don't let your kids play through foot painAs the new school year approaches, so do your kid's sports activities.  But for some kids, last year's sports never ended. They play year-round to fulfill their parent's dreams of getting a college scholarship or even having their kid go pro. On NPR, Anders Kelto did a story about kids whose parents push them way too hard in sports. Not surprisingly it turns out that kids end up with anxiety and depression as a result.

Unfortunately, kids involved in such intense sports can also end up with foot and ankle problems.  In their zealous pursuit of success, parents may encourage their kids to play through foot pain. Dr. Lavian and Dr. Levy podiatrists of Valencia, California have had to show parents x-rays of fractures before they'd take their kid out of the game.

Kids deserve better. Parents need to understand that kids who play sports are already more vulnerable to getting sports injuries than adults. Pushing them too hard and fast just increases that risk.

Foot and Ankle Conditions in Youth Athletes

Heel Pain Conditions in Kid Athletes

All kids go through a growth spurt and that isn't just their height. Their heel bones undergo rapid growth, often outpacing their muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When muscles and tendons can't keep up with the heel bones they become stretched and cause injuries and a foot condition called Sever's Disease.  This foot condition occurs most often when kids are involved in sports like soccer which involves a lot of running and jumping. Although more common in boys ages 10-15, Sever's disease also happens in girls at an earlier age (8-13).

Kids who participate in sports are also liable to develop other overuse injuries such as heel pain and Achilles tendonitis

Even if you aren't the type of parent described above, it's important to stay aware of how your kid is doing when they play sports. Even if they tend to blow off a limp or other minor discomfort, you shouldn't.

Ingrown Toenails in Kid Athletes 

Kids are also at risk for an ingrown toenail if they wear shoes that are too short or tight. Make sure to get your kids feet measured each year and don't allow them to wear really tight cleats if they play soccer to avoid this problem.

Athlete's Foot and Fungal Toenails in Kid Athletes

Kids can also develop athlete's foot and fungal toenails if they don't take the following precautions.

  • Wear socks made of breathable materials that also wick away moisture-socks made of synthetic materials are best. Avoid cotton socks.
  • Make sure kids wear clean socks every day.
  • Kids should rotate their shoes so they can allow them to completely dry out.
  • Kids need to be taught to properly clean and dry their feet.
  • Kids should wear flip-flops in locker and shower rooms to avoid these infections. 

Sprained and Broken Ankles

The best way to prevent sprained and broken ankles are for kids to stretch before play and to ensure that the field has been assessed to remove any hazards. Ankle braces can also be important particularly if your child already has a weak ankle from a previous sprain.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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