The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday January 22nd

Injured foot a difficult hurdle

In basketball every action begins with a player's foot.

It's the base of support for all of his movements and it's the first body part to greet the hardwood each time a player jumps.

So it's no surprise that when a player develops a foot injury — as in North Carolina forward Marcus Ginyard's case — the effects can be catastrophic to the point where an eight-week injury turns into a season-ender.

Steve Stricker head trainer of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats said a foot injury disrupts the chain of events needed for any athletic movement.

The foot affects how the ankle moves which affects the knee which then affects the hip" which continues all the way to a player's neck.

""The foot is kind of the first link in the chain to distribute and descend the force on up the chain"" Stricker said. It affects explosiveness — just the ability to do what you do. It affects that ability to do everything.""

Because of the foot's complex nature — it contains 26 bones"" 33 joints and more than 100 muscles and tendons — Stricker said it is difficult to evaluate foot injuries.

""It's hard to diagnose because of the make-up of the foot with the tarsal bones"" he said. There's a lot of ligaments in the foot.""

For Ginyard" the injury was a stress fracture in his fifth left metatarsal. He had surgery Oct. 8 to repair the damage and was thought to be back in mid-December.

But mid-December became late-December and the senior finally returned to action Dec. 28 against Rutgers. Ginyard only appeared in two other games before coach Roy Williams decided to sit him.

By that time" Williams seemed unsure of the situation and said in January that he was in ""uncharted waters"" with Ginyard's injury.

This isn't the first case of a UNC basketball player with a bum foot" nor is it the first time Williams has sat a player for foot troubles.

In 2002-03 then-freshman Sean May played only 11 games because of a broken left foot. In the 2006-07 season Quentin Thomas and Bobby Frasor missed nine and 10 games respectively with foot injuries.

But basketball isn't the only sport where players risk foot injury in competition. UNC head football trainer Scott Trulock has seen his share of hobbled players" too.

""It's fairly common place" he sad. I would say" on this team — not looking at data in front of me — that a half dozen players that have suffered similar injuries ended up missing the same amount of time.""

Once something in the foot breaks" it can be a long road to recovery regardless of the athlete's sport.

A bad foot can keep a player from conditioning. And unless the player uses a wheelchair" it's nearly impossible to let the injury heal uninterrupted.

""It's pretty tough for a basketball player to fight through a foot injury" because it's not something you can rest" Stricker said. You might be able to get by with a shoulder injury.

""An injured foot is hard to really compensate for and still be able to be effective as a player.""

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