Winning with Foot Care
Run. Jump. Kick. Twist. Spin. Every sport uses your feet in some way, and any of them can contribute to various types of injuries. Athletes can tell you how hard sports can be on the lower limbs. The repetitive, hard pounding can wear down your feet—not to mention the accidents that can happen! That’s why taking care of and preventing sports injuries is so important.
Types of Sports Injuries
There are two types of injuries from sports: traumatic and overuse. Traumatic injuries are sudden, happen by accident, and hard to avoid. They occur when something pushes bones, connective tissues, and muscles beyond their normal functions. Tripping, falling, landing a jump wrong, kicking, and getting tackled or otherwise knocked down are a couple common ways your feet get hurt. This creates sudden, intense pain and may even debilitate the foot.
Overuse injuries are painful problems that develop when your feet are tired, overworked, and under-trained. Feet aren’t naturally able to handle the stress of most sports. They have to be conditioned for your activities. When you start a new sport or training regimen, or you suddenly increase the intensity of your exercise, your feet may become overworked and unable to support you. Over time, your foot structures grow painful and irritated as the stressed tissues become inflamed and damaged.
While many types of sports injuries overlap, specific problems often vary with which sport you’re playing. Basketball, soccer, and football involve lots of quick stopping, twisting, and turning. Baseball requires fast starts and some sliding. Runners and joggers pound hard pavement for miles. Gymnasts have to land flips and jumps safely. Each of these motions can predispose you to certain painful problems, like these common ones:
Plantar fasciitis – This source of heel pain is an overuse problem that often results from repetitive pounding.
Shin splints – Overuse can also lead to burning pain in the shins known as “shin splints.”
Achilles tendon problems – This can range from tendonitis to tearing the connective tissue. Since the Achilles is a main mover for your feet, any of these injuries can be serious.
Blisters – Intense friction can damage the surface of your skin and create painful “bubbles” that you know as blisters.
Fractures – Any sort of break in bone tissue is a fracture. This includes a full break and stress fractures.
Bursitis – A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that helps lubricate motion between moving and stationary parts in your body, like tendons and bones. When this sac becomes inflamed, motion is very painful!
Metatarsalgia – Pain in the ball of the foot has many causes, from sesamoiditis to Morton’s neuroma. These are grouped under the general pain condition, “metatarsalgia.”
Athlete’s foot – Although this isn’t an injury, it’s a common problem for athletes with sweaty shoes. The moisture can foster an infection on the skin that makes the feet itchy and inflamed.
Treating and Preventing Sports Injuries
Any pain from sports can take you out of the game for a while. Many types of sports injures get worse if they go untreated, too, which is why they need prompt care. Our staff at Functional Foot and Ankle Resortaion will carefully evaluate your lower limbs to diagnose the problem and decide on the best ways to manage it. This can range from the RICE method—rest, ice, compress, and elevate—to physical therapy, or even surgery in the worst cases. Many times changing shoes or adding orthotics makes a huge difference.
Even better, though, is sports injuries prevention. Avoiding the pain before it happens is best for your feet in the long run. Remember to always stretch and condition your lower limbs to handle your activities. This means starting slowly and giving your body a chance to build up strength for your sport. Invest in the right shoes, too. Specific sports footwear protects your feet in the ways that particular sport demands. Most important of all, listen to your feet! If they hurt, stop and take care of them before anything gets worse.
Dr. Mauriello is an expert at dealing with, and helping prevent, sports injuries of all kinds. We want you to live the active life you love. Let us help! Contact our Belvidere or Hackettstown, NJ, office for an appointment by calling (908) 475-8750 or using the website.