Prevention and treatment of the foot and ankle in children who play football

It all starts with football school when you’re 6/7 years old. Then many of us continue, even as adults, regardless of the results and of the explicit and not exactly flattering comments of friends and teammates.

The benefits that football can bring into the lives of our children are very obvious to me and go beyond the illusions of some parents who see their children as future Ronaldo or Messi.
The children who are forcibly taken away from the field of play for therapeutic purposes, often unjustified, soon show negative changes. As Orthopedic Doctor/Surgeon, I observe the development of young patients and in particular of their flat feet that, often, with time spontaneously become physiological adult feet.
This process happens more or less quickly and usually takes place in an age range between 8 and 12. Among children in whom this process takes more time, I frequently see young patients who come to me for a second opinion on the use of orthotics or even for advice on the sport to choose.
These young people have often been suggested to use uncomfortable orthotics not suitable for sport activity or, just as frequently, they’ve been suggested to change sport without giving specific reasons. In principle, doing different sport activities, also at the same time, is not wrong. This will make them acquire different motor patterns and will help them to develop an increased proprioceptive intelligence (i.e. affinity to the sport). However, to deprive a child of his favorite sport can be a serious mistake. The result could be a generalized disaffection with motor activity and a consequent increased risk of developing overweight or even obesity.
A sport should provide a healthy mental and physical development of the individual and, just like in a balanced diet, variety is more advisable than monotony.

To name one among many, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has for a long time done martial arts and football. It’s just an example of how different motor patterns, learned from very different sports, give the talented athlete, as well as the common man, the opportunity to develop a new body language, which is never predictable.

Dear parents, let your children follow their passions and consciously support them throughout their growth, both physical and human, never indulging in excessive anxieties or huge expectations.