Heading off for a break from the cold? Some tips to keep your feet healthy

For many of you who are heading away for the school holidays for some warmth, the thought if warmer weather is an  invitation to declare freedom for your feet.

That means out with bulky shoes and in with less-supportive flip-flops,  sandals and clogs. Those people may be left feeling more footloose and fancy  free, but they also may pay the price later.

Podiatrists have been warning patients for years about  the harm they were doing to their feet and lower legs by wearing flimsy  footwear. Warnings that were once based on anecdotes, though, now have more  scientific evidence to support them.

At least one key researcher’s interest in studying the effects of wearing  flip-flops and similar footwear was fueled by their growing popularity on  college campuses.

“They’re not made to walk around in all day,” said Justin Shroyer, who was  working on his graduate degree at Auburn University at the time. “They’re for  wearing to the beach so you don’t have to walk on the hot blazing pavement  between your car and the sand.”

Flip-flops significantly shortened their stride and how long their feet were  in contact with the ground compared with sneakers. Further, flip-flops tended to  reduce how much the top part of the swinging foot flicks up toward the shin.

Shroyer speculates that the shorter steps and lessened foot motion are  consequences of the wearers’ efforts to keep the flip-flops on their feet as  they walk. People tend to grip the base with their toes to keep their flip-flops  from flip-flopping off. That downward exertion, however, conflicts with the  foot’s propensity to rise at the front to shift the ground strike to the  heel.

Shroyer thinks that tug-of-war puts extra pressure on the tibial anterior,  the muscle at the front of the shin, and leads to the soreness that some  attribute to long-term flip-flop wear

“If you had a normal workout in the winter and then went into the gym and  worked overtime on the muscle, you’re going to be sore,” said Shroyer, who  published the study in a 2010 edition of the Journal of the American Podiatric  Medical Association.

Another problem is that flip-flops, sandals and their ilk offer little shock  absorption. And many people continue to wear their flip-flops after  the padding  has been squashed.

Flat footwear can lead to foot fractures from  repeated stress on the arch of the foot.

There’s at least one  benefit of flip-flops: They help shield your feet from  burning sand and pavement and from other hazards, such as germs on a shower  floor, she said. She suggests choosing a flip-flop that bends only in the front,  has lots of cushioning in the arch and isn’t so high that they pose a risk of  slipping out of them to the side.

Summer holiday footwear tips

– Wear comfortable shoes to the airport. You never know how long you will  wait in line, how far you will walk to the terminal, or if you will have to make  a mad dash to make a connecting flight. Loose-fitting flip-flops and sandals  increase your risk of tripping, falling and spraining your ankle.

– Avoid taking new shoes on vacation. They can be stiff and unforgiving. If  you plan to dance the night away or do a lot of walking, wear shoes that will  make your feet as happy as you are.

– Take flip-flops or sandals, particularly to avoid walking barefoot in  locker rooms and around pools, where you may pick up athlete’s foot, a plantar  wart infection or toenail fungus.

– Pack an antifungal cream or powder. If you’re staying in a hotel or using  public pools, using an antifungal product can help prevent athlete’s foot.

– If you are traveling more than two hours, be sure to stretch your legs and  pump your feet. This will help circulate the blood to prevent deep vein  thrombosis or dangerous blood clots in the legs.

– Pack a small first-aid kit. Chances are you’ll develop a blister from that  long walk through the shopping village or scrape your foot on a piece of coral  at the beach. Clean your feet with saline (eye solution), apply a small amount  of antibiotic cream and cover with a Band-Aid or gauze.

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About Your feet and podiatry with Caron Orelowitz | Registered Podiatrist - Auckland

Caron Orelowitz was born in Johannesburg and emigrated to New Zealand in 1997. She studied Podiatry at The Witwatersrand Technikon and was in private practice in South Africa for a few years, before setting off to ‘the other side of the world’. Auckland Podiatry. Since 1998 she has been helping people of all ages who have problems with their feet, from the elderly, to sports people, and those who just want some TLC for the feet. At present she has 5 practices (with a satellite Diabetes Practice out West Auckland), owns a children’s shoe shop (Scooters in Remuera), and tries to fit in some exercise when time permits. Caron is an active member of Podiatry New Zealand (NZ), and holds the position of Treasurer for the Auckland Branch, as well as representing the Northern Region on the Executive Council. She is registered under HPCAA (Health Practitioner Competency Assurance Act), and is often seen attending (and organizing) Seminars and workshops. Caron has a special interest in Paediatrics and can often be seen on the floor showing children some exercises. ACC registered Discounts for Super Gold Card Holders, members of Grey Power and Green Prescription participants. www.thepodiatrist.co.nz www.yourfeet.co.nz

Posted on June 26, 2011, in Contact a Podiatrist, Your feet and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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