Football-Related Foot & Ankle Injuries & Tips for Prevention
Football is among one of the most popular sports in the U.S. Due to being a high-impact sport, football players are at risk of suffering several feet and ankle injuries. These injuries may occur while running, side-to-side cutting or from direct trauma caused by tackling. With football season beginning next month in high school nationwide – including here in Arizona – now’s a good time to shed some light on the most common foot and ankle injuries and share some preventative tips to help keep athletes safe.
7 Most Common Football Foot & Ankle Injuries
- Ankle Sprains – The most prevalent ankle injuries in football that results when ankle ligament(s) are stretched or torn. Inversion ankle sprains are the most common types of ankle sprains. These types of sprains occur when the foot is lifted upward and the ankle rolls inward.
- Ankle fractures – Partial or complete breaks in the ankle bone. These are most often caused by direct impact when one player tackles another.
- Fractured or broken toes – May result from a hard blow to the foot during tackling or through excessive rotation of the foot. Broken toes can also be caused over time due to excessive strain from standing on the foot for long periods.
- Lisfranc fractures – An injury that occurs when one or more of the toe bones become displaced from the tarsus bones. These are the seven bones that make up the middle (mid-foot) and lower (hind-foot) parts of the feet.
- Toe turf or hyperextension – A painful toe injury that got its name from the artificial “turf” or fake grass used on football fields, which causes players to ‘jam’ their toes. Toe turf is sprain of the big toe joint and happens when the big toe is extended upward towards the top of the foot too high.
- Plantar fasciitis or heel pain – A condition that results from the tearing and inflammation of the plantar fascia or the ligament that stretches across the heel of the foot. The strain placed on football players’ feet put them at increased risk for plantar fasciitis.
- Achilles tendonitis – An overuse injury that occurs in the lower back part of the calf and ankle, near the heel. Achilles tendonitis is another condition in football players that is caused by excessive strain of the foot and ankle.
4 Tips for Preventing Football Foot & Ankle Injuries
Here are four ways to prevent the football foot and ankle injuries previously discussed:
- Wear supportive, properly fitting shoes – Wearing the proper cleats and orthotics is especially important in preventing foot and ankle injuries. Wearing ankle braces and taping the ankle during practice will also help stabilize the ankle and prevent injuries.
- Stretch before and after playing – Performing foot and ankle stretches, especially those that work to strengthen the ankle, are a great way to prevent injuries.
- Have regular foot checkups – Be sure to have a thorough foot and ankle examination before and after each football season. That way, you can identify and seek immediate treatment for any existing conditions.
- Develop ‘quick feet’ – Improve your balance, rhythm and coordination through ‘quick feet’ drills. These exercises will help enable you to have more precision and control of your feet, aiding in injury prevention.
Have you sustained a foot or ankle injury as a result of playing football? If so, contact Dr. Jeffrey McAlister’s office promptly at (602) 955-5700 to schedule an appointment. Dr. McAlister is a fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon who is experienced in treating these injuries.