For many, winter means snow adventures! Don’t let winter warrior foot injuries put a damper on all the fun, outdoor winter activities you have planned. Here’s what you need to know about winter-related foot injuries and how you can minimize your risk.
Overuse, a bad fall, or ill-fitting footwear when skiing, skating, or snowboarding can increase the risk for tendinitis or ankle sprains. These conditions cause damage to the injured tendons, ligaments, and nerve fibers, and lead to swelling, bruising, pain, and even some degree of immobility. To minimize your risk, make sure your skis or skate boots fit properly – not too tight and not too loose – and that the bindings/laces are correctly adjusted and secure.
Stress fractures are commonly an overuse injury when the bones of the foot are exposed to chronic stress overload. These chronic stressors include a rapid increase in an activity’s intensity or prolonged substantial activity – involving winter activities, both sports and non-sports related, that put a lot of burden on the feet. Stress fractures are easily treatable with simple immobilization, using a cast or walking boot. But timely diagnosis is vital to prevent further and more severe injuries, as well as more prolonged treatment.
So-called because it commonly affects snowboarders, the condition is characterized by an ankle fracture, which could either be a simple non-displaced fracture or a more severe break or multiple breaks in the ankle bone. Snowboarder’s ankle can be caused by incorrect twisting, turning, or rolling of the ankle, or by excessive impact such as from a bad fall. Ankle fractures are often mistaken for ankle sprains, which delay proper treatment and lead to further injury. Simple non-displaced fractures are treated with immobilization of the injured ankle; more serious breaks often require surgery and attachment of hardware to the broken bone/s.
First aid and at-home treatment for mild injuries follow the Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation technique – or RICE. With more severe injuries, this should be followed up with a visit to a podiatrist or general practitioner, or to the emergency room.
Before going off on your winter adventure, and during your activity, keep in mind the following:
Outdoor winter activities undoubtedly take the dreariness out of the season and make it more fun and exciting instead. But don’t forget to take precautions and to properly prepare your body to avoid injury.