Most Common Exercise Injuries To Your Feet – and how to prevent them

I’m sure we can all agree that feet are pretty important, they are the part of your body that enable you to walk, run and do your everyday activities after all. We take our feet for granted until we have a foot injury.

Foot injuries are annoying injuries that remind us of them whenever we use our feet which is normally for the majority of the day. It’s the nightmare of injuries, especially to runners and other fitness enthusiasts, and can halter exercise regimes entirely. 

These injuries, whilst common amongst fitness enthusiasts, can be easily preventable. Let’s take a look at some of the common foot injuries and steps to prevent them. 

Sprained Ankle

Most individuals have probably somewhere in their life experienced a sprained ankle. It can range from moderate to excruciating but what actually is a sprained ankle?

A sprained ankle is when the ankle joint is forced from its natural position, rolling inwards or outwards. This change in position can stretch or tear the ligaments surrounding the joint. Symptoms of a sprained ankle include pain, swelling, bruising, and inability to place weight on the foot.

How To Prevent It

It is impossible to completely avoid ankle sprains from occurring but some steps that can be taken to prevent the change of a sprained ankle from occurring are:

  • Stretch to maintain ankle flexibility
  • Warm-up before exercising
  • Wear shoes that support your foot
  • Exercise on an even surface, if you happen to walk or exercise on an uneven surface, watch your step

If you currently have a sprained ankle rest, ice, compression, and elevation are common treatments as well as ankle braces or taping if the sprain is more severe.

Achilles Tendonitis

Your Achilles tendon is a tendon that runs on the back of the ankle, connecting the calf muscles to the heel. This injury occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed and can cause swelling to the ankle, it can occur on both ankles or one. 

This pain is felt at the back of your ankle and will be felt commonly when you are walking or running. Achilles tendonitis typically occurs from overuse, repetitive movements, and when the tendon is tight. 

How To Prevent It

Stretching your Achilles tendon out before and after exercise, stretching the tendon out can help to gently reduce any tension in the tendon and can help improve flexibility. This will help prevent the tendon from becoming inflamed. 

If you do happen to have an inflamed Achilles tendon, rest as well as heating and icing if the tendon is painful and swollen is best. 

When you return to exercise, it’s important to return to exercise slowly and increase the intensity slowly as well as stretch your tendon to prevent it from becoming inflamed again. 

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is considered a common and dreaded injury for many fitness enthusiasts, especially runners. It involves the band of fibrous tissue that is found at the bottom of your foot and is when this band becomes inflamed. 

The pain usually starts at your heel and spreads to the ball of your foot and can either occur in the morning when you start walking, at the end of the day, or chronically through the day when you walk. 

This pain is a sudden pain that occurs when you place your foot down. The plantar fascia plays an important role in supporting the arch of your foot and helps with shock absorption.

Repetitive motion such as walking and running, being overweight and incorrect shoes can cause strain to this fascia resulting in inflammation. 

How To Prevent It 

To prevent this annoying injury from occurring there are many things you can do which include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Wear shoes that support your feet
  • Do low-impact exercises
  • Stretch your feet using a tennis ball (place the ball under your foot and roll it under your foot)

If you already have this injury, rest, stretching, and seeking professional guidance on your footwear and physical therapy can help assist with recovery. In the case of the injury persisting, steroids such as corticosteroids are used. How this steroid is taken depends on the extent of pain and injury but can be taken in the form of a cream or injection. 

Heel Spurs

A heel spur is a bony growth that forms at the bottom of the heel where the heel bone connects to the plantar fascia. Heel spurs occur gradually over time and are usually diagnosed when there is heel pain. 

Heel spurs can be caused in response to plantar fasciitis as well as by individuals with flat feet or high arches, improper footwear, and running on hard surfaces.  

How To Prevent It

  • Wear shoes that support your foot
  • If you have plantar fasciitis, rest and treat the plant fasciitis
  • Stretch your plantar fascia
  • Exercise on soft surfaces and if a surface is hard, wear supportive shoes

Common treatments for heel spurs include rest, ice as well as getting supporting footwear.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma is a common nerve disorder that commonly involves the ball of your foot between the third and fourth toe. The nerve between these toes becomes inflamed and enlarged. 

This creates pain and a sensation as if you’re standing on a pebble. Incorrect shoes, high-impact sports, and foot disorders such as bunions and hammertoes can result in Morton’s Neuroma developing. 

How To Prevent It

  • Choose shoes with a wide toe box (heeled, pointed, or tight shoes can cause the neuroma to develop)
  • Wear shoes that support the arch of your foot
  • Wear shoes that have padding under the balls of your feet
  • Maintain a healthy weight (this prevents extra pressure on your foot)

Treatment for Morton’s Neuroma includes wearing padding in shoes, steroid injections, and in more severe cases can include surgery as a last resort.

Stress Fractures

This is a more serious injury that can occur to the foot but it is a common injury, especially among runners, tennis, gymnasts, and dancers. 

Stress fractures are small cracks that occur in the bone and typically occur from repetitive movements. Stress fractures can occur anywhere in the foot or ankle but commonly occur in the second and third-foot bones. 

How To Prevent It

  • Wear shoes that support your foot 
  • If you are making changes to your exercise regime, make the changes slowly
  • Rest at least 2-3 days per week
  • If you have an injury, rest and recover from it before exercising
  • Fuel your body with adequate nutrition and make sure you meet the recommended requirements for vitamin D and calcium 

Stress fractures require resting for around 2-6 weeks depending on the severity of the stress fracture, wearing supportive braces as well as applying ice to the injury.

Takeaway Message

Foot injuries can be annoying and painful but luckily can be prevented as well as treated through simple steps. If you are experiencing a foot injury or are concerned that you may have one, chat to your healthcare professional to ensure that you get adequate support and to assist with optimal recovery. 

References

  1. https://www.reboundmd.com/news/common-sports-related-foot-injuries
  2. https://www.reboundmd.com/news/how-identify-and-care-sprained-ankles
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stress-fractures/symptoms-causes/syc-20354057
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mortons-neuroma/#:~:text=specially%20made%20soft%20pads%20or,other%20treatments%20are%20not%20working
  5. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21965-heel-spurs 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.