Sports Injury Spotlight: Foot & Ankle Injuries in Soccer Players

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world—both to watch and play. More than 265 million people worldwide play soccer. It’s a sport that appeals to a wide range of people, no matter their location, gender, age, or income. Because it is such a fast-paced, high-impact sport, soccer players are also very prone to injuries, especially those of the foot and ankle.


Ankle sprains account for up to 29 percent of all soccer-specific injuries. Most ankle sprains occur to the ligaments along the outside of the ankle when the foot rolls inward, caused by stepping on uneven ground or landing on another player’s foot. The basic first steps for treating an ankle sprain involve using the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) which should control pain and swelling from within a few days. With rehabilitation, recovery usually takes 2 to 4 weeks for mild sprains and around 6 weeks for high ankle sprains. 


Contusions are usually caused by direct trauma or repeated blows to the injury site (such as getting kicked). A contusion is a blunt injury that does not break the skin but rather causes damage to the skin and underlying soft tissue, forming black and blue marks.. It’s important to see your orthopedist as soon as possible to rule out more extensive injury. You may need an X-ray, CT scan or MRI. Treatment may include the RICE method, anti-inflammatory medications, light stretching, and limiting activity until the pain and swelling have subsided. 

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your toes to your heel bone, supporting the foot arch. The quick starts and stops in soccer creates repetitive stress, leading to inflammation and intense heel pain. Conservative treatments for plantar fasciitis include anti-inflammatory medications, ice, stretching and massage. Your physician may suggest taping and padding the injured foot. Orthotic supports and corticosteroid injections may also be used.

Anterior Ankle Impingement (or “Athlete’s Ankle”)

Anterior ankle impingement occurs when bone spurs develop at the front of the ankle, causing chronic pain. This is typically found in athletes who have played in sports that involve a repetitive kicking motion. An athlete with anterior ankle impingement may complain of difficulty with normal kicking form. Imaging tests can be helpful in determining the severity of the condition. Treatment is usually non-operative, including stopping activity and conditioning. If these measures do not work, arthroscopic surgery may be considered.