Healthy Feet in The Sports

Taking Care of Your Feet When You Play Sports

Sports and Your Feet

Organized sports can be both beneficial and devastating to your feet. If you have an existing foot problem, contact our office first.

Here are a few tips for the major kinds of sports:

Baseball

If you don't prepare properly and exercise good technique, you can injure your lower extremities, including your feet. If you are a casual weekend player, take it slow before jumping right into a game. Baseball and softball involve quick starts and stops, so it's important to loosen up before the game to avoid muscle strain.

Preventing injuries

Make sure the field you're playing on doesn't have loose objects or other hazards that you can trip or fall on, leading to a foot or ankle injury. Remember that proper sliding technique will help you avoid foot and ankle injuries. Make sure that the bases are firmly secured to the ground.

Pitchers often develop foot injuries because they come off the elevated mound the wrong way. The repetitive motion of pitching can lead to overuse injuries to the feet and ankles. Catchers are also prone to foot injuries or ailments from squatting for long periods of time and placing strain on the arch and ball of the foot. All baseball players are susceptible to such problems as plantar fasciitis, heel spur syndrome, achilles tendinitis and shin splints. Running the bases or pivoting to make a play can lead to stretched or torn ligaments, and even fractures.
Cycling

Cycling is a very effective form of fitness that can improve your cardiovascular health.

When seated on a bike with hands on the handlebars, the hands, shoulders, and front axle should all be in line. If a cyclist's knees hurt after a long ride, for example, he may be served well by prescription orthotic shoe inserts. Our practice may be able to suggest training and conditioning methods to help prevent recurring pain from cycling, and other activities.

Before getting on their bikes, cyclists should stretch their major muscle groups - the gluteals, the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings. As with most forms of physical activity, start slowly and work up to normal routine. Make sure that your seat is at the proper height, with knees slightly flexed and hips over the knees.

Injuries and treatment

Cyclists often hurt themselves by going beyond their limits. Common cycling injuries include the following.

  • Knee pain: This includes swelling, clicking, or popping.

  • Cartilage irritation or deterioration, usually under the kneecap. This can be caused by an imbalance, the wrong seat height, or the wrong position of your feet in the pedals. Some riders use cleated shoes or touring shoes with ribbed soles. These help to limit the repeated motions that can lead to knee pain.

  • Shin splints: Shin splints are pain on the front or rear of the lower leg bone. Inflamed muscles or tendons are often the cause. Over pronation (usually called a collapsing arch) often leads to shin splints. Cyclists should stretch properly before riding, and use corrective inserts, or orthoses.

  • Achilles tendonitis: This condition occurs when the tendon that attaches to the back of the heel bone becomes inflamed, usually from improper pedaling, seat height, lack of a proper warm-up, or overtraining. Ice, rest, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help. Consult your physician before taking any medications. If you have chronic pain or any swelling, contact our office.

  • Sesamoiditis: The sesamoids are two small bones under the first metatarsal bones in your feet, and can be become inflamed or ruptured. Proper shoe selection and orthoses usually help.

  • Numbness: Numbness, tingling, or burning, or sharp shooting pains in your toes may be a sign that you need wider shoes. Try loosening your toe straps or shoe laces. In some cases, numbness may lead to a condition called "acute compartment syndrome," which would call for immediate medical attention.

Golf

The intricate movements involved during an ordinary golf swing all put pressure on pose problems for your feet.

Biomechanics, the application of mechanical laws to living structures such as the feet, play a crucial part in developing the ideal golf swing. The lateral motion and the pivoting intrinsic to the golf swing can be functionally impeded by certain biomechanical conditions. Faulty biomechanics can inhibit proper foot function, and your game will suffer.

Injuries and treatment

The torque of a golf swing can strain muscles in the legs, abdomen, and back. The fact that the game is usually played on hilly terrain increases these forces, which in turn predispose to injury. Proper warm-up and stretching exercises specific to golf can help in injury prevention. A sports podiatrist can recommend a suitable warm-up regimen.

Other problems, such as tendonitis, capsulitis, and ligament sprains and pulls, can also keep a golf enthusiast off the green. Improper shoes can bring on blisters, neuromas (inflamed nerve endings), and other pains in the feet. Podiatrists see these problems daily and can treat them conservatively to allow for a quick return to the sport.

Tennis

Amateur and professional tennis players alike are prone to injuries of the foot and ankle, both of which suffer from repeated lateral motions and quick stopping and starting.

Common tennis injuries include ankle sprains, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and tennis toe. If you experience recurring or persistent pain, contact our office.

Clay and crushed stone courts help players slide better, and are considered the safest surfaces on which to play. Asphalt, concrete, rubberized, or carpeted courts don't allow sliding, and are not as healthy for your feet.
Winter Sports

Winter sports - from hockey and skiing to ice skating - can pose a lot of hazards for your feet. The most important thing to do before embarking in winter sports is ensure that your feet have the proper protection. This includes insulated, waterproof boots or shoes. A single pair of thick acrylic socks help to wick" away moisture.

If your feet are exposed to wet snow or cold for an extended period of time, get back inside quickly. Always be aware of the danger of frostbite - a serious, painful condition that can result in loss of your toes.

Use spikes slipped over your running shoes if you will be running on ice for an extended period of time. Thin nylon running shoes don't necessarily protect your feet from frostbite. Your feet usually sweat while running, and this can only accelerate the freezing effect on your feet. As a rule, try to keep your ankle perpendicular to the ground and straight up and down while skiing. Sometimes, a custom orthotic device, or show insert, will help you maintain the proper position.

Winter sports can lead to a host of foot ailments, including blisters, frostbite, neuromas, sprains and strains, bleeding under the toenail, fractures, and bunions. Other preexisting conditions, such as hammertoes, and Haglund's Deformity (a bump on the back of the heel) can be irritated by frequent participation in winter sports. If pain persists, contact our office.

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