Foot care integral to athletic success

Among the physical obstacles athletes can face are conditions that affect the feet. Many of these problems can be avoided with good preventive care.

Some common injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures result in painful movement and swelling. These conditions trigger an inflammatory response that will often prohibit further activity and may require a long layoff from a chosen activity.

Another group of conditions that specifically affect the skin, soft tissues and nails may not prohibit activity but can impede optimal performance. Surprisingly, many of these problems are avoidable.
Athlete’s foot is the result of a fungal infection that typically begins in the web area between the toes. A warm, dark, humid environment is a perfect setting for a fungal infection.

Blisters occur with friction from ill-fitting shoes. The inflamed area can easily breakdown and become infected with a variety of organisms. These are particularly dangerous in athletes with diabetes who may have impaired circulation.

When toenails grow into the fleshy borders of the nails they become ingrown and can be a painful site of infection. The toenails are also potential areas for fungal infection, creating a condition known as onchomycosis.

Many of these problems can be avoided through regular inspection of the feet and proper trimming of the nails. Professional foot care may be necessary.

Drs. Karla and Michael Scanlon, podiatrists from eastern Connecticut, offer advice for optimal foot health. After events, wash and dry feet thoroughly and allow sneakers to air-dry completely. Use moisture-wicking socks and change them when damp. Always wear shower shoes when using a public facility. Use Lysol liberally on them and other athletic footwear at least once weekly.

Practicing good foot hygiene can keep athletes performing at their best.