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Kids playing soccerIt’s back-to-school sports season, and there’s no better time to brush up on these 5 safety tips to protect them from serious ankle injuries.

Every fall, Orange County foot and ankle surgeon Jonathan Bennett, DPM, notices an increase in ankle injuries among young athletes. Football, soccer and basketball are the sports most likely to lead to sprains, broken bones and other problems, he says. Bennett has offices in Fullerton and Tustin.

Bennett's top recommendation is for parents are to get ankle injuries treated right away.

"What seems like a sprain is not always a sprain; in addition to cartilage injuries, your son or daughter might have injured other bones in the foot without knowing it. Have a qualified doctor examine the injury," says Bennett. "The sooner rehabilitation starts, the sooner we can prevent long-term problems like instability or arthritis, and the sooner your child can get back into competition."

Bennett says parents should also follow these additional tips from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons' Web site, FootHealthFacts.org: 

  1. Have old sprains checked by a doctor before the season starts. A medical check-up can reveal whether your child's previously injured ankle might be vulnerable to sprains, and could possibly benefit from wearing a supportive ankle brace during competition.

  2. Buy the right shoe for the sport. Different sports require different shoe gear. Players shouldn't mix baseball cleats with football shoes. 

  3. Children should start the season with new shoes. Old shoes can wear down like a car tire and become uneven on the bottom, causing the ankle to tilt because the foot can't lie flat. 

  4. Check playing fields for dips, divots and holes. Most sports-related ankle sprains are caused by jumping and running on uneven surfaces. That's why some surgeons recommend parents walk the field, especially when children compete in non-professional settings like public parks, for spots that could catch a player's foot and throw them to the ground. Alert coaching officials to any irregularities.

  5. Encourage stretching and warm-up exercises. Calf stretches and light jogging before competition helps warm up ligaments and blood vessels, reducing the risk for ankle injuries.

Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to call the Orange County Foot & Ankle Group. We also have same day appointments.

Ankle SprainSpring is sports season for many amateur athletes and weekend warriors in the Orange County area. It's also ankle sprain season for one area foot and ankle surgeon.

Jonathan Bennett, DPM, at Orange County Foot & Ankle Group, says ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries he treats this time of year.

"As people emerge from their winter hibernation and start to get active again, they can injure their ankles playing sports such as basketball, baseball, tennis and soccer," he says.

Anyone who injures an ankle requires prompt medical treatment, whether it's their first sprain or their fifth. Rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) can reduce swelling and pain until the ankle can be evaluated and treated by a foot and ankle surgeon. A sprain may not always be a sprain; the ankle could be fractured.

Bennett notes that many athletes develop chronic ankle instability from repeated ankle sprains, causing their ankle to frequently "give way." In some cases these players may require surgery. Proper rehabilitation of an ankle sprain reduces the likelihood of developing chronic ankle instability.

Bennett shares three spring ankle sprain prevention tips from FootHealthFacts.org:

  1. Perform warm-up stretches and exercises before playing sports.

  2. Wear the right shoes for the sport. For example, don't wear running shoes for sports that involve a lot of side-to-side movement, such as tennis and basketball.

  3. Wear an ankle brace if you're recovering from an injury or have repeatedly sprained your ankle.

FootHealthFacts.org is the consumer Web site of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). Bennett is a member of the ACFAS and board certified in foot surgery and earned his podiatric medical degree University of Chicago's School of Podiatric Medicine.

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