Winter Olympic Sports Test the Limits of Athletes' Feet and Ankles

The main thing that really separates the Winter Olympics from the Summer Olympics is the extreme danger that many of these sports present to the athletes. With events such as Alpine downhill skiing, luge, ski jumping, and skeleton, athletes find themselves going at speeds over 90 mph, being at heights of over 50 feet, and traveling in the air over the length of a football field.

The one thing that many of the winter sports have in common is the athlete going from extreme heights to ground level in a matter of seconds. Even if the athlete is on skis, a snowboard or figure skates, the amount of pressure that is put on the foot and ankle during landing can be disastrous if anything goes wrong.

It's not only landing from a height that is challenging for winter athletes but also the conditions they are forced to land in. Take pairs figure skating for example; female skaters are thrown in to the air spinning and then attempt to land on one leg wearing a 1/8 inch blade. The physics of these throws makes them very hard to land and if not done properly can lead to terrible ankle sprains or fractures.

Although many of the Winter Olympic sports put athletes at high risk of injury, only some of these sports are prone to increased ankle and foot injuries due to the different types of equipment and protection that are used. Figure skating is a winter sport with one of the highest incidences of ankle sprains, while skiing and snowboarding offer more protection to the ankle due to the heaver barrier provided by the boots.

The Winter Olympics are truly amazing to watch because these athletes participate in sports that are not as commonly accessible to everyone as are sports in the Summer Olympics like running or swimming. Although these sports may seem cool to watch it is important to remember that they are trained athletes and that injuries are very common to not only beginners but also to Olympians.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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