Playing football can place a lot of stress on your feet and the more you play, the more the stress. There can be a lot of friction involved, particularly when playing on artificial surfaces such as Astroturf as well as a lot of twisting, turning, rapid acceleration and deceleration.
Playing barefoot on soft sand is also common here in the Middle East, which can raise the risk of injury from twisting the ankle due to instability. Football players stop suddenly and twist and turn. Likewise, when playing on hard ground the studs can result in pressure to the sole of the foot.
Football boots can also be quite stressful on the feet, particularly as most players wear a tight fit for better ball control. It is not uncommon for a footballer to suffer with pressure points, corns, callus or ingrowing toenails as a result of football boots. This is particularly damaging for children and teenagers, who are still growing. Potential problems and when to see a Podiatrist We advise anybody playing football who starts to feel pain in the foot, ankle or heel to seek the advice of your podiatrist sooner rather than later. People tend to persevere with pain, thinking that it will go away.
There is a big difference between muscular aches from a hard training session or game and pain that reoccurs after every training session or game, or even pain that is gradually getting worse. In these situations, it is best to consult a podiatrist with a special interest in biomechanics and musculoskeletal problems. Any signs of pressure such as redness, blisters, hard skin or extra bone developing (osteophytic formation) definitely needs assessing by a professional. Areas to check are around the back of the heel, the toes and the base of the big toe joint (MTP joint).
Healthy feet for football Prevention is always better than cure. Support your feet whenever you can, not only when playing but as much as possible. Toenails should always be kept to a good length, cut straight across and not too short “ you would not want to miss an important game due to an ingrowing toenail. Good foot hygiene is essential to prevent a number of foot problems such as bacterial, fungal or viral infections such as verrucas. These can appear minor but can result in complications leading to pain and even missed training sessions and matches.
Footballers can neglect their flexibility, which can be important in keeping a good posture, maintaining a wide range of motion at all joints and preventing injury. This is particularly important in growing children and teenagers. Teenagers can suffer from excruciating heel pain because they have very tight hamstrings or calves. Once this flexibility is increased with a stretching programme, their posture improves and the problem is resolved.
Sometimes prescribed custom corrective orthoses are also needed to support the feet, and at Dubai Podiatry Centre we have developed unique custom footballing orthotics with our professional footballers to fit specifically into their slimline boots. Having good balance and awareness is essential for football. This can be improved by increasing the communication between the feet and the nervous system. This is referred to as proprioception and can be improved with the use of custom orthotics for those with flat feet, which is also very common in the Middle East.
Recommended Equipment A good quality, well-fitting pair of football boots is essential. There shouldn’t be any signs of pressure on the foot after a game or training session, such as hot red skin or blisters. A pair of flip flops is recommended if using communal changing areas and showers, as this can prevent picking up any infections that can cause unnecessary problems such as verrucas. These thrive in warm, moist conditions such as poolside and in shower/dressing rooms.
Five top foot tips for footballers
1. Stretch, stretch, stretch!
2. Support your feet (good footwear).
3. Good foot hygiene.
4. Look after your nails.
5. Contact the sports podiatry experts at Dubai Podiatry Centre if you have any concerns.
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