How to Care of a Soccer Player Feet: Foot Care Tips 101

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

How do soccer players take proper care of their feet? As a soccer player, or a footballer, it should come as no surprise that proper foot care is one of the most important things you can do to improve performance and avoid common injuries. I mean it is literally in the name, “foot” ball.

In this blog, I will explain how the feet of professional soccer players and other professional athletes, look and function completely differently compared to an average athlete’s foot. I will also explain how you can regain full foot function and give you some tips for proper foot care.

Your feet are like the roots of a tree, meaning they need to be strong and have a good base of support since they are your foundation. You need to be able to feel every single part of your foot, from the arch to the toes. Dysfunctional feet lead to problems elsewhere in the body and how much control and foot function you have is a huge dictator of how athletic you can become.

 Soccer Player Feet

Image by source

Common Injuries Related to the Foot

Before I begin explaining how the foot is supposed to function, it is important to understand the myths about soccer injuries and how all of your lifestyle choices, from sleep, nutrition, and hydration, to EMF exposure and how you recover from training.

For the most part, non-contact injuries are completely preventable, and we can train to minimize the impact of contact injuries. This is a list of the most common foot and ankle injuries and problems that soccer players experience..

  • Abrasions or scrapes
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Blisters
  • Calluses
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Toenail fungus
  • Broken toe nails
  • Fungal infections
  • Turf toe
  • Big toe problems

This is a list of more serious foot problems that are not as common, but have more consequences. For the most part, these problems can also be completely preventable, especially if there is no contact. If there is contact, the chances of you getting injured will depend on various factors covered on our post about injuries.

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Bone bruise
  • Foot fractures
  • Broken bones
  • Ankle sprains
  • Bone spurs

 Soccer Player Feet

Image by source (These are the feet of R9– One of the greatest footballers of all time)

 Soccer Player Feet Image by source (There are the feet of Lebron James- One of the greatest basketball players of all time)

Feet of Elite Athletes vs Feet of Average Athletes

If you have ever come across some images of the feet of your favorite athletes, you may or may not have noticed some interesting features. Looking at feet is not exciting, it may be pretty gross for some people, but by looking at them you get a huge insight as to what exactly is happening inside the cleats of top athletes.

The feet of elite athletes not only look different, but they also function much differently than the feet of regular people and this is way more important than it seems.

Fascial Tension of Elite Athletes

When you look at the feet of elite athletes, there are clear signs of fascial tension, which relates to how much subconscious control they have of their deeper layers of fascia. Fascia covers your entire body, but certain parts have more fascia than others, such as the plantar fascia, or bottom of your foot.

Check out this video to get an even better understanding and visual of what it means to apply fascial tension to the feet. These are the clear signs of fascial tension:

  • Retracted toes
    • Middle toe joint is bent
    • This is different from curling the toes
  • Calluses at the top of the toe joints
    • This means their toes are really engaged in the retracted position when inside the cleats and their middle toe joints rub across the top of the cleat
    • If you develop calluses on the side of your toes, not on the top, that is a clear sign that you are not engaging the feet correctly so they are rubbing too much on the sides of the shoes.
  • Prominent extensor tendons
    • Tendons on the top of the foot
  • Prominent Anterior tibialis tendon
    • Tendon that connects the shin and the foot
  • High ankle stiffness
    • This is the ability to lock the ankle in place
  • Strong and visible arch
    • A strong arch gives the foot immense strength and support
  • The entire leg, from the glutes to the foot, acts as one unit and there is no leak of energy

If a podiatrist were to look at the images above, according to them these would be dysfunctional feet that don’t work and need help, but look again at whose feet they are. These two athletes are two of the best of all time in their sport, yet “foot experts” would say they have dysfunctional feet.

However, we all know that these guys are elite athletes so their feet work perfectly fine, even better than average athletes, but what many don’t know is that feet are very pliable and can change and mold shape depending on the inputs you give them. This is why their feet look so messed up, because their feet have molded and changed shape to help them better perform at their sport.

When it comes to feet it is not really important how they look as long as you are not in pain and you can feel your entire foot because how they function is much more important. If a regular athlete, that does not have the athleticism of Ronaldo or Lebron James, had the same feet as the images above, then maybe that person would experience pain.

However, since Ronaldo and Lebron James do not have pain and are elite athletes we know their feet are functional and are working properly even if they look like they don’t work. I also want you to watch this video of another elite basketball player.

The training he does looks funny because most people think training the feet is a waste of time, but look at the injury he was able to survive. Most people would be out for months if they rolled their ankle like that. However, now you know that by training your feet and fascia consistently you will also be able to survive similar potential injuries.

 Soccer Player Feet

Image from source

The Neurological Connection from the Feet to the Glutes

When we talk about fascia and the feet, we also have to talk about the glutes, specifically the feet-to-glutes connection. There is a neurological connection from the feet to the glutes that many people are not yet aware of and this is a “hidden” mechanism that all top athletes have.

I say “hidden” because if you are not aware of this, you will have no idea what I am talking about, even if you already have this function because no one has told you about it. Check out this blog to learn how you can test the foot to glute connection for yourself.

Also answer the following questions:

  • Do you FEEL your glutes when you walk?
  • How about when you run?
  • How about when you kick a ball or do any soccer skill?

If you don’t innately feel this connection now or have no idea what I am talking about, then good thing you came across this blog. If you do feel this connection, then congratulations because you have a basic body function that many people lose due to modern lifestyle choices such as too much sitting, bad footwear, and not following a proper training program that respects the natural biomechanics and anatomy of the body.

As you get better at applying fascial tension to the feet, meaning you get better at retracting the toes, engaging the arch, and actually feeling every part of your foot (think back to the image of the tree) you will reach a point where you will be able to engage your glutes simply by thinking about the arch of your foot.

This is completely different from squeezing your glutes and feeling them contract strongly. The point of this neurological connection is to have the glutes “on” and “activated” all of the time without really having to think about it because that is how the body is supposed to work.

As you gain more access to the deeper layers of your fascia, you will gain more access to your glutes, and feel these sensations more. Eventually the goal is to also feel your core “on” or “activated” all of the time, which again is completely different from bracing the core and squeezing hard.

 Soccer Player Feet

Image by Source

Tips for Proper Foot Care

By now I hope you can understand why the function of your feet is really important. Here are my best tips for you so that you can be pain free and not have to worry about any foot problems.

  • Learn how to retract your toes while engaging the extensor tendons and the anterior tibialis tendon.
  • Roll out the bottom of your foot and your calves with a spiky ball, which is the best massage tool
    • 3-5 minutes daily
  • Perform barefoot hops without letting the heels touch the ground:
    • 3-5 minutes daily
  • Get outside, take your shoes off, and go for grounded barefoot walks
    • 15+ minutes daily
  • Do barefoot soccer training:
    • 10+ minutes daily
  • Sit in Seiza position more often
    • 10+ minutes daily
  • Stop wearing cushioned shoes with a raise heel and start wearing barefoot-style shoes
    • Your shoes should fit properly and provide enough room for you to actually splay your feet and feel all of your toes engaged
  • When you run, lock your ankles, engage the entire foot, and land on your forefoot, the front of the foot or toes.
  • Wear toe spacers:
    • 15+ minutes daily
  • Wear toe shaped socks daily
  • Stand on Solesteps:
    • 10+ minutes daily
    • Use the Inside Ankle Bone High (IABH) cue, which means making your inner ankle bone higher than the outer ankle bone.
    • Technically, these landmarks are not even ankle bones because the inner bone is the tibia and the outer bone is the fibula (the two bones of your lower leg), but IABH is easier to remember.
  • Wear wide soccer cleats
    • Ideally leather cleats because they mold better to the shape of your foot since it is made from natural materials
  • Wear shower shoes or sandals if you use a team locker room to avoid stepping on the shower floors to prevent athlete’s foot and other fungal infections
  • Keep your toenails trimmed regularly to avoid any toenail problems such as an ingrown toenail
  • Avoid going to a podiatrist at all costs and try everything on this list first for a couple of weeks.
    • Most podiatrists, not all, who are supposed to be foot experts, have no idea how the foot actually works because since they specialized in the foot, they don’t understand how it connects with the rest of the body. The body works as a whole and you don’t fix issues by isolating parts of the body.
    • Most of the time these people will recommend insoles, surgeries, or treatments that don’t even treat the root cause of the injury, which is your foot function and how strong your foot to glute connection is.
    • These “solutions” will never fix the real problems and will keep you coming back for more treatments, which means more money wasted.
    • Trust me. I went to this podiatrist three-four years ago because I had big toe problems and it was a complete waste of time and money. All the “foot expert” did was look at my toe for about 1 minute and said “You have arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that never heals and gets worse with time. Best thing I can tell you to do is order our custom insoles.”
    • Right away I knew this guy knew nothing about the human body which led to me doing a bunch of research to fix my own problems. Now I completely reversed that condition, I have no signs of arthritis, my feet feel better than ever, and I am also becoming far more athletic.
    • Some podiatrists may have good intentions and they may be doing their best to be helpful, but the information they have is suboptimal and it is not even their fault. It is the fault of the people that teach them and encourage them to tell their patients to get surgeries before trying out more natural solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality, plus they specialize in helping athletes regain full foot function and become fascia driven and glutes dominant.

Why is foot care important?

Your feet are the first thing that are in contact with the ground and they are your foundation and the root to athletic performance. The feet are one of three important body parts to prioritize training, the feet, the hands, and the tongue since these three highly impact the fascia system.

Conclusion

In conclusion foot care is very important as a footballer, as obvious as that sounds. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the foot and my goal with this blog was to teach you a thing or two about how the foot actually works.

As someone who has gone through Kinesiology education and has seeked help from “foot experts” I can confidently say that fixing your foot issues are up to you and you only because there is a huge misunderstanding about how the foot is supposed to work in the mainstream world.

Do your own research, starting by reading and understanding the concepts of this blog, experimenting with the tips I have provided and see for yourself how important it is to train your feet. Many of the tips are things you can start doing today to help improve your foot function which will lead to better performances and less injuries.

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