Foot and Ankle Surgeon
During a game, a soccer player in Dallas hears a pop and feels a sudden pain in the back of his ankle – the athletic trainer tells him it looks like an Achilles tendon rupture. Across town, a football player suffers a broken ankle. And a few blocks away, a runner in a new pair of minimalist shoes begins to feel an unfamiliar pain in her feet. She has to cut her run short. Those athletes should make their way to Michael VanPelt, D.P.M. An Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center and a go-to consultant for the UT Southwestern Sports Medicine Program, Dr. VanPelt is a podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon specializing in injuries to the foot and ankle – especially athletic injuries.
"I enjoy taking care of athletes. I’m a pretty big guy – 6 feet, 2 inches, and 265 pounds. I played sports growing up from first grade, from soccer to basketball, track, and football, and I know the kinds of injuries athletes experience."
He is board certified in both foot surgery and reconstructive ankle surgery, and he completed a podiatric sports medicine fellowship at Barry University in Miami, Florida. There he served as the podiatrist for the Miami Heat and the University of Miami men’s and women’s basketball team, and as team physician for Barry University athletics.
Runners get hurt too. Dr. VanPelt often sees runners with stress fractures to their sesamoids, a pair of small round bones at the base of the big toe. Overuse injuries can also strike runners who use minimalist shoes or go barefoot.
“Barefoot running is not for the novice runner – it should be for experienced runners who have a routine and regimen already,” Dr. VanPelt says. “In the U.S., everybody grows up in shoes. If all of a sudden you want to go back to barefoot again, it's not that easy.”
It takes time for athletes to recover from foot or ankle injuries, Dr. VanPelt says, and when patients return to play, they might not be at 100 percent. But once they’ve completed rehab and returned to play, they can start working their way back to their best.