The Running Doctor: Injuries caused by hard surfaces
Published 11:59 am, Monday, February 6, 2017
When players enter the court — whether it is basketball, tennis or racquetball — the feet, ankle and the Achilles and other tendons around the ankle take a pounding. This is true for the professional athlete or the weekend warriors.
Court sports call for fast movements on hard surfaces, which can contribute to injuries. One of the most common court injuries is the ankle sprain, which is due to the side to side — also known as lateral — motion which is so common in basketball. There is always the chance of stepping on a competitor’s foot from a jumping position. Another common injury, which is more shock-related, would be a stress fracture in the metatarsal bone.
A very common injury site in the young and advanced athlete is the heel. Heel pain can relate to plantar fasciitis — the banded muscles from the toes that insert into the heel bone — or a bone spur. As the arch takes a beating and drops, the band of muscle is under tension and the weakest link is where the tissue attaches to the bottom of the heel.
As the heel takes repeated shocks it can cause the fascia to tear from the heel, resulting in bone spurs. We constantly see injuries of the Achilles tendon and other tendons around the ankle. They often could be prevented by proper stretching of the Achilles and calf muscle. The following may be helpful thoughts on preventing some of these injuries:
• The proper footgear for the sport is essential. Basketball shoes are especially designed for their lateral support and motion. A running shoe will not due.
• The purchase of quality athletic shoes that are designed for your sport are worth it. And, they need to be replaced when worn out.
• Protect the foot arch with the proper support. Flat and high arches call for custom-made orthotics in shoes.
Youth athletes should always be aware that there is the potential for injury to the heel growth plate. If a youngster is in pain, and the pain persists, they should immediately discontinue their sport. The growth plate condition is very common when the boys and girls go from soccer season straight into the basketball season. The shock from running and the pull of the Achilles can cause growth plate injury.
Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons, has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and is a member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute.