Does Your New Year’s Resolution Include Getting Healthy and Exercising More?

Warning: Don’t Overdo It!

Are you one of the millions of Americans who will resolve to exercise more in the New Year? If so, take my advice and take it slowly. Too much activity too quickly can cause a multitude of foot and ankle problems, especially overuse injuries. In January, we tend to see a trend in these types of injuries…don’t become a statistic!

Plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and stress fractures are the most common overuse injuries of the foot and ankle. These can be avoided by remembering to include a stretching protocol prior to your workout and following the ‘rule of tens’ by not increasing your exercise amount by more than ten percent per week.

Let’s take a look at the 3 most common overuse injuries:

1. Stress fractures happen with a sudden increase in physical activity. Stress fractures appear as tiny cracks in the bone surface and frequently occur in the metatarsal bones of the foot. Pain is the typical symptom of a stress fracture; it may be sudden or it may gradually increase over several days. Swelling of the foot and lower leg may also occur. This can be easily diagnosed with an x-ray right in your podiatrist’s office.

2. Achilles tendonitis may occur when rapidly increasing running mileage or speed, starting up too quickly after a layoff, or when adding hill running or stair climbing to a training routine. Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include the following: mild pain after exercise that gradually worsens; a sense of sluggishness in the leg; episodes of diffuse or localized pain, sometimes severe, along the tendon during or after exercise; morning tenderness above the point where the Achilles tendon is attached to the heel; and stiffness and swelling or pain in the back of the heel where the tendon attaches to the bone.

3. Plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the arch or heel area of the foot, typically starts with mild heel pain. The pain classically occurs with the first step in the morning. The pain gradually worsens if not treated promptly.

The best way to avoid these foot and ankle injuries is to know your limits and to follow a sensible program when exercising. Preventative measures include:

  Select the proper footwear for the specific type of exercise

  Start out slowly when beginning an exercise program following a layoff period

  Walk and stretch to warm up gradually before running or walking

  Focus on stretching and strengthening the muscles in the calf

  Increase running or walking distance and speed gradually, in increments no greater than 10% per week

  Avoid unaccustomed strenuous sprinting

  Take the time to cool down properly after exercise

By adhering to these simple measures you may avoid painful overuse ankle injuries and achieve success with your New Year’s resolution!

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