The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Stop Toe Pain From Sidelining Youth Soccer Players

Posted by on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014


Soccer is a popular sport for youngsters in New York. While it’s great exercise for the body, and a positive experience for the developing mind, parents should be aware of a common issue we treat: toe pain. Part of the problem is the repeated kicking motion, which is simply the nature of the game. However, we find the vast majority of kids with toe injuries also happen to be wearing improperly fitted cleats. NY podiatrists from The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, a group of doctors’ offices in Westchester and Manhattan specializing in youth sports, detail what you can do to prevent this type of youth soccer injury.

soccer injuries
Toe injuries occur more often in youth soccer leagues due to improper cleat fitting. Image Source:

How Do Cleats Contribute To Toe Injuries?

Younger kids wear hand-me-downs and older kids prefer a snug fit to get a feel for the ball and field, explains the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Shoes with narrow toeboxes can cause the edges of the nail to dig into the skin, especially if a player lands wrong or changes direction frequently. Toenails that curve naturally, are trimmed too short, or are rounded off at the corners are also more likely to dig in. Sometimes there is a genetic component, so if you have had ingrown toenails, your offspring may have an increased risk of developing them too.

Cleat Fitting Tips

Here are a few guidelines for choosing cleat size:

  • Allow a 1/4- to 1/2-inch gap at the toe
  • Keep in mind that every half size adds another 4mm of space
  • Choose premium leather (rather than synthetic), so there is a little give in the cleat
  • For wider feet, consider the Nike T90 Laser, Umbro Speciali, or Mizuno Morelia.

Treating Ingrown Toenails

Often, the toe infection cases we see are considerably advanced. Most kids don’t want to tell their parents about a problem because they don’t want to miss a game. It can be intimidating to have to see a doctor for any reason, but we try to make the experience as pleasant as possible. A simple, 10-minute procedure can treat an ingrown toenail by numbing the foot and removing the part of the nail that’s digging in. Most children experience very little pain and can resume normal activity the next day. Sometimes we have to remove part of the nail root to prevent it from growing incorrectly again down the road. For these patients, we may recommend nightly Betadine / warm water soaks until the tissue heals.

New York Soccer Injury Treatment

If you live near NYC, book an appointment with The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine online. Our chief podiatrist, Dr. Josef Geldwert, is board-certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association. What’s more, he has tons of experience working with soccer players from youth and pro leagues. Dr. Josef Geldwert , and he has extensive experience treating various soccer injuries. He served as the official team Podiatrist for the NY Power (WUSA) and the NY Magic (W League), and he was the on-field Podiatrist for the Women’s World Cup game (USA vs. Denmark). His daughter also played Division 1 soccer at Brown University, so he knows firsthand what sorts of injuries can come up during a season. In addition to treating both acute and chronic injuries, we can also counsel you on selecting proper cleats.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. 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.