Fall Sports Injury Prevention

Soccer - Football - Cross Country
Dr John B. Perry DPM/FACFAS, Board Certified Sports Podiatrist, Atlantic Foot & Ankle

Many of you are reporting “post summer syndrome.”

If you slacked off with training this summer, then you may be feeling the effects of that summer break, as you begin training this month.

You need to ask yourselves several questions.

Are your cleats fitting properly?

Do you have the right socks?

Do my everyday school shoes help or hurt my sore feet/legs?

When I go barefoot at home, why does my foot really hurts the next day?

If my problem doesn’t go away soon whom do I go to for professional treatment? Let’s take the last question first. Of course, you’ll discuss your condition with your parents.You should have a coach or trainer to discuss the pain/soreness/injury. Most coaches have very good intentions, however they may lack the medical knowledge to know when to seek another opinion.Also, remember you’re not a professional athlete and this body of yours needs to last another fifty or sixty years or more. Rest and recovery are always good options.

If you have a sport ache then make sure you follow the trainers instructions. If you go barefoot at home, with a foot problem, then its likely to become aggravated. It may heal more slowly and you’ll miss more games.

When your trainer or sports podiatrist tells you to wear shoes to prevent arch pain, don’t go barefoot around the house! Your everyday foot wear (flip flops, sandals or vans) may aggravate your plantar fascitis or tendonitis. The lack of support in these shoes is terrible for you shins, knees and low back and prolongs soft tissue strain.

Cleats and socks that fit well, are important for your game or run. When they fit but don’t support, and you’ve been barefoot in sandals all summer, you’re in for a sport ache. Athletes often use the R.I.C.E. regimen (rest, ice, compression and elevation) as a first line of defense. Advil can do wonders in limited dosing. Taping or strapping the foot or leg also helps to rest and protect the injured part, usually placed on professionally by a trainer or sports podiatrist. The skin preparation and careful application limits abnormal motion and prevents blisters or skin shear issues.

At times formalized physical therapy and massage is added to confirm the diagnosis to speed and enhance healing. Physical Therapy is especially helpful to prevent an injury from turning into a chronic condition and to provide sport specific exercises to more effectively rehab the athlete.

Overuse injuries can also signal a gait abnormality. Perhaps it is a subtle quirk, involving your feet and legs, that is putting extra strain on a small area, for instance, below your knee cap Sometimes the right foot flattens more than the left, causing the right knee to rotate inward more, and leading to bursitis. Also, this flattening, called pronation can aggravate the arch as in plantar fascitis. Over the counter arch supports can help and should be tried. These devices sold under many names and dozens of styles generally pose minimal risks. However, they should be used gradually, first for walking and standing, then for sport activities, such as running and cutting and jumping, after several days to two weeks.

Still hurting after all these health tips and efforts? Seek a professional consult.

At your first visit bring your sneakers, cleats, otc inserts and be ready to share what you’ve done to treat your pain. Be honest... if you only iced three times in three weeks, then say so. The more specifics you share about your sport ache the better. Like... "it hurts wicked going down stairs" or during your first few steps out of bed in the morning. You’ll likely have office x rays (weight bearing), footwear analysis, computer or video analysis, muscle testing and range of motion testing. A working diagnosis will be given, along with a treatment plan. Follow it well to get back on the field as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to call the doctor’s nurse to clarify an exercise or treatment. Remember that injuries take weeks to heal and longer to fully recover. So go back to the field or track with caution. Protect those feet at home and school, while healing. Play well!

Dr Perry trained at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Hospital and worked in the ski industry for years before becoming a podiatrist. He specializes in the biomechanics of the lower extremities. He lives in North Yarmouth Maine with his wife and four children, whom he actively coaches in sports. For more information go to www.atlanticfootankle.com




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