August marked the start of the football season for the professional leagues, which often inspires a nation of football lovers to take up or resume playing this much-loved sport. Whether it’s a casual game of five-a-side with friends, a local weekend league, or your children’s progression from playground games to weekend tournaments, keeping feet healthy is an integral part in maximising footballing performance.
Playing Football Is Hard Work for Your Feet
During a normal 90-minute game of football, your body goes through intense periods of play. For most players, constant movement is key to keep up with play and maintain position. According to onhealth.com, healthy men and women should expect to burn around 730 or 580 calories respectively per hour of playing football. Alongside this, dribbling and kicking the ball, quick changes of direction and sudden stops, and the ever-present danger of tackles all put your feet, lower legs and ankles under a great amount of pressure.
Common Foot Ailments in Footballers
Dr Lindsay Hill from the College of Podiatry rightly believes that a podiatrist is just as important to the backroom staff of a professional football club as a physiotherapist, because they prevent injuries and maintain players’ key assets – their feet.
At Feet By Pody, we regularly help keen sportsmen and women ahead of their game by checking for underlying issues and assessing foot health before they develop any game-limiting problems.
Common problems we treat in footballers include:
Plantar Fasciitis: With the pressure of playing a game of football going through the soles of your feet, it’s common that the plantar fascia – the strip that runs from your heel to your toes on the sole of your foot – can become inflamed or torn. This pain can be felt in the heel and/or arch of the foot.
This problem can be caused by overpronation, which increases the strain put upon the fascia. A biomechanical assessment can see if this is the cause of your pain and custom orthotics inserted into your football boots can be a way to help resolve this issue.
Shin Splints: Shin splints is the term given to an intense, sometimes burning pain running down the front of your lower leg. A result of the overuse of muscles that attach the shinbone to the foot, shin splints are caused by prolonged periods of running. Shin splints can be exacerbated by running on hard surfaces, so footballers playing on a hard pitch such as an artificial pitch with reduced shock absorption can be most at risk.
Shin splints can often be attributed to faults with running technique and inadequate footwear. Your podiatrist can offer strengthening techniques, biomechanical assessment to understand the underlying cause of any pain, and make footwear recommendations.
Blisters, corns and calluses: Blisters, corns and calluses are all types of skin lesions that can usually be attributed to one thing: repetitive friction on a specific part of your foot. The resulting pain and discomfort can be extremely distracting during regular activity and can affect your playing abilities.
Ill-fitting footwear is often the reason for the friction placed upon your skin, so making sure your football boots fit and support you whilst not restricting your movements is essential. Wearing the right size football socks is just as important. A podiatrist can recognise these conditions before they become a hindrance to your game. Prevention is the best medicine, so treating blisters, corns and calluses before they become too painful is key.
Ankle injury: One of the main things footballers want to avoid is a long-term injury. Ankles support you through running, pivoting, stopping and starting, so it’s reasonable that they may feel some soreness after a long season. Ankle sprains and breaks, however, are an unfortunate problem often caused by poor footwear support, underlying weakness in the joint, or biomechanical issues.
Podiatrists can help assess if you are at risk of developing an ankle injury and recommend strengthening exercises and correctional treatment. If you have already suffered an ankle injury, a podiatrist can assist with your recovery and prevention of further injury.
We take pride in helping sportsmen and women stay on their feet to enjoy the game they love so much. Whether you or your child are just starting out in your first season of football or if you’ve been playing for years and want to see if a podiatrist can help improve your game, contact Feet By Pody to book an appointment with one of our friendly team.