If you have decided to return to sports after staying out for a while, you are probably aware that you need to ease back into things. Most people don’t need to be told that they will have lost flexibility, strength, and skill after an extended period of inactivity, and will be extra conscious about any potential injuries. But even the smartest and most well-meaning people can forget things, and one of the most overlooked areas of the body is the foot.
Despite the fact that our feet are possibly the most used, and most important, parts of our bodies when it comes to sport, we don’t exercise them in the same way we do other body parts. The majority of athletes will stretch muscles such as their calves and hamstrings before engaging in physical activity, but our feet rarely receive such attention. This is despite the fact that if the feet are injured, most sporting activity is ruled out at least temporarily.
When people think of foot injuries, they generally think of things like a broken toe or sprained ankle. In reality, one of the most common injuries of the foot, and the body as a whole, is Plantar fasciitis. We have discussed Plantar fasciitis many times before but, in brief, it is the inflammation of the ligament connecting the heel to the toes, and occurs when repeated stretching causes micro-tears to develop in the ligament’s fibre.
Fortunately, there is a stretch that can help avoid this. Simply clench your toes and the arch of your foot as if you were trying to grab something, hold for 20 seconds, and release. Do this 20 times a day for each foot, and it should help stave off Plantar fasciitis.
Another way in which the feet are often overlooked is in terms of hygiene. When showering, not everyone pays equal attention to their feet, but athletes should be sure to wash and scrub their feet daily. Furthermore, using a pumice stone, foot bath, or lotion can help keep the skin on your feet healthy, and prevent issues such as cracked heels, which are not major injuries, but can still take you out of action.
Finally, using the right footwear is also essential to preventing injury, as different activities require different protections. Joggers will need shock absorption for example, while those doing yoga will want flexibility, and people playing ball sports will require a tough exterior. For a more comprehensive look at how to choose the best shoe, see our blog on choosing the right sports shoe.