Foot & Ankle Injuries In Winter Sports

Antonio Ruffoblog

Winter Sports Injuries

From weekend warriors to professional athletes, injuries affecting the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are seen everyday in our winter sports. We are going to delve into the common winter sport injuries affecting the lower extremities and discuss strategies for their prevention and management.

Sports Injuries

Common Causes of Injury

  1. Overuse: Overuse injuries occur when a player repeatedly uses a certain part of their body (correctly or incorrectly), causing stress and strain on certain muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries are common in sports that require a lot of high impact movements such as running and jumping

  2. Biomechanical factors: The way your body naturally moves can be placing excessive stress on structures which can lead to injury. This can be due to factors such as overpronation, weakness/tightness in certain muscle groups or a lack of overall mobility
  3. Impact: Impact injuries occur when a player collides with another player or an object, such as the ground or a goalpost. These injuries can cause fractures, sprains, and strains depending on the location and direction of force.

  4. Poor footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide enough support or are not designed for the specific sport can increase the risk of foot and ankle injuries, particularly ankle sprains.

  5. Playing surface: Playing on hard surfaces, such as artificial turf or concrete, can increase the risk of impact injuries due to the decreased shock absorption capacity.

Common Injuries in Winter Sports

  1. Ankle sprains: Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that connect the bones in the ankle are stretched or torn. They typically occur when you "roll your ankle" and present with pain on the outside area of your foot and ankle. They are common in sports that involve sudden changes of direction and contact with your feet planted, such as soccer and AFL.

  2. Achilles tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It can occur commonly in individuals who have tight calves, those who do not warm up their calves correctly before activity as well as a multitude of other factors. It is prevalent in sports that involve running and jumping, such as soccer and AFL.

  3. Fractures: Fractures occur when one or more bones in the foot or ankle are broken and there are two different types of fractures we see. Firstly, there are fractures that can be caused by high impact collisions that put too much stress on the bone. Secondly, there are stress fractures that occur due to repetitive overuse and are commonly seen along metatarsal shafts in people who are active runners.

Management Methods

  1. RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation are crucial to reducing swelling and pain right when an injury occurs. Even if this helps, it is important to still seek medical attention to diagnose the injury and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
  2. Physical therapy: After a soft tissue injury, it is important to begin physical therapy to rehabilitate and improve your strength, flexibility, and range of motion. This is integral to ensuring injuries do not reoccur.

  3. Support: Wearing orthotics, a brace and supportive footwear can help stabilise the affected area, providing the support needed to lower the risk of an injury reoccurring or preventing the injury occurring initially.

  4. Laser treatment: Low Level Laser Therapy can help stimulate healing, reduce swelling and get you back on your feet quicker after an acute or chronic injury.
  5. Shockwave therapy: For those chronic injuries, shockwave therapy applies high-energy acoustic soundwaves that burst through non-healing tissue, disrupting the long-standing nature of the injury and kickstarts the healing process.
  6. Foot mobilisation therapy: Consists of manipulation of your foot by your podiatrist by using their hands to extend, stretch and put your joints through their full range of motion. It is all about resetting the bones in your feet by realigning the joints, activating neuromuscular systems within the foot and creating movement in the muscles and tissues as well.

It's important to note that while acute treatments can help provide relief and promote healing, it's essential to follow a comprehensive treatment plan that includes both acute and long-term management strategies to prevent reinjury and promote overall foot and ankle health. At The Foot Clinic, we can help diagnose your injury and develop an appropriate treatment plan based on the severity of your injury and your individual needs.