Playing football can trigger heel pain in some individuals. Movements such as hurdling, dashing and quick stops while playing the sport causes substantial pressure on the feet especially to the heel. Conditions such as muscle strain, plantar fasciitis and a bruised heel can cause heel pain.
The treatment usually includes application of ice, over-the-counter pain medications and regular stretching. If the individual suffers from heel pain, there might be a need to make the necessary modifications to the workout routine as well as changes to footwear used to reduce the pain. In case the pain becomes continuous or worsens, a doctor should be consulted.
What are the causes and risk factors?
Due to the high impact nature of football as well as overtraining, it can lead to irritation or injury to the ligaments, muscles and tendons surrounding the heel which results to heel pain.
The injuries include plantar fasciitis, muscle strain, heel spurs, Achilles tendonitis, bruised heel and bursitis. Using incorrect or worn footwear or cleats, high or flat arches and poor flexibility can increase the risk for discomfort.
The individual should stop all activities that trigger heel pain along with application of ice and over-the-counter pain medications to reduce the pain and inflammation. When it comes to Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis, light stretching of the ankle, foot and calf can also reduce the heel pain.
After the initial 48-72 hours, you can utilize heat and massage to promote healing. In case the heel pain does not subside within 3-7 days, physical therapy might be needed and immobilization and surgery is also required in severe cases before the individual can resume his/her normal activity.
Modifications to exercise
One way to prevent further injury is to avoid playing the sport until fully healed and free from pain. On the other hand, if the coach or trainer will allow the individual to practice, there are certain limitations to be observed.
In such cases, the individual can perform low impact drills but scrimmages and agility exercises must be avoided. In addition, cross-training or alternative exercises such as cycling using a stationary bike, aqua jogging or swimming can also help maintain the fitness level while healing.
The footwear or cleats used play a big role in overall foot health and performance. In case the cleats do not support and properly cushion the foot, it increases the risk for pain.
It is recommended to replace old cleats with newly bought ones and always opt for the tailored orthotics for additional support and cushioning. When being fitted for new shoes or cleats, the individual should bring his/her orthotics or heel cups to ensure that the proper shoe size is given.
When selecting shoes, the type of surfaces being played on and the foot type must be considered as well. It is vital to use formed or separable cleats when playing on grass surfaces while turf shoes which have no cleats are suitable for turf surfaces. Additional vital shoe characteristics to consider include the size of the toe box, shoe flexibility as well as the number and location of the cleats. Furthermore, the turf shoes or cleats must be comfortable.