CrossFit has become unstoppable, now one of the biggest fitness trends in the U.S. And it’s not just popular in America. In fact, there are over 13,000 gyms in more than 120 countries around the world. That’s more locations than a little coffee shop by the name of Starbucks (which boasts just over 12,500 locations).
Perhaps CrossFit has exploded because it’s effective at helping people manage body weight and become stronger. However, CrossFit features short and intense workouts. If taken on suddenly, this can lead to certain types of injuries among those who fail to prepare and adapt for the challenge. In this article, we focus on common foot injuries that CrossFit enthusiasts report.
CrossFit Foot Injuries Include:
- Achilles tendonitis – Achilles tendonitis is one of the most common foot and ankle problems experienced by “CrossFitters.” Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the achilles tendon. The inflammation and pain usually occurs near the heel, though pain may radiate up toward the calf muscles.Why does this injury happen? The person may be wearing shoes that don’t fit correctly or provide the right level of support, little or no stretching before engaging in workouts, a short Achilles tendon, or even previous injury to the tendon.Achilles tendonitis can be treated by:
- Using eccentric exercise. This involves standing on your toes on a step and lowering the heel(s), holding it in that position for a few seconds then coming up with the weight on the other leg. This eccentric movement strengthens the Achilles tendon. This exercise should be done twice daily for 2-3 months.
- Using shockwave therapy to stimulate healing of the tendon
- Using biomechanical control, such as heel lifts, orthotics and proper shoes.
- Consult your podiatrist about the Tenex procedure for eliminating damaged tendon tissue to reduce inflammation.
- Peroneal tendonitis – Peroneal tendonitis is another type of injury you can experience in CrossFit workouts. It causes pain along the outside, lateral portion of the foot. It can cause swelling along the outside of the ankle and down the tendon. You feel pain as you work out, walk or even stand still.
The treatment is based on the amount of strength that is lost in the tendon. However, early treatment includes:
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Metatarsal stress fracture – Metatarsal stress fracture is a break in the metatarsal bones of the foot as a result of repetitive stress. It causes pain over the top of the foot with swelling. The pain is increasingly worse during workouts that involve bending the foot.
The condition is caused by abnormal foot structure, unstable shoes, stress, and a sudden increase in workout levels.Metatarsal stress fracture can be treated by:
- Wearing a walking boot
- Using an arch support to distribute force over the bottom of the foot and remove force from the metatarsal heads.
- using crutches or cane for support to reduce the weight on the injured foot
- Use an even-up shoe balancer to reduce pressure on the injured foot
- Taking a vitamin D Supplement (vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of stress fractures)
- Acute fractures – Acute fractures can easily occur during some types of movements in CrossFit workouts. It is a break in the bone of the foot. Acute fractures can occur at the heel, fifth metatarsal shaft, between the ankle bone and the midfoot, or in the joints between the middle of the foot and the toe. An acute fracture will cause pain and swelling.A foot doctor should examine your injured foot to evaluate and treat the fracture.
- Plantar fasciitis – Plantar fasciitis is a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel. It usually occurs first thing in the morning as you get out of bed. The sever pain may last up to half an hour. You may also feel the pain when you sit for long periods of time.Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue along the bottom of the foot that connects into the heel is damaged. This causes it to swell, stiffen and makes it difficult to support your weight or go through a normal range of motion.The condition can be treated by:
- Reducing exercise or activities that can increase your pain
- Wearing shoes with good arch support and heel cushioning
- Applying ice on your heel. It will reduce the swelling
- Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce the pain and swelling
- Using night splints
- Using stretching and strengthening exercises to stretch the plantar fascia.
- Inquire about the non-invasive Tenex procedure.
If you are involved in CrossFit or a similar type of exercise program, you can help prevent these types of injuries by starting slowly and increasing intensity over time. This allows your foot muscles, ligaments and tendons to strengthen and work together more effectively as you advance in your workouts. Other steps you can take to minimize the risk of CrossFit injuries include:
- wearing shoes with arch support and cushioning
- getting into the habit of stretching before workouts
- maintaining a healthy weight relevant to your height
- alternating your exercises load and intensity levels
At Houston Foot and Ankle Care, we see patients will all types of foot and ankle injuries, including those who hit the gym casually as well as professional athletes. If you’re experiencing any type of pain or swelling in the feet or around the ankle area, please schedule an appointment with Houston podiatrist Gabriel Maislos, DPM, FACFAS. We provide unmatched care to each patient, and work with them to get them back on their feet (and normal activity levels) as quickly as possible. Stop living with pain. Call (713) 541-3199 to get started today.