Rio 2016: Foot Tips & Back Flips

The 2016 Summer Olympics are underway, and like many viewers, I can’t help but get excited about the start of gymnastics. The flips, turns, athleticism, and the drama of whether or not the routine will end with that perfect landing, are certainly something I look forward to each Olympic season.

I still remember watching Kerri Strug land that perfect vault, fighting through what must have been a painful ankle injury. Like other young girls, I too had dreams of standing up on that podium. Instead, as a foot and ankle surgeon, I treat injuries like that of the infamous Strug. It probably won’t get me a medal, but it is still quite rewarding.

We are well aware, from watching these tremendous athletes, that gymnastics can be tough on the body. Imagine the stress and strain that this sport must place on the 28 delicate bones of the foot!

If the average person fluttered from such heights, they would certainly end up with a sprain, strain, or fracture. However, gymnasts go through extensive training to be able to push their bodies, and their feet, through an otherwise abnormal range of motion.

This super human flexibility and strength does not leave them without injury. As a podiatrist, I am always preaching the importance of supportive shoe gear. A gymnast is usually barefoot, and therefore performing these high impact stunts with the least amount of support possible.

Some injuries that may affect a gymnast’s vulnerable bare feet include simple annoyances such as, blisters and calluses, while others may include more serious traumatic or overuse injuries, not limited to, sprains, fractures, or heel pain.

I hope everyone will enjoy watching this year’s team soar to exciting heights in their quest for Olympic glory. If you find yourself attempting any acrobatics, be sure to train properly and wear appropriate, supportive shoe gear for your foot type. If you do find yourself injured, I would love to help you get back on your feet, and back to whatever sport keeps you dreaming of Olympic Gold.

Watauga Foot Doctor
Written by Dr. Shannon Cairns
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