Posted by Jenn F. on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Feet are important. Feet are especially important if you’re a soccer player, whose main weapon is his or her feet.There’s a reason why the rest of the world calls the sport “football.” ‘Cause you use your feet, get it?
I’m in the US, though, and I’m accustomed to “soccer,” so we’ll stick with that here. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and while the professional version hasn’t lit the US on fire, participation on the youth level here is huge. Part of that is driven by parents who think the sport is safer than high impact sports like (American) football or hockey.
However, that doesn’t mean soccer is injury free. In fact, those feet that do all the running and ball handling can be pretty vulnerable to injuries. Let’s talk about some common foot injuries for soccer players, then.
Problem: Ankle Sprains and Fractures – There’s no doubt that ankle rolls, twists, sprains, and fractures will happen when you have a group of people running around on a field chasing a ball. Add a sometimes damp or uneven grass field, and it’s almost inevitable.
Solution: For immediate care, start with the usual RICE–rest, ice, compression wrap, elevation. In some cases, that will be enough to get a player back on the field in a few days. However, ankle sprains can widely vary in severity, so any ankle issue that seems more intense than something that you can walk on reasonably within a few minutes of it happening should be evaluated by a professional. A podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) can analyze the sprain and decide on a proper course of treatment, including whether a walking boot is required, and whether therapy is necessary. Moreover, X-rays may be needed to find out whether what seems like a bad sprain is actually a fracture. If there is a fracture, surgery by a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) may be required.
Problem: Youth Heel Pain/Sever’s Disease – If you look at a blog like On the Pitch, you’ll see that heel pain in youth soccer players, typically around age ten, seems fairly common. The problem is a condition known as “Sever’s Disease.” Children have a growth plate behind their heel. When their bones are growing quickly, athletic activity can cause an unusual amount of pulling on the soft tissues in the area, thus causing pain. Podiatry Today noted that kids that play often on wet fields seem to have an unusually high incidence of Sever’s Disease, or calcaneal apophysitis, due to the excessive bending in or out of the ankles caused by the slick surface.
Solution: The good news is that kids grow out of this condition once they finish most of their growth and their bones fuse together. However, you don’t want to have to tell your enthusiastic soccer player kid to sit on a chair until that happens, so there are a few things you can do to help if your child is experiencing heel pain.
Tight calf muscles can be an issue, so work on stretching with your child. A podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) can show you how to tape your child’s foot or use posterior heel straps to cut down on some of the extreme heel movement that may be causing trouble. A podiatrist can also choose heel lifts to help cut down on the pain initially, then may advise your child to wear orthotics with deep heel cups to help keep the heel in place. Then just hold on and hope that growth spurt finishes up soon so your child can play soccer without pain, ride on any scary theme park ride they want, and inform you that you don’t know anything about anything.
Solution: As we have discussed in depth before, most of these injuries can be resolved with rest, adding a change up to you or your child’s activities (don’t have your kid play soccer all year–let him or her try other sports), or adding orthotics or padding to shoes to protect vulnerable areas. However, some overuse injuries can be severe and may need to be evaluated by a podiatrist; in the case of Achilles tendon ruptures and particularly complicated foot stress fractures, a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) may need to perform surgery to help the injury heal correctly. When in doubt, see a podiatrist!
Problem: Toe fractures - If you keep kicking a ball–and occasionally other players–you may eventually break a toe. The tough part is diagnosing a toe fracture. It’s easy to feel toe pain and think, “It’s a sprain, it’s a bruise, it’s nothing.” It’s especially difficult when kids (or their parents) want to keep playing and may try to hide the severity of an injury. Here’s a tip: if your child, or a child your coaching, is having trouble putting on a shoe because his or her toe is swollen, then that’s a good sign that there is a toe fracture.
Solution: Toe injuries are really annoying. The best way to heal them is to stay off your feet, and it’s so hard to stay off your feet. If you suspect that you or your child has a toe fracture, you should have the injury seen by a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) to devise a treatment plan or determine whether surgery is required.
For soccer, you need to have your feet in top condition, so pay attention to how they feel. If you have any problems with your feet, contact us at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.