You don’t need to be a professional athlete to be at risk of sports injuries to the feet and ankles. Common causes of injury include:
- Participation in contact sports or activities that involve a lot of jumping and running
- Failing to warm up properly before exercising
- Starting a new exercise routine after leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Physical differences such as flat feet or high arches that make you naturally more prone to injury
If you’re experiencing pain in your feet or ankles, don’t try to “tough it out” and continue training. Injuries that aren’t allowed to heal properly can lead to chronic pain and serious mobility concerns. At Grandville Foot and Ankle, Dr. Sarah Stewart can provide the treatment you need to get back to competing in the sport you love.
Overuse injuries are those that are the result of repetitive stress on the feet and ankles. They are generally caused by training too hard or using poor technique when performing specific exercises. The injury often starts off with minimal discomfort but becomes more painful as time passes.
There are many different injuries that can be the result of overuse of your feet and ankles. Some of the more common ones include:
- Extensor tendonitis. Most often seen in runners, this condition is caused by overuse of the muscles and tendons on the top of the foot. The pain is felt whenever you need to flex.
- Metatarsalgia. When an athlete places too much stress on the ball of their foot, they can experience an aching and burning pain in the area that makes it difficult to walk.
- Stress fractures. Repetitive hard impact or pressure can lead to thin cracks in the bones of the foot.
- Shin splints. Sports that involve lots of running can strain the muscles in the shins and lead to a burning pain that seems to worsen with activity.
Traumatic injuries are acute injuries that result from a collision or accident. The pain develops immediately after the injury. Examples of traumatic injuries include:
- Ankle sprain. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that stabilize the ankle and prevent side-to-side movement are stretched or torn. Minor sprains may be slightly uncomfortable, but serious sprains can result in significant swelling and make it difficult to bear weight on the affected ankle.
- Broken ankle. Trips, falls, or sudden twists can lead to a fracture in the ankle. Symptoms of a broken ankle include swelling, bruising, tenderness to the touch, and an inability to bear weight on the affected ankle.
- Foot fracture. Metatarsal bone fractures, sesamoid bone fractures, and toe fractures can all cause pain that interferes with movement and weight-bearing.
Treatment for Sports Injuries
In a non-emergency situation, RICE therapy is generally the most effective approach to treating a sports injury. Here is an overview:
- Rest. Take a break from training to allow the body to heal itself and prevent future damage.
- Ice. Applying ice to an injured foot relieves pain and reduces inflammation. The ice pack should be covered with a thin towel to avoid damaging sensitive skin.
- Compression. Compassion bandages reduce inflammation in the injured area. However, it is important to avoid wrapping the bandage too tightly as this can cut off circulation.
- Elevation. Keep your injured foot or ankle above heart level to reduce swelling and inflation while speeding your natural healing process.
Once you’ve received a formal diagnosis from your podiatrist, physical therapy, prescription pain relievers, and cortisone injections may be recommended as part of your treatment plan. In the case of a severe fracture, surgery may be needed.
To prevent further injury, your podiatrist can also evaluate your shoes to determine if your footwear is increasing your risk of injury or prescribe orthotics to increase support and relieve pressure. Additionally, since podiatrists are also experts in biomechanics, your podiatrist may be able to offer training tips to help you achieve your athletic goals without putting unnecessary strain on your feet and ankles.
Request an Appointment Today
Grandville Foot and Ankle serves patients from Grandville, Jenison, Hudsonville, Georgetown, Zeeland, Grand Rapids, Caledonia, Kentwood, Lowell, and throughout Michigan. Contact us to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sarah Stewart.