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Athletes often suffer from issues with their feet. In fact, research from the America Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reveals that up to 25% of athlete injuries are foot and ankle-related. Furthermore, VeryWellHealth’s overview of sports injuries states that plantar fasciitis and ankle sprains are two of the most common injuries that occur in athletes. Though realistically speaking, almost every athlete gets injured at least once in their career, there are ways to minimize these occurrences. Among the best ways to prevent injury (especially career-altering ones) is by observing a foot care routine. Here are some foot care methods athletes should try:
Correct Protective Gear
Since most sports require athletes to be on their feet for hours at a time, it’s common for feet to be the most exposed to the elements or injuries. As such, the importance of the right gear cannot be underscored enough. In Maryville University’s guide to first aid, it’s outlined that using the right gear is a huge part of injury prevention. Essential safety gear like cleats, game-day shoes, arch supports, pads, and shin guards are some examples of this equipment. They’re essential not only because they protect athletes from serious injury, but also because they encourage better lower extremity and foot health. This is because with the right gear, your body can have better protection. For example by having supportive orthopedic shoe inserts the foot’s alignment and movements are more supported, thereby reducing sports-related risks. This is why professional coaches and athletes are often taught the value of investing in proper gear early on.
Regular Foot Exercises
Even on rest days, it helps to exercise the feet in order to improve strength and flexibility. Among athletes, this can increase mobility and reduce the risk of injury. As per Medical News Today’s introduction to foot exercises, some of the best exercises to do regularly include toe curls, Achilles stretches, and marble pickups. In these exercises, the muscles of the feet are stretched to prevent stiffness and strengthened to prevent buckling under strain. Best of all, these exercises can be done with little to no space or equipment, so they’re easy to do throughout the day. If an athlete is just coming back from an injury, adding these exercises into a rehab regimen can also improve range of motion for faster healing. Here's a video showing some great foot exercises that you can easily do at home.
Daily Vitamin Supplements
Foot health may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of vitamin deficiency. But having such a deficiency can actually cause several foot issues like dry skin, cracked heels, numbness, and muscle cramps. For athletes, this can create a serious problem that can hinder overall performance. Consequently, it’s important that athletes consider vitamin supplements as a vital part of foot care. As explained in our post on ‘Vitamin Deficiencies and How They Relate to Foot Problems’, it’s noted that some vitamins and minerals that are particularly helpful are vitamins B12, E, and B-3 along with magnesium. When taken daily, these can enhance skin cell turnover and the nervous system. This ensures that nerves are not hyper-stimulated and skin is not prone to painful cracking.
Homemade Foot Soaks
An athlete’s feet are some of the most overworked parts of their body, regardless of what their sport of choice is. This is why it’s important to also relax and pamper them. Since visiting spas that specialize in foot care may be too expensive or out of the way for many athletes, preparing homemade foot soaks is much more convenient. Epsom salts and essential oils are among the most helpful for foot health since they can improve soreness and circulation, respectively. Since Epsom salt has a high magnesium content it can be absorbed through the feet to reduce tension and inflammation. Meanwhile, research suggests that invigorating essential oils like lemon, lemongrass, and clary sage are said to help improve blood flow. To use these, one simply has to add either Epsom salt or essential oils to a tub of warm water. Once the oil and salts are mixed in, the feet can be soaked for up to 10 minutes. So long as there are no open wounds, this should be a relaxing and soothing experience.
For any athlete to have a long and healthy career, focusing on foot care is necessary. Since the feet play a massive role in overall athletic performance, investing in them is tantamount to investing in a happy and prosperous sports run.
This post was written by Isabelle Fray for soulinsole.com
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