Foot and ankle injuries are common in sports that involve running, jumping, contact and sudden changes in direction as typically seen in Australian winter sports.
In sports such as soccer, AFL, rugby and hockey, injuries affecting the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are see everyday. This is why it is important to know how to manage them and even more importantly, how to prevent them.
Common Causes of Injury
Overuse: Overuse injuries occur when a player repeatedly uses a certain part of their body, causing stress and strain on certain muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries are common in sports that require a lot of running and jumping, such as soccer and AFL which place strain on the same areas after typical movements.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Support: Wearing a brace and supportive footwear can help stabilise the affected area, providing the support needed to lower the risk of an injury reoccurring.
- Laser treatment: Low Level Laser Therapy can help stimulate healing, reduce swelling and get you back on your feet quicker after injury.
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.
Injuring your heel or ankle while participating in any sport is very common. Read more about heel and ankle pain and treatment options.