The best ways to avoid foot and ankle injury

By Andrew Goldberg OBE

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon at The Wellington Hospital and Elstree Waterfront Outpatients Centre, part of HCA Healthcare UK.

Foot and ankle injuries are among the most frequently occurring musculoskeletal problems in women. Damage usually occurs when the muscles around the lower leg, foot and ankle are weak and unstable, causing the ankle to twist, rock and give way. This is particularly common when walking or exercising on uneven surfaces, or in potentially unstable shoes, like stilettos.

The good news is, there are many ways you can strengthen these muscles to help prevent against injury. I have provided an overview of my top tips and advice for people who have re-occurring foot and ankle pain and want to protect themselves against future injury.

Exercise your foot and ankle muscles

The best way to strengthen the muscles in the foot and ankle is to exercise them on a regular basis. Training the muscles in your feet and ankles ensure they get stronger and sturdier.

A good way to test if your ankles are weak is to stand on tip toes and close your eyes. If your ankles wobble, exercise may be the answer.

Jumping from foot to foot on a mini trampoline for 10 minutes every day is an excellent exercise to help fire the muscles around the foot and ankle. If you don’t have access to a trampoline, try something like picking up a sock using your toes, then drop it. Repeat with each foot 20 times, once a day. 

Build your core strength

Having good core stability is extremely important when it comes to injury prevention. People who have a strong core are less predisposed to foot and ankle injuries. This is similar to a tree with a strong trunk, but its branches move in the wind. If your core is weak, this puts more stress on the ligaments and tendons around the ankle predisposing to injury such as ankle sprains.

Sitting at a desk all day weakens the core muscles, especially important for people who have a sedentary job during the week but are extremely active at the weekend. They are clearly at high risk of injury as their bodies may not be ready for the insult of the exercise.

Pilates, particularly using a reformer, is great exercise for strengthening the core and also the muscles around the foot and ankle. 

Avoid exercising without the appropriate footwear

I see many patients who have sustained a foot or ankle injury due to inappropriate footwear when exercising. An Achilles tendon injury is common in runners. Trainers must be well fitting, comfortable with a good shock absorbing sole. Arch supports can help prevent pro-nation (collapse of the foot arches) but are not appropriate for everyone. 

Get the best advice on which trainers to wear

  • If you are a regularly exercise or starting a new fitness hobby, make sure you go to a reputable sports shop for advice on the best trainers to wear. Consider having a physiotherapist, or trainer, watch the way you run or train to ensure optimum performance and prevent injury. To book an appointment with Mr Andrew Goldberg at The Wellington Hospital or Elstree Waterfront Outpatients Centre call 0207 483 5148.

    Mr Andrew Goldberg is part of The Foot and Ankle Unit at The Wellington Hospital that includes Mr Simon Moyes, and Mr Mark Herron.