The 3 Most Common Foot Injuries in Professional Soccer
Posted by Jenn F. on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
Learning to control a ball with your feet is like learning a foreign alphabet: you have to understand the letters before you can make words. Developing the kind of finesse and style that makes a player a professional takes incredible dedication. It also takes many thousands of hours of foot-pounding punishment. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. 10,000 hours of kicking, passing, running, and jumping can really wreak havoc on a player’s delicate feet. Here are 3 extremely common professional soccer injuries, along with tips for prevention and care.
1. Blisters are the most common (and least dangerous) of all the soccer foot injuries. They’re typically caused by friction from ill-fitting, stiff, or wet cleats. Wetness also softens skin so it makes abrasions more likely. Wear socks that wick away moisture. Thicker socks will also add some cushioning, reducing friction between the shoe and your skin. If you already have blisters, wash them, treat them with disinfectant, and cover them with a bandage until they heal. While a mild blister is nothing to worry about, infection can be a bigger problem, so make sure to give yourself good first aid. If the blister is red, produces puss, or is very painful, a trip to the doctor is in order.
2. Broken metatarsals plague the pitch. Metatarsals are the long bones on the top of your feet. They’re very susceptible to hairline fractures and stress fractures. Beware of an abrupt increase in training, since overuse is a major cause of these breaks. Training on cement or on trails may also pose a risk, since impact and uneven ground can both strain these delicate bones. Give yourself plenty of time for conditioning, wear supportive cleats that fit your feet well, and if you feel pain take a break. Pain that doesn’t resolve in a few days may signify a fracture. Visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) for an evaluation.
3. When you’re job is to sprint full-speed over uneven grass, stop on a dime, and twist mid-run, you should expect the occasional sprained ankle. A sprain occurs when you over-extend the ankle joint, damaging the soft tissue (mainly ligaments). A mild sprain should respond well to rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) but a severe sprain may require a period of immobilization or, in extreme cases, surgery. Dean Ashton, a famous British soccer player, retired at just 26 because of a severe ankle sprain. These aren’t to be taken lightly!
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.