Football season is in full swing and you may have started noticing some niggles in your feet which could turn into a problem later in the season. The problem might be your boots, it might be your feet, or it might be both.
Your feet are your most important asset when playing football and if your lower limb/foot health is compromised, performance can suffer. The appropriate fit of your boots is important for comfort, performance and injury prevention.
Here are some tips to help you find the right boot and some information regarding the injuries that can occur.
‘Right boot for the right surface’.
Due to the dry summer we have had, most weekend sports are being played on very hard grounds with minimal grass coverage. Make sure you consider stud height and stud distribution when purchasing your boots.
Boots with a lower stud height and greater distribution are best for harder grounds as it increases the surface area of contact. Longer studs have a small surface area of contact, therefore pressure is applied focally to a small area. This can be at the big toe joint, heel or outside of the foot and also increase the chance of ankle sprains. Longer studs are more suited to softer surfaces as they are designed to pierce the turf and give you grip.
Width is another big issue with boots. Make sure when you are buying your boots you try them on with your playing socks. Boots that are too narrow can lead to problems such as ingrown toenails, metatarsal pain, nerve entrapments and more.
Injuries to watch out for this football season…
ACHILLES PAIN – The pain is most commonly around the mid 1/3 of the tendon and can be painful when palpated and when under strain. Symptoms may occur in the morning, before playing or after. The problem may be due to poor biomechanics, weak/tight muscles, inappropriate training loads or poor footwear. Early diagnosis is important to minimise further injury and potential rupture.
HEEL PAIN – Plantar fasciopathy, heel bursitis and heel fat pad syndrome can contribute to pain around and under the heel or can extend in to the arch. This is most often an overuse injury, but in rare cases can be traumatic.
SHIN SPLINTS – Shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome) and stress fractures can cause pain around the lower leg. These are overuse injuries due to faulty biomechanics or inappropriate training loads for the strength or fitness level of the athlete.
ANKLE SPRAINS – Ankle injuries can be hard to avoid due to the physical nature of the sport. If you do experience a traumatic ankle injury, make sure it is treated appropriately and serious injuries (such as a fracture or soft tissue rupture) are ruled out. Studies have shown that once an ankle injury like this has occurred, the integrity of the joints are weakened permanently so appropriate rehabilitation is important.
STRESS FRACTURE – Early diagnosis and intervention is paramount with this type of fracture. As it is an overuse injury, proper healing is essential for recovery (which can be a lengthy process). The most common areas for stress fractures are the tibia, second metatarsal, sesamoids and styloid process.
TURF TOE – An injury to the plantar plate can occur due to overuse or a traumatic injury from an awkward landing or tackle. It can be a lingering injury which isn’t painful enough to stop you from playing, but it can be a serious injury if left untreated and surgery may be required.
NEUROMA – This is an enlargement of a nerve which is irritated by the nerves that surround it. One of the most common causes of this is footwear which is too narrow, particularly football boots so make sure the boot is not too tight across the forefoot and midfoot. Signs that you may have a neuroma include feeling like you are walking on a stone or numbness into the toes.
SKIN AND NAIL PROBLEMS – Blisters, bruised nails and ingrown nails are all very common and can be caused by friction or pressure force. These problems can be easily managed but are best treated by a podiatrist to avoid further issues.
We look forward to keeping you on the field and help manage the above conditions and more…
Good luck this football season!