An ankle brace is often used to treat a twisted or sprained ankle. When an ankle is sprained it may swell, become stiff or tender, and may be painful to walk on. An ankle brace wraps around the ankle and uses compression to reduce swelling. It also provides stability by supporting the surrounding ligaments and muscles. An ankle brace is usually worn for a few weeks after a sprain, to help the foot function effectively while the ankle heals.
What to look for in ankle support
There are a few things to look for when choosing an ankle brace. For a mild sprain, an elastic bandage that wraps around the ankle may be all that is needed. Such a brace will compress the ankle to reduce swelling; however, it will not provide much support. For more severe sprains, additional support is necessary. In this case, look for a brace that completely surrounds the ankle and has a strap or laces that allow you to adjust the tightness of the brace.
Issues created by improper fit
It is important to find an ankle brace that fits properly and provides the right amount of support and compression. If an ankle sprain is mild, avoid using an ankle brace that is too restrictive. If the ankle is not able to move enough after a mild sprain, it may become weak and recovery will take longer.
Similarly, if an ankle sprain is severe, it is important to choose a brace that compresses the ankle and limits movement. If the ankle is able to move too much after a severe sprain, it may cause more damage and take longer to heal. Therefore, a brace used to treat a severe sprain should completely surround the ankle and have straps so the tightness of the brace can be adjusted. This will ensure that it provides enough stability.
If you're not sure what type of ankle brace will be most beneficial for you, consult Dr. Beach Davis
Best Walking Practices
Walking is a good form of exercise with many health benefits, including:
- Boosting energy.
- Helping to strengthen your bones.
- Helping your heart more circulate blood and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your organs.
- Reducing stress, which can produce a more restful night's sleep.
Doctors often recommend walking for 30 minutes, three times a week. However, if you have health problems or have not exercised in quite some time, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a walking exercise regimen.
Tips for proper walking
- Proper footwear: The first key to proper walking is wearing comfortable shoes. Walking shoes should have arch support and allow enough room for the toes to wiggle, but they should not pinch or rub. Socks should be worn to protect the feet and keep them dry. Synthetic socks are best because they dry quickly and keep moisture away from the foot. Some socks also have a padded heel for additional support.
- Warm up: When beginning a walk, it is important to warm up by walking at a slow pace for the first five minutes. By allowing your muscles to warm up prior to starting a more rigorous pace, you can reduce your risk of injury.
- Walking posture: Throughout the walk be sure to maintain good posture and breathe naturally. Your neck and shoulders should be relaxed and your torso should be upright with abs tightened and elbows at 90 degrees. Keep your arms close to your body and swing them forward and backward, but do not let your hands cross your body as this will slow you down.
- Proper stride: When you walk, your heel should make contact with the ground first and you should roll your weight through the center of your foot to your toe and then push off from the toe to take your next step. Try to keep an even stride and a steady pace. You can increase your speed, but do so gradually. When increasing your pace, focus on using the flexibility in your hips to take quicker steps as opposed to longer strides.
- Cool down: Be sure to finish your workout with a cool down by walking at a slow pace for about five minutes. A cool down can help to prevent muscle soreness and injuries.
- Pain awareness: If you feel pain at any time during your walk, slow down or stop walking until the pain subsides. Do not fight through the pain, as it may be a sign of an injury and continuing to walk can make the condition worse. If the pain persists or is severe, contact your doctor.
After-walk home care
After a walk, it is important to take a few minutes to stretch. Stretching can help to improve flexibility and prevent injuries. If your feet are sweaty, either change into a clean, dry pair of socks, or wash and dry your feet. Also, be sure to check your feet for any blisters or sores you may have gotten while walking, and treat them appropriately.
If your feet are swollen, soak them in warm water for five minutes and then in cool water for another five minutes. This should help to relax the feet and reduce swelling. For sore or tired feet, a foot massage can help relieve tension. Lotion can also be applied to prevent dry skin.
Proper Shoes for Activities
The key to enhancing performance and preventing injuries in athletics and day-to-day physical activities is to wear proper-fitting shoes. It is important to find shoes that not only feel comfortable, but also protect your feet.
Choosing between different types of athletic shoes and sneakers can be difficult. Shoes come in different designs, materials, and weights. Every shoe design is distinct; shoes are designed to protect the areas of the feet that receive the most stress and impact during physical activities. Since every sport requires a different type of movement, it is important to find a shoe designed specifically for one particular activity.
What to look for
There is a reason shoes are labeled as running shoes, walking shoes, tennis shoes, soccer shoes, aerobics shoes, or cross-trainers; each of these types of shoes has a unique design. While it is not uncommon for people to utilize a single pair of sneakers for multiple types of activities, it is always best to find a shoe that it suited for the right activity.
Here are some tips to help you match your shoes to a particular physical activity:
- Walking - Walking shoes should have good shock absorption, smooth tread, and a flexible sole that encourages rolling of the feet.
- Running - Running shoes should be light with added cushioning, flexibility, and stability in the heel.
- Court Shoes - Basketball, tennis, and volleyball shoes should have good ankle support and a thick sole.
- Field Sports - Soccer, football, softball, and baseball shoes are usually cleated or studded. These shoes must provide good traction. Ankle support is important for those with weak ankles or those that have repetitive injuries
- Hiking - Hiking shoes should have plenty of room in the toe box, a thick sole, and strong ankle support.
- Track and Field - Track and field shoes vary depending on the type of race being run. There are different shoes to fit different gaits and training styles.
Issues created by improper shoe fit
Many serious foot conditions are caused by one thing – poorly fitting or inappropriate footwear. Shoes that do not fit properly can cause:
Inappropriate shoe wear can lead to:
- Ankle sprains.
- Heel pain.
- Other painful foot disorders.
- Shin splints.
For example, running shoes are designed to support the foot as it moves forward heel-to-toe with extra cushioning on the heel and ball of the foot. On the other hand, aerobics shoes and cross-trainers are designed to support side-to-side movements. It is usually acceptable to wear cross-trainers when running, but wearing running shoes to an aerobics class can lead to serious foot and ankle injuries. The best way to avoid injury is to make sure the shoe you select is designed for your chosen activity.