Weightlifting is a great way to improve your bone and joint health if you do it safely. However, many people can experience injuries, especially from heavier weights. Common areas of injury include the knees, lower back, and shoulders, but your feet and ankles can also suffer if you are not careful. Follow these tips to keep your feet and ankles safe as you lift weights.
1. Improve mobility.
One of the best things you can do for your feet and ankles is to make sure you stay as mobile as possible. When you lift weights, your muscles tighten as they recover, which can reduce your flexibility and make your joints seem tight. Tightness through the calves and ankles can cause injury during stressful lifts like squatting or cleaning the weight from the ground.
You can improve mobility by stretching every day. Stretch after lifting, but also include other modes of training that focus on improving your ability to move well. Yoga and pilates are great for weightlifters who want to make sure they don't experience debilitating tightening through the back of the leg that restricts movement through the ankle.
2. Warm up before lifting heavy weights.
Warming up before lifting is an important part of your daily work out, and don't neglect your feet and ankles! If you are preparing to squat, you should spend some time in a deep squat without any weight. Sway side to side to help loosen up the muscles in your feet and ankles. If you're doing deadlifts, bend over the waist and focus on keeping your full foot in contact with the ground, feeling the stretch through the back of the leg.
3. Wear stable shoes.
There are shoes made for weightlifting that can give you stability during your lifts. Shoes for squatting have a higher heel so they can reduce the angle that your ankles bend at during the exercise, which can protect you if you are new to lifting or if you are not that flexible through the lower part of your leg.
4. Lift with proper form.
Finally, lift with proper form. People usually focus on form to protect their back from injury, such as bracing the core when deadlifitng and using the hips to power up. However, there is correct form for your feet. During a deadlift, your weight should be evenly distributed through your foot. Your heels should not lift off the ground, even though the weight pulls your body forward. In a squat, your feet should grip the ground, and you should focus on pushing your feet outward so the weight goes to the strong outsides of your feet, instead of crushing the arch. Your knees should drive outward to keep your feet and ankles from collapsing.
Go to sites like http://www.elmhurstpodiatry.com to learn more about foot and ankle care.