HomeNewsSportHow does elite sport affect athletes?

How does elite sport affect athletes?

From bulging ankles, sinewy legs to deformed toes, British newspaper Sportmail lists the athletes most severely affected by high-level competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo's feet

Ronaldo caused a stir on social networks when he posted a photo of him resting after scoring the only goal to help Al Nassr win against Al Ahli in the Saudi Pro League on March 16. The 3-year-old striker posted a photo of him wearing Erakulis pants, designed to speed up recovery after matches, at the nearly $39-per-night St Regis hotel in Saudi Arabia, with his feet swollen.

“Look at the legs of a professional player who has been playing professionally for 22 years. He definitely wakes up in crazy pain every day,” one person wrote on social media X. “The price that football players have to pay that we cannot see,” another person commented.

Ronaldo's swollen feet. Photo: Instagram / Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo's swollen feet. Image: Instagram / Cristiano Ronaldo

After 22 years, Ronaldo played 1228 matches for club and team, being fouled, kicked, and stepped on week after week. Although Ronaldo's ankle is not visibly visible, there is a condition called "Player's Ankle". Repeated kicking, twisting, and bending can cause ligaments to stretch and stretch, causing them to become swollen, thickened, or inflamed.

Pawel Poljanski's legs

Poljanksi may not be a household name, but you will hardly forget the legs of the former Polish professional cyclist. Poljanski, 33, rode for Tinkoff and Bora-Hansgrohe from 2014 to 2020 across multiple Grand Tours, including twice in the Tour de France.

In 2017, after completing stage 16, he posted a photo of his legs full of blood vessels, bulging veins and the area around his knees almost "rusted". He wrote above Instagram: “After 16 stages, I think my legs look a bit tired.”

Dr. Bradley Launikonis from the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland explained this haunting photo. “After Poljanski played, the veins popped out. Blood flow is pressurized through the arteries in a highly regulated manner,” he said. “Blood can pool there and that's what's happening in this extreme case. There is blood flowing in the veins and that is why you see them so clearly. There was a high amount of blood being pushed into his legs for a long time and it remained there after practice and competition.”

Poljanski's feet.

Poljanski's feet.

Launikonis said this will not happen to amateur athletes, but only to top athletes, especially professional riders who continuously participate in major tournaments. Launikonis added that top riders receive twice as much blood flow to their legs as amateurs.

"The amount of blood that normally flows down our legs is 5 liters per minute," he analyzed. “For professional but not top athletes, the maximum exercise will be 20 liters per minute. Elite athletes will have double the speed, about 40 liters per minute. Blood can pool there as well, and that's what's happening in this particular case.”

Before Pojkanski, Chris Froome and Bartosz Huzarski took pictures of their deformed legs after the tournament in 2014.

LeBron James's toes

LeBron, now 39 years old, the icon of the Los Angeles Lakers, took many years of training to become an NBA legend. But it seems that his legs had to pay a high price in the process of rising to that position.

A photo taken of LeBron on vacation in 2013 shows the American basketball star's toes are incredibly deformed and bunched together. You can see that LeBron's big toe is attached to his second toe and the smallest toe is almost pointing across the foot.

James's strange right foot.

James's strange right foot.

In British newspapers sun sport Last year, a podiatrist revealed that LeBron can spend up to $7,000 a month to keep his feet in good condition, including foot care, orthotics and custom sneakers.

“LeBron also has a complicated left foot and needs surgery to remove calluses and prevent ulcers. Now there is also rehabilitation for the right foot. That's a huge bill, up to 85.000 USD per year," the doctor revealed.

Adam Lallana's toes

Lallana, playing for Brighton, is also familiar with injuries. The 35-year-old midfielder has faced persistent problems over the years.

Hamstrings, groins and knees are some of the worst hindrances, but what about toes? After winning with Liverpool against Southampton in 2018, the English midfielder posted a photo of his toe with an unbelievable white-yellow turn. “Any suggestions for defrosting your feet,” he wrote above Instagram.

Many users believe that Lallana is suffering from "Raynaud's phenomenon" - a condition that causes blood circulation to stop to the toes or fingers.

Lallana's white toes.

Lallana's white toes.

Podiatrist Dr Judith Anders wrote: “From the photo, the symptoms appear similar to Raynaud's disease – an abnormal response to cold that causes the toes to change color. Simply put, the presence of Raynaud's means that the nerves supplying blood vessels become overly sensitive to temperature. There may also be an emotional element. If a person is exposed to cold but is also quite stressed, this combination can aggravate the problem, causing fingers and toes to become numb and cold.”

The doctor continued his analysis: “Blood flow is effectively stopped, leading to a temporary loss of circulation to the affected area. Then, as the blood vessels dilate and blood begins to flow again, the fingers may change color, first turning blue and then bright red.”

Neymar's ankle

Neymar swollen his ankle right after the opening group match against Serbia at the 2022 World Cup. The Brazilian striker posted a photo with his ankle needing protection and wrote: "Let's move forward."

Neymar promptly returned after the group stage, but could not help Brazil advance. He opened the score in the first extra period of the quarterfinal match against Croatia, but "Selecao" lost 2-4 on penalties.

Neymar's swollen ankle.

Neymar's swollen ankle.

Darrell Armstrong's feet

Armstrong played 891 NBA games and is currently an assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks. In 2017, Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki shared a photo of Armstrong's legs on Twitter and makes fans obsessed. “Armstrong is working on these dinosaur toes,” Nowitzki wrote.

Armstrong's foot with a deviated big toe.

Armstrong's foot with a deviated big toe.

Armstrong's big toe curls inward while his second toe moves up over the other four. Basketball players often have problems with overlapping toes and wider feet. With the number of moves, jumps and quick landings, they are under a lot of pressure.

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