A Guide To Treating Common Soccer Injuries

Jenny Sanders, DPM

   In addition to the aforementioned treatments of bracing, compression sleeves, taping and physical therapy, there are additional considerations for soccer players that can significantly reduce the likelihood of injury.

What You Should Know About Soccer Shoes

Soccer shoes are typically designed to fit tight for better feel and control of the ball. Unfortunately, too many players select shoes that are too narrow and/or too short, and this contributes to injury. When the fit is too tight, neuroma pain, bunion pain, hammertoe pain, heloma molle or heloma durum can occur. When the fit is too short, ingrown toenails, subungual hematoma, onychodystrophy, plantar fasciitis, turf toe and sesamoiditis can occur. An improperly fitting or excessively worn soccer shoe can cause ankle instability, sprains, strains or even fractures in an otherwise healthy foot.

   The majority of soccer shoes are purchased online through recommendations from athletic trainers, sponsors, teammates or advertisers. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (www.aapsm.org/ ) currently lists 94 recommended shoes for running and only four for soccer. It is shocking to me the lack of information available to patients to help them find appropriately fitting soccer shoes. Fortunately, this is an area of injury prevention that podiatrists can significantly impact. All that is required is applying the same principles for running shoes to selecting soccer shoes.

   1. Size/fit. Easily 85 percent of patients whose feet are measured in our office are wearing the wrong size shoe. In those cases in which we cannot directly measure foot size in the office, we send patients to a running shoe store or other specialty shoe store to be properly measured and sized. One can subsequently apply this information to fitting soccer shoes.

   Soccer cleat sizes do not indicate widths and this can make it difficult to obtain a good fit. Since many medium width cleats will run either wide or narrow, you can use a side-by-side comparison to identify volume differences among different pairs of shoes.

   The Adidas Predator Absolion TRX TF has a narrow lasted cleat (see the cleat on the left of the photo at left) and the Nike Mercurial Victory II has a wide lasted cleat (see the cleat on the right of the photo at left). The differences in width are highlighted. Comparing the uppers, notice how the throatline (opening) of the Nike is so much wider than the Adidas. Also notice the difference in toebox shape and width. The Adidas is more tapered around the toes and the Nike is more rounded, accommodating a wider forefoot.

   In evaluating the lower, you can also see how much wider the forefoot and waist are in the Nike than in the Adidas. If your patients are having difficulty finding the perfect fit, showing them this method should help. These principles also apply to other shoes (tennis, basketball, football, etc.) that only come in medium widths.

   2. Design. There are soccer shoes designed for firm ground, hard ground, soft ground and indoor fields, and turf depending on the intended playing surface. Most non-professional players own both a pair of firm ground cleats and a pair of non-cleated turf shoes. Firm ground cleats have molded studs for traction and stability, and are the most common type of soccer shoe worn. Turf shoes have a firm rubber outsole with raised patterns on the outsole designed for indoor soccer or turf. Many players wear these different types of soccer shoes interchangeably. However, similar to snow versus road tires, each type is designed for a specific playing surface and should only be used on that surface.

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