Why Do Most Athletes Deal with Pain in Their Feet?

athletes deal with pain in their feet

Outside of e-sports, there are not many sport-related activities that you can do without using your feet. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that roughly 25% of all athletic injuries are foot and ankle-related. The majority of sports activities involve a rough landing, movement shifts, rapid acceleration, and unnatural (from a strictly anatomical standpoint) motions. All of them involve your feet and ankles in some way. 

Even in sports where feet are not in the spotlight, they’re directly responsible for the performance. In spear throwing, for instance, your heel is the starting point for the chain transfer of muscle power that will result in a throw. In boxing (classical boxing, not kickboxing), foot rotation is quintessential when it comes to throwing a powerful punch.

In order to shed some more light on this topic, here are several reasons why the majority of athletes deal with pain in their feet (occasionally or on a regular basis).

Risk factors

Now, while a foot injury can happen to virtually anyone, there’s a reason why some people are more likely to suffer from this predicament. 

For instance, one of the risk factors is the age of the subject. The older the athlete gets, the more likely they are to suffer an injury. Sure, a career of an athlete is short (comparatively to careers in other fields which span decades) but their wear and tear rate is much higher, as well. Cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bone, and muscles of athletes suffer far more than those of their counterparts.

Weight gain is usually not a problem for a lot of athletes, seeing as how a professional athlete’s schedule and training regimen usually doesn’t allow for such a thing. In combat sports, nonetheless, it’s not uncommon for an athlete to move up a weight category where their body simply won’t function as well.


There are several things you can do to prevent some of the most common foot-related problems. First, wearing proper footwear will reduce this risk drastically. Second, you need to warm up and stretch in advance, every single time. Third, you need to make sure that your technique and form are proper. This is most likely the main reason why injuries happen.

Now, there’s one more thing worth addressing, while on this subject matter. You see, an injury and a recovery period make a mental impact on the athlete, as well. According to some of the leading experts in sports podiatry, a skipped-through recovery and premature return to the sport usually have disastrous results. A repeat injury is usually more serious and takes even longer to heal. In other words, only return when you’re 100% sure that you’re ready for it.

Common foot injuries

Still, what are the main reasons why athletes injure their feet so often? Achilles tendon injury is one of the most common injuries in athletes. The Achilles tendon is the longest and strongest tendon in your body, however, it’s also a tendon that suffers the most stress. As a result, the tendon will swell stiffen, and start hurting. Treatment is usually not a simple one either. If the consequences are severe (a rupture, for instance), the treatment necessary might be immobilization or even surgery.

Shin splint is an injury that is particularly common with runners. It will cause pain and discomfort, which will eventually become completely crippling. In order to treat this, you need to apply the good old RICE method. Resting for a couple of weeks is completely mandatory. Also, if the problem is severe, you’ll probably want to see a physician.

Stress fractures are another thing that an athlete is more likely to suffer from. You see, the cause of it is usually overuse and there’s no one who overuses their feet and ankles more than athletes. The more tired they are, the less capable they are to absorb the shock. This is why muscles and bones become more brittle and are likely to develop ruptures/cracks. 

Learn how to tell the difference

Pain is not always proof that something has gone terribly wrong. If anything, pain is supposed to be an early warning sign. It means that you need to stop before you hurt yourself and if you were just to listen to it, things could work out for the best without any treatment necessary. 

However, athletes have a mindset that allows them to push themselves harder than regular people would do. They’re conditioned to endure the pain and smile in the face of adversity. In theory, this is a great feature to have but when it comes to developing (and worsening) injuries, it’s a recipe for a disaster. Therefore, it’s vital to learn how to differentiate severe pain from regular pain.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, there are 1,500 injured athletes (FTA) for every 10,000 people in this industry. This means that injuries in this field are just inevitable. Still, understanding how and why they happen might help lower the risk. By being more careful and taking extra steps to protect yourself, you might make a significant difference. Nonetheless, pain and professional sports will always go hand in hand and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.