Although soccer can be an entertaining form of exercise, the running and jumping involved can put you at risk for injuries and conditions that cause heel pain. It can vary in severity, ranging from a mild ache to a debilitating pain that keeps you from playing or practicing. Because it can sometimes be a symptom of a serious condition or injury, it is important to understand what can cause soccer-related heel pain and how it can be remedied.
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Heel pain can develop in just one or both of the feet. It can occur without warning or after starting a new sport such as soccer. Pain can intensify when you jump, run or squeeze or contract the muscles in the feet. People that develop heel pain can have the tendency to tiptoe when walking. Additional symptoms can include bruising, warmth, redness, inflammation and tenderness. You my also notice loss of mobility or problems with stability.
Heel pain as the result of playing soccer can occur if you overuse the muscles and tendons in the feet with excessive exercise or training. In addition, you can experience pain if you sprain, strain, fracture or dislocate ligaments, muscles, tendons or bones in the heel area. Some painful conditions such as plantar fasciitis, heel pad atrophy, tarsal tunnel syndrome, Sever’s disease and tumors can also develop from excessive or extreme soccer play.
Apply an ice pack to the heel area for about 10 minutes, three times a day. Wrap the injured foot with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling and pain. Elevate your foot to help any fluid drain away from your foot and toward your heart. Take an over-the-counter pain control medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Contact a doctor if pain is unbearable or lingers even after home treatment. Serious injuries such as fractures and tumors may require surgery.
Prevent heel pain by wearing a stable arch support in your soccer cleat. Stretch the muscles of the calves and hamstrings, and the tendons located at the backs of the legs prior to exercise. Refrain from running on hard surfaces and always wear shoes with shock-absorbent soles to minimize impact. If you are susceptible to heel pain, stretch out and apply ice to the heel right after you play soccer to prevent it from reoccurring.
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Diagnosing Heel Pain in Adults
- "Foot & Ankle Center of Washington"; Heel Pain in Soccer Playing Kids; Doug Hale, DPM and Larry Huppin, DPM; April 2010
- SoccerU: Heel Pain in Youth Soccer Players
- FamilyDoctor: Sever's Disease: A Common Cause of Heel Pain
- The Merck Manuals: Approach to Sports Injuries