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

In Italy more and more people play rugby.
With the Rugby World Cup coming up, thanks to the media coverage, it is likely that an increasing number of children will become passionate about this fine sport, to the point of asking their parents to start to play it, hoping to be one day like Mauro Bergamasco and the other champions.

Here are some common questions that parents ask themselves after their children’s request:

Can all children play rugby?
At what age can you play it?

Children in good health who had a thorough check-up, aged 6 years and older, can play rugby. Several and significant are the benefits to the feet and ankles of your children.
Sprints, stops and sudden changes of direction train and continuously stimulate the ankle and foot proprioception.
What does this mean? Imagine that the ankle and foot of your little one are sprinkled with many small exterior and interior eyes, always active to prevent sprains. Well, training these eyes to remain vigilant and to understand correctly the information they receive means to improve the proprioceptive qualities of your child.
Rugby can therefore contribute to a harmonious physical development of your children; a development that is based also on stable ankles, constantly stimulated on a “friendly ground” like a grass field.

Rugby is the perfect sport for overweight children?
Can rugby be harmful for a child with flat feet?

A common misconception is that overweight children will get a head start in playing rugby. Actually, the practice of constant physical activity will help them lose weight if necessary. This is an important added value to this sport and, more generally, to doing physical activity.

One of the main problems of the child’s feet is flat feet. Doing physical activity with commitment and passion on a regular basis is the best prevention of pathological flat feet in children: sport must be seen as a game and must be exciting!
In the exercise of my profession, I often see how physiological or borderline flat feet can become pathological if improperly stressed by issues such as overweight and obesity. They are little patients less prone to move, with a significant reduction of the plantar arch and valgus hindfoot (confirmed by an abnormal and unbalanced consumption of footwear), who often report also an important valgus deformity of the knees. These children are then subjected to surgery, effective for most forms of children’s pathological flat feet.

Is rugby a dangerous sport?

The first expected, but unjustified, reaction of a mom might be of concern for possible injuries.
Just know that this is a cliché. The chances of injuries are the same of other sports that involve physical contact, such as basketball and football.
Actually, there is little physical contact in rugby for children (unlike for adults). This, combined with a good training on the fundamentals, further reduces the risk that your child will get hurt.
Parents should only pay attention to the choice of a serious and professional rugby school that will transmit the deep values ​​of rugby to the child: a fun game where you encourage your opponents and play together, winners and losers.

Take your children to sports and have fun with them.