Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. In the United States it continues to gain popularity, particularly among our youth. As a result, we are seeing more and more injuries to the foot and ankle. Lower extremity injuries accounted for 60% to 80% of all injuries during soccer, and the foot and ankle account for the majority of them.
What do we see? Some of the most common things we see in the office are skin conditions. Ingrown toenails are probably one of our biggest. Cleats that are too tight, improper technique resulting in trauma to the nail is one of our biggest problems. Athlete's foot infections are also very common. Changing out the shoes, making sure they're not excessively moist, and importantly, not walking barefoot in the locker rooms are also key.
Some things we also see are acute injuries. Acute injuries occur due to the nature of soccer and the rapid movements. Ankle sprains are probably the most common and account for 25% of what we see. Prevention of ankle sprains are important. Know your child's foot structure. If they are an overpronator or an oversupinator or just need more support, some of the newer three-quarter top cleats might be right for them.
Proper personal protection is also important. Your child should be wearing an appropriate shinguard to prevent against injury.
Know your terrain. Know the field that your child plays on. Is there holes in the field? Get involved in maintaining the field. Know what surfaces they're going to play on because you need to know this to pick an appropriate soccer shoe. Cleat design is dependent upon field conditions.
Maintaining a healthy body weight and activity level in your child is also critical. Overuse injuries are one of the most common things I see as a result of soccer. There's a condition called calcaneal apophysitis, also known as Sever's Disease, which is an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel. This is common in children playing soccer, particularly between 9 and 13 years of age.
It's important to set proper guidelines for your child. Don't have them playing on three travel teams plus a school team. Maintain proper foot health and, overall, keep an eye on their shoe gear.