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Barefoot Athletes Beware


There are certain sports that athletes participate in barefoot. These include: gymnastics, wrestling, martial arts and beach volleyball. Also, a recent fitness trend that is gaining in popularity is barefoot running. At Paul S. DeMarco, DPM, we’re all in favor of fitness but want to offer those patients who participate in barefoot sports some words of caution:

Start gradually—if you are not used to exposing your feet during fitness activities, start off slowly and give your feet time to acclimate to the sensation of playing without shoes and to the surface on which the activity will take place.

Know your surface—obviously, in barefoot sports there is no barrier between your foot and the surface you are playing on. If you are outside, you particularly need to be careful of objects that can cut or injure your foot if you step on them. Rough or uneven surfaces make you more prone to ankle sprains too. Indoor barefoot activities increase the risk of fungal infections that are transmitted by direct contact. Proper sanitizing of mats and other surfaces are necessary for protection.

Prevent injuries—athletes that play sports without shoes, especially those just starting out, are more likely to sprain toes and have an increased risk of injuries to the forefoot, such as metatarsal fractures. There is also an increased incidence of strain to the Achilles tendon and tendonitis.

Good foot hygiene is essential if you participate in a barefoot sport. After each session, you should wipe feet down with an antibacterial wipe and then as soon as possible wash your feet with an antifungal soap and warm water. Dry your feet completely, especially between your toes. If you experience pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, redness or other uncomfortable symptoms after playing a sport barefoot, contact our Somers Point office and let our board certified podiatrist, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco examine your foot. The foot doctor may suggest taping your foot or other measures to prevent injury when playing barefoot.