There are many different types and styles of martial arts, but all put you at risk for foot injuries since martial arts is a contact type sport. The differences in technique, intensity, and equipment all determine how the injuries occur and the severity. It is also important to note that the risk of injury can be greatly lowered if stretching and proper training happen before participating. Here are the most common foot injuries caused by martial arts and their corresponding treatments.
Sprains and Strains
Among the most common of injuries in martial arts are ankle inversion sprains and strains on the ligaments. The ankle is typically sprained from rolling the ankle or extending it too far in an awkward position while performing a move, or from incorrectly executing a kick. A sprained ankle or any injury to the ligaments can heal on their own if minor but should remain monitored. Keeping the foot elevated and iced, along with compression, is the recommended home care. Reducing the swelling and making sure to rest will help quicken the recovery time and increase future motion in your ankle. Strain in the ligaments is treated the same way as a sprain, except you ice the ligament and the corresponding swollen areas. A brace is also recommended to help immobilize and reduce swelling in sprains and strains in the foot.
Tendon dislocation is often mistaken for an ankle sprain because the tendon behind the fibula will pop around outside of the bone near the ankle, and will feel the same as a sprain. Tendon dislocation is a common injury in martial arts because it occurs when the foot is pushed up. Unlike a sprain, a tendon dislocation requires more specialized treatment such as braces, physical therapy, pain medication, and possibly surgery. You can tell the difference between a dislocation and a sprain if you notice an obvious tendon out of place in your foot, or if your foot seems like it cannot heal from what you thought was a sprain.
Plantar Fasciitis occurs often in martial arts due to the requirement of elevating the foot for kicks or to pivot the foot. The reason the injury occurs from these moves it because they give strain on the fascia. The repetitive tightening and use of the fascia cause the pain that is centered on the heel of your foot. Common treatments for plantar fasciitis is physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. You can also treat it like a sprain, by icing and elevating your foot.
A hematoma formation is when blood vessels have been damaged and blood leaks into your tissues. Hematoma is most common in traditional martial arts because this injury is often seen when someone strikes a firm object, such as a bag or poorly padded target. Hematoma causes swelling, often on the top of the foot, and the swelling adds pressure to nervous structures resulting in pain. This injury can be treated at home with ice and elevation, but you should keep a close eye on it. This injury can become serious and require immediate medical attention if you notice the toes becoming cold accompanied with severe pain.
Martial art injuries are very common due to the high amount of physical movements and contact in this sport. Even though some types of martial arts are different, all put you at risk for a foot injury. Talk to your doctor if you sustain any martial art foot injury to make sure it it properly diagnosed and treated.