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Sports and footwear

Sports can place tremendous pressure on our feet, ankles and legs. Running and jumping can generate an impact force through the legs that is many times a person’s body weight. Any abnormal alignment in our feet and ankles, for e.g., high arched feet or flatfeet, can amplify the wrong forces causing significant discomfort that ultimately reduces efficiency of the sportsperson.

There is a very high chance of sustaining injury to our bones and ligaments in sports which can be prevented to quite an extent with proper shoes. The commonly encountered issues are shin splints, stress fractures of various bones, tendinitis (painful muscle ends) and sprains (torn ligaments) which can keep a player out of field for more than a season.

Various designs of the footwear are available each specifically meant for different purpose. Running shoes have plenty of cushion to absorb the shock and are designed for forward motion protecting the front of our feet and heel. Minimalist shoes are light, flexible, don’t have much cushion and give the feeling of running barefoot. Walking shoes are more rigid in the front with slightly rounded sole or a “rocker” bottom to help shift the weight more smoothly from the heels to toes. Trail running shoes have a heavy thread, more heel and side-to-side support to keep us safe while running on uneven surfaces.

Court shoes (for sports like basketball, tennis and volleyball) and shoes with cleats/spikes/studs (for football and baseball) are quite commonly used by sportspersons which give good grip over the playing surfaces. High top shoes support our ankle during quick changes in direction and when we jump and land. These modifications in the shoes essentially increase speed, agility and reduce fatiguability.

Any person who is getting involved in some sort of sporting activity regularly should get his feet and footwear examined by orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons periodically. The correct size, shape, design, material, time of buying the shoes and for what purpose, everything matters! A single “sports shoe” can’t be just used for any purpose. A single mishap can ruin a sportsperson’s career forever. Ultimately the difference between winning and losing could be as little as just a second. And that difference should not be because of our faulty footwear!!


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