Common Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries

Your feet and ankles are regularly under a lot of stress, but when you add sports into the mix, the risk of injury increases. 

At Neuhaus Foot and Ankle, our team of podiatry experts encourages our clients to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. We would, however, like you to be aware of the potential for injury to your feet and ankles so you can work to prevent a problem in the first place, allowing you to stay in the game.

Here’s a look at five common sports injuries and how you can keep your feet and ankles safe.

1. Sprained ankle

Far and away, the leading sports injury is a sprained ankle. To put some numbers to this common problem, a whopping 23,000 people sprain an ankle every day in the United States. While sprained ankles occur outside of sports (think stepping off a curb in an awkward way), up to 30% of injuries treated in sports medicine clinics are sprained ankles.

A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments in your ankle overstretch or tear, which usually occurs when you twist, roll, or turn your ankle at an awkward angle.

While it’s difficult to avoid situations like landing badly on your ankle during sports, you can take steps to protect this vulnerable area, such as warming up, wearing a brace if you have weak ankles, and ensuring that your shoes provide adequate ankle support.

2. Stress fractures

Stress fractures are another common foot and ankle injury and typically develop in the second and third metatarsals in your foot, as well as in your heels and ankles. Most stress fractures develop due to overuse, such as running on hard surfaces for miles. You’re especially vulnerable to these types of fractures when you engage in a new sport.

To avoid stress fractures, ramp up slowly when you engage in a new sport (or get back to an old one) and ensure that you’re wearing shoes that offer plenty of support. 

3. Achilles tendon issues

Your Achilles tendon is the largest in your body, and it attaches your calf muscles to your heel. If you stress this soft tissue, you can develop tiny tears that lead to Achilles tendonitis. By “stressing,” we mean activities like running on uneven surfaces or changing the intensity level of your training. Structural and gait issues can also play a role, such as tight calf muscles or excessive pronation (your ankles turn inward).

If you don’t pay heed to your Achilles tendonitis, you’re at risk of a partial or complete rupture, which can also occur during an acute injury.

To avoid Achilles tendon injuries, listen to your body and take a timeout when you feel any discomfort. Good shoes with custom orthotics can also help better balance your feet and ankles.

4. Turf toe

This condition is a sprain in the joint of your big toe and develops when you engage in activities that force your toe upward, such as pushing off when you run or jump. The reason it’s called “turf toe” is that this injury often occurs when you play on artificial surfaces that can catch your toe.

To avoid turf toe, try shoes that are less flexible at the front so that your big toe doesn’t bend upward as much.

5. Plantar fasciitis

Your plantar fascia are bands of taut tissue that run along the soles of your feet and provide support for your arches. If you overstress these tissues, perhaps through too much running or a sudden increase in activity level, it can lead to plantar fasciitis — inflammation in your plantar fascia.

To prevent plantar fasciitis, avoid suddenly ramping up your activity levels and try and steer clear of hard surfaces. Custom orthotics can also boost the support of your arches, taking some of the pressure off of your plantar fascia.

If you suspect you’ve developed one of these sports injuries in your foot or ankle, prompt treatment is essential. To get started, contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, or Lebanon, Tennessee.

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