It’s the start of the fall sports season and the athletes are getting back into action. As football, boys’ and girls’ cross country, boys’ and girls’ soccer, volleyball and field hockey begin, many athletes who have never followed any kind of strength and conditioning programs must be trained more carefully in their respective sports.

All sports differ in speed, endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. There are many elements an athlete should consider in the choice of their sport, such as muscular strength, endurance, hot weather acclimation (Indian summer in the fall) and nutrition or diet.

These sports require excessive stress on the body’s joints, and especially the feet, which can contribute to related ankle, knee and lower back problems.

Such problems may occur when playing on a field of natural grass, particularly if the athlete has a flat or low-arch foot, which is mechanically weak.

On artificial turf, the most common complaint is “turf-toe,” which is an acute, traumatic bursitis of the first toe-metatarsal joint associated with tendonitis.

Most individuals know their body pain signals. Athletes, parents and coaches should recognize early symptoms, and if they persist, should seek treatment.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a sports podiatrist. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 marathons. He has a practice in Darien and is affiliated with Stamford Hospital and is a member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle. For information, visit his website at

stamfordhealthmedical

group.org .