Lifestyle

4 Daily Habits That Hurt Your Ankles


HHere’s a similar example for you: If your body is a baseball diamond, your foot and ankle complex is the primary base. As such, you cannot win in life if they are not healthy and functioning optimally. However, there are some daily habits that hurt your ankles and you may not even know that they are causing harm.

Bottom line: “We needed a steady foundation to go back to as our primary base,” says physical therapist Emily Tomlinson, DPT, co-founder of Threes Physiyoga, a fitness platform that combines yoga with physical therapy principles. “Our ankles play a really important role in holding our entire body and lining it up on that stable foundation. They’re also really important in our feedback on position. position of our bodies in space. They help us adapt.”

So, for example, says Dr. Tomlinson, if we’re on an uneven surface, the input our brains get through our ankles helps us keep our bodies upright. “If we slip a step, the information we get from the ankle joint helps us align the rest of our body so we don’t fall,” she says.

In addition, our ankles play an important part in daily movements. “It has a role in our ability to adapt when stepping off the curb, but it also has a huge role in our ability to step onto the curb, climb up and down stairs, get up from a chair. or sit down in our sitting position. chair,” said Dr. Tomlinson. “It has a role in effective walking. It has a role in efficient running. It even has a role in the ability to lift something off the ground or squat to pick something up. That’s ours. So yes, we count on our ankle joints for all the activities that we do throughout the day.”

Because we can use our ankles so often without thinking much about them, people often adopt daily habits that compromise the integrity of the ankle joint and prevent it from happening. optimal movement. These behaviors may not lead to injury, but they can affect our movement patterns over time.

“If we lose the adaptability, flexibility and stability of the ankle joint, then other joints in the body will try to continue to work sluggishly,” says Dr. Tomlinson. “So we might have knee pain, foot pain, or toe pain—or even hip pain or back pain. But if we could raise awareness of how we move throughout the day, we can certainly help support a healthier, more adaptable ankle joint.”

Below, Dr. Tomlinson shares four daily habits that hurt your ankles, and simple adjustments she says can help you maintain a solid base at home.

1. Uneven weight change

This is someone who often leans on one hip, standing on one foot more than the other. “You are increasing the load on one side,” says Dr. Tomlinson. “So you’re putting extra stress and strain on the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments of that ankle.”

Dr Tomlinson says it also changes the way we distribute forces and loads throughout the body. “It’s all to one side or mostly to one side—that’s a lot of wear and tear,” she says, “and that impact goes all the way to the lower extremities and even into the trunk of the hip. , the rest of the body.”

Her correction: “Consciously distribute the load evenly between the legs,” she says. Whether you’re brushing your teeth or making a cup of tea, take a moment to check: Are you leaning to the side or evenly dividing your weight between your legs?

2. Put extra load on the outside of your foot

“I often see this in younger women because they can be a little more flexible so they’re looking for stability by lying on the little toe side of the foot,” says Dr. Tomlinson. “And that puts extra stress and strain on the ligaments that are most commonly sprained in the ankle. We’re over-stretching the muscle.”

Tomlinson says this habit often goes hand in hand with overextending the knee, which also puts unnecessary pressure on that joint. And while she says most people engage in these two behaviors because they’re looking for stability, both end up having the opposite effect.

Her tweak: “landing through the big toe,” says Dr. Tomlinson. This will balance the load more evenly in the feet.

3. Toe clip

“These are people who are constantly flexing the toes,” says Dr. Tomlinson, “and again they are looking for stability, but that causes very rigid feet and ankles.” Over time, she says, gripping our toes changes our ability to have an adaptive ankle—essential for navigating uneven surfaces and everyday movements— at the same time it disrupts the lines of communication that tell us where our bodies are in space.

Dr Tomlinson said: “Wearing flip-flops encourages this bad habit, as we have to grip our sandals tightly when walking. “So we’re overworked, we’re overusing those toes, we’re not sharing the load past the ankle.”

Dr. Tomlinson’s tweak: “The first is awareness and relaxation of the toes, then the second adjustment is manual movement: Use your hands or massage ball to roll the foot out and bring it back. more mobility through the toes, feet and ankles.”

4. Wearing high heels

According to Dr. Tomlinson, wearing heels that are an inch and a half higher puts you in a very rigid foot and ankle position — and that’s the most common position for ankle sprains. “So we prepared ourselves for an unstable ankle position when wearing heels,” she says. “Then we ask our legs to work harder to find stability.”

That doesn’t mean you should never wear heels. “My message is certainly not to never wear heels or flip-flops,” says Dr. Tomlinson. “It’s that you need to take care of your feet and ankles if you wear them.”

Her tip: roll out and straighten your feet and ankles before and after wearing heels. “It restores mobility in your feet and then also stretches the larger muscles in the calves,” she says. You can do it manually or with a massage ball, foam roller, or percussion massager. “Your body has to work harder to keep you safe and stable,” says Dr. Tomlinson. So giving it some extra TLC seems only fair.

Making these small adjustments to your daily behavior can help you avoid ankle injuries, but if you really want extra credit, you’ll want to incorporate foot and ankle exercises. foot into your exercise routine to make sure you get what Dr. Tomlinson calls a vigorous movement diet. “We wanted to move in different planes,” she said. “We wanted to change the weight in a different way; we wanted to rotate to create an adaptive, mobile, and stable ankle joint.” That way you will have all your facilities covered.

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