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Foot And Ankle Injuries From Falling vs Running – 7 Facts

Ankle Injuries

There are two primary types of injuries that can affect the foot and the ankle. There are those that are a result of sudden trauma, such as falling, tripping or otherwise instantly injuring the area or those that are a result of overuse that often gradually develop over time. The latter type is commonly found in runners, although they can occur in just about anyone who walks or runs regularly.

Because it can be difficult to determine what type of injury may be affecting a foot or ankle, we’ve put together 7 facts to make the distinguishing process a little easier:

1. A Sprain isn’t Always Just a Sprain: There are two types of sprains that can affect the ligaments in the foot, acute and chronic. Rolling the ankle or jumping and landing harshly can cause a sprain, but there are also varying grades of sprains to consider as well. A grade 1 injury can cause discomfort, but usually resolves quickly and involves no permanent ligament damage, whereas a grade 3 injury involves a completely torn ligament or permanent stretching. These types of ankle injuries are often overlooked and ignored, and since some can be serious, they can lead to permanent weakness in the foot.

2. Sprains Aren’t Always Trauma Related: When most people think of a sprained ankle, they think of a single action that has led to an injury, such as tripping and falling. However, chronic sprains can develop from overuse or leaving minor sprains without proper treatment. Although typically treatable, some types of chronic sprains may require surgical repair.

3. Some Serious Injuries Mimic Minor Injuries: In the example of some types of damage to the midfoot area, an injury to the ligaments or bones found here in the lisfranc region can quite oftentimes present symptoms that are nearly identical to everyday sprains. Falling or twisting the foot can stretch the ligaments found here and even dislocate bones. It’s important that these types of injuries be evaluated promptly by a healthcare provider and may require surgery or a very lengthy healing process.

4. Foot Structure Matters: Although there is no single rule of the thumb, basic generalizations may make it easier to determine who may be more likely to encounter foot and ankle injuries as a result of running. For instance, those who have high arches may lack the shock absorption capacity of those with more cushioning support. However, underwhelming arches may pose a problem still, although opposite in nature.

5. Athletes are at Double the Risk: While not true for all sports, some athletes are at risk for a much greater variety of ankle injuries. For instance, those involved in sports like soccer are at risk for acute injuries from falling or tripping as well as those related to overuse. This information is useful because it emphasizes the importance of prompt evaluation following an incident, whether related to soccer injuries or any other sport that involves lots of running, jumping or kicking. From tendinitis to broken bones, sports can lead to a wide variety of foot and ankle injuries.

6. Not all Injuries Involve Breaks and Tears: Whether from running or falling or something in between, there are underlying causes of foot and ankle injuries that can either weaken the foot or ankle substantially and increase injury risk or serve as injuries of their own. One example of this is Achilles’ tendon bursitis, a condition characterized by joint pain and inflammation that affects the bursa located where the Achilles’ tendon attaches to the heel.

7. The Toes Get Hurt, Too: When most people think about injuries and overuse problems that affect the foot and ankles, they tend to focus on the heels and midfoot area. Surprisingly, the toes are subject to both overuse damage and sudden injury, too. Toes can be broken during periods of heavy activity, but can also succumb to years of being jammed into running shoes by displaying bleeding under the nails or ingrown nails as a result of the repeated actions. While foot and ankle injuries remain the most common, the toes are also regularly injured during physical activity.

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