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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

World Cup warning over foot stress

Published: 28 June 2010

Despite England's demoralising early exit from the World Cup, football frenzy is still sweeping the nation and experts are warning fans and future England hopefuls of the dangers a kick about in the park could cause their feet. Podiatrists from University of Southampton's School of Health Sciences say that ill-fitting sports shoes are one of the biggest causes of serious injury, including back, knee and hip pain.

With vuvuzelas at full volume people of all ages have still got the World Cup bug and can be seen playing football in the streets and parks.

Those who play football and either wear poorly fitting boots or trainers also risk conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, blisters and ingrown toenails.

Podiatrist Dr Alan Borthwick, a senior lecturer at the University, says: "We wouldn't want to dampen people's enthusiasm and enjoyment of the World Cup - playing football with friends is good fun and healthy. But I would urge people to wear a good well-fitted pair of boots so they don't injure themselves.

"The increase in football's popularity has been accompanied by an increase in foot related injuries. It can put a lot of stress on your feet especially if it's being played on hard surfaces, so people just need to be careful. I would hate to think that potential England World Cup winners were ruining their chances!"

Most professional players will wear very tight fitting boots for better ball control and so it's not uncommon for them to suffer from pressure points, corns, callus or ingrowing toenails too.

Common injuries such as sprained or twisted ankles due to the twists and turns used in the sport can also be due to the low profile of the boot itself which gives little support to the back of the foot or ankle. 

Notes for editors

  1. The School of Health Sciences at the University of Southampton is an internationally renowned centre of excellence for teaching and research. It delivers high quality training in midwifery, health and social care, physiotherapy, podiatry and occupational therapy.

    Through a multidisciplinary approach, research focuses on five key areas: cancer, palliative and end of life care; organization and delivery of care; workforce delivery and pedagogy; continence technology and skin health; rehabilitation research.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health, arts and humanities.  

    With over 22,000 students, around 5,000 staff, and an annual turnover of almost £400 million, the University of Southampton is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

    The University is also home to a number of world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute. For more information visit:

Issued by Jo Kedward, Polymedia 01329 822866

For further information contact:

Sophie Docker, Media Relations Officer, University of Southampton: Tel: 023 8059 8933 email:


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