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Foot and Ankle Health: Info You Should Know

Are you an athlete or someone who loves engaging in physical activities? If so, you probably understand the importance of maintaining the health and functionality of your feet and ankles. In our latest podcast episode, we had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Jeff McAlister, a highly respected foot and ankle specialist from the renowned Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute. With years of experience treating athletes and individuals with foot and ankle injuries, Dr. McAlister shared his valuable insights on various topics, ranging from ankle arthritis to ligament repairs, hypermobility, and bunions.


Ankle Arthritis:

One of the common concerns athletes face is ankle arthritis, which can significantly impact their performance and quality of life. Ankle arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joint wears down over time, leading to pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. Early diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment plan that may include physical therapy, medications, injections, and, in some cases, surgical intervention is important to be aware of. With proper management, athletes can continue to lead active lives and participate in their favorite sports.


Ligament Repairs:

Athletes involved in sports that require quick direction changes or involve jumping, such as basketball or soccer, are prone to ligament injuries in their ankles. There are various types of ligament injuries so it’s important to have a timely and accurate diagnosis. Treatment options range from conservative measures like physical therapy and bracing to surgical repairs, based on the severity of the injury. Additionally, it’s important to seek proper rehabilitation to regain strength and stability in the affected ankle.


Hypermobility:

Some athletes experience hypermobility, a condition characterized by excessive joint flexibility. Dr. McAllister explains that while certain individuals may possess natural hypermobility, it can increase the risk of foot and ankle injuries. He recommends implementing strengthening exercises, such as resistance training and balance exercises, to improve stability and reduce the likelihood of injuries. Athletes with hypermobility should also focus on maintaining proper alignment and wearing appropriate footwear to support their feet during physical activities.


Bunions:

Bunions are a common foot condition that can cause pain and discomfort, particularly in athletes who engage in activities that put stress on the feet, like running or dancing. Some of the underlying causes of bunions include genetic predisposition and footwear choices. One of the best ways to prevent bunions in the future is wearing properly fitted shoes with adequate toe room and arch support. For athletes experiencing persistent pain or difficulty performing their favorite activities, surgical intervention might be a viable option to alleviate the discomfort caused by bunions.


Taking care of your feet and ankles is crucial for athletes looking to maintain their performance and enjoy an active lifestyle. From ankle arthritis to ligament repairs, hypermobility, and bunions, understanding these conditions and implementing preventive measures can help athletes prevent injuries and manage existing conditions effectively. By prioritizing foot and ankle health, athletes can continue to excel in their chosen sports and lead a fulfilling, active life.


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