Foot and ankle concerns are too often overlooked by the general public. Our feet are the foundation of our body.
Examining our feet can help us identify early symptoms of other serious disorders such as vascular disease and diabetes.
Foot issues can also cause other problems throughout our body.
Normal changes to the foot as we age include:
- The foot becomes wider and longer
- There is mild settling of the arch which is seen as flattening of the foot
- The fat pad on the bottom of the heel thins out, causing loss of natural padding and spring in the step
- The foot and ankle lose some of their normal range of motion and become stiffer
- There can be some loss of balance while walking
As these physical changes occur, shoe sizes and support needs also change and must be addressed.
Some foot changes can occur that are abnormal or pathological. These problems do not happen naturally and many can be prevented, or their progress halted, by addressing ill-fitting shoes, adding supportive orthotics, surgery, or other modifications.
Abnormal changes to the foot include:
- Bunions (the formation of a large bump on the big toe, which starts to point toward the little toes)
- Hammering of the toes (curling of the toes)
- Clawing of the toes (more severe curling of the toes)
- Tailor’s bunion (the formation of a large bump on the smallest toe, which starts to point toward the large toe)
- Calluses or corns, which occur on the toes or foot due to high pressure over bony areas
- Morton’s neuromas (“pinched nerve” between the toes)
- Arthritis of the joints
Early detection and treatment of problems help keep individuals on their feet and active.
For all your foot problems, visit The Podiatrist
Every time you take a step, your foot is hit with unforgiving vibrations that can cause tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and more — particularly if you wear high heels or participate in foot-stressing activities, like running.
The muscles in your foot play a huge role in how your body absorbs shock.
To start an at-home foot health routine to reduce pain, try these four moves:
• For strength: Short foot. This is a movement so small, To perform the short foot exercise, stand barefoot and contract the arch of your foot by driving your big toes into the ground. It makes the bottom of the foot contract, it pulls your arch up, and fires your hips and abs — just from that one little movement. “Short footing” a few times a day while you’re doing another activity like brushing your teeth, cooking dinner, or waiting for the bus.
• For strength: Stand on one leg. Now that you know the benefits of single-leg training, try it at home by simply standing barefoot on one foot while standing in line or doing chores around the house. For an extra balance challenge that will really fire your feet, close your eyes — it throws off your centre of gravity and makes balancing more challenging.
• For recovery: Stand on golf balls. Golf balls under your feet work the same as foam roller and massage for other parts of your body-hey break up lactic acid to help muscles relax and recover from stress. If standing on the balls is too intense for you, sit in a chair and roll the golf balls under your feet for a light massage. This exercise can be helpful for arch pain, cramps, and foot pain from plantar fasciitis.
• For recovery: Calf stretches. Tight calves put a lot of strain on your feet, which is why The Podiatrist recommends stretching your calves daily. For a simple stretch, face a wall from two to three feet away. Lean into the wall, keeping your heels on the floor and your knees extended, and hold. For a deeper stretch, stand on one leg on a stair, holding a railing for support. Drop your heel, so that it hangs off the step, and push it down with your weight until you feel a stretch in your calf.
Contact The Podiatrist for any of your foot problems.
Stay stable on your feet- The ankle is built to support your body’s load but uneven distribution of weight can leave it vulnerable
I wish I had a dollar for every time I hear my clients say “weak ankles”. The ankles are built to support nearly 100% of the body’s load, and if you look at the role of the joint in any sport which involves being on your feet, you will see that it can take very high impacts. It is flexible, resilient and capable of generating some serious explosive movements. So why do I see so many ankle injuries?
Understanding how such a brilliantly designed joint can turn weak lies in studying its functional relationship and interaction with the body’s other weight–bearing joints—the hips, knees and shoulders. The human body is a structure with several load-bearing joints, all of which will function at their optimum only if they are engaged together as a single unit—much like a well-made chair. The sturdy chair will bear the weight of the guest sitting on it pretty efficiently for years, but if people keep tipping the chair back and forth on its rear and front legs alternately, the chair will start wobbling and may ultimately collapse altogether. In the same manner, the body’s load-bearing joints will lose the benefit of its combined strength if the load is not distributed evenly along the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. If anyone has to compensate regularly for the other, then that joint will deteriorate.
The ankle is particularly vulnerable as it bears the maximum load of the human body. This explains the high number of ankle-pain sufferers. The solution, however, does not lie in artificial support systems like taping, or special high-top shoes, or even surgery—it lies in spotting the deviant joint, understanding its relationship with the muscles around it, and aligning it with the rest of the load-bearing joints.
Calf muscles and ankles
The most common cause of ankle pain is dysfunctional and unusually shortened or tight calf muscles. For a human body to achieve proper locomotion, it is extremely important that the feet are able to dorsiflex. Dorsiflexion is the technical term used to describe the motion when the toes and feet move inwards towards the shin bone. While walking or running, when the foot hits the ground on impact, the shin has to move towards the feet in order to create the proper “give” or soft cushioning. This is only possible if the calf muscle is flexible and functional. If the calf muscle is tight, then the ankle abducts (moves outwards from the shin), unusually increasing its workload at impact. Moving away at impact takes it out of line to bear the body’s weight evenly, so there is too much load now acting on the inside of the ankle. Simple stretches to restore length back to the calf muscles, like the ones we will outline, sometimes take away chronic pain in the ankles, and make the joint more stable.
The Achilles tendon
The Achilles tendon attaches the muscles of the calf to the heel of the foot, and is hurt more often than any other tendon. The Achilles tendon’s opposing tendons attach the two heads of the gastrocnemius muscle (part of the calf muscle) to the two sides of the femur bone which significantly also form a part of the knee joint. Any misalignment of the knee joint, then, disrupts the tension and interaction of the tendons. The Achilles tendon, instead of delivering a fluid, smooth contraction, starts “twanging” and crimping. The Achilles tendon is not built to snag or to move such loads without help from the lower leg, hip or knee.
See The Podiatrist if you are experiencing any problems.
With the Olympics approaching in July, you can expect to witness some amazing feats of athleticism this summer. But Olympic athletes won’t be the only ones competing hard in sports – so will your kids.
Millions of children worldwide will participate in sports this year, from softball to soccer and swimming to cycling. No matter what their sport or whether they play competitively or just for fun, they will have one important thing in common: They’ll need their feet to be pain-free if they’re going to play their best and prevent injuries.
Sports play a significant role in the lives of millions of young athletes. Parents need to be aware that sports, which require a substantial amount of running, turning, and contact, can translate to injuries. Protecting children’s feet from injuries, and bringing them to a podiatrist when problems occur, can help keep kids in the game and make the sport more enjoyable.
Some tips for helping protect children’s feet while playing sports:
* Protective taping of the ankles is often necessary to help prevent sprains or fractures.
* Buying a shoe designed for the specific sport your child plays not only improves your child’s performance in the sport, it also can help protect him or her from serious foot and ankle injuries.
* Without the right sock, even the best athletic shoe won’t score points-on the field or off. Athletic socks should consist of a natural/synthetic blend, which is best at wicking away moisture and minimizing foot odour. Socks should not have large seams that might cause blisters or irritation.
Commonly played sports and the risks associated with them include:
* Netball and Basketball – Children playing basketball may be at risk for ankle sprains, tendinitis and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the sole of the foot). To minimize the risk of foot injury, choose a shoe with a thick, stiff sole, high ankle support and shock absorption.
* Tennis – The rapid, repetitive lateral movements and shifting of weight required of tennis players can lead to injuries such as ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and corns or calluses. Tennis players will do best with a flexible-soled shoe that supports both sides of the foot.
* Running – Movements required of runners include leg extension and hitting the balls of the feet with a great deal of force. Running can lead to shin splints, heel pain and blisters. A good running shoe should offer good support and shock absorption. In some cases, custom orthotics may be necessary to provide additional support and control of foot motion.
* Rugby and Soccer – The running, jumping and lateral movements required of rugby and soccer players can lead to many foot injuries, with heel pain and shin splints being among the most common. Rugby and soccer boots should provide multiple cleats in the heel area and enough room for thick .
Sports-related foot and ankle injuries are on the rise as more children participate actively in sports. Parents need to be vigilant to ensure children’s feet remain healthy and safe. And remember – lack of complaint by a child is not a reliable sign that everything is fine. The bones of growing feet are so flexible that they can be twisted and distorted without the child being aware of it.
Ensuring your child’s feet stay healthy could go a long way – your young athlete could one day be the next superstar athlete. If your child participates in strenuous sports, monitor his or her foot health closely. If you suspect a problem, take your child to The Podiatrist for evaluation and treatment
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.
Whether you take a leisurely jog or sprint to the finish line in a marathon, running is great exercise. In fact, running is one of the easiest and most popular sports among non-professional athletes.
Running offers many benefits, including improved cardiovascular and respiratory function, weight loss, reduced cholesterol and increased muscle and bone strength, as well as a healthier mental outlook. But with any sport or activity comes the risk of injury.
Runners of all levels are at risk for significant injuries to their hips, knees, legs, ankles and feet. One of the best ways to prevent injury is to avoid injury. By taking simple precautions and watching for signs of potential problems, individuals can prevent or minimize many injuries.
The majority of injuries are caused by excess — running too far, too fast or too often. In addition to strains and sprains, blisters and cramps, some of the more common injuries include:
· Hip and thigh injuries — Bursitis, stress fractures, and hamstring pulls or tears are typically caused by inflammation and strain from overexertion or
improper running techniques.
· Knee injuries — Patello-femoral syndrome, more commonly called “runner’s knee” is characterized by a dull ache or sharp pain under or around the kneecap and is often accompanied by a grinding sensation when the knee is bent then straightened. Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome can also produce inflammation and pain in and around the knee.
· Leg injuries — Shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome is a cumulative but painful condition resulting from too much force being placed on
the shinbone (tibia) and surrounding tissues.
· Ankle injuries – Sprains vary in severity but typically result in pain, swelling and bruising. Achilles tendonitis is a painful inflammation in the back of the ankle, which if left untreated, can lead to a ruptured tendon.
· Foot injuries — Plantar fasciitis, which can cause sharp pain or a dull ache in the bottom of the foot near the heel or in the arch, is typically caused by poor foot structure, inadequate running shoes or a sudden increase in the distance run. Improper shoes and downhill running can also cause painful Runner’s toe.
The good news is that these injuries are treatable, but more importantly can be prevented or minimized by following some basic training guidelines and running techniques.
Some tips to help you
Invest in a good pair of running shoes. Running in worn out shoes is a prime cause of many injuries. Make sure to replace them when you’ve logged about 600 kms.
Stretch regularly before and after you run to avoid tightening of muscles. Be sure to include stretches for the hips, thigh, hamstring, calf and ankle, as well as the back.
Perform warm up exercises such as light jogging or sprinting prior to engaging in a full run.
Include cross training in your overall exercise regimen to help strengthen a wide range of muscles. Consider activities such as weight-training, swimming,
calisthenics or those exercises that use muscles in slightly different ways.
Avoid overtraining – and overexertion. Doing too much, too soon and too quickly can lead to injuries. A good approach for beginners may be to start with a
run/walk technique, alternating thirty seconds of running with thirty seconds of walking for about twenty to thirty minutes, three times a week. Gradually,
increase the length of running segments while keeping them at a manageable pace.
· Stay hydrated especially in warmer weather. Drink at least 1 ½ cups of water 10-15 minutes before running and every 20 minutes during.
· Run on smooth, even and softer surfaces whenever possible. For example, asphalt roads are a better choice than concrete sidewalks.
· Watch for the warning signs of injury. If you begin to experience pain or swelling, stop running and seek medical attention. Depending on the type and extent of injury, treatment may include RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation; taking anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin or ibuprofen); and taking time off from running.
– Seek professional advice from a Podiatrist if you are injured or have any concerns