Common Foot Injuries in Athletes
As the 2016 Olympic games is about to start in Rio De Janeiro with around 10,000 athletes competing in many different sports we thought we should take some time to look at common foot injuries in athletes.
The most common ankle sprain that many people experience from a variety of activities occurs on the outside of the ankle, due to the ankle been twisted under the leg. Ankle sprains are very common among soccer, hockey, basketball, and volleyball players. A twisted ankle will have visible swelling as well as bleeding under the skin (bruising).
If the injury is minor you can take care of the sprain by:
Protection – Use a support or shoes that enclose your feet.
Rest – Avoid activity for 48-72 hours
Ice – Apply ice wrapped in damp towel for the first 48 – 72 hours for 15 min two to three hours a day.
Compression – Compress or bandage the area throughout the day but remove before sleep. It is advised to move the foot as soon as you can without pain as this will help to heel the area faster. If the injury is severe you may be advised to keep the muscle still for a few days.
Elevation – keep the ankle raised high on a pillow.
Generally, after an ankle sprain you’ll probably be able to walk a week or two after the injury. You may be able to use your ankle fully after six to eight weeks, and you’ll probably be able to return to sporting activities after eight to 12 weeks.
Kerri Strug won the 1996 Atlanta Olympics a Gold medal with an injured ankle, see her fight the pain in the video below:
Turf Toe is a sprain of the big toe joint and may involve damage to ligaments, tendons or bones.
Turf toe got it’s name in 1976 as a result of athletes who performed on artificial surfaces (astroturf). Turf toe is also caused by wearing lll fitting shoes or flexible shoes that don’t support the foot. The condition occurs due to repetitive hyperextension and hyeprflexion of the big toe (bending of the toe too far forward or backward which the ligament is unable to support). This is most common in gymnasts and dancers.
Symptoms of the injury are sudden pain in the big toe, pain and swelling when bending or stretching and sometimes a popping sensation is felt upon impact. These symptoms are usually diagnosed by a doctor or physiotherapist. Strenuous activity should be avoided and the RICE method should be followed (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate), Anti-Inflammatory medications may be taken to relive the pain.
Metatarsal Stress Fractures
The metatarsal bones in the toes are the five long bones in the mid/front foot that connect to the toes. A stress fracture is caused by the result of overuse of the toes, seen in runners and athletes or by a blow to the area common in contact sports such as rugby and hockey.
Symptoms of a stress fracture include pain and tenderness in the mid/front of the foot, swelling and bruising. The RICE method should be followed and activity should be avoided to prevent further damage and casting in severe cases.
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs underneath the sole of the foot. Plantar Fasciitis is when this tissue thickens due to inflammation caused by many factors which is more common in women. Plantar fasciitis pain (Pain in the bottom of your foot, especially at the front or centre of the heel bone)
is usually worse in the mornings or after sitting down for long periods of time.
Athletes usually strain their plantar fascia in the early stages of training and is associated with running, jumping, and other repetitive stresses. Athletes who have tightness in the muscles of the calf, weakness in the supporting muscles in the foot and athletes who are overweight may be at more of a risk.
Keep active in your lower half to prevent Plantar Fasciitis and wear good shoes. People with flat feet or an unusually high arch are also more at risk. Most shops that sell trainers today provide a service to check if you have a normal foot or high arch, and sell trainers that support your feet accordingly.
When in doubt, seek out a podiatrist, orthopedist, or physical therapist. And if it keeps hurting – rest.