You’ve no doubt heard of the “Hockey Mom” or the “Hockey Dad” – those dedicated parents who get up at 5:00 a.m. and schlep their kid(s) to the rink in the dark because, well, that’s when the team can get on the ice. So what’s on a hockey parent’s mind as they sit in the stands, parka zipped and hot coffee in hand? Injury more than likely tops the list. Broken arms and concussions get a lot of attention, as well they should. Hockey parents, however, shouldn’t underestimate the risks that hockey poses to their children’s feet and ankles.
Yes, their feet are encased in thick-shelled boots. But that doesn’t guarantee that a young hockey player will escape lower-limb injuries. Ice hockey players’ feet are prone to:
- Tendinitis: inflammation of one or more tendons that connect the lower leg bones, ankles, feet, and toes. This is primarily caused by laces that are too tight or skate tongues that are either too rigid or too worn down.
- Fungal infections: Fungi like the one that’s responsible for athlete’s foot thrive in moist environments. Many players skip wearing socks in order to minimize foot slippage and get better control on the ice. Such a practice means their skates are vessels of sweat, a perfect environment for a fungus to grow. Encourage your athlete to wear moisture-wicking socks that keep both skates and feet dry. Also, avoid towel-sharing and walking barefoot on wet floors in the locker room.
- Sprained ankles, especially if their laces are tied too loosely.
- Frostbite: Even toes that are enclosed in a heavy boot can succumb to the cold, especially if your child is playing outdoors in freezing temps or isn’t spending much time in actual play.
If your child loves ice hockey and is in it for the long term, remember to keep their whole body protected. Make sure their skates fit well and replace them in a timely manner. If they do sustain a foot injury or infection and you’d like to get them back on the ice as quickly as possible, call Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Fairfax County, Virginia. Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm has many years of experience treating children and adults at our Centreville podiatry office. Call (703) 996-3000 or request an appointment online.