All athletes – from four-year-old soccer players to 300-pound NFL linemen – have at least one thing in common: susceptibility to injury! Even active people who don’t consider themselves “athletes” still have a certain degree of injury risk when exercising or working out.

But the good news is most of these injuries can be treated without needing surgical intervention. Even better, there are measures you can take to prevent sports injuries from happening in the first place.

Of course, if you do hurt a foot or ankle while exercising, playing a favorite sport, or even simply moving around while performing daily activities, our team at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona is here to get you back in the game!

Some Common Foot & Ankle Sports Injuries

The first step toward overcoming foot and ankle pain is to determine exactly what is wrong and why it happened. Your lower limbs have lots of moving parts (26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons) and receive tremendous amounts of force, especially from high-impact activities – ones that feature lots of running and jumping.

All of those parts and force can lead to an array of different injuries from physical activity. Some do tend to be more common than others, and these include:

Ankle sprainsThis happens when the foot turns too far and stretches supportive ligaments – the tissues that connect bones to other bones – beyond their intended range.

Plantar fasciitis. This is the leading cause of heel pain for adults, and you will likely recognize this overuse injury if you have severe pain in the bottom of the heel upon waking up and setting your feet down first thing in the morning.

Achilles tendinitisWhen the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed and injured in response to excessive force loads (whether in a single incident or over time).

Peroneal tendinitisThis occurs when the peroneal tendon becomes inflamed due to increased load and overuse – which leads to friction between tendons and bones, resulting in pain and swelling.

Turf toe. When the ligaments supporting the joint at the base of the big toe have been sprained. This typically occurs when the big toe is bent backward too far.

Bone fracturesWith 52 total bones in your feet and ankles (which endure tremendous impact forces whenever you are active), it’s easy to see how fractures in the lower limbs are a risk for active individuals.

Stress fractures. Tiny cracks that develop in the surface of a bone over time, usually due to overuse.

Sesamoid injuries. These injuries can come in the form of turf toe, fractures, or sesamoiditis. All of which affect the sesamoid bones found in the balls of the feet, near the big toe joints.

Preventing Foot & Ankle Sports Injuries

As mentioned earlier, there are ways to reduce your risk of sustaining foot and ankle sports injuries. Some that are particularly helpful include:

  • Conditioning yourself properly. Don’t jump into a new sport with reckless abandon, or ramp up your running mileage too quickly. Build slowly toward new goals, giving your body time to condition and adjust.
  • Wearing appropriate shoes. That means your shoes must be the right fit for your foot size and shape, be designed for the specific activity you’ll be performing (running shoes, basketball shoes, cross-trainers, etc.), and be in good repair.
  • Cross training. If you’re exclusively participating in high-impact endeavors, your feet never get a break. Make sure you take appropriate rest days and cross train in less foot-intense activities like weightlifting, cycling, swimming, or even just walking.
  • Listening to your body. You should never try to push through pain. If certain activities are leaving you wincing and hobbling, it’s time to see one of our doctors. There may be treatment options, or even simple behavior or equipment modifications, that can help you eliminate the pain.

How Can Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona Help?

Here’s the truth:

Even if you follow sports injury prevention measures, it is virtually impossible to eliminate all injury risk. But the good news is most foot and ankle sports injuries can be effectively treated with nonsurgical care. Depending on your case, this may include RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), medication, physical therapy, custom orthotics, or other protective equipment.

In those rarer cases when foot or ankle surgery is the best course of treatment, you can take comfort in knowing that our team is staffed with surgical experts. Even if the necessary procedure is extensive or complex, we will create and implement a plan that works for you.

When you sustain any foot or ankle injury – during sports or otherwise – your first step for finding the care you need is to contact Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona. Remember, early intervention is always best. Continuing to perform physical activities on an injured foot or ankle can not only interfere with normal healing processes, but it can also cause the condition to become worse!

For more information or to request an appointment, call us today at (480) 963-9000  today. If you’d prefer, you can also take advantage of our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.