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Change Your Shoes & Save Your Feet

Daniel Jeran, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.S.

Running is an integral part of wrestling in terms of conditioning, to increase endurance and as a weight management technique. Many high school wrestlers run frequently on masonry or terrazzo flooring typically found in schools. Running in wrestling sneakers without support on these floors can create foot, ankle and even knee pain and  a variety of conditions requiring medical evaluation.

Wrestlers who run in wrestling sneakers commonly complain of heel and arch pain. Wrestling shoes have no arch support or shock absorption capabilities. Running along the bottom of the foot, connected to the heel bone and inserting into the toe ball portion of the foot  is a ligament called the plantar fascia. This cord like ligament is one of the support systems of the arch and is very easily inflamed with overuse, which occurs when engaged in activities such as running in wrestling shoes. This is known as “Plantar Fascitiis”. Symptoms typically include pain upon first getting out of bed in the morning and with weight bearing. Pain is usually alleviated during activity, but is then more pronounced after activity. Treatment should include ice, oral anti-inflammatories and some sort of heel, arch support or orthotic. Physical therapy in more severe cases can be very helpful.

Toe ball pain itself is a common complaint of wrestlers who run in improper footwear. This is the result of  repetitive trauma to the toe ball area while running in a wrestling shoe which has no force absorbing abilities. Symptoms include severe sharp pain localized in the toe ball area or pain radiating out to the toes. This is commonly referred to as “Metatarsalgia” or “Capsulitis”. The treatment is also ice, oral anti-inflammatories and possibly injection therapy. Rest is often indicated. A variant of toe ball pain is a “Neuroma” which is the inflammation of a nerve that runs out to the toes. This is inflammation and scarring of a nerve which runs from the toe ball area out to the toes. Treatment includes ice and injection therapy, a period of rest and often time wider shoes. In rare instance where pain is sharp and unremitting and accompanied by swelling, the possibility of a stress fracture exists. This would necessitate a visit to a physician for X-Ray evaluation and treatment.

If you develop foot pain, evaluate your training practices and your footwear. Talk to your schools athletic trainer and have your foot looked at. In the early stages, most foot problems can be managed quite easily with little or no lost training time. When foot pain persists, see a podiatric specialist and get it taken care of right away.    

Running is a fundamental part of every wrestlers overall training regime. Wrestling sneakers are designed for one purpose, wrestling and not running. Combining poor footwear with hard, unyielding surfaces found in school hallways can provide the ideal scenario for creating unwanted foot problems. Foot problems are avoidable by simply wearing a cross training or running shoe when running indoors. Save your wrestling sneakers for the mats and save your feet at the same time.

Dr. Daniel Jeran is a Board Certified Podiatric Foot and Ankle specialist. He is a former Islip HS and SUNY Albany wrestler. He can be reached at his offices at: 70C Old Riverhead Road, Westhampton Beach, NY (631) 288-1106 or 521 Route 111, Suite 309, Hauppauge, NY  (631) 979-7654.