead.