Sports Injuries Affecting the Foot and Ankle

Our ankles and feet work together to support our bodies and provide mobility.

Athletes of all types are at risk of foot and ankle injuries, which might be due to chronic, repetitive use or an acute injury.

Common injuries include: 

Ankle sprains and strains

A doctor should diagnose a sprain or strain (Grade 1, 2 or 3) by palpating the injury site, testing the range of motion and ordering diagnostic testing, like an X-ray or MRI. While mild sprains and strains with minimal tearing can heal on their own in 4-6 weeks with proper rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE), more severe Grade 3 injuries or chronic issues may require surgery.

Achilles tendonitis

This common runner’s injury, which affects the Achilles tendon connecting the calf muscles to the back of the heel bone, might start out with mild pain and progress as you continue to be active. 

Heel bursitis

Pain or tenderness at the back of the heel might mean your retrocalcaneal bursa is irritated and inflamed. Sometimes running uphill can exacerbate the symptoms.

Plantar fasciitis

The thick band of tissue running from the bottom of your foot between the toes and heel can become inflamed and cause painful symptoms sometimes made worse when going up stairs or standing for long periods. 

“Turf toe” (metatarsophalangeal joint sprain)

Athletes can sprain the largest joint in their big toe by overextending it. A Grade 1 sprain might require rest while a Grade 3 sprain will require urgent orthopedic care.

Heel bone spurs

Two types of heel bone spurs — heel spur syndrome (a bone spur at the bottom of the heel) and insertional Achilles tendonitis (a bone spur at the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon meets the bone) — are both common as we age and may or may not be painful.