From the swift twists and turns needed for basketball to the rigorous sprints common with baseball and football, there are many movements that can be hard on your feet and ankles if you’re normally athletic. If your various sporting endeavors have resulted in some type of foot-related pain in the past, take comfort in knowing there are certain things you can do keep your feet healthy and happy while playing sports in the long term.
Wear the Right Footwear
Athletic footwear needs to be appropriately designed for the sport you are playing to reduce your risk of developing plantar fasciitis or similar foot/ankle conditions. Shoes aren’t meant to be multi-purpose. Walking shoes, for instance, are generally stiffer than running shoes, which are designed to be more flexible.
Pay Attention to Form and Technique
Whether you’ll be kicking and blocking soccer balls or running a grueling 10K, be sure to be mindful of proper form and technique. Improperly using your feet while doing anything athletic automatically increases your risk of soft tissue sprains, strains, and tears.
Give Your Feet Some Time to Rest
Make a point to set aside at least one day per week during your active seasons to give your feet time to rest and recover. Go a step further and consider treating yourself to a foot soak with Epsom salt on a regular basis to promote tissue healing and improve circulation.
Stretch and Warm-Up Your Feet Before Playing
Get into the habit of doing strength and conditioning exercises for your feet and ankles daily and before and after games. This is especially important if your preferred activity is running or jogging. Foot and ankle stretches can also help you recover from heel spurs and minor sprains.
Drink Plenty of Water
Even feet can be affected by a lack of fluids since water helps with the delivery of important nutrients to tissues. Make an effort to stay hydrated before, during, and after your various sports-related activities. Dehydration can also increase your risk of experiencing leg and foot cramps.
Regardless of how fit you happen to be, your feet can pay the price if you’re not proactive about protecting them when you participate in activities involving running, punting, kicking, sprinting, and similar movements and repetitive motions. Realistically, there is always the likelihood of some type of damage or injury to feet while playing sports. However, the steps mentioned above can reduce this risk.