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Michael VanPelt, D.P.M. Answers Questions On Foot and Ankle Injuries

Michael VanPelt, D.P.M. Answers Questions On: Foot and Ankle Injuries

Any advice for athletes on preventing foot injuries?

Appropriate conditioning. Appropriate shoe wear. Warm-ups. And core strengthening always helps reduce your injury risk – that helps with your balance, so you reduce some of those sprains and strains. Now, preventing an ankle fracture or something in a sport, sometimes you can’t prevent that – you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. You get hit the wrong way, or your foot’s planted the wrong way, or you’re turning or cutting the wrong way. Sometimes it just happens.

Which sports lead to a lot of foot and ankle injuries?

Soccer and football. With basketball, volleyball, and tennis, you get a lot of sprains and chronic overuse injuries. As far as baseball, not too many – very rare. With field sports, usually you have a little bit more severe injuries, like Lisfranc fractures (a type of severe midfoot injury), ankle fractures, and turf toe injuries.

What is turf toe?

It’s an injury to the plantar first MTP joint region (the base of the big toe on the sole of the foot). Usually it’s chronic. They used to attribute it to AstroTurf, but with third-generation AstroTurf that’s more like real grass, you still have it. Typically it's not a fracture. It’s from chronic repetitive motion. You’ve got these athletes who are larger, faster nowadays, you’ve got so much force and torque, you’ve got 70 percent of your body weight transmitted through the great toe joint, with running and jumping and hitting and pushing. That's a large stress across one joint. Some of that chronic repetitive stress takes a toll on the feet.