Many of the most common sports injuries affect our feet which is how the field of sports podiatry has developed.
The risk of injury to the feet is not surprising when we remember that a quarter of the bones in our entire body are located there!
Sport and other high impact activities can subject our feet to loads and forces of up to 10 to 15 times our body weight so it’s no wonder we treat so many sports injuries at our podiatry clinic!
Here are the five most common sports injuries we see:
The sesamoids are two small bones beneath the joint of the big toe, within the tendons; sesamoiditis is the name given when there is an inflammation in these bones.
Sesamoiditis can occur from the type of activities commonly found in high intensity boot camps – jumping, lunges, or activities with a heavy push off or loading.
If you are experiencing a painful big toe following physical activity, it is important to visit a podiatry clinic for diagnosis and treatment. Serious long term damage can result if the bones have fractured, or blood flow has been disrupted.
Sports and exercise can also cause stress fractures – tiny hair like fractures in the bones – usually in the five long metatarsal bones of the foot. Symptoms include swelling on the top of your foot, and pain when walking.
Stress fractures are associated with repetitive activity, or a sudden increase in training level and intensity. Other factors may include ageing footwear, the training surface (eg concrete, tar, grass, artificial turf). People suffering from reduced bone density – osteoporosis – are at a much greater risk of foot fractures.
The good news is, stress fractures usually heal on their own, following periods of rest and reduced activity, but it is still wise to consult with a podiatrist with a special interest in and understanding of sports podiatry.
This painful injury occurs when the forefoot catches on the ground (usually grass or artificial turf) while you are in a forward motion, causing the toe to bend upwards, outside of the normal range of movement.
Your podiatrist may recommend wearing footwear with a stiffened toe box, toe strapping, and/or reduced activity, for a period of time.
Foot pain which improves over the course of the day, is generally caused by plantar fasciitis. Patients often report that the first couple of steps out of bed in the morning are the most painful.
Although plantar fasciitis is common in runners, dancers and people who jump, it also affects people with reduced flexibility (eg those born with a reduced calf length), or women with a high heel habit. It is a condition which often develops in flight attendants, after years of wearing heels at work. Over time the calf muscles shorten to adapt to the heel height – and the calf becomes so tight that it is no longer possible to wear flat or low heels. This places strain on the arch of the foot, resulting in plantar fasciitis.
Your local podiatrist can prescribe treatment such as ice, heat packs, exercises, and specific footwear.
Black Bruised Big Toenail
If you have been shocked to find a black bruised big toenail when taking off your shoes, this is a sign that either:
- The shoe doesn’t fit properly, and your toes are repeatedly knocking on the toe box.
- Or, your feet are moving forward in the shoe. Generally patients with this problem have a narrow foot, and a lacing technique called a heel lock helps to pull the foot back into the rear two thirds of the shoe.
Often seen in runners, hikers, snow skiers and tennis players, a black bruised toenail is caused by a bleed under the nail (called a hematoma). It can be quite painful, so it’s a good idea to visit a podiatry clinic, where they can relieve the pressure under the nail.
Eventually the damaged nail will come away, but it may take as long as 6 to 12 months to fully recover.
Avoiding the Most Common Sports Injuries
If you are looking for a foot care expert with a special interest in sports podiatry, give us a call on 3207 4736. We have plenty of experience, as our podiatry clinic sees a definite increase in sports podiatry related injuries over spring and summer, as people become more physically active.
While we have a special interest in sports podiatry, we are always happy to help with any foot injury, or to answer any questions. If you love your sport – remember, don’t go too hard too fast, because prevention is better than cure!