Track Spikes and Sports Injuries

Track spikes are worn by runners to maximize their grip during competition and training. The spikes screw into the sole of the shoe and the length and configuration of the spikes depends on the running surface and event. Track shoes are extremely light and have very thin soles and low heels to maximize your running performance. Although track spikes are an essential part of most runner’s equipment, they can also be the cause of injury. Below are some of the common injuries:

• ACHILLES TENDON INJURIES: Regular running shoes have a raised heel, whereas track spikes have a much lower or even nonexistent heel. When you change from running in the basic running shoes to track spikes, it can cause Achilles tendon problems. Your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Achilles’ tendon injuries are slow to heel and, in the case of ruptures, can even require surgery. To avoid Achilles tendon injuries, gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts when first using track spikes.

• FOOT INJURIES: Because track spikes are much less cushioned than regular running shoes, this keeps the weight of the shoe as low as possible to enhance your feel for the ground. This lack of cushioning can cause a variety of injuries including bruised feet, plantar fasciitis, and heel spur growth. To minimize the risk of foot injury, only wear your track spikes for competitions or the most important training sessions. There is also the option of customizing your track spikes by adding padded shoe inserts and/or heel pads that will protect your feet.

• SHIN SPLINTS: The most common running injury is shin splints. Shin splints are caused by an excess of impact to the lower legs, created by heel striking. In the mildest cases, shin splints are the inflammation of the fascia (connective tissue) that covers and connects muscles of the lower to the bone (the tibia). In worst cases, the fascia is under such stress that it actually separates from the tibia, which can be very painful and can involve a rather slow healing process.

• LACERATIONS: The spikes in track shoes are very sharp and can cause injury to you or anyone you accidentally come into physical contact with. This injury is more common when runners bunch close together during long distance races.

• BONE BRUISES: Bone bruises occur when someone is injured through falls, accidents, sports and blows from hard objects. They may be accompanied by bleeding and painful swelling and last from several days to months, depending on the severity. Custom orthotics may be fitted to be worn inside the racing spikes to prevent further irritation.

Essentially, many injuries can be avoided with warming up, careful stretching before and after workouts, massage, proper footwear and avoiding over-use. Athletes should notify their podiatrist at the first sign of foot pain.

Podiatrists can help athletes address injuries and help prevent them from becoming more serious.