The kids are back in school, and along with freshly sharpened pencils and homework come sports. Whether your child is on the football team, the middle school cheerleading squad or plays basketball in the driveway after school, it’s important to watch out for the health of their feet to avoid injury and discomfort. Here are five tips for keeping your teen athlete’s feet healthy.
1. Pick the Right Shoes
Shoes that don’t fit properly are the number one cause of foot problems among teen athletes. Ill-fitting shoes can increase your child’s risk of injury, and shoes that lack the proper support can cause ankle and knee damage. Avoid buying sports shoes from a discount retailer, and instead opt for a specialty shoe store that focuses on athletes or kids. Find a staff member who is trained to properly fit shoes for kids, and make sure you choose a model that offers the right amount of support. Don’t ever buy shoes that need to be broken in – if it doesn’t fit comfortably in the store, don’t buy it.
2. Guard Against Infections
Locker room showers are a breeding ground for fungus, putting your child’s feet at risk of lovely conditions like athlete’s foot, plantar warts and fungal toenail infections. Purchase some shower shoes or thick flip flops for your child to wear in the shower, make sure they thoroughly dry their feet after showering, and check their feet regularly for signs for an infection. If you notice small warts on the bottom of their feet, yellowish toenails or itchy feet, come in for an appointment so we can clean up the problem.
3. Don’t Ignore Growing Pains
We see a lot of young athlete’s at this time of year with Sever’s disease, which is the inflammation of the heel’s growth plate that’s common among athletes between the ages of 8 and 15. Despite the scary name, it’s just a growing pain and won’t cause any long-term damage. It can, however, stick around for a few months and interfere with the season. If your child complains of a hurting heel, bring them in right away. We can help reduce the pain and shorten the recovery period so your child doesn’t miss a whole season.
4. Stretch Properly
Kids are often so excited to get into action that they don’t want to take time to stretch properly, which can lead to sidelining injuries like shin splints or sprained ankles. Talk to your athlete about the importance of stretching before practice and games. If they are relatively new to a sport, ask their coach for tips on what stretches they should do and for how long. Or look online for professional tips. If you help them start good stretching habits at a young age, you’ll lessen the chance of injury.
5. Protect Against Blisters
We see a lot of kids this time of year with painful blisters from their new school shoes. If your young athlete gets blisters, have them immediately switch to a different set of shoes. During practice or games, put on a snug, waterproof Band-Aid that will cover the blister completely with a little extra room around the edges. The rest of the time, they should wear shoes that will not rub against that area to allow healing. In the morning and before and after practice, they should dry feet completely and use a foot antiperspirant and deodorant. This will prevent perspiration, which can cause friction.
To prevent them from returning, use blister pads over areas that are prone to blisters, and stretch the shoes out using a ball and ring shoe stretcher. If necessary, we can also recommend discreet orthotics that will slip into their shoes and prevent excessive friction.
Lastly, if your child complains of any foot, ankle or knee pain, give us a call. With most foot problems, we can prevent damage and injury if we catch it early enough.