Keep kicking – football footcare and injury prevention

As the Canadian football season heads toward the Grey Cup Championship at the end of November, we’re seeing more amateur football players hobbling into our specialist foot clinics with knee and ankle sprains, strains and injuries.

They are not alone. At the time of writing, no less than three professional players are out for the season with knee injuries. A 5-year analysis of injuries in Canada West University Football discovered that “Knee injuries resulted in the highest rate of severe (greater than or equal to 7 sessions of time loss) injury and resulted in the most time loss (3350.5 sessions). Ligament sprains and muscle strains and spasms accounted for approximately half of all injury diagnoses.”*

For both amateur and professional players, recovery from these types of injuries will take time, patience and expert care to get back to fitness again. At Hunt Footcare, we’ve got the expertise, experience and knowledge to diagnose, treat and aid recovery from a range of sports and football-related injuries, for weekend warriors and serious players alike.

Injury risk in Canadian football

First, let’s take a look at the risk factors. According to a 2001 study**, you are more at risk in the following situations:

  • you play on artificial turf rather than grass
  • your chances of injury increases every year you play
  • past injuries increase the likelihood of subsequent injuries
  • the older you are, the more likely you are to suffer an injury
  • you are involved in a game rather than just training

So, that’s pretty much all of us then!

Preventing injury when playing Canadian football

Despite the rather depressing findings above, at Hunt Footcare our ‘foot doctors’ can help with expert diagnosis and advice to help minimize your risks and in some cases, actually boost performance

Gait and posture analysis

As you probably already know from trying to buy that perfectly-fitting pair of football boots, every shoe manufacturer thinks the ‘normal’ foot is a different shape! Different foot shapes (due to flat feet, high arches, abnormal toe positions or past injuries) can affect the way you stand and move. Equally, how you place your feet when you run can also vary, and this affects your weight distribution, resulting in extra strain on certain parts of your foot.

Custom-made orthotics for football players

For many of our sportspeople and athlete clients, custom-made orthotics have been a revelation. These specially-made devices slip into your football boots to adjust and align your foot better, resulting in better foot to floor contact. Equally, the orthotics’ adjustment reduces movement-related foot pain, now that the foot is sufficiently supported in the right places. For a consultation on how orthotics could improve your game, just call one of our three orthotic clinics in Stratford, London or Ingersoll, Ontario.

Supports, strapping and braces

Common knee injuries from playing Canadian football include:

  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury, which is a tear in this ligament linking the bones of the upper and lower leg
  • MCL (medial collateral ligament) injury, usually cuased by an impact on the side of your knee that causes the ligament to stretch or tear
  • A medial meniscus tear, caused by a sudden turn or twist while your knee is bent

At Hunt Footcare, we can advice on a range of braces, strappings and supports to aid healing from such injuries, and to reduce risk while you play.

Healthy feet are football feet

We know we’ve said it in almost every article so far, but healthy feet are the secret weapon of every successful football player, we reckon!

  • Keeping your feet warm and dry during training or a game is crucial, as is playing in socks that allow your skin to breathe, and wick sweat from your skin.
  • Ensure your football boots fit snugly but not too tightly, and be aware of any pressure on your toes that could cause problems such as bunions or corns.
  • Make sure your boots are properly cleaned between games and dried out to prevent the growth of bacteria inside the boot, which could then infect your skin and trigger conditions such as athlete’s foot.
  • Keep toenail properly trimmed straight across the toe end to prevent ingrown toenails, and keep an eye for any nail discolouration that could indicate a fungal infection.
  • Be aware of any pains developing during training, or which come and go during a game, as they could indicate problems such as shin splints.

If in doubt, just call for an appointment with one of the Hunt Footcare team, and we’ll help solve your foot issues, from blisters to bumps, strains to sore skin. You can access our sports injury expertise at our three clinics in Stratford, London and Ingersoll, although our patients come from as far afield as Tillsonburg, St. Mary’s, Woodstock, Strathroy, Alymer, St. Thomas Brantford and Mitchel.

* The Distribution of Injuries in Men’s Canada West University Football – Am J Sports Med July 2000 vol. 28 no. 4 516-523
** Injury Risk in Men’s Canada West University Football,  Am. J. Epidemiol. (2003) 157 (9): 825-833. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwg050

Published On: November 1, 2013