March Madness And Your Foot Health

It is an exciting time for college basketball fans since March Madness is now. This means filling out playoff brackets, planning game days, and maybe even playing a few competitive games of basketball. As you well know, basketball is a physically demanding sport. This is because the sport involves many complex motions (sprinting, jumping, shuffling, awkward landings etc.) and this can be tough on the body, even for athletes who train every day. As a result of this strenuous activity, people of all ages are prone to injuries, especially with the foot and ankle.

Before getting into and playing basketball, it is important to understand some of the more common injuries, and how to treat or minimize the risk of injury. The following are common injuries sustained in basketball:

  • Ankle Sprains:
    • These occur when there is an abnormal twisting or force on the bones of the foot and result in excessive stretching (or tearing) of the ligaments supporting the ankle. When playing basketball, the people playing make numerous sudden stops, changes in directions, awkward landings, or wearing inappropriate shoes that put them at risk for ankle sprains.
    • People often feel throbbing pain, swelling, bruising, and joint stiffness after enduring an ankle sprain. Treating mild-to-moderate sprains include the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation). More severe sprains may require surgery to repair and strengthen the torn ligaments.
    • There are several ways to help minimize the risk of developing ankle sprains when playing basketball: properly stretch your legs, foot, and ankle before playing; wear proper fitting and appropriate basketball shoes to offer better stability when playing; wear ankle braces to help limit excess ankle motion.
  • Stress Fractures:
    • These fractures are tiny cracks that can occur from overuse, excessive training, improper footwear, and high-impact motions (i.e. jumping). While the fractures themselves are small, they can extend through the bone and result in complete fractures if they are not addressed. People with stress fractures often experience pain, redness, and swelling of the affected area. Treating stress fractures begins with resting and immobilizing the affected foot, allowing the weight to be taken off. If the pain persists, it could mean the fracture is more serious, and needs to be further examined by your doctor.
  • Plantar Fasciitis:
    • Heel and arch pain are very common occurrences when playing sports, especially basketball. For more detailed information, please see our topic on plantar fasciitis.
  • Achilles Tendon Tear/Rupture
    • Many people playing basketball, especially athletes, are at risk for this more serious complication. The Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscles to the heel bone and can tear (or rupture) with enough force (i.e. sprinting, jumping, sudden change in direction). People who develop a tear or rupture often experience a “pop” or “snap” following a sharp pain in the back of the ankle and lower leg. When the tendon ruptures, it needs to be surgically repaired to restore proper foot function for walking. To minimize the risk of tendon tears or ruptures, make sure you perform heel cord stretches before playing, wear appropriate fitting shoes, and ankle braces to limit excess motion.

 

If you have recently injured your foot or ankle playing sports and have been experiencing pain or discomfort, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, and have all your treatment options presented to you to ensure you maintain healthy feet this basketball season.

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