Your ankles, and indeed the rest of your feet, are probably not parts of your body that you pay much attention to the health of! However, if you do not maintain strength and function in this area of your body then you can quickly feel the impact and consequences.

Once the health of your ankles and feet becomes compromised you are at risk of having your mobility affected, and this can of course hinder your independence. As well as preventing you from moving around with total freedom, ankle and feet issues can also make it difficult for you to do things like stand up to cook for yourself, or take yourself to the bathroom. You will also be much less able to exercise if you do not have a normal level of mobility.

If you are aware of an existing issue in this area then it is essential that you take steps to begin the healing process. Many people simply ignore the problem until it gets progressively worse. They may even find that they are unable to walk properly before they seek medical help! This is of course not ideal and should be avoided where possible. 

If you are not currently experiencing any pain or impaired function when it comes to walking then that’s great - but it’s still important that you pay attention to this aspect of your overall health.

Common Ankle and Feet Problems

The following are common conditions that can be of detriment to the health of your ankles and feet.

Sprains

When the ligaments that surround the ankle become damaged then this is known as an ankle sprain. This usually happens when this joint is twisted or turned in a sudden or unnatural way. Not only can this be incredibly painful, but it can also impede the natural range of motion that you would usually enjoy. 

You can generally treat an ankle sprain at home with painkillers and an ample amount of rest. 

Achilles Tendinitis

The Achilles tendon is actually the biggest tendon in the body! It is the tendon that attaches the muscle from the calf to the heel, and it can become inflamed if you overuse it. This is something that athletes are more prone to than your average person, however, it can also occur if you do not warm up properly before exercise, if you wear poorly fitting shoes, and can also develop naturally as you enter your senior years. When Achilles tendonitis presents then you are likely to notice pain and swelling in the ankle area.  

Treatment of Achilles tendonitis ranges from painkillers, to anti-inflammatory medications to surgery - depending on how serious the diagnosis is.  

Bunions

Bunions are a type of deformity that occurs on the joint at the base of the big toe. If the big toe begins to increasingly point towards the other toes then this could be a sign that a bunion has developed. The skin around your big toe may become sore and you might also find it difficult to fit comfortably into your existing footwear. 

Treatment for bunions can be both surgical and non-surgical.

Preventing Common Problems

Some of the aforementioned problems are difficult to prevent, but in order to preserve and boost the health of your ankles and feet it is important to stay active.

Stretching

Stretching is incredibly important and is something that you should do every day for a few minutes at least. It is especially important to do so before and after exercise, and also at points throughout your workout where possible.

When you do not stretch an adequate amount then your muscles can begin to contract and this can then mean that they do not work properly. Stretching the ankles and feet means that they are better able to retain their flexibility.

Weight Bearing Exercise

This type of exercise encourages the growth of new bone cells which is great for the overall health of your bones. Weight bearing activities are defined as those that force your body to work against gravity, such as walking up stairs, hiking, skipping rope and even walking!

Body Weight and Bone Health

Maintaining a healthy body weight is key for protecting the health of many of the joints in the body, not least of all your ankle joints. When you walk you are relying on your ankles and your feet to take the strain of your body weight, and this can cause stress in the area over time if you are carrying too much weight.

if you are finding it difficult to lose weight by improving your diet and increasing the amount of exercise that you do then consult with your GP.

Fashion and Your Feet

Comfortable shoes are not always the most fashionable, and this may deter you from making sensible footwear choices. Choosing comfort over style as often as possible is important because you can do harm to your feet when you opt for non-supportive footwear. The optimum health of your body should always be your priority, and choosing shoes that are pain-free and well-fitting is essential! 

References

1) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/maintaining-independence-dont-overlook-foot-and-ankle-health

2) https://www.healthline.com/health/ankle-sprain#overview1