Foot Injuries

Foot injuries are common among athletes during their career and can cause a lot of pain, discomfort and in some cases can sideline them for some time. Overuse, over-training, weak muscles and tendons, trauma and, in some cases, poor technique can all lead to foot injuries. In this article we will look at some of the most common foot injuries and how physiotherapy can help.

Achilles tendonitis

This is a common, painful condition experienced by runners, dancers and walkers who exert a lot of stress on the Achilles tendon. It is characterised by pain to the back of the heel which increases with exercise and decreases when the exercise stops. There is also difficulty walking or rising up on the toes. If one continues to put pressure on the tendon it may snap, sometimes with a loud popping sound. Therefore the best treatment for Achilles tendonitis is to rest and ice the injured foot until the pain goes away. Rehabilitation may be necessary to stretch and strengthen the calf muscles.

Metatarsalgia

Athletes who run and jump a lot may be susceptible to metatarsalgia, a type of foot injury that manifests itself in pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. Wearing shoes with insufficiently thick soles can lead to this foot injury. Over-pronation of the feet (the foot rolls inward) and a tight, high arch are also causes. Symptoms of metatarsalgia are:
  • Pain in the forefoot is most pronounced when the person tries to bear weight or push off in high heels.
  • Passive range of motion (when the therapist tries to bend the foot downwards) may be difficult or painful.
  • Pain and tenderness when the joint is pressed in.
  • Excessive skin or calluses may be seen under the foot because of pressure.
Physiotherapy involvement in this type of foot injury may involve the following:
  • Assess gait and help correct uneven distribution of pressure on the metatarsals.
  • Recommend properly fitting shoes.
  • Fit you with doctor-prescribed orthoses to correct over-pronation.
  • Train you in stretching and strengthening exercises to correct tightness in the tendons.
  • Massage to relieve pain and tightness in the metatarsal area.

Plantar fasciitis

This type of foot injury causes pain in the back of the heel and is most felt after waking in the morning. It is an overuse injury experienced by walkers and those who are on their feet a lot. Women, the obese, those who over-pronate or have very high arches may also experience this type of foot pain. Rehabilitation with a physiotherapist is necessary to reduce pain and provide stretching exercises to strengthen the calf muscles. Your physiotherapist may also recommend an orthosis to lift the heel and take some of the pressure off it. If you are suffering from this or other type of foot injury, your first step should be to call us at Physiohealth. We are here to help you and by contacting us early, you can avoid further injury and be on the road to recovery sooner.
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