With Spring upon us, and the weather becoming ideal for outdoor activities, many people are able to get outside and enjoy more of their activities such as walking or running.
People enjoy walking or running for a number of reasons. For many, it’s a simple form of exercise. For some, it’s about ‘the freedom of the road’ and ‘being one with nature’, while others find it an effective way to decrease stress.
Walking or running helps condition the body and improve blood circulation. Regular walking is associated with a healthier heart and a greater sense of well-being. For those who like to run, the right running technique combined with appropriate footwear helps minimize injuries.
If you plan on stepping outside to walk or run, here are a few things to consider:
- The right degree of flexion in your knees and elbows is important to reduce strain on your joints.
- Posture is important. In fact, your entire technique is dependent upon your posture for efficiency and safety.
- Having the appropriate range of motion helps minimize injuries and improve running technique.
- Maintaining symmetrical stride length is an important aspect of efficiency and injury prevention.
- Proper rhythm, or cadence, will help you to minimize injury by eliminating unnecessary overuse of your muscles.
- Coordination between your upper and lower body is an important aspect of running technique.
Each of these components plays a vital role in running technique. As you progress with each component, expect an improvement in your strength, efficiency, distance and possibly speed.
The best thing for you to do right now is to contact The Podiatrist and ask for an evaluation of your movement patterns before you start a walking or running program.
We can help you plan ahead. We can also create a rehabilitation program if you are currently experiencing any discomfort while walking or running. Your body deserves the right kind of care, and we can help you.
From better posture to less pain, the proper use of foot orthotics can bring about many different benefits. Depending on the reason a person may be seeking out assistance through foot orthotics, the benefits will vary.
Here, we cover three of the more common top benefits of using these supportive inserts and devices. These benefits tend to all go hand in hand, but it may be helpful to look at each of them separately, too.
Alleviating or preventing pain may be the number one benefit of foot orthotics. Experiencing pain in the feet, or in another area of the body, is a major motivator when it comes to seeking assistance. For individuals who are experiencing any kind of pain related to the feet, foot orthotics may be able to offer the necessary solution. For example, people with heel pain and plantar fasciitis might use foot orthotics to ease the condition. If the pain you are experiencing is at all related to the way your foot moves and rests in shoes, then foot orthotics could provide the benefit of the pain relief you have been looking for.
Preventing injury is another top benefit that can come from the use of proper foot orthotics. In fact, the pain that drives people to seek out the support of foot orthotics often serves as the precursor to injury. In other words, experiencing regular foot pain could eventually lead to a more serious medical issue or injury if it is not addressed early enough. The way in which foot orthotics work to stave off an injury is much the same as the way in which these supportive devices help alleviate pain—by supporting the feet in ankles to move and function optimally.
A third big benefit of foot orthotics is the promotion of proper movement and posture. If you think of the feet as the foundation of your body, it is easy to see how a crack or fault in the foundation could lead to problems throughout the structure as a whole. For instance, if a person’s feet tend to pronate, this can lead to improper daily posture and create pain not only in the feet, but also the knees, hip, back, shoulders and neck. With the right foot orthotics, pronation can be counteracted, along with the unwanted side effects. Of course, there are many other postural conditions that may be corrected through the use of foot orthotics and in combination with exercises and correct footwear.
Contact The Podiatrist for any of your foot problems.
The shoes you wear can make you feel slim, sexy, and stylish—or they can leave you wincing in pain.
Ever wonder how much damage you are doing when you walk to work in sky-high heels or scuff through errands in flip-flops?
How High Heels Cause You Pain
There’s a reason most women willingly forgo comfort to squeeze their feet into stilettos: Adding inches makes you look slimmer, accentuates calf muscles, and even lifts your backside.
But you may be doing lasting damage if you live your life in heels. A 2011 Danish study found that walking in heels can increase the risk of osteoarthritis six-fold.
Imagine standing on the edge of a ski slope with your toes pointing downhill. To compensate for this tipped-forward position, it’s natural to bend your knees slightly and arch your back. As a result, your quads are forced to work overtime, which makes them tight and prone to injury. Walking with your knees slightly bent also puts 200 percent more stress on your kneecaps, which can wear away at the cartilage and increase your risk of developing arthrits.
The added height of heels puts extra strain on the shin muscles, which control the forefoot. This repetitive strain can eventually lead to painful shin splints.
Heels put your calf muscles in a shortened position. Over time, this can become permanent: One study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found regular heel wearers had calf muscles that were an average of 13 percent shorter than those of nonheel wearers, making it uncomfortable for them to walk without heels because their natural stride was thrown off.
High Heels Help
Stretch it out.
Give your calves a good daily stretch like this one from Bowman: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a rolled-up towel under the ball of your right foot. Lower your right heel to the floor. Once you’re comfortable here, take a small step forward with your left foot, keeping your hips square. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and work up to 60 seconds.
Massage your shins.
Relieve shin pain with a gentle self-rubdown, applying long vertical finger strokes down the front of your lower leg. Then focus on kneading the muscles horizontally, says Bowman.
Embrace the commuter shoe.
Switch to low-heeled options for getting places, and save those skyscrapers for when you’re mostly sitting pretty.
Feet swell over the day, so if a shoe feels slightly tight at 7 a.m., it’ll be a vise by nightfall. Only buy shoes that are roomy enough, and consider going lower. Research shows that 2-inch heels create impact forces 4 percent greater than flats, while 3-inch heels boost stress by 33 percent
How Flats Cause Foot Pain
Flats sound like the healthier alternative to heels, but the truth is that even a basic ballet flat or canvas casual can be just as problematic.
Many flats lack internal support (like the kind you find in a sneaker). Without it, the ligaments and tendons along the bottom of your foot can overstretch and the arch can collapse. This in turn can lead to the painful foot condition plantar fasciitis—a notoriously hard-to-treat burning or aching along the bottom of the foot. Poor internal support is especially problematic if you’re naturally flat-footed.
Many casual flats have even less interior cushioning than heels or sandals. This lack of padding can trigger pain in the heel or ball of your foot when you’re walking, especially if you have high arches.
Fixes for Flat Shoes
Give your feet a workout.
To wear shoes with no built-in support, you need to strengthen the tiny foot muscles that support your arch. Try doing toe lifts: Raise your big toe without moving the rest of the gang. Until you get the knack, wiggle your toes and rub your feet vigorously, which will stimulate your nerve endings and help wake up your feet. Do 20 toe lifts per foot.
Stretch it out.
Just as the abductor/adductor machine at the gym strengthens your outer and inner thighs, you can work your toe abductors and adductors to make the muscles of your foot stronger and more supportive. Start by interlacing your fingers with your toes to help press them apart, then spread and relax them without assistance from your hands. Hold the stretch long enough to sing the alphabet. Do this once a day (or up to three times if you have bunions).
Bump it up.
Help strengthen the small muscles in your feet and lower legs by striding barefoot across an uneven surface such as cobblestones. This also helps stimulate the nerves in your feet. Buy a pre-made cobblestone mat with smooth stones already glued to it, or find (or make) a bumpy space to walk back and forth on in your backyard.
Add OTC insoles.
If you have flat feet (your wet footprint shows the entire foot), foam or rubber insoles can help prevent your arches from collapsing. If you have high arches (you see only the heel and ball of your foot in your footprint), look for an insole with more rigid arch support.
Look for flats with an insole that curves along the same lines as your foot and arch. Then try to fold the shoe in half—it should bend only at the ball (the same place your foot naturally bends as you walk). Also avoid pairs that fold right in the middle or roll up easily.
How Toning Shoes Cause Foot Pain
Shoes with rounded or “rocker” soles that purportedly increase muscle activity and boost calorie burn are big business—after all, who doesn’t want to get a workout without really working out? But despite their medical provenance (rocker-bottom shoes were originally engineered to help patients with pain in the balls of the feet, says Leahy), consider the following before you get a pair as a fitness tool.
The rigid soles prevent arches from naturally flexing. Eventually, this can cause your arches to flatten and lead to overpronation (when the feet excessively roll in while walking). The result: Your feet absorb less shock, causing your knees and back to take on extra stress.
Relief from Rocker Shoes
Be inspired (but don’t skip your strength workout).
If these shoes help you feel more conscious of the benefits of every step you take and make you want to walk more, go for it! But don’t skip proven strengtheners. The best way to tone your lower body is with strength moves such as squats and lunges, not just walking around in toning shoes.
Contact The Podiatrist (www.thepodiatrist.co.nz)
Q: What causes flat feet? Is it a common condition?
A: Flat feet are a common condition, estimated to occur in approximately 20 to 30 percent of the population. There are many reasons why an individual may have a flat-foot condition.
First, there may be a rare congenital defect, which is present at birth, such as vertical talus, which manifests as a rigid rocker-bottom flat foot. But, generally, most infants and toddlers do have flat feet because the arch structure has not yet developed. The development of the arch normally occurs during early childhood after 3 years of age.
In the 10- to 14-year-old range, a cause may be a condition called tarsal coalition. This is an abnormal connection between two bones in the foot which leads to a painful, spasticity (stiffness) of the peroneal tendon.
As we age, there are many reasons why an individual may develop a flattening of the arch, which is known as an acquired flat foot. These causes are developmental and include:
- Connective tissue disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Endocrine disorders such as diabetes mellitus.
- Tight Achilles tendon.
- Dysfunction of the posterior tibial tendon; when the tendon on the inside of the ankle loses its functionality.
Finally, the hereditary or genetic predisposition to a flat foot is also a possible cause.
Q: What symptoms might someone with flat feet experience?
A: Symptoms are varied and depend upon the cause of the flat foot, the individual’s activity level and the type of footwear that is worn. An individual may present to the office with heel or arch pain (plantar fasciitis), Achilles tendinitis, pain in the subtalar joint or ankle discomfort. Patients will often have several symptomatic areas, have difficulty with exercise, and may even have knee, hip or back pain.
Q: When should someone with flat feet see a Podiatrist?
A: Typically a patient will not seek professional treatment unless they are symptomatic, except for those times when a parent may be concerned with their child’s foot structure or function. The question arises: If someone has a flat foot will they be symptomatic or develop problems later in life? The answer to this is, not everyone will develop issues later on. With that being said, medical treatment should be sought if one is symptomatic with pain or if the flat foot condition is severe (a significant rolling inward of the foot and ankle during walking).
Additionally, if one has noticed a change in their foot structure such as a sudden collapse of the arch or has a medical condition with decreased sensation
to their feet (such as in diabetes mellitus), there are sufficient studies that show the initial evaluation and periodic follow-ups with a podiatrist may help
prevent further complications.
Q: What are some easy solutions that people can try?
A: Wearing well structured shoes and sandals that provide adequate support to the arch structure of the foot. It is important to understand that one size does not fit all. Some flat foot cases may require custom-made orthotics, an ankle/foot brace, special shoes and in extreme cases, surgery.
Q: When is surgery necessary for flat feet?
A: Surgery is an alternative when conservative measures have not provided a satisfactory relief from pain and discomfort. Additionally, patients who are at risk for chronic breakdown or ulcerations on the bottom of their feet due to the complete loss of the arch structure are good candidates for surgical intervention to prevent further complications. For the most part, however, conservative and non-surgical treatment plans will be effective in the majority of cases.
It is no secret that women have been enjoying high heels for a long time. Now that the heels are becoming even higher and thinner, women seem to love them more and more. This trend will never stop.
Anybody who is into fashion would wear them.
But why? Don’t they hurt? “Oh, absolutely,”. “They wear them because of how they look.”
Stilettos make a woman look great, according to a lecturer from East StroudsburgUniversity
“They are alluring to men and make your legs appear longer,” she said, warning, though, that women
wearing stilettos should use their abdominal muscles more in order to maintain good posture.
Stilettos are used in many styles. Some have platforms and others are flat, but the flat ones are more fashionable now. Some have closed toes and some are the strappy sandal types. Shoes with stiletto heels are now even worn for casual wear.
The heels range from about three inches to a towering nine inches or more.
Some people change into them at work and then kick them off when they are sitting at their desks. They put them on only when they have to get up and look wonderful.
A Podiatrist’s view
Stiletto heels are very bad. Anything above a two-inch heel is bad for the feet.
Not only do stilettos change a woman’s posture, but the thinness of the heel affects her stability. With the thinner heel, you are more likely to sprain an ankle.
High heels with platforms are even more dangerous than the stilettos with flat fronts. They are worse for the stability because the front of the foot is not on the ground.
Stilettos can hurt your feet permanently.
Among other things, they can cause hammertoes. This condition causes the toes to contract and stay contracted.
The price of beauty
The shoes could also cause bunions, the bump on the side of the big toe caused by the tightness of the shoe. Once (hammertoes and bunions) form, which could happen in as little as a couple of years, they are there permanently. The stilettos could also cause knee, back and hip problems.
Heels could also cause corns and calluses, toenail problems, a shortening of the Achilles tendon, Haglund’s deformity (inflammation of the bony enlargement on the back of your heel), neuromas (“a neuroma causes a sharp, burning pain on the ball of your foot and stinging or numbness in your toes”), joint pain in the ball of your foot, and stress fractures.
Feet are damaged as a result of the wrong shoes.
To keep feet healthy, people should look for a sneaker-type shoe with plenty of room in the toe.