New Year's Resolutions include Exercise? Follow These Steps to Avoid Foot and Ankle Injuries

Jan 02, 2013, 09:49 ET from American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society

ROSEMONT, Ill., Jan. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Planning to start running or taking a Zumba class in the new year?  It is important to take it slow, warm-up properly, and wear the proper footwear for the activity. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) has a lot of advice to offer individuals looking to try out new exercise regimens for 2013.  Overuse injuries, including stress fractures and Achilles tendinitis, may be avoided with some tips.


Lew Schon, MD, is Director of Foot and Ankle Services at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital; on faculty at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD; and the current president of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.  He suggests, "People need to slowly increase their exercise intensity (the aggressiveness) frequency (the number of times), and duration (the length of time), especially if starting to exercise or introducing new physical activities." 

When starting a new exercise program, be sure to shop for supportive, suitably cushioned proper footwear based on the activity.  Different motions require different shoe types.  Flatfeet and high arched feet are other factors that can be addressed by various shoes or insoles. Also, stretching exercises for the entire lower extremity including the leg, ankle, and foot are useful to condition the muscles, tendons, fascias, ligaments, and joints.

Schon adds, "Progressively increasing the activity on the correct equipment or surfaces using shock attenuating footwear, allows the body to benefit from the mechanical stresses that trigger stronger bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.  If we do not allow musculoskeletal tissue recovery after these challenges, we run the risk of upsetting the delicate natural balance between breaking down and building up, making us vulnerable to tendinopathy, muscle strains, fasciitis, joint inflammation and stress fractures.  Some pain after action is inevitable but should be tolerable and should resolve within several hours.  If the pain prohibits comfortable post activity function or lingers into the next day, there is a high chance your body is not compensating and damage may be accumulating.  If there is more than mild swelling or warmth in association with the pain, we may be pushing too hard.  As we get heavier, age, acquire medical conditions, or take medicines, we need to adjust our workouts to stay below the symptom threshold. We do not want to go over the physical cliff where we propagate microtears and microfractures into full-blown overuse syndromes, which require orthopaedic intervention."

Stress fractures occur from an increase in activity which causes small cracks in the weight-bearing bones of the feet and legs.  An increase in activity is the usual cause for these fractures, which could include new exercise programs or a vacation involving a lot of walking. Similarly, tendinitis like Achilles tendinitis can also occur from an increase in running or jumping activities.  The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and connects the calf muscles with the heel bone.  In both of these conditions, the first sign of a problem is pain on activity.

Exercise safely to enjoy all the benefits that come from an active lifestyle.  Visit for more information and to find a local orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon.

About the AOFAS

The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers.  It creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government, industry and the national and international health care community.

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons

Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis, care, and treatment of patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the foot and ankle.  This includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, nerves and skin.  Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical, and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages.  They perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle.

Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons work with physicians of many other specialties, including internal medicine, pediatrics, vascular surgery, endocrinology, radiology, anesthesiology, and others.  Medical school curriculum and post-graduate training proves the solid clinical background necessary to recognize medical problems, admit patients to a hospital when necessary, and contribute significantly to the coordination of care appropriate to each patient.

SOURCE American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society