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Happy Feet: Common Foot Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Foot and ankle pain

Our feet are surprisingly complex, bearing the weight of our bodies and facilitating movement throughout our lives. Of course, the more complex something is, the more that can go wrong with it.


“Most of us go through each day without ever thinking about our feet. It’s only when something goes wrong that we tend to realize just how important our feet really are,” says the National Institute of Health (NIH)


Overlooking the importance and health of your feet is a mistake.


“Our feet are usually covered with shoes and socks, and they’re easy to forget about, or we might take them for granted,” Dr. David G. Armstrong, a foot doctor (podiatrist) and professor of surgery at the University of Southern California, told the NIH. “But we shouldn’t ignore them. Foot problems can really limit activity and make it hard to move through the world.”


Whether you're an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply someone who values being on your feet, understanding common foot injuries and how to prevent them is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.


Prevalence of Foot Injuries says that on average, people spend about four hours standing on their feet each day and take about 5,000 steps.

“Up to 87 percent of people have painful feet at some time in their lives for many different reasons,” says


Foot injuries can strike in a variety of environments:

  • Playing Sports: Athletes, both professional and amateur, often face foot injuries due to the repetitive strain and high-impact nature of many sports. From basketball to soccer, the demands placed on the feet during athletic activities can lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and ankle sprains.

  • Outdoor Activities: Hiking, running, and trail walking are popular outdoor pursuits that can put significant stress on the feet. Uneven terrain, improper footwear, and long durations of activity increase the risk of injuries such as ankle sprains, blisters, and even more severe conditions like stress fractures.

  • Work-related: Jobs that involve prolonged standing, heavy lifting, or repetitive motions can contribute to foot injuries. People in professions such as construction, healthcare, and food service are particularly susceptible to conditions like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and metatarsalgia due to the demands of their work environments.

  • Around the Home: Even everyday activities at home can lead to foot injuries if proper precautions are not taken. From stubbed toes to falls on slippery surfaces, household accidents can result in sprains, fractures, and other injuries that impact foot health.

Six Common Foot Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Injuries are inevitable in life, but some common foot injuries are preventable. Let’s look at six of them:

  • Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is one of the most prevalent causes of heel pain. It strikes when the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot, becomes inflamed or strained. This condition often results from overuse, improper footwear, or biomechanical issues.

Prevention: Wear supportive footwear with good arch support, maintain a healthy weight to reduce strain on the feet, stretch your calves and Achilles tendon regularly, and gradually increase the intensity of physical activities to avoid sudden strain on the plantar fascia.

  • Ankle Sprains: Ankle sprains happen when the ligaments supporting the ankle stretch or tear, often due to sudden rolling or twisting movements. They are common among athletes but can happen to anyone during daily activities.

Prevention: Strengthen the muscles around the ankle through targeted exercises, wear supportive footwear that provides stability, use ankle braces during high-risk activities, and be mindful of your surroundings to avoid uneven terrain.

  • Stress Fractures: Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone caused by repetitive force or overuse, commonly seen in athletes engaged in high-impact sports like running and basketball.

Prevention: Gradually increase the intensity and duration of physical activity to allow bones to adapt, ensure proper nutrition to support bone health, incorporate cross-training and low-impact activities to reduce repetitive stress, and listen to your body for signs of fatigue or discomfort.

  • Achilles Tendinitis: Achilles tendinitis is characterized by inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It often results from overuse, improper footwear, or tight calf muscles.

Prevention: Stretch and strengthen the calf muscles regularly, avoid sudden increases in training intensity, wear appropriate footwear with cushioning and support, and consider incorporating eccentric calf exercises to improve tendon strength.

  • Blisters and Calluses: Blisters and calluses are common foot problems caused by friction and pressure on the skin. They can develop from ill-fitting footwear or repetitive motion.

Prevention: Wear properly fitting shoes with ample room for toes and minimal friction, use moisture-wicking socks to keep feet dry, apply protective padding to areas prone to blisters, and address friction points promptly to prevent further irritation.

  • Ingrown Toenails: Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to pain, swelling, and potential infection.

Prevention: Cut toenails straight across to prevent them from digging into the surrounding skin, wear shoes with adequate toe room, avoid picking or tearing at toenails, and maintain good foot hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.


Best Practices for Preventing Foot Injuries


Obviously, there are more than six types of foot injuries that can occur – after all our feet have 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 120 muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves!

Here are some best practices that help you keep happy feet:

  • Wear Proper Footwear: Invest in well-fitting shoes that provide adequate support, cushioning, and stability for your feet. Choose footwear designed for specific activities and replace worn-out shoes regularly to maintain optimal support.
  • Gradually Increase Activity: Whether you're starting a new exercise routine or engaging in physical activities, gradually increase the intensity, duration, and frequency to allow your feet and body to adapt to the demands placed on them.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess body weight can increase the stress on your feet and contribute to various foot injuries. Maintain a healthy weight through balanced nutrition and regular exercise to reduce strain on your feet and lower the risk of injury.
  • Stretch and Strengthen: Incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine to improve flexibility and stability in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the feet and ankles. Focus on calf stretches, toe curls, and balance exercises to enhance foot health and prevent injuries.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any discomfort, pain, or changes in your feet and ankles. Ignoring early warning signs can lead to more serious injuries over time. Rest when needed and seek medical attention if you experience persistent or worsening symptoms.
  • Maintain Good Foot Hygiene: Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent fungal infections, such as athlete's foot and toenail fungus. Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails and moisturize dry skin to prevent cracks and fissures that can lead to infections.
  • Warm-Up and Cool Down: Before engaging in physical activities, warm up your muscles and loosen your joints with dynamic stretches and movements. Afterward, cool down with gentle stretching and relaxation techniques to prevent muscle tightness and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Cross-Train and Rest: Incorporate cross-training activities into your routine to vary the stress placed on your feet and lower the risk of overuse injuries. Allow adequate time for rest and recovery between workouts to prevent fatigue and promote tissue repair.

Prioritizing foot health through proper care and injury prevention strategies is crucial for maintaining an active lifestyle and overall well-being.

When you do suffer from foot or ankle pain or discomfort, reach out to the doctors at Sweeney Foot & Ankle Specialists for treatment to get you back on your feet.