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Sports and Your Feet: Lessen the Impact

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Soccer, football, basketball, golf, and running. Just like each game has a different set of rules, each sport requires a certain type of shoe and movement for your foot. Sports and your feet combine to work either harmoniously or disastrously, depending on whether you follow these tips.

Wear and Tear

Playing with weak ankles or tired, stiff muscles can really mess up your game. Besides that, the repetitive stress and overuse that your ankles and feet undergo can create problems that gradually develop into painful, chronic conditions if left untreated. Depending on your foot structure—flat feet, high arches, bunions—you could be more susceptible to developing some of these issues.

What effect does soccer have on my feet?Minor Inconveniences and Major Injuries

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone that can snap into full-fledged fractures if you’re not careful. Plantar fasciitis, damage to the tissue that runs along the arch from heel to toes, is also an overuse injury that develops over time. Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of the largest tendon in your body and can turn into a partial or complete tear if not treated early.

Sprains, broken ankles, and turf toe are sports injuries often garnered from playing these high-impact activities. Keep in mind that you can also get corns, calluses, blisters, and black toenails from playing in the wrong shoes.

Shoes Make a World of Difference

Each sport requires a separate, designated shoe, since they all require different movements that will impact different wear patterns in the shoes. Consider your foot structure, pronation pattern, and the type of sport you’re participating in when choosing your shoes.

Basketball shoes offer more ankle support and are usually designed with a thick, flat, rubber bottom that grips the floor when you pivot, sprint, and land after a jump.

Cleats for soccer, baseball, football, golf and track have studs on the bottom of the shoe that help grip the grass, dirt, turf, or track. The studs are molded into the shoe or can be screwed on and off. Track shoes tend to be extremely lightweight with a stiff sole towards the ball of the foot. They don’t offer much protection, though, since track and field isn’t a contact sport. For this reason, they should only be used when you’re on the track and racing in your event.

Shoes for football will offer more ankle support, while shoes for soccer and baseball will be more minimalist and allow maximum flexibility in the foot. More flexibility isn’t always a good thing, though. The shoe may allow you to move better, but will also put you at a higher risk for twisting your ankle or getting stepped on by another player’s cleats.

Warm Up to Prevent Injury

Once you have the right shoes, you can begin the right stretches. If your tissues, muscles and joints are warmed up, you’re less likely to suffer an injury related to sports and your feet. Before the game, run a few warmup laps around the field or track. You should try to get in 10 minutes before you do any gentle stretches. 

Kick your nasty habit of ignoring the impact of sports on your feet. We can design a pair of custom orthotics that can keep you from developing these chronic conditions. Call the McDowell Podiatry Group office in Carmichael, CA, at (916) 961-3434 to get treatment for any sports injuries. Our practice can also be found on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter! 

Photo Credit: joesive47

Dr. Brian McDowell
Dr. Brian McDowell, board-certified podiatrist, provides cutting-edge foot and ankle care in Carmichael, CA.
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