Because jumping and running takes a toll on your feet, proper foot care is especially important for athletes. Athletes often suffer from injuries caused by repetitive motion, overuse of the joints, and recurring stress on the bones. They are also more prone to fungal infections. Fortunately, with proper foot care, many of these conditions can be prevented.
Foot ailments for athletes
Athletes may suffer from a variety of foot ailments including:
- Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon)
- Bursitis (inflammation of a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a tendon and a bone)
- Fungal infections
- Metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot)
- Plantar fasciitis (inflammation of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the toes)
- Sesamoiditis (irritation or fracture of the tiny bones near the big toe joint)
- Stress fractures (small cracks in a bone)
Foot care for athletes – tips and recommendations
Prevention guidelines and foot-care tips vary based on the type of injury or condition.
Blister, Corn, and Callus Prevention
It is important for athletes to take care of their feet in order to prevent injuries. Sores on your feet often develop as a result of wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or rub against the skin. Some precautions that can be taken to avoid blisters, corns, and calluses include:
- Keeping your feet clean and dry.
- Using lotion to soften your skin and prevent cracking.
- Wearing shoes that are comfortable and fit properly so they don’t rub or irritate the skin.
Steps can also be taken to prevent tendon, ligament, and bone injuries such as sesamoiditis, bursitis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and metatarsalgia. These include:
- Avoiding an activity or particular movement that causes pain.
- Gradually increasing the intensity and/or duration of workouts.
- Stretching before and after every workout to help loosen muscles and tendons.
- Taking it easy if an injury starts to occur and allowing it time to heal.
- Using insoles, arch supports, or heel pads to provide additional support and cushion. This is especially important for those with high arches or flat feet who are more susceptible to injury.
Fungal infection prevention
Fungal infections are common among athletes since damp or sweaty feet provide an ideal environment for fungus to grow. Some precautions that can be taken to prevent fungal infections include:
- Changing socks throughout the day, if your feet sweat, in order to help keep them dry.
- Drying your feet well, especially between the toes, after showering.
- Wearing shower shoes in public showers.
- Wearing socks made of a breathable fabric such as cotton.
If you suffer a foot injury and experience pain or inflammation, it is important to consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.