Feet first: 10 top Canadian sports and associated injuries

Do you love your sports? Then you’re not alone! According to SportsZion,

77% of Canadians like to follow professional sports. The vast majority of those probably participate in sports too.

Professional sports people spend many hours training and building particular strength and skills. This both improves their prowess and also often ensures that their risk of injury is reduced.

For the rest of us, without the time or facilities necessary for intense training, we need to take time to warm up and warm down, stretch our muscles, look after our feet, and invest in appropriate footwear.

Sports injury risk for feet and ankles

Anyone who participates in sport is at some level of risk of foot and ankle injuries. Here at Hunt Footcare, our sports injury and rehabilitation expertise has helped a wide range of athletes and “weekend warriors” in treating and aiding recovery from sports-related injuries.

Top of the in jury list is an ankle sprain; one in five sports injuries is an ankle sprain.

Pick your sport, pick your injury

So, are some sports more ‘risky’ than others when it comes to injuries to our feet, ankles and knees? We’ve listed the top 10 Canadian sports and the common lower limb injuries associated with them.


Golf is a very inclusive sport attracting a wide range of ages and demographics. The main risk in golf is as a result of the main action your body performs, your swing.

As the Golf Channel website says:

“Throughout the golf swing, the body acts as a whip; power production starts with the feet pushing against the ground. Each foot moves differently during a golf swing. The back foot must allow for more pronation during the follow- through of the golf swing than the front foot.”

If you go off-balance during your swing, or hit off an uneven surface, you could strain your feet. This can also occur when hitting a golf ball from an uneven surface.

Common golf foot injuries:

    • Ankle sprains
    • Foot and ankle tendonitis
    • Blisters

Prevention tips:

    • Wear good quality golfing shoes that fit
    • Improve your swing, perhaps with professional coaching

9: Basketball

Basketball combines a whole series of “stop and go” manouevers that put strain on your feet and legs, from jumping to sharps turns and changes of direction.

Add in the general play of scrabbling for the ball, or even being stepped on accidentally, it’s not surprising that ankle strains and sprains are a common injury. Impact blows to the side of the knee can injure the medial collateral ligament. Professional players are also prone to stress fractures in their foot bones.

Common basketball foot injuries:

    • Ankle sprains
    • Foot stress fractures
    • Bruising to feet

Prevention tips:

    • Wear non-slip higher profile basketball shoes that provide ankle support
    • Consider taping up your ankle before a game for extra support
    • Use custom orthotics to offer extra support if required

8: Curling

We were surprised that curling only came in a number 8. However, with the 2022 Winter Olympics coming up, millions will be watching this sport worldwide.

When you consider what curling involves – propelling a heavy stone down a sheet of ice on one knee – it’s amazing that the list of associated foot injuries is as short as it is! However, do bear in mind that some serious injuries can be caused by slipping on the ice, including concussion.

Common curling injuries

    • Hamstring strain
    • Knee pain
    • Ankle strain (either foot)

Prevention tips:

    • Wear your own curling shoes that fit you properly
    • Take care when not in play especially from moving stones

7: Rugby

Rugby is by nature a high contact sport. Apart from the scrums, tactical play also involves sudden twists and changes of direction when running, and jumps for the ball.

As a result, ankle injuries are common due to awkward landings, or another player landing on your foot. This may result in an ankle ligament tearing either in part or entirely.

At Hunt Footcare, we can help you recover from ligament and other lower limb injuries through a combination of specialist treatments.

Common foot-related injuries in rugby:

    • Knee ligament injuries
    • Ankle sprain
    • Ankle ligament tears
    • Toenail damage

Prevention tips:

    • Use taping and bracing if required to support joints and ligaments
    • Always warm up and warm down fully
    • Clean and dry your rugby boots after each game to avoid foot and nail fungal infections

6: Soccer

Soccer is perhaps the top sport worldwide, with fans from Alberta to Zimbabwe.

However, there is a reason why soccer matches have an allowance for injury time! Feet are particularly vulnerable doe to the action of kicking the ball, and many a professional player has spent time out of the game due to ankle injuries and broken toes.

Your big toes are particularly at risk both from ball impact and falls on the foot, extending the big toe beyond its usual range of movement.

Common foot-related injuries from playing soccer:

    • Ankle sprain
    • Foot bone stress fractures
    • Turf toe (especially if playing on artificial grass)
    • Achilles rendon rupture and tendonitis
    • Plantar Fasciitis
    • Metatarsal Fractures and associated swelling and bruising

Prevention tips:

    • Wear well-fitting football boots (getting a theme here?!)
    • Seek treatment early if you have an injury
    • Ask your foot care specialist about braces and taping methods
    • Consider custom orthotics if you are having regular heel pain

5: Cricket

Ah, the sound of leather on willow and a ripple of applause drifting across he grass. Or the prospect of a ball heading your way at (potentially) over 160km/h. No wonder crickets wear a considerable amount of protection, from gloves and pads to high-tech helmets.

However, your feet need to be unrestricted to sprint for the run, high catch or that long walk back to the pavilion…

Common cricket lower limb injuries

    • Plantar fascia arch tendon strain
    • Plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
    • Metatarsal fractures
    • Inflamed bursa tendon
    • Achilles tendon strain
    • Turf toe (overstretched toe ligament)

Prevention tips:

    • Make sure your pads fit well to avoid over-contact with your shoes
    • Consider custom orthotics to ensure your crickets shoes offer full support
    • Seek professional treatment early if you have an injury and follow their recommended rehabilitation plan

4: Baseball

According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons:

“Ankle sprains may occur while running, fielding balls, stepping on or sliding into bases… Cleats may pose challenges in the forefoot and aggravation of neuromas, sesamoids, bunions and hammertoes.”

Far less dramatic, but surprisingly debilitating, is the prevalence of in-growing toenails in pitchers and catchers. These players put a lot of strain and torque on their toes to achieve their balance. Players may cut their nails too short or at an angle, which leads to the nail growing into the flesh of the toe. This can result in nail infections and skin infections.

Common baseball injuries

    • Ankle sprains
    • Stress fractures
    • Shin splints
    • Broken toes
    • Heel pain
    • Blisters
    • Ingrown toenails

Prevention tips:

    • Wear appropriate footwear at every game and at training
    • Seek help for ingrown toenails as soon as you spot the signs
    • Disinfect your baseball shoes before the start of every season to reduce the risk of fungal infections

3: Canadian Football

Football is a fast contact sport and lower limb injuries are similar to those for rugby and soccer players. The surface you play on is important too, as a research project showed:

“Lower extremity game injury rates were higher on artificial turf than on natural grass under both dry (RR = 1.83, 95% CI: 1.35, 2.48) and wet (RR = 2.31, 95% CI: 1.18, 4.52) field conditions. “

Common foot-related injuries in Canadian football:

    • Knee ligament injuries.
    • Ankle strains (twisted ankles)
    • Toenail damage
    • Ankle lateral ligament damage
    • Knee, leg and foot impact injuries

Prevention tips:

    • Wear the best boots you can afford
    • Ask your foot care specialist about braces and taping methods
    • Consider custom orthotics to improve your balance and performance

2: Lacrosse

Lacrosse, like curling, is a sport that would at first glance seem to involve some fairly dangerous factors, including fast-moving balls and sticks. Yet most injuries in the game are relatively minor, such as sprains, strains, and bruises.

However, as the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons advise:

“The running and side-to-side cutting in lacrosse are common causes of injuries to the foot and ankle. Lacrosse players should be aware of the following risks: “

Common injuries

    • Inversion ankle sprains
    • Damage to ankle ligaments
    • Peroneal tendon injuries and fractures.
    • Metatarsal fractures
    • Lisfranc joint fractures (the joint where your metatarsal bones and tarsal bones connect)
    • Heel pain (plantar fasciitis),
    • Achilles tendonitis
    • Posterior tibial tendonitis (or PTTD)

Prevention tips:

Wear appropriate footwear that reduce your chances of slipping

If you have weak ankles, consider additional support

Seek early assessment and treatment for suspected fractures

Consider custom orthotics to improve your balance and performance

1: Ice Hockey

Well, the number one slot wasn’t really in any doubt, was it! We Canadians love our hockey! However, it’s easy to see how the stresses and strains of rapid movements on a single blade per foot, plus the fast and furious pace of games can result in foot and ankle injuries.

As one sports author put it:

“Hockey is a fast body-contact game played by men with clubs in their hands and knives laced to their feet, since the skates are razor sharp, and before the evening is over it is almost a certainty that someone will be hurt and will fleck the ice with a generous contribution of gore before he is led away to be hemstitched together again.”

Paul Gallico in Farewell to Sport (1938)

As far as the most common injury is concerned, a research study of collegiate players noted that:

“Contusions were the most commonly diagnosed injury, although high ankle sprains resulted in the most significant time lost.”

Hockey boots tend to protect your ankle due to their height. However, this still leaves players vulnerable to High Ankle sprain. This can result in:

“Ligament damage at the joint between the shin bone (Tibia) and splint bone (Fibula), which remains unprotected. This joint is referred to as the Ankle Syndesmosis … In the case of a high ankle sprain, the injury can be caused when the skate gets stuck in the ice or against the boards and the foot twists outwards.”

Ice hockey players also may take longer to recover from ankle injuries, as a study revealed:

“The average number of days between injury and return to play is 45days, and some authors believe that defensemen may have a harder time recovering because of the demands on their ankles by having to switch continuously between forward and backward skating.”(1)

Common ice hockey foot and ankle injuries

    • Knee injury, especially to the medial collateral ligament (MCL)
    • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears
    • Cuts to the feet caused by skate blades (boot top lacerations)
    • Lateral ankle ligament injuries
    • Contusions

Prevention tips:

    • Keep your skates in good condition and feed the leather regularly
    • Ensure your boots are clean and dried between games
    • Consider Kevlar socks to avoid your feet being cut by skates
    • Ask us about custom orthotics to improve your balance and performance
    • Remember the golden rule for minor strains is RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation
    • If you have any form of foot pain after playing, consult our foot clinics for expert help

Foot care professionals at your service

Contact us for an appointment to assess and treat your sports injury, and discuss ways to improve your foot health overall. We’re happy to help any members of your family, including your own junior sports stars!

Call us to make an appointment at one of our three local foot clinics in Ontario.

Useful websites



(1) Wright RW, Barile RJ, Surprenant DA, Matava MJ. Ankle syndesmosis sprains in national hockey league players. Am J Sports Med. 2004;32(8):1941-1945.

Published On: January 31, 2022