Organized sports can be both beneficial and devastating to your feet. If you have an existing foot problem, contact our office first.

Here are a few tips for the major kinds of sports:

Baseball

Baseball is the national pastime in America. From kids to adults, playing baseball is one of the most enjoyable team sports. But as with other sports, its important that you keep yourself in good condition and have the right equipment to play safely and enjoy the health benefits of the game. Baseball players are advised to condition their entire bodies and be sure to stretch the leg, ankle, and foot muscles before, during, and after play to avoid injuries.

Baseball can be characterized by lots of stops and starts, lots of running, and, of course sliding. Practice and technique can enhance your competency and enjoyment of the game, but they are also crucial for building up the muscles needed in baseball. The rapid and changing movements associated with the sport place many pressures on your feet and ankles. Inadequate stretching, improper shoes, and repeated motions lead to the most common foot problems that occur among baseball players, such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, stress fractures, ankle sprains, and bone fractures.

Baseball Shoes and Cleats

As with most athletic shoes, comfort is the most important element in choosing the right baseball shoe for you. Look for shoes with a roomy toe box that give your toes enough room to wiggle. The widest part of your foot should fit comfortably into the shoe without stretching the upper. Look for a snug heel to help keep your foot stable. Most importantly, remember to replace your baseball shoes after 70 to 75 hours of active wear.

For league play, cleats may be recommended to give you the traction needed for the surface in the diamond. Baseball cleats come in a variety of materials ranging from leather and synthetic materials (plastics) to rubber and metal. Be sure to follow the regulations of your league regarding the material allowed; many leagues no longer permit the use of metal spikes or cleats, particularly on artificial turf. Be sure to give yourself time to adjust to cleats by wearing them on the designated surface.


Cycling


Since the bicycle's invention in the early 1900s, it has been a favorite form of recreation and sport in the U.S. More than 100 million Americans enjoy biking, either for recreation or, increasingly, for commuting to work each day. While a great workout for most of the body, feet play a vital role in cycling. They are responsible for the transfer of energy from the body to the pedals, which makes the bicycle move.

Keeping the alignment between the hips, knees, and feet is the most efficient way to operate a bicycle. Lack of proper body alignment and overactivity are responsible for the most common foot problems related to biking: Achilles tendonitis, sesamoiditis, shin splints, and foot numbness or pain.

Cycling Shoes
For the casual or recreational cyclist, a typical athletic shoe used for running, walking, or cross-training is perfectly fine for biking. Just be sure that the sole is firm and not worn down so that it grips the pedal to avoid slipping.

For more serious cyclists, next to bicycles themselves. proper shoes are the most important piece of cycling equipment. In general, cycling shoes should have a stiff sole and fit snugly around the bridge of the foot and heel. The more stable and less movement inside the shoe, the more power can be transferred through the entire foot to the pedal. Also look for shoes with ventilated uppers to keep feet more comfortable. Closure systems vary, including lacing, buckles, straps, and Velcro -- or some combination. You can choose whichever feel most comfortable to you. However, be careful that any loose ends (from straps or laces) and buckles don't hang over, as they can pose a safety hazard if you elect to use toe clips.

The type of biking you do can impact your choice of shoes as well. For road cycling and racing, shoes that have stiff soles, a narrow heel, and snug fit are best. For mountain biking, the shoes also need a decent tread for better grip and a more rugged sole.

Many serious cyclists use some form of a toe clip system. These allow the rider to transfer power from the body to the pedal in both the up and down motions of the leg. Simple toe clips have metal or plastic clips that attach to any type of shoe with strapping. However, they are not as efficient at energy transfer because they allow the foot to bend. Additionally, hanging straps can pose a danger. Clipless systems use metal or plastic cleats in the sole of a shoe that attach to bindings on the pedal. These are a good choice for road or race cycling, but they do take some adjusting to initially. Also, the cleats make the shoes unwearable for walking. Clips are generally not advised for mountain biking since the foot comes off the pedal frequently.

Remember to take the socks you plan to wear with you when trying on cycling shoes to make sure the fit is right.


Tennis


Quick starts and stops and lots of movements from side to side are the characteristics that make tennis challenging -- and stressful on your feet. Amateur and professional tennis players alike are prone to injuries of the foot and ankle, primarily from repeated lateral motions and quick stopping and starting. Clay and crushed stone courts help players slide better, and are considered the safest surfaces on which to play. Asphalt, concrete, rubberized, or carpeted courts don't allow sliding, and are not as healthy for your feet.

Common tennis injuries include ankle sprains, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and tennis toe. If you experience recurring or persistent pain, please contact our office for an evaluation.

The best way to prevent foot injuries from tennis is to make sure you condition yourself. This includes building all-around body strength and flexibility; stretching the muscles (particularly in your calves) before, during and after play; drinking lots of water; and wearing the right shoes.

Tennis Shoes
Tennis shoes need lots of cushioning and shock absorption to deal with all the forces placed on your feet during play and to keep your foot and ankle stable. Be sure to choose shoes specifically for racquet sports; running shoes, for example, don't have the support needed for the side-to-side movements common to tennis. Look for a tennis shoes that have a reinforced toe, wiggle room in the toe box, padding at the ball of the foot, sturdy sides, a low, well-cushioned heel that is not flared, and a firm heel counter for support.

When shopping for tennis shoes, follow these tips:
- Try on shoes with the socks you normally wear to make sure the fit is right.
- Go shopping at the end of the day when your feet are larger and fit your shoes to the larger of your two feet.
- Let your feet be your guide to fit. Choose only shoes that are comfortable in the store -- don't expect a wear-in period. The shoes should feel supportive, cushioned. and flexible, with some resistance in the heel for greater stability.
- Walk around the store in each pair you try on. Be sure to walk on a hard-surface, not just a carpeted floor. Emulate tennis play by jumping up and down in the shoes and making some fast turns to see how the shoes will really perform.



Golf


A large part of the attraction of golf is the time spent outdoors. During an 18-hole round of golf, the typical player walks four-to-five miles over the course of three-to-five hours. That's a lot of time spent on your feet. At the same time, the biomechanics of golf make your feet as important to the success of your swing as any other part of the body. Getting and keeping your feet in the right position to help carry the force of the swing through properly can be impacted by the shoes you wear.

Common foot injuries and problems associated with golf are related to overdoing it, particularly if an underlying structural problem exists in your feet. This includes tendonitis, capsulitis, and ligament sprains and pulls, which can keep a golf enthusiast off the green. Improper shoes can bring on blisters, neuromas, and other pain in the feet. Podiatrists see these problems daily and can treat them conservatively to allow for a quick return to the sport.

Golf Shoes
Remember that you'll spend a lot of time on your feet standing and walking during golf, so look for shoes that are comfortable. Golf shoes come in a variety of types, from the traditional oxford-style to sandals and even boots. Whichever style you choose, look for shoes that are lightweight, well-cushioned in the soles and heels, made from a breathable material, water resistant and offer traction. The middle of the shoe should feel a little tighter than your everyday shoes to support your swing. Be sure to try on golf shoes with the socks you will normally wear to make sure to get the right fit.

More serious golfers may be interested in purchasing spikes. Just give yourself time to adjust to walking wearing spikes and make sure you know the policy for wearing them on each golf course. Spikes give added traction and help stabilize the foot during play. Spikes are made from different materials. Soft, polyurethane spikes that are less damaging to the green and lightweight, but don't offer as much traction as a heavier material. Carbide or ceramic spikes are for serious golfers who spend a lot of time on the greens. They are made of durable materials that often outlast the shoe's upper. Metal spikes often last the life of the shoe, are very durable, give good traction but must be carefully maintained to prevent rust.