When asked what the most stable joint is in the leg, most would not respond with the “the ankle joint.” However, this small joint made up of only three bones coming together is extremely stable and can even support up to five times our body weight! Yet, in the United States, the number of ankle sprain injuries per year is in the hundreds of thousands. With as little as a 1 millimeter displacement of the bones, the stability of this joint may drop by 42 percent! This drastically decreases our ability to use this joint to its full-motion capabilities and potentially results in progressive damage and abnormal gait patterns. How do we protect this extremely important joint?
While shoes may be an important fashion statement, they should also serve in protecting your foot and ankle. Finding the right pair of shoes for your daily or athletic needs can prove very challenging. Keeping the 3 rules of stability in mind can help narrow down your choices in finding the best shoe!
Shoes should only:
■ Bend where the toes bend
■ Have a stiff back and sole
■ Only slightly twist when you hold the shoe at the heel and at the toes
Stretching is critical to ensure muscle strength and proper alignment and functionality of our extremities. Use it or lose it!
■ Try stretching out your gastrocnemius-soleus complex. Do each of these stretches for at least 60 seconds a few times a day.
■These two muscles are incredibly important, because the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles connect and become your achilles tendon; a major component of both ankle and foot integrity. To see more stretches visit our At Home Video page here or our YouTube page here.
Ankle injuries are common and are one of the most common problems addressed by podiatrist. If you experience an ankle injury we recommend P.R.I.C.E. :
■ Protection: boot or ankle brace with limited weight bearing
■ Rest: Decreased activity and stress on the ankle
■ Ice: cold therapy helps reduce swelling and pain
■ Compression: Ace bandage, compression sleeve, or compression stockings help reduce swelling and decreases healing time
■ Elevation: Reduces pooling of fluid in the injured ankle. Reduced swelling and pain
If you experience an ankle injury or have recurrent ankle pain and/or swelling consider making an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists. It is much better to properly evaluate and treat an ankle injury to reduce recurrence and help prevent further damage.