Improper footwear is one potential contributor to foot and ankle injury

Foot and ankle trauma are among the most common types of injuries for athletes. Whether competing at the high school or Olympic level, players are most at risk of ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and stress fractures.

Many athletes are familiar with ankle sprains, which are caused by the tearing or excessive stretching of ligaments connecting the bones of the feet to the tibia and fibula. Another well-known type of injury is the stress fracture. While these can happen in any bone associated with high-impact exercise, the most frequent instances are seen in the lower bodies of those performing repetitive tasks like long-distance running. These tiny, painful cracks are caused by overuse in athletes or, potentially, normal use of a bone in a weakened state.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick tissue that forms the arch of the foot becomes inflamed. Pain associated with the condition is typically worse after long periods of inactivity or after intensive exercise.

Dr. Timothy Swartz, a Maryland podiatric surgeon, said in an American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) press release, "It can be caused by abnormally high or low arches, insufficient support in footwear or simply putting too much strain on one's feet."

ACFAS has several recommendations to reduce the potential for foot injury or re-injury:

♦ Always warm up and stretch before exercise
♦ Give suspected injuries sufficient time to heal before resuming activity
♦ Wear shoes designed to provide proper support for your foot type and sport.

While there are many contributing factors to injury and each incident deserves individual consideration, these three tips can help diminish athletes' risk of encountering debilitating foot problems.

It's almost time for fall sports to start up again, and as athletes are upgrading their gear for the new season, they need to make sure they are taking good care of their investments. To do this, athletes everywhere are using Cleatskins cleat covers so they don't need to worry about damaging their spikes or other special athletic footwear, such as wrestling, cheer and volleyball shoes. Cleatskins make great gifts for athletes and are fashioned to fit a wide selection of athletic footwear.

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