Nerve Injury Takes the Kick Out of Mat McBriar’s Punting Skills

While the Cleveland Browns play the Texans this weekend in Houston, another Texas team will be hoping that their punter Mat McBriar has made a sufficient recovery to help them score some points.  Unlike the more commonly heard of sports injuries,  including ankle sprains, pulled muscles or broken bones, McBriar has injured the nerve in his left foot and leg.  Although he kicks the ball with his right foot, the planting foot also plays a critical role in a player’s ability to punt the ball.

Mat has not only been experiencing pain severe enough to disrupt normal walking, but he has also lost the ability to “lift his foot up”.  This lack of “dorsiflexion” or lifting the top of the foot up towards the shin is of critical importance not only for playing football, but also is necessary in walking!  The nerve that controls this is called the deep fibular or deep peroneal nerve.  When the deep peroneal nerve is not functioning properly, the foot will not be able to clear the ground while walking, and the foot will slap to the ground instead of being slowly lowered as it normally would.  This can make walking a very difficult and tedious process.  Mat may have caused this injury by a sudden stretch of the nerve when planting his foot to punt the ball.  Other causes of this nerve injury can include frequently crossing the legs, which is the most common cause, knee dislocation, or knee surgery.

Mat may also want to talk to his podiatrist about the possibility that he could have a mass in his foot that could be pressing on the nerve and causing his symptoms.  A neuroma or a ganglionic cyst are both small masses in the foot that can cause problems on their own even without impinging on a nerve in the foot as could be a possibility in Mat’s case.  A Morton’s neuroma is an abnormal nerve growth found between the third and fourth toes.  A ganglionic cyst is an out-pouching of fluid from a joint that can require surgery to treat.

Symptoms of nerve damage can include, but are not limited to, pain that shoots up or down the foot or leg, loss of sensation and loss of function.  If you have signs of a nerve injury it is important to contact your podiatrist as soon as possible because damage can become more severe over time including permanent loss of nerve function.

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia