From maintaining proper conditioning to wearing sport-specific footwear, athletes can function at peak performance much more often when constantly maintaining high levels of footcare safety.
Bethesda, MD (Vocus) September 11, 2008
With the 2008-09 football season still in its fledgling stages, storylines for many teams in the spotlight have evolved from the typical 'who to watch' to 'who's gone down now?' Chris 'Beanie' Wells, starting running back for the Ohio State University Buckeyes, continues to recuperate from a right toe injury suffered almost two weeks ago. National Football League (NFL) running back LaDainian Tomlinson, star of the San Diego Chargers, also limped from his team's opening game with a foot injury recently - which he quickly brushed off as 'turf toe.' But how many athletes in fall sports, like football, take these types of injuries too lightly?
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), both professional and amateur athletes are at an extremely high risk for injuring their lower limbs during play. Whether performing hairpin turns on artificial turf or taking part in a powerful, high-speed collision with other players, foot and ankle injury risks for athletes run rampant - and participating in a favorite sport should always involve playing it safe.
"Stress fractures of the foot, ankle sprains and ligament injuries are all, unfortunately, quite common in popular fall sports such as football," said Dr. David Davidson, APMA member and podiatric medical consultant for the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. "From maintaining proper conditioning to wearing sport-specific footwear, athletes can function at peak performance much more often when constantly maintaining high levels of footcare safety."
The following are some of the most common acute injuries in fall sports, as well as treatments and preventative tips recommended by the APMA:
- Sprains - Hard sprinting often leads to stretched or torn ligaments, also known as sprains. Severe sprains may also cause ankle swelling, much like a fracture.
Treatment - Sprains that don't show improvement in three days should be seen by a podiatric physician immediately. Possible casting, immobilization and a rehabilitation regimen may all be prescribed.
Tips to Avoid Them - Take part in proper warm-up exercises before and after home workouts, practice and games. Spend five to 10 minutes stretching, holding and relaxing muscles.
- Fractures - Fractures occur when a bone has been broken.
Treatment - Casting, and sometimes even surgery performed by a podiatric surgeon, is required to properly immobilize fractures and set breaks. Ten to 12 weeks are usually required for rehabilitation.
Tips to Avoid Them - Look for sport-specific footwear that contains extra padding in cleated shoes, which helps to prevent stress fractures - incomplete fractures in bones are typically caused by overuse.
- Turf Toe - Named for the playing field on which it is common, turf toe is a painful hyperextension of the big toe joint. While competing on artificial turf is the leading cause of this condition, it can also occur on natural surfaces such as grass.
Treatment - Turf toe treatment usually includes the 'RICE' regimen, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Tips to Avoid It - Wearing a stiffer shoe can prevent aggravating this injury further. Customized foot orthotics may also be worn during play to protect against turf toe.
For more information about sports-related injuries to the foot and ankle, visit http://www.apma.org/sports.
Founded in 1912, the American Podiatric Medical Association is the nation's leading professional society for foot and ankle specialists. The association has component societies in 53 locations in the U.S. and its territories and a membership of close to 11,500 doctors of podiatric medicine. For free foot health information, visit http://www.apma.org.