There are 26 bones in each foot, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Together, the feet make up 25% of the bones in our body. This is because they have a major job to do each day: provide support, balance and mobility.
With each step we take, we place our entire body weight onto our feet. Is it any wonder they are prone to injury? Also, with more and more sports becoming popular and competitive, the number of foot injuries is increasing each year.
There are many different types of foot injuries you can sustain. Below are some of the most common.
Often the unwanted product of repeated stress on the feet, Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition that comes about when the tendon that runs along the arch of the foot becomes strained, making it feel tight and not as pliable as it should be. Symptoms vary, but many with the condition report feeling dull or even sharp pain during every step.
Sprained ankles are a very common sports injury. An ankle sprain occurs when a sharp or sudden twist of the foot causes the ligaments in your ankle to stretch, or even tear. There are varying levels of severity with ankle sprains; mild cases can be cured with a little bit of ice and rest, but severe cases may require a walking boot or even rehab.
The ACL is a ligament that runs behind the knee between the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shin bone). Most ACL strains can be attributed to one of the following knee movements: a sudden stop; a twist, pivot or change in direction at the joint; extreme overstraightening (hyperextension); or a direct impact to the outside of the knee or lower leg. These injuries are seen among athletes in football, basketball, soccer, rugby, wrestling, gymnastics and skiing.
It is said that any muscle imbalance from the hips down to the toes can impact the quadriceps muscle. One common cause is simple overuse, pushing the quad further than you usually do on any given day, but there are several other ways to strain it. Putting stress on the muscle when it’s not ready (like sprinting without doing a proper warm-up) is another common cause, while overstretching and trauma can be factors as well. Many quad strains can produce mild discomfort, but some cause severe pain that will leave you in need of crutches.
Stress fractures are cracks in the outer layer of a bone caused from repetitive stress. It is most often caused through over training and increasing mileage at too rapid a rate. Stress fractures can be exacerbated by excessive pronation or supination, which is usually caused by wearing inappropriate shoes.
Stress fractures will usually hurt in a much more localized place and will begin as a dull ache that can easily be misinterpreted as a sore muscle. Rest is the best way to cure a stress fracture, although you may want to consider taking supplements with calcium and cutting back on diet soft drinks. They can inhibit your body from absorbing calcium.
Tendonitis is excessive inflammation in your tendons. It begins with a dull ache after you finish running, which gets worse if left untreated. The tendon will begin to ache first thing in the morning after getting out of bed, and then while you are in the act of running. The dull aching will become more acute, until you always feel at least the original dull pain even when you are not working out.
Tendonitis is usually caused by running too far and too fast when your muscles are not flexible enough to support such a workout. The problem can be exacerbated by shoes that have worn out and cause excessive pronation. The most common form of tendonitis for runners is Achilles Tendonitis. The Achilles tendon connects your heel to your calf, and will usually ache along the back of your leg just above your ankle.
Runner's knee refers to any pain in the knee cap and is usually the direct cause of over training and poor biomechanics. The two most common forms of runner's knee are Patellar Tendonitis and Chondromalacia Patella.
Patellar Tendonitis is when the pain is localized to the tendon in your knee cap. Chondromalacia Patallea means that scarring has occurred because the knee cap does not sit properly in its femoral groove, and the underside has worn down and become rough and deteriorated. This can be caused by a lack of flexibility in any or all of the quadriceps, hamstrings, or calves. Most often, however, it is caused by a problem with the foot or ankle, usually due to excessively worn shoes and over training. The problem can be exacerbated by excessive hill work.
Shin splints are any pain in the shins and is usually tibial stress syndrome. There are two types of shin splits, anterior and posterior.
Anterior shin splints are really an inflammation of the tendons that attach the front of the shin bone to the outside. It begins as a dull ache on the outside of your shin bone as you run and can get worse until it is painful to walk.
Posterior shin splints are an inflammation of the tendons that attach to the inner side of the shin bone and causes pain in the inner surface of your shin bone extending down to the arches in your feet.
Shin splints can often mask an underlying stress fracture, especially when there is acute pain and swelling. Unless it is really a stress fracture, shin splints are rarely caused by too much mileage. They can be caused by too much hill work or speed work before you are ready for it.