As a nation its fair to say that we have a love affair with all football codes. Whether it is AFL, NRL, Rugby or Soccer there is always a game on somewhere in the country. Due to the nature of these sports involving various degrees of running, agility and contact its unsurprising that we see a number of footballers needing podiatrists for their rehabilitation from injuries sustained on the field.
So what are some of the common injuries that we see, what are their symptoms and how do we treat them?
Football generally places your plantar fascia under tremendous strain and as a consequence can become inflamed or torn. The plantar fascia is a structure that runs from the bottom of your heel bone to your toes and when inflamed can cause pain in the heel and/or arch of your foot. Players that tend to over pronate their feet can place increased strain on the plantar fascia as the foot trends inward upon impact with the ground.
If you are experiencing strong pain on the bottom of your feet you may be experiencing this condition. By speaking to a podiatrist you will be able to establish an effective treatment program as well as looking at ways in which you can correct the behaviour that is triggering the plantar fascial inflammation.
Ankle injuries are one of the most common lower lever injury that footballers across all codes will present at a podiatrist for injury rehabilitation. The ankle itself is a formidable joint. Its strength and flexibility whilst having the capacity to absorb significant amounts of load bearing weight from a high range of angles is next to none with respect to the majority of moving parts in the body.
Across all codes, players are required to pivot, side step, tackle all the whilst normally running at a high intensity. Ankle injuries are normally caused by a single traumatic event whether it be a fall when running or jumping. However, poor footwear, biomechanics and weakness in the joint itself could all be contributing factors to an acute ankle injury.
Footballers will regularly see a podiatrist to help assist in the rehabilitation of the ankle resulting from various grades of sprains, strains and in some cases reconstruction. A podiatrist can assist in advising patients on the best practices to recover from these injuries as well as future protection aimed at preventing an aggravation, reoccurrence or an entirely new ankle injury. A podiatrist can also help devise strategies for players on ways in which they can better distribute their weight in gameplay as well as appropriate stretching, strengthening and conditioning exercises for ankles.
This injury is a result of the overuse of the muscles that attach the shin bone to the foot. Symptoms can range anywhere from mild discomfort to a severe burning sensation. This injury is more common for footballers that have high running workloads and as a result experience muscle pain and inflammation where the muscle attaches to the Tibia. Other factors contributing to this injury include weak muscles and poor foot and lower leg biomechanics.
Symptoms are most noticeable at the commencement of the activity and dissipate as the activity continues. The pain will often return post activity and be worse the following day. A podiatrist will help identify any biomechanical faults or other issues related to running technique. Treatment option will include the development of a program that incorporates stretching and strengthening exercises as well as the exploration of footwear adjustments and orthotics to manage the injury itself.
The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscle to the back of the heel bone and footballers can commonly feel pain in the mid part of the tendon or more closely to the heel itself. Commonly caused by excessive strain or load own the tendon itself. Footballers that are have high amounts of running workloads and players that jump more frequently are more likely to present with this injury. Contributing factors to this injury are excessive foot pronation and poor foot mechanics that leads to greater strain on the Achilles as the foot rolls in. In some situations the players gait itself may be a factor in the injury. Early diagnosis of this injury will minimise time on the sidelines as well as reducing the risk of developing a chronic injury.
The metatarsals are a group of five bones in the feet that are connected to the bones of the toes and are by far and away one of the tougher foot injuries for footballers to overcome. This injury occurs more commonly in football codes that have high impact tackling. Players that sustain metatarsal fractures will normally require an immobilisation cast or CAM walker, be facing a longer period in rehabilitation and out of the game for some time.
The Take Away
Playing with niggles and pains is quite common with footballers however a podiatrist can help players recover from lower leg and foot injuries quicker than they have originally thought. Not only this, podiatrists can work with the player to build strategies for long term injury prevention to ensure more time is spent on the field than off it.
At Sole Podiatry, we have a number of specialists that regularly help with these types of injuries for footballers as well as many other athletes who present with similar conditions. If you think you may be exhibiting certain symptoms of any of these conditions speak with a podiatrist today to identify and properly treat your problem.