Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast ever in a single Olympics, and the rest of the gold medal Women’s Gymnastics team are inspiring young athlete’s across the country to step up and try this exciting sport. At Paul S. DeMarco, DPM we want our patients to enjoy athletic activities and keep their feet healthy. Like all sports, gymnastics has its own particular set of injury risks. Here are the most common ones that can affect your feet:
- Ankle sprains—flips, twists and sticking perfect landings can often result in overstretched ligaments and ankle sprains.
- Stress fractures—caused by overuse of a particular area of the foot and repetitive high impact activity
- Heel pain—cracks or fissures from overly dry skin, growth plate inflammation, overuse are a few of the risks associated with gymnastics
- Athletes foot—many hours barefoot in a gym, locker room and shared showers increase the risk of coming in contact with bacteria and fungi that cause common skin infections
Preventing Foot and Ankle Problems
The good news is that there is much you can do to help prevent injuries and chronic conditions related to gymnastics:
- Get a checkup—before starting a new sport, schedule an evaluation with our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco. Your foot doctor will examine your foot and be sure that there are currently no conditions or injuries that would impact your ability to participate. In gymnastics, for example, flatfeet or overly high arches can present challenges that need to be addressed. The podiatrist can make recommendations regarding shoes, braces or other equipment to help prevent injury and increase comfort.
- Safety first—work with a reputable gym and coach who teaches proper technique. Many injuries occur as a result of poorly executed moves. Be sure the gym equipment meets all current safety standards and is properly maintained.
- Gear Up—be sure to ask your coach about safety gear such as hand grips, foot pads and special footwear and then be diligent about using them.
- Don’t ignore pain—if you suspect an injury and are experiencing pain, do not continue to play. Make an appointment to see the foot doctor as soon as possible and rest the affected foot until the time of the appointment. One of the major causes of chronic pain that persist into adulthood is not having injuries promptly diagnosed and completely rehabilitated before returning to play.
If you have more questions about gymnastics or another sport and your feet, contact our Somers Point office at: (609) 927-4894.