Ankle Injury Prevention
Steep slopes with vast fields of flat gray rock, loosened and unstable, rise from plush green meadows. The draw of the challenge pulls on my desire to explore and adventure beyond the typical. Dangers associated with the trek before me are part of the appeal. In the cool morning breeze, I bend and snug my grip tight laces bonding my boot with my appendage. The road ahead is far less traveled and far more beautiful.
Ankle care should never be an afterthought for someone who spends a lot of time on the trail. Each joint in the body was designed for a specific purpose. Your ankle has the job of mobility and weight distribution from your entire body down to your foot. Just think of all the wonderful articulation of the ankle. Swiveling, turning, lifting, and flexing all so you may traverse the wonderful rock fields high atop majestic mountains. In such an environment moving from point A to point B with an injury can be troublesome.
Common ankle injuries acquired while hiking are twists and sprains. When an injury occurs we are not really damaging the bones but rather the soft tissue associated in joining the leg and foot. Ligaments hold to the bones and can be damaged by extreme and sudden movements. Stepping into a whole or sliding on a rock can easily cause this injury. The immediate pain tells you that you have made a mistake.
Should such a wound occur some speedy steps including rest and ice will prevent further injury. Icy cold waters from a mountain spring in the early part of the year and even some snow pack on occasion have saved my ankle on many a trip. In severe cases, medical attention should be sought. I always carry my camping hammock on my treks. The hammock is not only useful for an afternoon rest while reading a good book and giving the ole’ feet a break, but has use as a makeshift stretcher or travois. However, you know the saying, an ounce of prevention.
Start each hike with some simple stretches, pointing your toes away from and then flexing back toward your body can be done while lying in bed. Ankle rolls and calf stretches limber and loosens soft tissue. A daily exercise routine is also beneficial, and it doesn't have to be extravagant. A few sets of stair steps, a stroll around the block, and some ankle lifts strengthen the body preparing it for your next adventure.
A good pair of boots combined with your grip tight laces makes for a strong and secure combo. Ankle support at the three-quarter level has always been sufficient for my style of hiking. Use your best judgment and your personal preference for your environment. A big advantage my grip tight no tie laces have over standard laces is the ability to provide support while simultaneously providing flexibility.
A few parting thoughts, keep yourself hydrated and maintain a healthy diet including plenty of omega-3s. Bear in mind a good massage never hurt anyone, you can chalk it up to body maintenance. Plan ahead and prepare, enjoy every step, and share your adventures with friends and family.