Foot injuries can occur when playing sports but a shoe or cleat can often protect the foot from injury. Some sports, like gymnastics, are performed barefoot. Gymnasts have extra demands placed on the small muscles of the foot as they are not getting the support of a shoe. When training barefoot, there is an increased demand of the muscles in the foot and lower leg. These muscles will help to stabilize the foot and ankle which may reduce the risk of ankle sprains or injuries higher up the leg such as in the knee or hip. How can gymnasts help prevent injury when training barefoot? Here are some ways gymnasts can strengthen their foot muscles to improve their performance.
The human body is an incredibly efficient machine that, over time, will adapt to loads and stresses by increasing the strength of its tissues. Walk around any weight room in America and you will see examples of tissue adaptation (think Arnold Schwarzenegger). Conversely, if there is a lack of stress or demand placed on muscle or bone, tissue wasting can occur. A perfect example may be right underneath you: your feet. Imagine someone that sits at a desk while wearing dress shoes for eight hours a day, year-after-year. One evening, he goes for a walk but limps the final steps to his house as his feet have become painful. Some will say this is due to bad arch supports, worn out shoes, or even bad feet. Or, could it be that the muscles in his feet are weak?