by Simone McConnie
How playing cricket impacts on the feet
As with any sport involving running, repetitious actions can lead to stresses of all kinds. There are forces of high impact on the structures of the feet – the toes, ankles, muscles, ligaments, tendons and the bones that support the feet. These forces can be two to three times our body weight so it is easy to appreciate the damage that can be done. Other stresses may be a result of ill-fitting shoes and socks.
Potential problems and when to seek the help of a podiatrist
Lower back pain
Pain in the lower back may be an indication of improper gait during actions like bowling, or of structural limitations such as limb length discrepancies (one leg longer than the other).
Pain in the toes
- Black and blue under the nail (subungal haematoma) may be a result of an inappropriate fitting shoe; it is not uncommon to cut a hole in the toe box area, but this is not recommended as it changes the mechanism/function of the shoe and may result in other problems
- Yellow/green nails: may occur naturally or if a nail is partially lifted during a game and, if untreated, can result in unwanted bacterial and fungal growth leading to a fungal nail infection
- Paraonychia: redness and swelling at the side of the toe mostly seen on big toes
- Ingrowning toenails: redness and swelling at the side of the toes sometimes accompanied by discharges
Pain in the bottom of the foot (arch area)
- Plantar fasciitis is very common. The pain can be mild to severe and is likened to a feeling of tearing under the skin in the arch while standing. It is usually noticeable in the mornings after rest, but sometimes it can be worse after a game or training session and may or may not involve discomfort in the heels.
- Retro calcaneal tendonitis is pain at the back of the heel area and may radiate up the back of the leg a little, but not as far up as the calf.
Pain in the heel
Heel pain is sometimes accompanied by arch pain but can also occur in isolation. The pain is usually noted in the heel area on standing after rest and sometimes only noticed after playing. This can be as a result of over use, poor biomechanics or due to the equipment not functioning correctly or being too worn to function properly, such as a spike protruding in the sole of the shoe.
Pain to the side of the foot near the outside of the ankle
This problem may be due to rubbing from inside the shoe, inappropriate shoe fitting or poor landing during the delivery of the ball while bowling.
Other problems affecting the foot can be related to hard skin on the soles of the feet called calluses, or corns and verrucae. These usually present with soreness over bony areas under the foot due to badly fitting footwear. It is important to remember that when areas of hard skin are identified, consultation with a podiatrist is essential as it can be easily misdiagnosed to the untrained eye. If it is a verruca the treatment is different and needs immediate attention.Verrucas are caused by a virus that gets into the skin and causes a lesion looking like a corn. However, they are contagious and can be spread so be careful when using communal showers. Custom orthotics maybe required to assist with the management or treatment of some of these problems, consult a podiatrist for advice.
Five top tips
Good foot care is essential to maintaining healthy feet for the game:
- Change sockes in between games to avoid the friction incurred by wet socks and bacterial accumulation
- Wash, dry and trim toenails regularly and use a light moisturising cream on your feet.
- Make sure your foot wear is not too tight, you should be able to wiggle your toes.
- Check inner soles regularly for any excess wear that can cause damage to feet.
- Seek professional help for pain, structural anomolies or other symptoms sooner rather than later.