American children everywhere will participate in outdoor and indoor sports this year, from basketball to softball, cycling and swimming. No matter what their sport or whether they play competitively or just for fun, they will have one important thing in common: They’ll need their feet to be pain-free if they’re going to play their best and prevent injuries.

“Playing sports is important to many young children,” says Dr. Ben Wehrli, in Rancho Mirage, CA. “Sports that require a lot of substantial running, contact and turning can easily cause injuries”. It is extremely important that you bring your child to a podiatrist if they experience any problems so they may receive professional diagnosis and treatment.

CVFA would like to provide the following tips for your athletic kids • Properly tape ankles when necessary to help prevent fractures and sprains.

• Purchasing shoes specifically designed for the sport your child plays will not only provide better protection from foot and ankle injuries but can also improve your child’s performance.

• Make sure your child wears the right socks. Protective shoes are great but can be less effective without the right socks. Purchase sports socks made of a natural/synthetic blend, which will reduce moisture and help combat foot odor. Socks should be smooth without large seams or ridges that will could cause soreness and blisters.

Here are some common sports children play and the associated risks.

• Basketball – Children playing basketball may be at risk for ankle sprains, tendinitis and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the sole of the foot). To minimize the risk of foot injury, choose a shoe with a thick, stiff sole, high ankle support and shock absorption.

• Tennis – The rapid, repetitive lateral movements and shifting of weight required of tennis players can lead to injuries such as ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, and corns or calluses. Tennis players will do best with a flexible-soled shoe that supports both sides of the foot.

• Running – Movements required of runners include leg extension and hitting the balls of the feet with a great deal of force. Running can lead to shin splints, heel pain and blisters. A good running shoe should offer good support and shock absorption. In some cases, custom orthotics may be necessary to provide additional support and control of foot motion.

• Soccer – The running, jumping, and lateral movements required of soccer players can lead to many foot injuries, with heel pain and shin splints being among the most common. Soccer shoes should provide multiple cleats in the heel area and enough room for thick soccer socks.

“Sports-related foot and ankle injuries are on the rise as more children participate actively in sports, parents need to be vigilant to ensure children’s feet remain healthy and safe. Don’t rely solely on your child to tell you if something is wrong, be diligent in checking for injuries and watching for signs of pain or strain. The bones of growing feet are so flexible that they can be twisted and distorted without the child being aware of it.

Ensuring your child’s feet stay healthy will go a long way—your young athlete could one day be the next David Beckham or Serena Williams. If your child participates in strenuous sports, monitor his or her foot health closely. If you suspect a problem, take your child to a podiatrist for evaluation and treatment.

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