Soccer Player's Guide to Foot Care
Following a soccer player's guide to foot care could mean the difference between street soccer with friends and making it to the World Cup—who knows?
Do you think the best US Men's soccer players got that title without taking care of their precious pigs? Every footballer benefits from a soccer player's guide to foot care. In this game, your feet are your most valuable assets. All the fancy footwork in the world ceases to matter if you're dealing with turf toe, cramps, sprains, or athlete's foot. It's possible to guard against all of these problems as long as you care for your feet, toes, and ankles properly. In order to keep killing it on the soccer field, be sure you're equipped with the best info for foot care.
Pamper your feet.
Nearly every guide to foot care advises players to trim their toenails, grate their callouses, and shave their bunions, all of which are essential. Each of those things can alter the overall shape of your foot, and that's bad news. However, don't stop there with foot care.
Not only is it okay to pamper your feet once a week and after practices and matches, but it's beneficial to your toes, heels, arches, and ankles. Have a pedicure—with or without polish. That's entirely up to you, but imagine soaking your feet, having your toenails cut, and any corns, bunions, and callouses cared for—doesn't it sound like heaven? Going a step further, many technicians will also massage your feet, ankles, shins, and calves. All that care feels incredible after you've been running around the field.
Fit your cleats properly.
The fit of your cleats makes all the difference. It's not just a case of having trouble kicking or running, either. Wear cleats that fit too tightly for an extended period of time, and you'll suffer from more than just the pain of a too-small shoe. You can mess up the way your feet are shaped and structured, resulting in hammer toe or turf toe, which is a painful sprain of your big toe. Your toes need room to move around, and your cleats should not squeeze your toes. A physical, in-person fitting is recommended to ensure that your shoes are both long and wide enough.
Roll away the pain.
Plantar fasciitis is a real worry among footballers, so a comprehensive guide to foot care needs to include several methods to guard against the problem and to take care of the pain. Fortunately, caring for plantar fasciitis is relatively simple. Using an aerosol can, a tennis ball, or a bottle of frozen water should help. Place it on the floor in front of where you're sitting, position it in your arch, and roll it back and forth, applying pressure. Pay attention to the areas that hurt the worst. This treatment may cause pain, too, but only initially. It will fade.
RICE: An Essential Addition to the Soccer Player's Guide to Foot Care
RICE, or rest, ice, compression, and elevation, is a sure fire way to deal with sore feet. Just as the name suggests, you need first to rest your feet or foot. Icing your feet is the next step. Professionals recommend that you submerge your feet in an ice bath for up to 5 minutes, but no longer. Compression is next. Compression socks or sleeves for your legs will help with swelling and circulation. Compression elevation is even more helpful with the next step, elevation. If possible, elevate your legs above your heart.
Double your socks.
Double socking is a trick that can help you to be a better soccer player by increasing comfort, cushion, and support. Wearing two pairs of socks allows your cleats to fit more snugly, but they're soft and giving, so they don't compress or crush your toes. The key is to avoid wearing two pairs of thick socks together. Consider wearing one pair of traditional sweat socks along with a pair of thin compression socks.
Don't trust a soccer player's guide to foot care that actually advises you to go barefoot. What you need are barefoot shoes—those weird shoes that resemble feet, complete with the toes and everything. They cost a fair amount of money, but what's $100 if it means you can strengthen your feet and enjoy arch support while you train and exercise? Just avoid rough terrain and discontinue use if they don't give you the support you need.
Keep your feet clean.
Beyond pampering your feet, you have to keep them clean. To avoid problems such as athlete's foot and fungal infections, clean feet are critical. Specifically, you need to pay attention to sweat. Your feet will sweat on the field, during training, and when you exercise. It's crucial to change your socks as soon as they start to feel wet. Wash and dry them as quickly as you can. Moisture is the enemy of your feet.
Monitor for oddities.
One reason to watch your feet closely is to pay attention to cracks, discolorations, bruises, blisters, and other common foot maladies. The focus of any soccer player's guide to foot care rests on keeping the feet healthy. Skin fissures and other cracks can become infected. At best, they're incredibly painful, especially along the heel. To steer clear of fungus and other harmful bacteria, apply antibiotic ointment to any wounds you find on your feet. As you work to keep your socks dry, remember that your shoes shouldn't be wet, either.
Get full support.
Anything you put on your feet should provide support. Your cleats, in particular, need to support your arches, so be sure you're buying cleats for high arches or low arches, if necessary. Your compression socks can help, as well. While you're at it, think about supplementing with ankle guards to protect those delicate joints.
Switch to a boot.
Sure you may have a pair of soccer cleats with ankle support, but some players swear by soccer boots. You won't find them mentioned on every soccer player's guide to foot care, but they should appear more often. Soccer boots may mean the difference between playing for fun and making it to the World Cup—who knows?