Playing sports helps people create a sense of community. Moreover, sports promote fitness, they’re enjoyable, and they’re a channel for developing careers for people gifted in sports. Regardless of where you’re in, the benefits attached to sports are evident to most people.
Whether it’s through the large number of supporters in a stadium whenever there’s a soccer match or the complete silence at a tennis match out of respect for the players, you can tell that society has an undeniable admiration for sports. However, like any avenue for demanding physical activities, there’s an enormous risk attached to playing sports. This is especially true for sports that require a great amount of contact and body movement.
Given the body’s limitations and vulnerabilities, sports require athletes to be careful. In fast-paced games, one can acquire an injury in the blink of an eye. Of course, not all injuries are the result of a lack of precaution. Sometimes, injuries are simply the result of uncontrollable circumstances.
Nonetheless, the risks attached to playing sports are as real as the fun and enjoyment people expect from it. In particular, there are sports that put pressure on the foot or require it to exert significant force. Sports-related foot injuries are hard to predict, but there may be ways to prevent them, including the following:
- Wear A Good Pair Of Shoes
It’s important that one wears a good pair of shoes when playing sports. Sports usually require closed shoes that you can run and move in without spraining your ankle. Ill-fitting shoes may cause you trouble in the long run. You may not realize that some pressure has been building up on your foot or the areas surrounding it. You may only be able to notice it when it’s already too late.
For example, you may be someone who plays basketball, soccer, and netball. These three different sports require different types of shoes. Using your netball closed shoes to play basketball may be damaging because basketball requires good use of the ankle and continuous bending. However, netball shoes don’t have the ankle support that playing basketball requires.
The same goes for using soccer shoes for netball. Not only will wearing such shoes be damaging to the court, but they may be uncomfortable and damaging to your foot. You should also keep in mind that when your shoes are old and torn, this is an indication that it’s time for a replacement. They may become uneven and could cause painful tilting in your ankle or cause your arch to fall.
Always make sure your shoes aren’t too old and are sturdy enough to support you when you play sports. It’s important that you wear the right shoes and seek advice from professionals within the sport on which shoes are best because they may know where to find the right shoe within your price range. If you aren’t careful, wearing the wrong shoe may land you at Teton Foot & Ankle or any other foot care center seeking treatment for plantar fasciitis.
- Eat Well And Make Sure You’re Hydrated
Understanding the role of nutrition in injury recovery—or more importantly, in prevention—is essential. Building up your immune system and eating nutritious foods may help you avoid getting a foot-related injury. It’s important to consume a wide range of nutrients by eating balanced meals. A balanced meal is a meal that consists of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and enough essential nutrients.
It’s also important to practice good eating habits. Meals that contain significant amounts of nutrients can greatly contribute to stronger bones. Along with eating balanced meals, it’s important that you eat enough food. It’s nutritionally depleting for you to eat less calories or engage in poor eating habits. The body requires a certain number of calories for tissue maintenance and the acquisition of energy. However, if these needs aren’t meant, then your body enters a catabolic state.
This means your body begins to experience muscle pain and fatigue because your muscles are essentially eating themselves. Your body’s ability to carry out tissue damage repair in your foot could be compromised by catabolism and a lack of adequate nutrition. Through this, your muscle recovery may slow down and your risk of getting an injury may increase.
Moreover, you need to stay hydrated. When your muscles are hydrated, their performance improves. Drinking fluids could allow for improvement in your body circulation and assist you in maintaining normal blood pressure. Water helps with transporting nutrients throughout your body, flushing off toxins, and regulating body temperature and pH balance. These essential processes can help with the prevention of or recovery from muscle soreness, tension, and the development of a foot injury.
Some people continue to put pressure on an injury that isn’t fully recovered or an injury that’s developing but not easily identified by the athletes themselves. The development of an overuse injury could occur if you don’t visit a doctor for thorough check-ups. Avoid relying on the mindset that makes you think, ‘I know my body and I’m sure it’s healed,’ which can cause you to downplay your foot pain if you’ve experienced a foot injury in the past.
This could be detrimental to your health because the micro-traumas experienced by your bones, tendons, and joints could be repeated for a lengthy period. Often, when you have old injuries, you may have to spend some time away from playing sports. In some cases, people tend to overwork themselves in trying to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, the sudden increase in activity can be harmful if you’ve just finished recovering from an old injury.
Be sure to examine your injury well and then ease into the process of going back to playing. Trying to make up for lost time will get you nowhere and even worsen your condition. In such cases, it’s important to know that if you have a history of sports-related foot injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, or neuromas, you should only slowly return to playing sports when you’ve received clearance from a health professional.
- Warm Up, Cool Down, Stretch, And Rest Well
You may get distracted by the excitement of getting started on playing sports again. However, there are reasons warm-ups and stretches are necessary. So, before you return to your beloved sport, remember to warm up and stretch your feet.
Sudden movements that your foot isn’t familiar with may result in an unexpected injury. If you slowly ease into getting started with the sport, you’re less likely to experience pain or injury. You can consider taking care of your body on and off the court as a preventative measure. By warming up your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels, you’re better prepared to engage in physical activity.
It’s also crucial to have a cool-down period after engaging in sports because it may help prevent your blood from rushing into the lower extremities of your body, thus preventing the development of muscle soreness. When you get home, you’ll probably experience some level of fatigue or tiredness. Remember to rest and get enough sleep because overworked muscles are more prone to injury.
- Avoid Training On Hilly Terrains Or Uneven Surfaces
Some athletes like to train after hours. Although this isn’t a problem, it’s important that you train in places that are ideal for preventing injuries. Continually training in hilly areas could be damaging to your foot. Hilly areas usually have rocky surfaces with loose gravel. Running at great speed on loose gravel could be dangerous and you may end up tripping or damaging the muscles in your foot.
Running up and down hills could greatly strain your foot. When running up hills, it’s important that you go at a gradual pace because, depending on the steepness, if you go too fast, you may end up falling and getting a foot injury.
Running downhill is even more daunting. If you sprint when running downhill, you could exert too much pressure on your foot and develop an injury. It could also be harmful to your knees. When doing extra running for your particular sport, make sure to opt for flat surfaces like sidewalks or treadmills.
Prevent Sports Injuries
The ball is in your court, both literally and figuratively. Whatever the sport you play may be, you have to make sure you expose yourself to the least possible risk of developing an injury. Preventing a sports-related foot injury requires a good level of foot care and careful consideration of your body. Don’t overwork your muscles and be aware of your limits because that may assist you in being injury-free for a long time.
By Nora Matthews, an orthopedic sports medicine doctor who specializes in sports-related injuries. She has worked within the sports medicine and orthopedic industries for 15 years. Nora shares her expertise through online webinars and educates athletes on maintaining good physical health on and off the sports grounds. During her free time, she enjoys yoga with her daughter and baking new dishes.