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What Athletes Should Know About Foot Care

What Athletes Should Know About Foot Care

If you’re an athlete, you might think the keys to success are eating, sleeping, and training the best you can. But if you fail to take care of your whole body, including your feet, you may never reach peak performance. 

Here, Dr. Maurice Aiken, our podiatric expert at Bay Breeze Foot & Ankle Specialists, explains proper foot care for athletes and helps you get an edge on the competition. 

Athletes rely on their feet

Some sports use pucks or balls, and some involve clubs or bats. Some are played on fields, and others are played on courts. But there is one aspect that binds them all — feet. 

Every single athlete, from swimmers to squash players, relies on their feet to propel their movements and keep them balanced. 

Your foot comes equipped with 26 bones, over 100 ligaments, a variety of muscles and tendons, and around 30 joints. All of these structures are woven together to create the perfect balance of sturdiness and flexibility that allows you to stand firmly one moment and launch into a sprint the next.

Common foot and ankle injuries in athletes

It's easy to shove your feet in a boot, cleat, or sneaker and forget about them until something goes wrong. Some of the most common sports-related foot injuries include:

If you’re an athlete (at any level), you’re at risk for a painful foot injury like these. 

How you can support your feet

It may sound as though there’s nothing you can do but wait to be sidelined by a foot injury, but you can help prevent an injury by making these simple adjustments and paying careful attention to your foot care habits. 

Evaluate your footwear

Shoe choice is the first place you should start. Go to any sporting goods store, and you’ll notice that the shoes are categorized by sports. There’s a reason for that. Each type of shoe is uniquely designed to support a certain range of movements specific to your sport. 

For instance, basketball shoes are made with heavier soles and higher tops. This cushions every jump and stabilizes your ankle, allowing for side-to-side movement. 

We encourage you to select your shoes carefully, and if you’re not sure if you’ve picked the best pair, ask Dr. Aiken for a shoe evaluation. 

Change your shoes often

In addition to picking the right pair of shoes, you must replace them often. Worn-out shoes don’t offer adequate support and can leave you vulnerable to injury. 

Never go with damp socks

This is especially important if you sweat a lot. Damp socks are breeding grounds for fungus and harmful bacteria. That may not sound like a big deal, but it can take you out of the game if you’re not careful. 

Be mindful as you train

If you’re coming off a dead period, transitioning between activities, or starting a new program, you must ease into your new movements. Your feet need time to adjust as you work back into working out. 

It’s also a good idea to consider cross-training, especially if you play a high-impact sport. Mixing in lower-impact movements takes the pressure off your feet and helps you avoid injury. 

Don’t play through it

Of course, the best thing you can do for your feet is to listen to them. Pain should never be a normal part of your sport. Resting for a game or two to allow a minor injury to heal is better than taking a season off for an untreated one. 

For any recommendations, Dr. Aiken’s favorite shoes include Brooks and New Balance shoes. If you’d like more information about how you can better take care of your feet, call 727-285-9686 or request an appointment online for our Dunedin, Florida, office today.

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