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Tips for Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries

Foot and ankle injuries are common in sports, especially in winter sports such as rugby, netball, and soccer. But you can reduce the risk of injury by taking some simple precautions.

Use strapping or a brace if you have sprained your ankle before

If you have sprained an ankle before, getting your ankle strapped (or wearing an ankle brace), will greatly reduce your chances of re-spraining your ankle. This is particularly important if your previous ankle sprain was recent.

Warm up prior to training and playing

Get to training and games early so you have time to do a thorough warm-up. If you are well warmed up you are less likely to get injured. Warming up is particularly important when it is wet and cold through the middle of winter. ACC’s SportSmart website (, has some excellent warm-up routines specific for rugby, netball, league and touch rugby.

Condition your ankles for your sport

Doing some drills at training that are specific for your sport to improve your balance and strength will help reduce the chances of foot and ankle sprains. An example of one of these drills would be regularly balancing on one leg with your eyes closed for 30 – 60 seconds to improve balance. At Olympic Physiotherapy we can design a specific programme of exercises to help you improve your balance and strength specifically for your sport. Netballers may like to visit Netball New Zealand’s website (, which contains some excellent drills and training advice with regards to injury prevention.

 Choose shoes that are specifically for your sport

Wearing shoes that are designed for the specific demands of your sport is very important. Cross trainers are an overall good choice, however, it is best to use shoes designed for your sport. Nike Free Runners are not sports shoes!

Replace your shoes regularly

You should have started each season with a new pair of shoes, and replace them during the season if they show signs of wear and tear.

Listen to your body

If you experience foot and ankle pain at training or during a game, stop until the pain subsides. If the pain persists, you should ice the painful area and make an appointment at Olympic Physiotherapy for assessment of your injury and appropriate treatment before returning to your sport.


Whether you’re a competitive athlete, weekend warrior or just enjoy walking the dog, good physical fitness is important to most of us. Injuries can be frustrating particularly when we have worked hard towards reaching our goals; whether it be tramping to Everest base camp, running a half marathon or keeping up with your kids activities. Some knowledge about our own body can go a long way towards helping us to perform better whatever the activity. This is where a Muscle Balance Assessment (MBA) can assist, particularly if you are tired of those repetitive strains and niggles that continue to hold you back. The MBA is a one hour long appointment and takes your history of previous injuries into account in conjunction with an in depth analysis of: – Muscle length/tightness and strength or weakness in key areas. – Poor movement strategies – Poor technique in sports specific areas These results are illustrated in a report format and exercises to remedy any adverse findings will be taught at a follow up appointment. We are happy to liaise with Personal Trainers, Coaches, Pilates Instructors, Doctors and the like, to ensure a team approach with you being the number one focus! “The idea is to provide you with an effective group of exercises designed to complement your current program or just simply as a preventative regime.” The MBA is also an excellent idea for adolescent athletes who are striving to make the jump from school sports to more competitive senior levels. The aim is to identify potential issues before they become a problem and to ultimately assist and improve overall performance.

Fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater. Fascia is very densely woven, covering every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as, all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually one continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater. Myofascial tissue fibers are made up of collagen and elastin fibers that are arranged in a web-like structure and are suspended in a fluid called ground substance. With a tensile strength of more than 2000 pounds, it provides a strong support for the muscles, while at the same time allowing for flexibility. You can think of myofascial tissue as being similar to a mesh bag that contains your groceries. It is pliable, and can expand and contract as the contents of the bag change. It envelops your body like a wet suit, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Healthy myofascial tissue is soft and relaxed, however, trauma and inflammation to the tissue can cause it to become tight and more rigid, and knots or adhesions can develop in the tissue that can cause a restriction in motion and lead to the development of “trigger points” that can cause pain anywhere in the body. But it’s not just physical stress such as injury and illness that can cause the myofascial tissues to tighten. Emotional stress can have the same effect. This tightening can cause increased pressure on the muscles, nerves and organs that leads to chronic pain. How to release the tight myofascia? Your therapist will gently massage the myofascia and feel for stiff or tightened areas. Normal myofascia should feel pliable and elastic. The therapist will begin massaging and stretching the areas that feel rigid with light manual pressure. The therapist then aids the tissue and supportive sheath in releasing pressure and tightness. The process is repeated multiple times on the same trigger point (tight area) and on other trigger points until the therapist feels the tension is fully released. These areas where the massage therapist is working may not be near where the pain originates or where you feel the pain most prominently. Myofascial release works the broader network of muscles that might be causing your pain. It tries to reduce tension throughout your body by releasing trigger points across a broad section of your muscular system. Self Myofascial Release Adductor Self Myofascial Release:
  1. Extend the thigh and place foam roll in the groin region with body prone (face down) on the floor.
  2. Be cautious when rolling near the adductor complex origins at the pelvis.
  3. If a tender point is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.
Hamstring Self Myofascial Release:
  1. Place hamstrings on the foam roller with hips unsupported.
  2. Feet can be crossed so that only leg at a time is one the foam roller.
  3. Roll from knee toward posterior hip.
  4. If a tender point is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.
self_myofascial_release_hamstring.gif.pagespeed.ce.Ov12ojeAyfQuadriceps Self Myofascial Release:
  1. Body is positioned prone (face down) with quadriceps on foam roller
  2. It is very important to maintain proper core control (abdominal drawn-in position & tight gluteus) to prevent low back compensations
  3. Roll from pelvic bone to knee, emphasizing the lateral (outside) thigh
  4. If a tender point is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.
self_myofascial_release_quad.gif.pagespeed.ce.ePMbalux4cIliotibial Band Self Myofascial Release:
  1. Position yourself on your side lying on foam roller.
  2. Bottom leg is raised slightly off floor.
  3. Maintain head in neutral position with ears aligned with shoulders.
  4. This may be PAINFUL for many, and should be done in moderation.
  5. Roll just below hip joint down the outside thigh to the knee.
  6. If a tender point is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.
self_myofascial_release_itband.gif.pagespeed.ce.E1ctxftm3BUpper Back Self Myofascial Release:
  1. Place hands behind head or wrap arms around chest to clear the shoulder blades across the thoracic wall.
  2. Raise hips until unsupported.
  3. Stabilize the head in a neutral position.
  4. Roll mid-back area on the foam roller.
  5. If a tender point is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.
self_myofascial_release_lats.gif.pagespeed.ce.5hKmUAKSh7General Guidelines 
  • Spend 1-2 minutes per self myofascial release technique and on each each side (when applicable).
  • When a trigger point is found (painful area) hold for 30-45 seconds.
  • Keep the abdominal muscles tight which provides stability to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex during rolling.
  • Remember to breathe slowly as this will help to reduce any tense reflexes caused by discomfort.
  • Complete the self myofascial release exercises 1-2 x daily.

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