Treating foot problems in athletes
Top podiatric sporting injuries
1. PLANTAR FASCIITIS
Cause: inﬂammation of the arch fascia due to over-stretching.
Treatment: customised orthotics to support the arches.
Prevention: gait and biomechanic analysis from a podiatrist who will ﬁt the patient with customised orthotics.
Injury common with: running and sprinting (and any sport involving running).
2. ANKLE SPRAIN
Cause: sudden movements when swerving, twisting or spinning that cause the ligaments supporting the ankle joint to stretch and overextend, sometimes to the point of tearing.
Treatment: immediate return to play may be possible if NSAIDs are administered to reduce inﬂammation and the ankle joint is carefully strapped and stabilised. Following that, rest, ice, compression, elevation and stablisation.
Prevention: strapping to help stabilise and support the joint, and complete rehabilitation of any existing ankle sprain as most of these injuries occur on already injured ankles.
Injury common with: gymnastics, running, soccer, basketball, (sports involving a high frequency of sudden movements or uneven terrain).
3. CHONDROMALACIA PATELLA (RUNNER’S KNEE)
Cause: misalignment of the patella when running or jumping, causing the cartilage around the knee to wear down. This misalignment is often brought on by gait problems.
Treatment: NSAIDs to reduce inﬂammation, rest, ice, compression, elevation and stabilisation. Surgery may be required.
Prevention: gait analysis to ensure undue pressure isn’t placed on the patella through biomechanics of the feet; customised orthotics; leg strengthening exercises to support the patella.
Injury common with: running, football, basketball, hockey (any sport involving large amounts of running).
4. ACHILLES TENDONITIS
Cause: inﬂammation of the Achilles tendon due to overuse and/or excessive pronation of the foot, which forces the tendon out of alignment.
Treatment: NSAIDs to reduce inﬂammation, rest, ice, strengthening exercises.If the Achilles actually tears as a result of trauma, surgery is required immediately.
Prevention: strengthening exercises can signiﬁcantly reduce the risk of damage to the Achilles tendon.
Injury common with: running, volleyball, basketball, tennis (sports that require a lot of jumping).
5. SHIN SPLINTS
Cause: pain running down the length of the shin caused by running on hard surfaces, such as pavements, and overuse. The muscle that lifts the arch of the foot connects behind the shin, and it’s the stretching of this tendon that causes pain.
Treatment: rest and ice will relieve immediate discomfort. Customised orthotics should be ﬁtted for long-term treatment.
Prevention: customised orthotics to support the arches should eliminate shin splints.
Injury common with: running, basketball, netball (sports involving running on hard surfaces).