Foot and Ankle Injuries : Cricket Injuries

Common injuries that cricket players experience to the foot or ankle include strain of the plantar fascia arch tendon, plantar fasciitis, fractures to metatarsal long foot bones or calcaneal heel bone, bruised heel, tarsal tunnel syndrome or Morton’s syndrome from nerve inflammation, achilles bursitis (inflamed bursa tendon), achilles tendon strain (achilles tendonitis) or rupture, and turf toe (overstretched toe ligament).

Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Injuries

Heel and arch pain will be felt with plantar fasciitis due to inflammation of the fascia tendon. With a fracture to a foot bone, there is swelling and pain at the point of fracture, sometimes deformity, and the player will not be able to stand on the foot. If pain is accompanied with a numb or tingling sensation in the foot or toes, a nerve in the foot may be damaged. Pain at the back of the heel with tenderness and swelling is caused by inflamed bursa tendon which is different to achilles tendonitis where lumps can develop in the tendon above the heel with gradual onset of pain from overuse.

Causes of Foot and Ankle Injuries

Besides having high or low arched feet, overpronation is the main cause of plantar fascia damage among cricketers because the tight calf muscle accentuates impact pressure of the foot in movement. Fractures to the metatarsals or phalanges (toe bones) can occur if a player falls or is hit by a cricket ball. Stress fractures are gradual from wearing incorrect sports shoes when playing cricket, not warming up properly, weak diet or fluid intake, or from illness. Too much cricket training and not enough rest can also cause foot fractures, strains and sprains. Nerves in the foot can be damaged from overuse of the foot during cricket or due to other foot injuries, such as fractures, sprains and strains. A bruised heel is caused by repetitive pounding of the heel to the ground during running or incorrect footwear.

Medical Treatment of Foot and Ankle Injuries

Rest will prevent further trauma to the foot in all cases of injury. Applying ice packs and compressing with bandages or tape to alleviate stress to the injured part of the foot. Raising the foot also lessens pressure and swelling to aid recovery. Taking Ibuprofen or painkillers can help. Following self-remedy techniques may heel the afflicted foot, but if not and pain perseveres, cricket players should allow a medical doctor to examine the foot.

Cricketers with injured plantar fascia, achilles tendon or bursa, foot sprains and strains, fractures or suspected nerve damage may be referred for a foot scan, ultrasound, or X-ray to identify extent of damage. When damage to the foot or ankle is severe, such as bone fractures or breaks and ruptured tendons and ligaments, steroid injections to reduce pain and surgery may be necessary.

Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries

A physiotherapist may recommend a taping or compression technique, sports braces, stretching exercises, massage therapy and wearing a night splint to reduce pressure on the tendons in the feet. Sports professionals can also do gait analysis to identify corrective treatments for foot injuries. Other steps to reduce risk of injuries to the feet while playing cricket include adequate warming up, managed diet and fluid intake, wearing supportive cricket footwear with orthotic insoles (for bruised heel or calcaneal recovery), heel cups and arch supports.

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