An Article Written by Yen-Chii Wong
Podiatrist – New Step Podiatry


It’s the time of year where school has started back up and we settle back into our routines. For lots of us that means getting back into sports!

Popular Australian winter sports include soccer, AFL, rugby, and netball. These sports all require a large amount of running (this can involve sprinting with fast acceleration and deceleration or constant steady state running), jumping and landing, and quick changes in direction. Preseason training is a great way to prepare your body and mind for the season ahead after a period of off-season rest.

What is preseason training?

Just like the name suggests, preseason training is the period of training you do leading up to your sports’ season. The aim of a good preseason is to ‘build’ your fitness, strength, and sport-specific technique and movement. Preparation is key when it comes to starting back up into a sport that involves movements you may not perform day-to-day. A great preseason helps to:

– Condition the body to get used to higher levels of exercise

– Work on or refine any areas that may need improvement before the season starts

– Get your head back in the game

– Start the season with good performance

Generally, a preseason involves a structured plan which progressively loads your body to perform in the season. It may involve working on strength, power, speed, agility, endurance, and any technical skills. Your preseason may look different from your teammates as you may have different physical and mental needs.

What are some common injuries in winter sports?

Ankle sprains

The most common type of ankle sprains we see are lateral ankle sprains, which occur when your foot suddenly rolls outwards. This typically happens when landing from a jump, rapid leg rotation (to pass a ball) while the foot is planted, or player contact. Click here to read more about ankle sprain management.

Heel pain

There are many causes and types of heel pain. The most common types of heel pain we see affect the plantar fascia (under the heel) and the Achilles tendon (behind the heel). We frequently see heel pain in kids aged 9-12 years where there is repetitive traction from the Achilles on the soft growth plate of the heel bone, AKA calcaneal apophysitis. Heel pain is often a result of a sudden increase in load that the structures are not used to. Click here to read what a Podiatrist does to help someone with heel pain.

Shin pain

Shin pain primarily affects runners or those who play sports that involve running. Pain in the shin can be: medial tibial stress syndrome, chronic exertional compartment syndrome, a tibial stress fracture, muscle or tendon injury, or neurovascular entrapments. It is important to determine what is behind your shin pain so you can receive the most suitable treatment. Here is more information on the types and causes of shin splints and here is more information about shin splint management.

Calf strains

Calf strains are particularly prevalent in those who play soccer, AFL, and rugby. Injuries to the calf are linked to movements involving acceleration from a stationary position, lunging forward, or sudden upwards movement of the ankle.

Turf toe

(hyperextension or jamming of the big toe joint)

Turf toe is another name for an
injury that results from hyperextension or jamming of the big toe joint. This
injury occurs mostly on harder, artificial turf so it commonly affects those
who play sports on this surface, like soccer, rugby, and AFL.

Ingrown toenails

We see ingrown nails mostly in the big toe (as it’s most often the longest toe and takes the brunt of your weight) but they can occur in any toes. A common cause of ingrown nails in sports are from excessive sweating, and start/stop movements in poorly fitting shoes that put too much pressure on the nail. Nail bracing is one treatment we have available to alleviate ingrown toenails during the season without the need for time away from sport due to surgery.

Black toenails

Black toenails are simply bruised toenails! They happen after either stubbing your toes, or microtrauma from wearing poorly fitting shoes.


These can be caused by factors like shoes that don’t fit properly (too long or too short), socks or shoes with irritating seams, excessive sweating, playing on a wet field, or any anatomical bony protrusions you have on your feet.

Does preseason training prevent injuries from occurring?

It’s pretty hard to look into a crystal ball and guarantee with 100% certainty that a great preseason will completely prevent injuries from happening. However, we can aim to greatly decrease the risk of injury. Common causes of injury when playing sport include:

– Sudden increase in training volume and load on your muscles and bones

– Fatigue because of lower cardiovascular fitness

– Wearing new shoes that may not be suitable for the activity

How can a podiatrist help you in your preseason?

A podiatrist can help with analysis of your foot and ankle mechanics, walking and running gait, assessment of your shoes, and of course any treatment of existing injuries. We can work with your coach or team physiotherapist to manage any niggles that come up in your pre-season to reduce the risk of it affecting your performance in the future.

In an upcoming blog article we will overview common injuries we see in winter sports, the top reasons they occur, and what a podiatrist can do to help. Stay tuned in!

Book an Appointment at Our Canberra Clinic for a biomechanical assessment to help you in your preseason

Our podiatrists are here to ensure those in Canberra have access to quality services that can help individuals get the treatment they deserve. Easily book an appointment at our clinic online or give us a call on 02 6198 4818.

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