Soccer season is in full swing, and it is important for parents and coaches to think twice before letting a young, injured player compete if they are having foot and ankle pain.
In the immature athlete, the action of running, stopping and moving side-to-side on cleats — that are no more than moccasins with spikes that don’t provide much support like other athletic shoes — combine to create a likely opportunity for foot and ankle injuries. The young athlete who has a lingering, nagging heel pain may have a stress fracture.
Stress fractures do not always show up on an initial X-ray, so we may not become aware of such injuries. When playing with pain, athletes cannot give their teams 100%, and continuing to play will make the injury worse. Rest, physical therapy and, in some cases, immobilization are needed to relieve the inflammation and avoid exacerbating the injury.
Soccer is a very popular sport in our community, but the constant running places excessive stress on the growth plates. The growth plates are still open until the ages of 14 to 16.
Other types of overuse injuries are Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis — heel pain causes inflammation of the tissue extending from the heel to the toes. Quick, out-of-nowhere ankle sprains or collisions between soccer players take their toll as well.
These injuries should be taken seriously and evaluated promptly in children, so as to prevent traumatic arthritis in adulthood, with a visit to the Podiatrist, preferably one with experience treating children.