Ankle Strains and Twists

Six Tips from Winter Runners for Preventing Ankle Strains and Twists

Brian S. Winters, MD February 26th, 2018

Learn from the best: The tips from winter runners may keep the rest of us safe in winter weather, too.

Any winter activity – from extreme sports to mundane chores, or even just taking a walk – poses a significant slip and fall hazard if the weather is cold and icy. This is especially true for runners. Of the thousands of seasonal slip and fall injuries that occur each winter season, the most common non-sports related ones are ankle strains and twists. In an effort to keep you from becoming a statistic, the team at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute provides guidance and safety tips for a safe winter running season.

1. Dress Like an Onion.

A popular phrase among winter runners, this reminder refers to wearing layers in order to regulate body temperature and stay comfortable. This may seem like less of a concern if you’re just heading out to the mailbox, but staying warm and dry eliminates distraction and shivering from becoming too cold, allowing you to focus on your steps and the task at hand. Whatever your activity, always wear warm outerwear and thick, winter-weight socks, and keep an extra set of gloves with you, just in case

2. Invest in Good Gear.

Make sure you have a full complement of quality winter protection in good repair and that fits you well. These items should include: a warm and waterproof overcoat; protection for head, ears, hands, and neck; sunglasses; and especially for preventing those ankle strains and twists: waterproof footwear with good tread.

3. Check the Weather.

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to get a complete picture of the expected conditions before embarking on a winter activity. Be aware of the outlook for the day’s temperatures, precipitation, wind speed, and daylight hours to ensure that conditions for your activity are manageable. If the forecast is at all hazardous, postpone your activity until another day.

4. Keep Goals Small and Get Home Early.

When planning any winter activity, be reasonable about the distance and difficulty of terrain. What may be a brief run in the summer can multiply exponentially in hazards during winter weather. Keep your goals small, work extra time into your plan, and remember that the sun sets much earlier in the winter months, refreezing surfaces and increasing the likelihood of ankle strains and twists due to falls.

5. Travel with a Reliable Friend.

The company of friends makes nearly every activity more fun, and they can make it more safe as well. Having a reliable friend along on your run can help you with remembering your gear, plotting a safe course, and keeping you alert to dangerous conditions. In addition, if the worst should happen and you should incur an injury, a friend can assist you in getting medical attention right away.

6. Always be Prepared to Turn Around.

If you run into conditions that look or feel too dangerous, don’t try to be a hero. Turn around! No run is worth enduring preventable ankle strains and twists or worse. Get to shelter as safely as you can and stay there until the danger has passed.

Incorporating the wisdom of winter runners into our daily commute and lives can increase your chances of a safe season, yet we at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute know that accidents still happen. The first step for anyone experiencing symptoms or complications from a sprained ankle or ankle strains and twists should be to consult their physicians right away. When you need more specialized treatment, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute can help you decide which options are right for you.

Contact Rothman Orthopaedic Institute today to schedule an appointment here or by calling 800-321-9999.

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