In honor of the Olympics and in solidarity with all you Houstonians inspired to try your hand at cold-weather sports, I’ll be offering you winter sport safety tips all this week. Yesterday we talked about some of the injury risks facing Olympic figure skaters like Ashley Wagner (and the rest of us), so today I’m going to share some ways that skaters (ice and roller) can protect their feet.
Ice skating is one of the hardest sports on your feet and ankles because the surface you land on as you jump, turn and glide is literally hard as ice. The only thing between your feet and that rock solid surface is a little boot and blade, so my first tip is to make sure that boot fits perfectly. In addition to picking the right size, you may want to skate with a custom orthotic so that your arch receives the support it needs as you try your new moves.
Why is fit so important? A tight boot can cause pain and numbness. If your boot is too large, however, you may clench your toes to keep your boot in place, putting pressure on your big toe. You might also tie your laces extra tight to make up for a roomy skate, and that can put pressure on your Achilles tendon, which, as we discussed yesterday, can cause you to develop heel spurs in addition to other problems.
Another concern for figure skaters is stress fractures, an injury that is the result of repetitive impact on the same bone. Anyone who has ever skated knows that the only way to land that new jump is to try it again and again and again; without taking proper care, this is the exact type of training regimen that could lead to stress fractures. Skaters can avoid this injury by resting after a day of hard training; if you see any swelling in your foot or ankle, ice and elevate it and take a day off to prevent further damage to the area.
In addition to hazards that may come up while skating, some pre-existing foot conditions may affect your ability to enjoy the sport. If you have a bunion, for example, you should talk to your Houston podiatrist before you get fitted for skates so we can make sure your favorite sport doesn’t make things worse for your feet.
With any sport, injuries to your feet and ankles are a real risk. If you experience any discomfort when ice skating, come see me at Tanglewood Foot Specialists so you can keep doing what you love without risking injuries.