Football can place a great deal of stress on the foot and the more you play, the higher the stress. There can be a lot of friction involved, particularly when playing on surfaces such as astroturf. A player often stops suddenly and twists and turns.
Likewise, when playing on hard ground the studs can result in pressure to the sole of the foot. Football boots can also be quite stressful on the feet, particularly as most players wear a tight fit for better ball control. It is not uncommon for a footballer to suffer with pressure points, corns, callus or ingrowing toenails as a result of football boots. This is particularly damaging for those who are still growing.
There’s a big difference between muscular aches from a hard session and pain that reoccurs after every training session or game, or even pain that is gradually getting worse. In these situations, it is best to consult a specialist with a special interest in leg/foot biomechanics and musculoskeletal problems.
Any signs of pressure such as redness, blisters, hard skin or extra bone developing (osteophytic formation) definitely needs assessing by a professional. Areas to check are around the back of the heel, the toes and the base of the big toe joint.
Tips for maintaining healthy feet for football:
- Maintain good foot hygiene - essential to prevent a number of foot problems such as bacterial, fungal or viral infection.
- Stay flexible - flexibility, which can be important in keeping a good posture, helps maintain a wide range of motion at all joints and prevent injury.
- Stay balanced - good balance and awareness is essential for football. This can be improved by increasing the communication between the feet and the nervous system (brain). This is referred to as ‘proprioception’ and can be improved with the use of orthotics for those with flat feet.
- Wear well-fitting boots – a good, well-fitting pair of football boots is essential. There shouldn’t be any signs of pressure on the foot after a game or training session. A pair of flip flops is recommended if using communal changing areas and showers, as this can prevent picking up any infections that can cause unnecessary problems.