The Dreaded Metatarsal Injury

 

Although many of us have dreamed about being elite athletes, nobody wants to join the elite club that have fractured or in fact broken their metatarsal bones, Unfortunately these days it’s an all to common occurrence in all levels of active impact sports.

Lets face it if you are a serious player your metatarsals are going to take a beating!!

 So what are the metatarsus and why are injuries to them so common?

1 Metatarsal_bones V1Well put simply each foot has five metatarsals that run between the ankle and the toes. They are identified by physicians only by a number. Number one being to the big toe, through to five, which is; yup you’ve guessed it, to the little toe. Each metatarsal has four components, the head, neck, shaft and base.

Sorry diagram looks a tad on the “terminal” side. However these are the bones we are talking about.

You don’t have to be a sports scientist to realize how little real protection our foot gives to these metatarsal bones, especially from top impact. Obviously our feet are vulnerable to very many stresses during our sporting activities:

  • Hi impact weight transfer.
  • Repetitive movements as in running.
  • Violent impacts, especially in soccer type sports.
  • Excessive rolling of the foot when walking or running, known as “over supination”.

A research paper published in the April 2010 edition of the “Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy” alarmingly opened with the facts that of the estimated 12 million frequent runners in the United States that between 600,000 and 1.9 million will suffer stress fractures due to repetitive loading

Wow!!                                                                             See full paper here

Lets be clear, this is not an alarmist publication but an esteemed and respected scientific journal!

If we extrapolate through other forms of sporting activities like soccer, football, basketball etc etc, this becomes, well a huge number. What we are looking at here for long term and dedicated sports people could be at the least a minor setback to a career, or at worst an untimely ending.

So during our sport person’s career are metatarsal injuries an inevitable outcome of full on athletic activity? Well it seems over a long term sporting career the statistics say yes, we can pretty much expect one.

So there are there measures we can take to avoid these types of injury and turn the odds against injury back in our favour?

WELL OF COURSE THERE ARE.     

  • Shoes, Shoes. Shoes!!! Can’t emphasis enough the importance of correct fitting shoes made for our specific sporting endeavours.
  • Look for non-restrictive front ends on shoes. Large toe box if possible, and well fitting heels and secure over mid section laced area.
  • Be very aware of the cushioning system and modulation. Check forefoot cushioning actually exists,
  • Don’t be a fashion slave when choosing your sports shoes. “Check the spec” not the color combination and logo.
  • However, as an example the modern soccer boot has evolved giving little consideration to foot protection. In my opinion this is a classic case of design and marketing hype over function. Beware!! How ever if you must, then consider the use of specialist protective socks, in sole pads or sleeves made for extra metatarsal protection. Prevention is better than cure.

Shoes, Shoes. Shoes!!! Can’t emphasis enough the importance of correct fitting shoes made for our specific sporting endeavors.

  • Look for non-restrictive front ends on shoes. Large toe box if possible, and well fitting heels,
  • Be very aware of the cushioning system and modulation. Check forefoot cushioning actually exists,
  • Don’t be a fashion slave when choosing your sports shoes. “Check the spec” not the color combination and logo.
  • However, as an example the modern soccer boot has evolved giving little consideration to foot protection. In my opinion this is a classic case of design and marketing hype over function. Beware!! How ever if you must, then consider the use of specialist protective socks, in sole pads or sleeves made for extra metatarsal protection. Prevention is better than cure.

Finally I leave you with this thought.   Lets not forget how we got here!

 

What metatarsal!!

Metatarsal what!!!

Look at this logically; you don’t have to be an anthropological bone expert to realize that it has taken millions of years to evolve our body to where we are now. Given the slow creep of evolutionary change; are or feet adapted to the massive strains we are presently putting on them with our modern sports and hi intensity sport training? I will leave you to make your own mind up on that one. We now have the armoury to pro-actively protect our selves with modern sports shoes, insoles, pads etc. We don’t have any excuse for being prepared. Plan and avoid.

 

 

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