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For almost 20 years, soccer has ranked as the most popular sport in Canada for children between the ages of 5 and 14 with 42% of boys and girls that participate in sports, playing soccer.
Over the course of a year, one in every five kids involved with a sport or activity will suffer an injury. Of the most common sports that cause injuries, soccer is in the top 3 for both boys and girls, accounting for 20% of all sports related emergency room visits in Canada.
The most common lower leg and foot injuries associated with playing soccer are:
- Abrasions (scrapes) and contusions (bruises)
- Blisters and calluses due to improper footwear
- Traumatic injury to toenails (eg. being stepped on)
- Plantar Fasciitis: damage to the band of connective tissue through the arch of the feet often due to poor foot mechanics or improper footwear
- Overuse injuries such as achilles tendonitis or shin splints due to repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal
- Ankle sprains often from abrupt starting and stopping and moving side to side.
- Athletes foot and plantar warts
Don’t allow kids to “play through” foot and ankle pain. Encourage them to listen to their body and decrease playing time and intensity if pain or discomfort develops.
Warm up, stretch and cool down. Always take time to warm up and stretch, especially your hips, knees, thighs and calves. Start with dynamic exercises like jumping jacks, jump rope or running/walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes to get your muscles loose and warmed up. Then slowly and gently stretch, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. Post game stretching is also just as important to prevent muscles from cramping up and to reduce risk of injury.
Tape Ankles, Knees and other Joints. To avoid ankles turning the wrong way and other joints from being open to injuries, many athletes will tape their ankles or knees before games. This ensures better stability and control without worrying about suffering a painful and possibly game-ending sprain or fracture.
Wear proper footwear and equipment. Use well-fitting cleats designed for the surface you will be playing on. Molded cleats are believed to be safer than screw-in cleats unless playing on poor, wet field conditions. Shin guards should be lightweight and cover the area from your ankle to your knee, preferably with padded ankle protection.
Prevent warts, athletes foot and other fungus by always wearing waterproof shoes in public showers and change rooms - common breading grounds for bacteria.
An open or inflamed skin wound that won't heal can also be a sign of skin cancer and should be assessed by your doctor.
Keeping your feet in good condition with proper, professional foot care and addressing minor issues as they arise prevents more costly and complicated foot problems from developing down the road.
What role does diet play when it comes to the health of your feet?
March is National Nutrition Month and with half of Canadians (52%) over the age of 20 living with a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to reducing those numbers.
The food you eat not only affects your waistline, but your diet also has a direct link to your foot health.
Extra weight means extra pressure on the joints and bones of your feet. Several foot conditions, such as flat feet, hammertoes and bunions can be made significantly worse by carrying excess weight.
A stress fracture in the foot is often the first sign of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by the loss of bone tissue. It can develop unnoticed over many years without any signs or symptoms. For that reason, calcium is essential during growth years to build up reserves and later in life to maintain bone quality. Calcium rich foods include dairy products, sardines or salmon with bones and green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Vitamin D is also vital to improve your body’s ability to absorb calcium. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium or vitamin d from your diet or lifestyle, talk to your doctor about taking supplements.
Inflammation is a factor of several foot conditions including plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and gout. There are many common foods known to encourage inflammation such as the refined grains, sugar, and trans fats in many baked goods and junk foods; the saturated fat in red meat; and the omega-6 fats found in many commonly used vegetable oils, such as corn, soybean, and sunflower oils.
Eating more green vegetables, plant based foods and omega-3 fats found in fatty fish such as salmon, can provide anti-inflammatory benefits to your feet and overall health.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease occurs when plaque made up of fat and cholesterol builds up in the arteries restricting blood flow to the arteries of the legs and feet. Because the legs and feet of someone with P.A.D. do not have normal blood flow—and because blood is necessary for healing—seemingly small problems such as cuts, blisters, or sores can result in serious complications.
A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium and rich in omega-3, fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of peripheral artery disease.
Diabetes can be extremely dangerous to your feet but a healthy diet can help to prevent future complications.It is important to avoid sugars and starch while maintaining a diet rich in whole grains, beans, vegetables and lean meats to help keep blood sugar levels under control.
Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements or making any major dietary changes.
Give your feet a little extra love this Valentine's Day!
Your feet may be at the other end of your body, but they can also offer some insight into the state of your heart.
Swelling in your feet, legs and ankles can be a sign that your heart isn't pumping blood as effectively as it should. When the heart can't pump fast enough, blood backs up in the veins and causes swelling.
While swelling alone does not signal heart disease, your chiropodist can check for other signs that something might be amiss. Decreased hair growth on the feet and ankles, purplish toes, and thin or shiny skin can all indicate a problem.
Effective treatment is more likely with an early diagnosis. A simple test that compares blood pressure in the ankles to blood pressure in the arms can confirm any concerns and get patients on track for treatment