As football continues to grow in popularity and complexity, so does the risk of injury. It’s no secret that football’s rough nature can lead to a multitude of injuries. Trauma occurring to the foot and ankle region is among the most common injuries in football. To stay healthy and active this football season, Rothman Orthopaedics believes it is important to stay educated on the most common foot and ankle injuries.
Learn more about these types of injuries below.
An ankle sprain occurs when there is a tear to the ligaments that surround and connect the bones of the leg to the foot. Football’s strenuous and fast-paced nature makes ankle sprains one of the most common football injuries. A football player typically suffers from an ankle sprain as a direct result of a tackle, while other causes include running, jumping or falling. It is important to seek treatment and rehabilitation for a sprained ankle in order to avoid repeated ankle sprains and long-term pain, such as arthritis.
Turf toe is a sprain of the big toe joint. Its name stems from the prevalence of this injury while playing football on artificial grass, or turf. This foot injury occurs when the big toe is hyper-extended beyond its’ normal range of motion. Football players may experience turf toe when another player falls on their foot, causing the big toe to bend beyond its limits. Another cause may be the result of continually pushing from the toes while running or jumping. Initial treatment includes the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation); however, more severe cases call for turf toe surgery.
Another injury faced by football players is a fracture. A fracture is a break in a bone; this can be a complete break, or an extremely thin crack. A reoccurring fracture in football is a Jones fracture. This fracture occurs in the fifth metatarsal, the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the smallest toe. A football player suffering from a Jones fracture will experience pain near the outer-midportion of the foot. This fracture is generally derived from stress on the bone as a result of repetitive motion or overuse, but also may occur acutely after rolling the ankle. In order to properly heal, a person may need to wear a foot support for approximately 6 to 8 weeks. For certain cases, a foot and ankle specialist may suggest surgery.
Achilles Tendon Rupture and Tendonitis
Playing football can result in an injury to the strong band of tissue that runs down the back of the lower leg and connects to the heel. This area is known as the Achilles tendon. Athletes are high-risk individuals for Achilles tendon injuries. In this region, football players may experience:
- Achilles Tendon Rupture: An Achilles tendon rupture is a tear to the Achilles tendon. The tear exists when the Achilles tendon is stretched beyond its capacity. This injury can be attributed to forceful movement, or sudden accelerations. A football player may also experience this injury after being tackled, falling, or tripping. Treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture generally depends on the severity of the injury, and the activity level of the athlete. There are both surgical and nonsurgical approaches to treating this injury.
- Achilles Tendonitis: This condition is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. An athlete might suffer from Achilles tendonitis by increasing the intensity or frequency of the workout; by adding stress placed on the calf muscles and Achilles tendon; or by overuse. If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, it is recommended to seek out a foot and ankle specialist in order to provide you with the proper treatment and strengthening activities.
The Risk Associated with Not Properly Treating an Injury
What is worse than a sports injury? Getting a sports injury and not properly taking care of it. There is an abundance of risk associated with not seeking proper treatment after injuring yourself on the field. If left untreated, a simple fracture could lead to improper healing. This improper healing can result in limited movement, repeated injuries, joint damage, arthritis, and severe ongoing pain. If you or a teammate is suffering from a sprain, fracture, swelling, bruising, discomfort/pain or redness, it is time to seek treatment.
Tips for Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries
· Get a preseason health and wellness checkup
· Stretch before and after exercise
· Regularly incorporate strength training into your workout
· Wear shoes specifically for your foot type
· Avoid working out on uneven surfaces
· Listen to your body
· If an injury occurs, use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), then consult a foot and ankle surgeon for a complete evaluation
At Rothman Orthopaedics, we believe education is important in prevention and treatment. Our Foot & Ankle team is available to help you understand your injury, and how to properly recover. If you’d like to seek treatment with us or simply would like to learn more, please visit us here, or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.