As fall sports practices get underway, we at Gentle Professional Foot Care see an increase in injuries in children. Sadly, many of these injuries could have been prevented. Below are some of the more common reasons we see for foot injuries in children playing sports and how to avoid them:
- Going from sedentary to super active—many children who have been inactive over the summer attempt to go from couch potato to sports super star overnight. Muscles and stamina take time to build up. Trying to do too much too soon is a surefire way to end up with a tendon, muscle or bone injury.
- Shoes that are worn out or don’t fit properly—always inspect your child’s sport shoes at the start of the season. Look for loose stitching, tears, worn tread or shoes that can be twisted or squeezed together. Worn out shoes increase the risk of slipping and tripping. It’s best to start the new season with new shoes. Get your child’s foot professionally measured as it is not uncommon for them to have gone up a size over the summer. Although the cost savings makes it tempting, don’t let your child use hand me down sports shoes. Shoes mold to the foot of the owner and trying to wear someone else’s shoes can force your foot into a shape or gait that can cause pain and discomfort.
- Poor field conditions—check the fields where your child will be practicing and playing. Don’t be afraid to speak up to the coach or athletic director if there are holes, mounds or divots that can cause a player to sprain an ankle or fall.
- Inappropriate routines and drills—practices should always start with warm ups and stretching and move into more strenuous activity. Workouts should increase gradually both in intensity and duration and should be varied. Repetitive pressure on the same place on the foot or heel increases the risk of plantar fasciitis or stress fractures. A steady diet of hill running, especially without the proper lead up, can cause Achilles tendonitis.
- Dangerous attitudes—in addition to the workout routines, the attitude of the coach is critical for injury prevention. “Play through the pain” is a definite no-go if you want to ensure the safety of your child’s feet and ankles and prevent disabling injuries and even permanent foot damage.
Of course, sometimes even with all the proper precautions injuries happen. Be sure to call us at (941) 493-7999 or contact our Venice office and let our podiatrist, Dr. Charles A. Suleskey, examine your child’s foot promptly to prevent further damage from occurring.