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For athletes, the health of their feet and ankles is a big deal. Not only does a foot or ankle injury delay training and impact your performance, if not treated properly the condition can get worse and cause long-term problems.
While any athlete, whether a professional or a novice, is at risk of being diagnosed with a foot or ankle injury, some are more prone to these problems – especially if your sport of choice involves intense activity, running or jumping. This includes dancers, basketball players, runners and soccer players, to name a few.
In addition to taking the necessary precautions to prevent these injuries, such as stretching, icing and adequate rest, it is important to know how to identify them so you can determine if you need to seek proper care and treatment from your podiatrist.
If your performance depends on your feet, find out more about common sport injuries that can impact them below.
Despite the strength of your Achilles tendon, it is prone to overuse injuries that result in tenderness, stiffness and pain. While runners are the most likely to experience Achilles tendonitis, any athlete putting intense, repetitive strain on the tendon can be diagnosed with the injury.
Your ankle is responsible for any up and down movement of your foot, but when the ligaments within your ankle are stretched too far, they can tear resulting in a sprain. While an ankle sprain can occur to anyone, athletes are more likely to roll or twist the ankle in an awkward way leading to an injury.
When a calcium deposit begins to cause a bony protrusion under your heel bone, this is known as a heel spur. While the spurs often don’t cause any pain, it can lead to general pain in your heel. If you have a high foot arch or flat feet, you may be more likely to be diagnosed with this condition. While most cases are treated without surgery, some cases may require more invasive treatment options.
No matter your sport, if your feet and ankles are under repetitive strain, you’re at a higher risk of developing a stress fracture, which is described as a small crack in the bone. You also increase your chances of being diagnosed with a foot or ankle stress fracture if you don’t warm up properly, or if you are using improper technique, equipment or footwear.
Turf toe is a common injury among athletes who play or practice on artificial turf. This is because feet are more likely to get stuck to the artificial turf, which often results in the big toe joint being jammed. The condition can also occur from pushing off over and over again when you’re running or jumping.
If you have a foot or ankle injury that is not improving with at-home treatment, make an appointment with your podiatrist for a proper diagnosis. In addition to reviewing your medical history and performing an initial exam on you foot or ankle, your doctor may also recommend x-rays or an MRI to confirm your injury diagnosis. To treat your condition, your podiatrist should first exhaust every available conservative treatment before considering foot and ankle surgery.