Baseball and softball are a national pastime in the U.S., especially during the summer. Whether you’re playing in a formal league or enjoying a game at a family reunion, it’s important to play sensibly and safely.
Baseball and softball involve quick starts and stops, running, jumping, quick changes in direction, and, of course, sliding. These actions can put a lot of strain on your feet and ankles, increasing your risk of an overuse injury. Therefore, it’s important for you to adequately stretch your leg, ankle, and foot muscles before, during, and after the game to avoid pulled muscles and other injuries.
One of the most exciting plays of the game is when a batter stretches a double into a triple and slides into third. While it’s fun to watch, an improper slide can lead to sprains and fractures of the lower leg and feet. Therefore, it’s important to learn correct sliding technique to prevent these types of injuries.
Pitchers are susceptible to overuse injuries of the feet and ankles due to the repetitive motion of pitching. They need to learn how to correctly step off of a raised mound with their back foot and land on the slope with their front foot.
Catchers are also prone to overuse injuries due to squatting behind home plate during every pitch. They need to learn how to maintain proper stances that also vary their weight placement.
The Right Shoes for the Game
In baseball and softball, it’s important to wear proper footwear, like cleats, spikes, or athletic shoes.
- Wear shoes with a wide toe box so your toes have room to wiggle.
- Your heel should fit snugly in order to keep your foot stable.
- If you only play baseball or softball recreationally, sneakers are appropriate footwear.
- Depending upon the league and playing field, cleats or spikes may be worn. Cleats or spikes should only be worn on the field. Give yourself plenty of time to get used to wearing these types of shoes. While cleats or spikes can improve your traction, they also make your ankles more prone to twists and sprains. Note: You need to be aware of the danger to others when wearing spikes, especially during slides.
- Irritation, redness, or blisters from cleat or spike use may indicate a biomechanical problem of your legs or feet. Stop wearing your cleats or spikes for a few days. If your pain returns once you begin wearing them again, you should see a podiatrist specializing in sports medicine for an evaluation.
- Replace your baseball shoes after 75 hours of active play.
Common Injuries that Can Force You Out of the Game
Some of the most common foot and ankle injuries from playing softball or baseball are:
Sprains and Fractures – Sprains, which are stretched or torn ligaments, often occur when a player twists or turns their foot or ankle. This type of injury can occur when players run the bases and step on or slide into the base. Sprains are treated with rest; icing to reduce swelling; wrapping and immobilizing the ankle; and elevating the ankle for the first two days. Fractures occur when a bone is cracked or broken, and should be treated immediately. Fractures often require a cast and 8-10 weeks to heal.
Plantar Fasciitis – The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs from your heel bone across the bottom (or plantar side) of your foot to your toes, connecting to the metatarsal joints. When the plantar fascia becomes strained, due to moving your foot incorrectly, you can have pain and inflammation on the inside of your foot where your heel and arch meet. Plantar fasciitis can be treated by adding customized shoe inserts, like the ezWalker® Performance insoles, into your shoes.
Shin Splints – Shin splints often occur from overuse, stress fractures in the lower leg bones, or overpronation when walking or running that causes the arch of your foot to flatten, stretching the muscles and tendons. A common cause of shin splints is lack of proper arch support. You’ll feel a dull, aching pain in either the front or along the sides of your shinbone, or in the muscles. Swelling in the muscles may also cause the nerves of your feet to feel weak or numb. Shin pain should be treated immediately with ice to reduce inflammation. To prevent shin splints from occurring, you should properly stretch and perform strengthening exercises before games.
Achilles Tendinitis – The abrupt stop-and-start motion in softball and baseball can cause pain and inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the large tendon located in the back of the leg that inserts into the calcaneous or heel bone. Overexertion and excessive training can also cause Achilles tendinitis. Therefore, you should gently and gradually stretch the calf muscles before and after every game to help minimize pain and aggravation of the Achilles tendon.
Heel Spurs – Catchers are prone to developing heel spurs. Due to the catchers’ frequent squatting stance, the plantar fascia can become stressed and pull on the heel bone. As this bone tries to mend itself, it builds extra bone on the bottom of the heel, called a heel spur. Pain may develop if the heel spur presses or rubs against other bones, ligaments, tendons, or nerves in the body. To reduce the strain on the plantar fascia, you should properly stretch before each game and wear either supportive shoes or shoe inserts, like the ezWalker® Performance insole.
ezWalker® Performance Insoles – A Home Run in Foot Pain Relief
If you suffer from any of these common foot conditions, custom shoe inserts, like the ezWalker® Performance Insole is your answer. The ezWalker® Performance Insole is custom made for each of your feet. These insoles are biomechanically designed to strategically raise your arches and align your gait, so you have proper support and reduced pressure on the balls of your feet. It will also reduce stress and strain on your knees, hips, and lower back as well, giving you a better stance and stride when hitting and running the bases. This insole may not look like much, but it out performs the competition time and time again. Read what people are saying about the ezWalker® here.
The ezWalker® insole is ultra thin and ¾ in length, so it easily transfers from your everyday shoes to your baseball shoes – saving you time and money. So, you’ll have custom comfort on and off the field. Order your ezWalker® insoles today.
If your feet aren’t up to the game, you’ll have trouble running the bases. So, stay in step and stay on top of your game with ezWalker® by WalkEz. It’s a home run looking for a game to play in. Remember … when your feet feel good, your game is good.