Are you a winter adventurer? Do activities like cross country and downhill skiing, sledding and ice skating lure you out of doors in the cold weather?
Preparation is essential to enjoying winter sports safely. Poorly-fitting equipment or inadequate physical preparation can turn fun in the snow to days or weeks recovering from an injury.
Prevent Winter Foot Injuries with Good Cold Weather Preparation
- Invite a friend along for company – don’t go it alone in winter weather.
- Dress carefully for the weather in layers. Wear protective goggles and headgear.
- Choose appropriate and properly-fitting footwear for each activity. Skates and ski boots should fit well and be in good condition. All should have plenty of toe room, ample cushioning and good ankle support.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks – the best are made of acrylic or acrylic blend fibers.
- Don’t jump full-speed into your sport. Warm up slowly and then do a few easy stretches for flexibility and to prevent injury. Be sure to cool down after all activity.
- Apply a solid stick friction block on your feet when skating to lessen the chance of blisters. Lace skates snugly but not too tightly, and stop frequently to re-lace if they become loose. If you’re a hockey player, consider buying skate fenders that give extra impact protection for lace and ankle areas.
- Always watch out for frostbite. If your toes become cold or wet or feel numb, go indoors quickly to dry and slowly warm up your feet.
Treating Winter Foot and Ankle Problems
Even with the best preparation, problems may occur. Dr. Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM recommends these simple treatments for common injuries:
- If you suspect frostbite because of pain, burning, numbness or skin color change, dry and warm the feet gradually in warm – not hot – water. Don’t apply direct heat or rub the skin. Get help immediately if the skin appears hard and frozen or has blistered.
- For friction blisters, cover with a loose bandage and avoid pressure on the area. Don’t break the blister – it should heal on its own.
- If you suspect a foot or ankle strain or sprain, follow the RICE method: Rest, Ice the area, apply Compression and Elevate. Come visit us if the pain persists.
- Wearing tight footwear like skates can cause neuromas which are enlarged benign growths of nerves between the toes. You may feel burning, numbness or tingling. Neuromas should be treated by a foot doctor.
- If you observe bleeding under the toenail caused from ski boot or skate pressure, call us to avoid losing the toenail.
Don’t let your winter fun turn into long-term problems with your feet. Please contact us if you suffer from foot pain or observe any foot abnormality. You can reach our Chicago office at 773-561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has the right experience to treat all foot and ankle conditions including anything related to winter activities.