Most of us are more fitness-conscious these days. We jog, do aerobics and dance on a regular basis, but, although we feel distinctly healthier as a result, playing sport can have a distinctly unhealthy effect on our feet.
When we run, which we do in most sports, our body weight is multiplied by up to three times, with our feet bearing the brunt of this stress with every stride, over 1000 per mile per foot. An 11 stone person of average build will process 112 tonnes of weight through each limb per mile.
Sport, therefore, demands a lot of our feet, so we need to take extra care of them.
Stresses and Strains
Whether you are a professional athlete, or you just play sport for fun, the demands made on your feet and lower limbs can lead to a range of injuries, including blisters, sprained ankles, torn ligaments, shin splints, knee pain, low back pain and other joint and muscle problems. Added to these are corns, callus, and athlete’s foot, which may result from over use and exposure in communal changing rooms. Asking “too much, too soon”, of your joints and muscles can lead to injuries. Running style, poor footwear and even minor limb length differences, can contribute to injury.
Injuries, What To Do
Minor injuries are best treated by rest, gradually returning to exercise when any pain or discomfort has subsided. Leave blisters unopened. Minor sprains are helped by I.C.E. – ice, compression and elevation. If problems are more serious, you are best consulting your Podiatrist for advice when most acute foot problems can be helped with suitable padding, strapping and pressure bandages.
Some electrotherapies may be required and your Podiatrist will refer you to a specialist if required.
Correcting the Problem
There is also a lot your podiatrist can do to prevent injuries recurring, or indeed, developing in the first place. You may have a Biomechanical problem for example, your normal gait might be at fault, but this is easily cured with padding or othotoses. Orthoses, corrective appliances, are insoles, moulded to the shape of your foot, which will help the foot to function normally and distribute the weight more evenly across the foot. Each sport has its own demands and an appropriate appliance can be made to suit your sporting needs, whether you are a ballet dancer needing “arch supports” or a marathon runner with a tendency to form blisters. Orthoses are NOT cure-alls, but help to compensate for any structural defects which are present.
Footwear should be given the same consideration as any other piece of sports equipment. Sports shoes should protect as much as possible, be durable and should have the correct sole for the surface you will be on. Remember the “rule of thumb”, there should always be one thumb’s breadth between the longest toe and the end of the sports shoe.