As the crisp autumn air replaces the heat of summer, people of all ages look forward to playing fall and winter sports. Football, soccer, snow skiing, and ice skating are terrific ways to stay active and keep in shape. But, those who engage in these sports run the risk of common foot injuries such as sprained ankles and stress fractures causing foot pain. From school-aged children to professional athletes, it’s important to know about common foot and ankle injuries that you may suffer playing fall and winter sports.
Popular Fall and Winter Sports
Any type of sport or activity can be hard on your feet and ankles. Whether you play or participate in the spring and summer or enjoy the cooler temperatures of fall and winter, there are many activities to choose from, and each can be equally challenging and put you at risk of injury for foot pain.
Common fall and winter sports with a possible risk of foot and ankle injury include the following:
- Ice skating
- Field hockey
- Cross-country running
- Cross-country skiing
List of Possible Foot Injuries
As you engage in physical contact, run across the field, jump high to catch a rebound, or quickly change direction in football, you run the risk of a foot injury. Overuse injuries are also common when playing fall and winter sports, and these injuries may be acute or chronic. Past injuries and conditions may increase the risk of re-injury, too. Here is a list of common foot and ankle injuries:
Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the band of tissue on the bottom of the foot. This band of tissue connects the heel bone to the toes. Heel pain is the most common symptom. Athletes who are on their feet for a long period of time, such as those who play basketball and soccer, can develop plantar fasciitis.
Broken Foot and Ankle Bones
Broken bones can occur when playing contact sports such as football. A crushing blow from another player can break bones in the feet and ankles. The most common treatment is to realign and immobilize the broken bone, and this may involve a cast, boot, or removable brace. Athletes can suffer broken bones from other types of acute trauma, such as landing awkwardly after a jump.
Acute trauma can break bones in the feet and ankles. Repetitive force from overuse can also result in tiny cracks in the bones called stress fractures. These types of overuse injuries can be common with cross-country running or in activities that require a lot of jumping. The ankles and feet are unable to absorb this repeated stress. Pain and tenderness worsen over time. Subtle stress fractures may not appear on initial X-rays.
The Lisfranc joint refers to the group of bones and ligaments in the middle of the foot. This is where the metatarsal bones connect with the smaller cuboid bone. The strong ligaments here are called the Lisfranc joint complex. Direct and indirect forces can lead to Lisfranc injuries, which sometimes require surgery.
Turf toe is most commonly associated with playing football on artificial turf—which is where this condition gets its name. Artificial turf is a harder surface than natural grass. Basketball and soccer players can suffer turf toe because they often make quick movements on hard surfaces. Turf toe is a sprain of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint of the big toe, leading to stretched or torn soft tissue. Turf toe can develop suddenly or more slowly over time.
The Achilles tendon connects your heel to the back of your leg. When you develop Achilles tendinitis, this tendon becomes swollen. This painful condition is one of the most common sports injuries we see at Shenandoah Podiatry. An overuse injury, Achilles tendinitis can even lead to a full Achilles tendon rupture where the tendon tears partially or fully.
Many people who play fall and winter sports can suffer ankle sprains. They’re very common among soccer and hockey players. When you sprain your ankle, you stretch or tear the ligaments in your ankle because you force the ankle beyond its normal range of motion. Your ankle can swell, and it can be painful to walk.
Shin splints is an overuse injury resulting from overworked muscles, tissue, and tendons along the shinbone in the lower leg. Anterior shin splints are at the outside front part of the leg, and medial shin splints are on the inside of the leg. This condition is also sometimes called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). Athletes can develop shin splints from pushing themselves too far, too quickly. It also happens when people change their routine too suddenly.
Ice hockey players who lace up their skates too tightly can suffer from lace bite. This injury can also occur if the padding on the skates’ tongue is overworn. Tendons in the lower leg, ankle, and foot can get inflamed. The extra swelling can make it painful and difficult to put on your skates.
Treat and Prevent Foot Injuries This Season to Heal Your Foot Pain
The best thing you can do to treat and prevent sports injuries is to visit a skilled podiatrist regularly. Dr. Jennifer Keller and Dr. Natalie Allen bring years of experience treating foot and ankle injuries. They can diagnose your condition, offer treatments to relieve symptoms and restore function, and suggest preventative measures to reduce the risk of future injury. Our skilled team is happy and eager to help with all your foot and ankle needs.