With summer in full swing, so many of our children are hitting the water, grass and astroturf to take part in seasonal sports. And while getting kids out and active is extremely important, we do have to make sure we’re protecting their feet from injury!
Risky Summer Sports for Children
Any sport carries a risk of injury. The highest risk sports, however, are the ones that involve sudden turns, lots of running and, of course, physical contact. Regardless of your child’s favorite sport, it’s our job as parents to understand the relative risk to children’s feet, and to take careful precautions to prevent those injuries.
Basketball: with all the sudden direction changes, children playing this sport face a high risk of ankle sprains. They are also at risk for tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the sole of the foot, because of all the sudden sprinting and long periods of running time they spend on the court. Make sure children wear basketball-specific shoes, with lots of upper ankle support to prevent sprains, and with thick, stiff soles to help absorb some of the impact of the sport.
Tennis: Young tennis players spend a lot of time running laterally across the courts. Without the right shoes, sprains may become a serious problem, as can heel pain and corns or calluses. Shoes with lots of side supports are ideal, as long as the soles are fairly flexible to allow for easy movement.
Soccer: With World Cup season upon us, there are many young athletes who may be ready to hit the grass running. But take warning: the running, jumping, and lateral movements involved in this sport can lead to plenty of injuries, most commonly heel pain and shin splints. Wearing well-fitted soccer cleats and taking precautions during training, warm-ups and cool downs can go a long way towards protecting children’s feet.
Keep Kid’s Feet Safe During Any Athletic Activity
Fortunately, parents can easily be proactive about protecting their children’s feet! Here are just a few steps you can take to prevent sports-related foot injuries, courtesy of the Michigan Podiatric Medical Association (MPMA):
· For kids who are prone to ankle injuries, taping the ankles may provide the support they need to prevent a sprain.
· Sport-specific shoes, as discussed briefly above, can provide crucial foot-injury protection.
· Fit is the most important factor when it comes to preventing foot injuries. Check your child’s shoe size at the beginning of the summer sport season, but also check in mid-season to make sure shoes are still fitting properly. After all, kids feet grow fast, and often without much warning!
· Don’t forget those socks: young athletes should wear socks that contain a natural and synthetic blend. This will help keep moisture away from the feet, minimizing slipping within your child’s shoes, helping stave off athlete’s foot and keeping foot odor at bay. It’s also important to avoid athletic socks with seams, as these can rub against children’s feet, causing blisters and other irritations.
One final word of caution: kids who are just playing sports recreationally can probably stay safe using these simple steps. If, however, your child is a competitive athlete, it’s important to see your podiatrist regularly. That way, we can spot potential problems before they develop. We can work to correct imbalances or areas of weakness, so your little one doesn’t get left on the sidelines or stuck on the injured list.