Recent studies have shown that football is responsible for around 600,000 injuries each year. And each position has its own set of responsibilities and skills, as well as injuries. Whether a football player tackles, blocks, runs, catches or passes, he’s at risk for sprained ankles, fractures, contusions, heel pain, tendonitis, turf toe and blisters.

Let’s take a look at what causes three of the most common football injuries to the foot and ankle, and how you can treat them.

1. Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle is very common in football – a minor injury meaning damage to the soft tissue, while a partial tear or a complete rupture of the ligament is a major injury.

The best way to treat a minor sprain is to follow the RICE method within the first 72 hours of the injury. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) reduces the chances of further swelling and damage. If the pain is unbearable, anti-inflammatory medicines can also help. If a more serious injury is suspected, the player should seek medical attention.

2. Turf Toe

Turf toe is usually caused when playing on artificial turf. Because turf is harder than grass, players end up bending their toes upwards excessively when being tackled or lunging, or even just running. Limited joint movement, swelling and pain are some of the major symptoms of turf toe. Therapy is often needed for foot and ankle injuries.

Recommended treatment for turf toe is RICE. Changing to less flexible footwear is another way to protect against turf toe. In the worst cases, operative treatment may be necessary.

3. Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is located in the heel and connects the heel bone to the calf muscles. Achilles tendonitis is caused when the tendon is damaged due to continuous force and pressure on the heels.

If a football player is diagnosed with Achilles tendonitis, rest is crucial for the tendon to heal. A temporary heel pad that raises the heel will alleviate the strain on the tendon, and ensure faster and more effective healing.

Most injuries to the foot and ankle can be avoided if players warm up and cool down correctly, stretch adequately, invest in proper shoes for the playing surface and get sports massages to keep muscles loose and flexible.