Supportive Shoes Help Prevent Foot Injury: Specialized Physical Therapy in Denver
By Becky Kellogg, MSPT

Exercise, including walking, jogging, and hiking, is good for us on many levels. However, we want to be sure and be prepared for any different activities in order to avoid injury. A huge factor to consider, in any weight-bearing exercise, is foot and ankle stability. Every time you take a step, a chain of events begins at your foot and works its way up your body.

Giving your feet and ankles the right support for different activities can greatly decrease the chance of pain or dysfunction including ankle sprains and Achilles tendonitis, as well as issues in the knees, hips and lower back. Optimal support for the feet and ankles comes from choosing the
right footwear for your activity, as well as exercises for strength, balance and flexibility.

Summer means flip-flops, bare feet and sandals. While perfect for showing off painted toenails, none of these are good options for any extended period of time on your feet, especially exercise. For walking and/or jogging in town, a good lace-up shoe that has good heel and arch support is important. The support that your foot and ankle needs increases as the impact of the activity and
challenge of the terrain increases.

Hiking or running on a trail of uneven surfaces, rocky terrain and hilly ascents/ descents is definitely more challenging for the body. A sturdy lace-up boot is a good option for hiking. Preparing for more outdoor recreation with a little training can also go a long way in avoiding injury. Lower extremity strength, stability, flexibility and balance are good things to work on consistently. Especially on more challenging, unpredictable mountain terrain, having good stability and proprioception is important.

Try these simple exercises to improve your balance and strengthen your ankles and legs. You can perform them just about anywhere in a little time and gain a big impact. You’ll be better prepared for activity and decrease your risk of injury.

1. Lunge stretch. Leaning hands into counter or wall, push one leg straight behind you, reaching heel toward the ground. You should feel a stretch in the back of the leg and calf. Hold for 20 seconds; perform twice on each side.

2. Single leg balance. Stand on one leg, maintaining a level pelvis and tall posture. Hold for 30 seconds; perform three times on each side. If you have a hard time with balance, do this next to a counter for safety and keep eyes open and focused.

3. Standing calf raises. Lift heels off of ground, pushing into both sides of the ball of your foot, not letting your ankle sink in or out. Perform three sets of 10. Make sure you have no pain with any of these exercises, and remember that quality of exercise always comes before quantity, so practice good form and posture.

Remember that physical therapists are highly skilled in assessing pain and dysfunction in the feet and ankles. These exercises represent only a few potential treatment ideas. If you suffer from lower-extremity problems, or have questions about prevention, schedule an appointment so we can create a treatment plan for your needs.