Athletes are commonly faced with foot injuries, especially those who participate in soccer, tennis,
and running. However, athletes can prevent, or at least decrease, their risk of foot injury by taking some of the precautionary steps below or by speaking to a podiatrist for advice.
Warming Up Before Any Sport Activity
Engaging in a light stretch or doing a slow jog for about 3 minutes before the main sports activity is
good. This helps in warming up the muscles in the feet and also your pulmonary and circulatory system for the sport.
Such warming up would raise your body temperature and get your blood flowing, ready for the
sport. It will also prepare your feet for the activity ahead. You can warm up with activities like sport-specific drills, jumping motions, various hopping, jumping jacks, lightly jogging, or callisthenics, etc. However, be careful not to force the stretch with a bouncing motion.
Condition Your Muscles for the Sport
Don’t just jump into the sport. Ensure that you practise ahead for any sport, and the amount of time spent on the training/activity should be gradually increased over the weeks. This will help you to build your mobility and muscle strength. If possible, do cross training by engaging in other different activities that also build your muscles.
Choose the Right Kind Of Athletic Shoes Specifically For Your Foot Type
Athletes should choose shoes that fit their type of leg. For instance, it is advisable for athletes with
pronated feet or those who have low arches to choose athletic shoes that give support in both the
front and under the arch. Both the heel and heel counter should be stable. Athletic shoes with softer platforms and more cushions are recommended for athletes with high arches or stiffer foot.
Generally, choose shoes that are specific to your sport. Replace your shoes once the heels wear
down or the tread wears out. It is advisable for athletes who run regularly to replace their athletic shoes every 6 months or earlier for a more frequent runner.
Avoid Running or Stepping On Uneven Surfaces
Always be careful when running on hills with loose gravel or on rocky terrain. If you’re trail running, be careful of roots, tree stumps, and holes. If possible, try to pick a good surface. Otherwise, carry out adequate training on the surface you would eventually be running on. Before you run uphill, ensure that you have gradually trained yourself to avoid injuries. More so, be careful when you run downhill – if you run too fast you may incur more injuries than when you run uphill.
Prevent Recurrent Injuries
If you had experienced foot injury before, protect that part of your foot where your previous injury
happened. You may use a tape or brace to prevent recurrent foot injuries. If you experience any foot pain during a sport, it is advisable that you stop participating in the sport or you modify the sport until the pain reduces and you’re very fit to continue. If you experience an injury, go through a rehabilitation period and training period before you return to the sport. This will prevent recurrent injuries.
When you hear the final whistle, don’t just stop immediately. Stopping or sitting down immediately after the game ends can cause your feet or joint to inflame, stiffen up, or pain. Stop steadily after the sports activity to bring your breathing and body movements under control. Moreover, this will keep your body temperature and blood circulation flow down.
Listed above are the necessary precautionary steps that can help to prevent foot injury. Although
warming up, maintaining flexibility, and stretching can greatly help in preventing foot injury, most
athletes are either not doing them at all, are not doing them as often as they should, or are taking
these steps wrong. Ensure that you do the steps properly and you would be saving yourself from a
foot injury. If injuries persist after these preventative steps, consider contacting a foot doctor for treatment.