It's no secret that collegiate wrestling can be tough on your body, and the lower extremities of a wrestler's body, such as the feet, ankles and lower legs, are particularly vulnerable to damage during training and matches. One particularly common injury suffered by college wrestlers is commonly referred to as 'turf toe', and while this injury is often overlooked, it can put a severe dent in any college wrestler's budding career if not treated promptly.
What is turf toe, and what causes it?
A metatarsophalangeal joint sprain occurs when the connective tissue that connects a toe to the main body of the foot is hyperextended and becomes damaged. When this injury occurs in one of your big toes, the condition is commonly referred to as turf toe. Turf toe gets its name because it occurs frequently during field-based sports, such as football and soccer, but it is also an injury that many collegiate wrestlers have to deal with at some point in their career.
In many cases, turf toe occurs when something (usually a part of the other wrestler's body) falls on the back of a wrestler's calf while the knee and toes of the same leg are touching the ground, which causes the big toe to suddenly hyperextend and suffer damage. However, turf toe can also seemingly appear out of nowhere as a result of repetitive strain, especially if you have been wrestling for several years or practice other contact sports. It can also occur if the wrestling shoes you wear are too flexible and allow your big toes to hyperextend too easily.
What are the symptoms of turf toe?
When turf toe occurs, the afflicted toe usually becomes swollen, tender and painful, and you may find it very difficult to put any weight on the damaged toe without severe pain. This pain can get worse over time if the damage is left untreated, particularly if the damage was caused by a repetitive strain injury. Most cases of turf toe also cause stiffness and loss of mobility in the afflicted toe and can severely affect your sense of balance and ability to put weight on the injured foot.
How can turf toe be treated?
As you can imagine, this type of injury can seriously undermine the performance of any collegiate wrestler, and treatment should start as soon as possible when it occurs.
When turf toe first occurs, the RICE method (rest, ice packs, compression and elevation) is effective at reducing swelling and pain. If you are lucky and the injury is not too severe, the damaged toe will repair itself in a few weeks. However, if the damage is more severe, scar tissue may permanently reduce the strength and flexibility in your big toe.
As such, any college wrestler suffering from turf toe should book an appointment with a specialized sports podiatrist or foot and ankle clinic. These services specialize in treating injuries to the lower extremities and can offer a range of specialized treatments (such as ultrasound therapy, orthotic shoe inserts, and physiotherapy routines) that can help your turf toe heal more quickly and minimize the risk of permanent complications. They can also recommend suitable wrestling shoes that will provide more protection for your toes.
For more information, contact a podiatric sports medicine clinic.