How Athletes Can Protect Their Feet

Michelle Hopkins

As an athlete, you need every single part of your body to excel at your sport. However, you should pay special attention to your feet. A foot injury can put you out of commission for weeks or even months. Here are four things you can do to protect them.

1. Wear proper shoes.

Shoes protect and support your feet. The right shoes can prevent injury, but the wrong shoes can change your gait in harmful ways. Choose shoes that are appropriate for the sport that you want to participate in. Running shoes are best for those who participate in sprinting or distance running. Weightlifters will do better to lift in simple, flat shoes that allow them to maintain good contact with the ground. People who play field sports need shoes with cleats for proper traction.

2. Stretch thoroughly.

Stretching can help you warm your muscles up. Limber muscles are less likely to get injured. Take five to ten minutes before you start exercising to stretch your legs, feet, and ankles thoroughly. Roll your ankles in both directions to get them ready for movement. Use your hands to gently pull your feet forward and backward, which will stretch the tendons that run inside the sole and along the top of your foot.

3. Stop at the first sign of pain.

As soon as you feel pain in your foot or ankle, you should discontinue the activity you're doing. Your feet and ankles are made up of many small bones and tendons. It's easy to sustain a fracture or sprain by pushing yourself too hard and too fast. When you encounter foot pain, elevate your foot and rest it as much as possible for the rest of the day. Placing hot compresses or cold ice packs on your feet can relieve pain and swelling. If your foot continues to hurt after a few days, see a podiatric sports medicine specialist for further diagnosis.

4. See a podiatrist for regular checkups.

Everyone should see their primary care physician for an annual checkup. However, people who are particularly active and those who stand on their feet all day should also see a podiatrist regularly. Podiatrists specialize in foot and ankle health. They're the doctor you'll need to see if you develop foot problems, but preventative care can be just as vital. A podiatric sports medicine specialist can analyze your gait and make recommendations to keep your feet in great physical condition.