The weather is getting warmer, which means spring sports such as soccer, lacrosse and golf will soon be in full swing and so will foot injuries. It’s important for athletes to take care of their feet to prevent painful and possibly season-ending injuries.
Choosing the proper footwear is the first and most important step in preventing injury. “It’s imperative that athletes choose the proper shoes for their sport, foot type and playing surface,” says Marc Lipton, DPM, Podiatrist, Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland.
For instance, soccer players who play on turf should choose a different kind of cleat than those playing on grass. For runners, it’s especially important to choose a shoe based on foot type. Flat-footed runners need a stability shoe, while people with high arches need a more cushioning shoe.
“It’s especially important for runners to replace their shoes every 300-500 miles, or when they begin to lose their bouncy feel,” says Dr. Lipton.
While choosing proper footwear is an important step in good foot health, there are other factors that can also lead to injury. Overuse and playing or running on uneven surfaces can also contribute to injuries that land people in the doctor’s office.
Common foot injuries include:
- Stress fractures
- Sprains and strains of the foot and ankle
- Heel pain, plantar fasciitis
- Ingrown toenails, toenail injuries
- Arch pain
- Tendon injuries
- Turf toe injury- a tear of soft tissue around the big toe
- Aggravation of preexisting conditions such as arthritis
- Fungus infection of skin and nails
“Make sure to stretch and warm-up before engaging in sports to help prevent injury,” adds Dr. Lipton.
Know When to Seek a Doctor’s Care
It’s important to know when to seek medical attention for an injury. Sudden injuries that lead to extreme pain, swelling, loss of ability to function, and the foot or toe turning black and blue should be seen by a physician right away. For non-emergent injuries such a minor strain or ingrown nail, if the pain does not subside within a few days, call a podiatrist or an orthopaedic specialist.
“Don’t wait too long to see a physician, because an acute injury can quickly turn into something chronic,” says Dr. Lipton. “Holding off on treatment can make an injury more difficult to treat.”
Treating Foot Injuries
Most sports-related injuries can be treated with a combination of immobilization and physical therapy, and rarely does a patient have to see the operating room.
“Typically, fractures are one of the injuries we consider for surgery,” says Dr. Lipton. “Otherwise, we’ll treat minor stress fractures with a removable fracture boot to immobilize the foot, treat sprains, strains and other injuries with braces, and refer patients to a physical therapy program. Orthotics in shoes are also helpful to treat certain problems such as plantar fasciitis.”
With a little preparation, a good pair of shoes and awareness of your playing environment, you’ll be well-prepared to help avoid foot injury this season.
For more information about foot injuries and treatment options, visit the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland website at www.mdbonedocs.com or call 866-927-1338.