Pains, Strains, & Ankle Sprains: Common Foot & Ankle Injuries in Athletes

Jul 28, 2023

Whether you’re a rising high school football star or a passionate pickleball player, nothing sidelines your game quite like a sports injury. Foot and ankle injuries are especially notorious for putting athletes of any level on the injured list. Americans rack up an estimated 2 million ankle sprains every year—and that’s not to mention other common afflictions like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and more.

At Lakes Foot & Ankle Associates, our podiatrists are passionate about helping the athletes of Commerce Township get back on their feet after an injury. From amateurs to all-stars, we’re ready to use the latest in sports medicine to heal lower-leg injuries of all stripes.

5 Most Common Foot & Ankle Injuries in Athletes

If you’re experiencing any ongoing foot or ankle pain that doesn’t respond to RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), don’t hesitate to visit the podiatrists at Lakes Foot & Ankle Associates! Call (248) 453-2288 to set up your appointment!

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are the most common sports injuries below the knee, accounting for over 60% of foot and ankle injuries in one study of college athletes. 

In your ankles, you have several ligaments that hold the joint in place, preventing it from moving side to side. When these ligaments stretch too far or tear, we call it an ankle sprain. Sports that demand quick changes in direction or running over uneven surfaces are most likely to cause ankle sprains: think basketball, dance, martial arts, volleyball, and more.

Sprained ankle black x-ray in 3D

How do I know if I’ve sprained my ankle?

The most common side effects of an injured ankle are:

  • Pain and swelling, especially when bearing weight
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Bruising
  • Hearing or feeling a popping sensation
  • Instability, weakness, or limited range of motion

Some ankle sprains respond well to 1-2 days of rest, coupled with elastic bandages to compress the ankle and ice packs and elevation to reduce swelling. If your symptoms don’t improve, contact our office right away. Left untreated, ankle sprains can weaken your ankle, leaving you vulnerable to future injuries.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body, connecting the muscles in your calf to the bone of your heel. And because it is so large, it is especially prone to overuse. Tendonitis means inflammation of the tendon, and when it afflicts the Achilles, it can cause a host of uncomfortable, game-changing symptoms.

The pain is typically most acute in the back of the heel. You’re likely to feel it most first thing in the morning, after activities like walking or running, or the day after an intense workout.

Over time, Achilles tendonitis could lead to a rupture or tear. If you hear or sense a pop during any activity, call our office as soon as possible.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain, affecting about 2 million people a year. Although it can happen to anyone, it is especially common in athletes. 

The arch of your foot is supported by thick bands of tissue called plantar fascia. These bands absorb a lot of stress when you run and jump. Without stretching exercises, good warmups, and supportive footwear, these tissues can become strained, leading to heel pain, stabbing pain in the arch of your foot, and pain that flares up after periods of rest.

Ankle Fractures & Foot Fractures

We tend to think of fractures as sudden, traumatic injuries. But for athletes in high-impact sports, repetitive force can damage foot and ankle bones over time. This can lead to stress fractures—tiny cracks in the bones of your feet that develop slowly.

Stress fractures develop when your bones don’t get adequate time to heal between exercises. Both repetitive impacts and sudden changes in your physical activity routine can trigger them.

Intermetatarsal Neuralgia

Intermetatarsal Neuralgia and Turf Toe

Our toes are small but mighty, and they play a major role in the way we balance, pivot, and move. Both intermetatarsal neuralgia/neuritis and turf toe are painful toe conditions that can sideline even the toughest athletes among us.

Intermetatarsal neuralgia is inflammation and thickening of tissue around a nerve situated between your metatarsal bones that causes pain in the ball of your foot. Patients often describe the sensation as “walking on a marble,” and it may also be accompanied by numbness, tingling, or pressure.

Turf toe is a sprain to your big toe joint that involves hyperextension of the joint which causes inflammation of the surrounding soft tissue. This injury is most common in sports played on artificial turf, like football and soccer.

Both injuries can be treated. But it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis before trying out different treatment options!

MLS Laser Therapy: Laser Treatment for Foot Pain & Ankle Pain

Determining the best treatment method for any sports injury requires an accurate diagnosis. Your podiatrist will help you explore your options, tailoring treatment to your unique condition, lifestyle, and goals. One of the most exciting tools in our arsenal for optimal healing, pain relief, and fast recovery is MLS laser therapy.

This revolutionary regenerative treatment option for sports injuries reduces pain using two synchronized lasers. The light is transformed into therapeutic energy as it passes through tissue, reducing inflammation, promoting tissue regeneration, and blocking pain signals without the need for injections, casts, or surgeries.

Get Back in the Game with Lakes Foot & Ankle Associates

The longer you suffer through foot and ankle pain, the worse the condition will get—and the bigger impact you’ll feel on your game. Don’t let a sprain, pain, or strain keep you from crushing your goals and getting the gold. Contact Lakes Foot & Ankle Associates today and gain a trusted partner in your overall health and wellness.

Your Advanced Sports Medicine Podiatrists in Commerce Twp, MI

Dr. Shanahan and Dr. Petronella are ready to provide personalized, patient-centered care for our fleet-footed friends and neighbors in Commerce Township, MI. No matter which way you choose to play, let our experienced doctors use the latest medical technologies to keep you in the game. To request your appointment, give us a call at (248) 453-2028 or contact us online.


It's Time To Leave Foot & Ankle Pain Behind!

*NOTE:  Appointment request times are not guaranteed, nor do they constitute a scheduled appointment. Once you submit your request, a member of our staff will contact you as soon as possible to confirm your appointment time. For your safety and privacy, please do not submit any Protected Health Information (PHI) through the contact form found on this page.

Phone Number


9640 Commerce Rd Suite 102 Commerce Township, MI 48382


Monday 8:30am – 5:00pm
Tuesday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Wednesday 8:30am – 5:00pm
Thursday 9:00am – 6:00pm
Friday By Appointment
Saturday - Closed -
Sunday - Closed -

© Lakes Foot And Ankle Associates. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy.