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5 quick and easy tips to healthy feet and legs | The Podiatrist and yourfeetnz

one pair has to last a lifetime

There are many causes of leg pain right from muscle cramps and inflammation of tendons to arthritis, varicose veins and nerve damage. Leg pain due to muscle strain following an injury or wearing tight shoes for a long time can be prevented by following few simple tips:

  1. Stretch the leg muscle: One of the most effective ways to prevent leg pain due to a sudden muscle twist or cramp is to stretch the muscle. This not only improves blood flow to the injured muscle but it also helps in reducing muscle tension thereby relieving muscle soreness.
  2. Take a warm shower: If you suffer from leg pain, then take a warm shower to relax the muscles. If taking a bath is not feasible, then placing a heating pad on the affected areas can also help. A heat pack works best if the pain is due to a previous injury as it not only relaxes blood vessels but also improves blood circulation, alleviating leg pain.
  3. Wear a proper fitting athletic shoe: Most people fail to choose the right fitting shoe, which is one of the common causes of leg and heel pain. To get the right fit, determine the shape of your foot using the ‘wet test’. For this, step out of the shower onto a surface that will show your footprint, like a brown paper bag. If you have a flat foot, you will see an impression of your whole foot on the paper. If you have a high arch, you will only see the ball and heel of your foot. When shopping, look for athletic shoes that match your particular foot pattern.
  4. Choose the right sports shoe: Not many people are aware that different types of shoes are specially designed to meet your sports requirement. Did you know running long distances in court-style sneakers can contribute to shin splints? It is important to choose the shoes according to your sport or fitness routine.
  5. Go slow if you are a beginner at the gym: One of the common mistakes that most people commit is to overexert on the first day of the gym, which not only exerts pressure on the knee but also causes muscle soreness and leg pain. The key to preventing leg pain and sticking to your workout routine is to build your fitness level slowly. You can start off with less strenuous workouts and then gradually increase the duration, intensity, and frequency of your exercise regimen.

For any foot problems, contact The Podiatrist.

http://www.thepodiatrist.co.nz

 

Choose the right shoes

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing the right running shoe is an important part of your overall running comfort. It can be the difference between enjoying your run and sustaining long term injury. But how do you choose a shoe?

Surely a running shoe is just a shoe? Not so. Here are a few pointers on what you should consider before you go out and spend money on running shoes.

It’s not for nothing that runners are incredibly loyal about their shoes.

Once you find something, stay with it. Look at what worked in the past.

Comfort is important

Comfort and cushioning are important features to consider when buying a shoe. This might sound obvious to you, but, if the shoe feels rigid, too flexible or narrow, too soft or hard, then rather don’t get it. Your first experience doesn’t guarantee later experience, but if it’s not good then, it’s unlikely that it’ll get better over time.

If you’re a first-time buyer, it’s obviously different. You’ll need to try the shoe on and remember that if it’s not perfectly comfortable when you lace it up, then it probably won’t be comfortable after an hour of running.

Flexibility of the shoe, and even its shape, make just any old cross trainers unsuitable. They also tend not to give much support to the arches.

Many of us are lured by the look of shoe, and by the gadgets and marketing. People want the ‘air’ or the ‘gel’ or any of the array of marketing claims, because they’ve either read about it, or a famous athlete uses the shoe, or they have friends who recommend it. But there are other factors you need to consider too, such as whether or not you tend to pronate.

Do you pronate?

This involves the rotation of the foot outwards during the landing period.

That means that those who pronate land on the outside of the foot (usually at the heel) and then roll in, over towards the big toe. When this happens too much or too fast, there is believed to be a risk of injury because of the weight that joints have to support.

Many people do find that a stability shoe helps them because it does change the movement of the foot. These are the shoes that have a built up inner portion, so that when the foot lands, it is “blocked” from rotating inwards.

If you do this excessively, then you might be better off in these shoes, whereas people who roll in normally are better off in cushioned shoes.

You must be careful not to choose a heavy shoe that restricts movement of the foot.

If you find you are in some pain in your feet after running, rather see The Podiatrist for expert opinion.

How long will your shoes last?

Generally with shoes, one talks about the mileage of the shoe, and not about the time the shoe lasts, for the obvious reason that some people will run once a week, whereas others run six times a week, and so over six months, the shoe is used completely differently!

Even for mileage, it can be difficult, because it depends so much on the runner. Mass is obviously a key factor – 100kg running 8km is going to wear a shoe differently compared to 65kg running 8km.

Mechanics also affect the shoe, because it wears a shoe in different places. Generally, shoes will last 600km as a minimum, more in some people.

The only way to really gauge is when the midsole starts to get so compacted that it loses all its softness. Or, it gets compacted one side, but not the other, so the shoe starts to “lean”. Or the black rubber outsole wears away.

The Podiatrist

www.thepodiatrist.co.nz

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Ingrown toenails

 

 

 

 

Not the most glamorous injury, but ingrown toenails are easily one of the more common and painful foot problems around.

Also known as onychocryptosis, there are a variety of ways an athlete could suffer from the problem.

Excessive pressure on the outside of the great toe, stubbing or having a toe stepped on, tight socks and shoes, even improper trimming of your nails can cause ingrown toenails.

The pain isn’t easy to deal with, as a soccer player is usually always on their feet.

With rugby, soccer, netball and tennis being a dynamic sport of rapid acceleration and changes in direction, kicking a ball, or landing on the toes with an ingrown toenail can be incredibly painful.

Along with soreness and sensitivity along the margins of the toenails, bacteria and fungi can easily infect the skin.

The foot’s warm and moist environment is a great breeding ground for a variety of infections.

The Podiatrist can treat an infected ingrown toenail immediately. Signs include a discoloured toe with discharge (watery, blood, pus). Any attempts at “home surgery” should not be attempted.

To prevent ingrown toenails, you want to protect the feet from trauma, avoid poorly fitting socks and shoes (too tight or too loose), and always make sure to trim your nails straight across with clippers to a comfortable length on a regular basis.

If uninfected, treat the feet by soaking them in either salt or warm soapy water. Drying them thoroughly, applying a mild antiseptic solution, and bandaging the toe will make a difference.

 

Visit The Podiatrist (www.thepodiatrist.co.nz)

Shoe shopping for kids: A parent’s guide to a year-round task

What is it about children’s feet that make them seem like the fastest-growing part of their body? With the warmer weather approaching, now is the time to start shopping for sandals- for school and casual, you might hope you can stop spending on shoes – at least until the next change of season.

But kids’ feet do grow year round, right along with the rest of them. In fact, a child’s shoe and sock sizes may change every few months.

Comfortable, sturdy shoes are among the most important articles of clothing you’ll buy for your child at any time of year. Ill-fitting shoes can cause
problems that range from minor blisters and discomfort to serious injuries and impaired development.

A pair of well-made shoes can keep children safe from foot problems such as sprains and strains – both in class and on the playground. Unless your child
complains of discomfort, you may not realize he or she needs new shoes. Parents need to be vigilant to ensure kids are wearing shoes that fit properly and
provide the stability and support kids need.

Conduct the time-honored toe test – using your thumb or forefinger to determine where the child’s big toe is inside the shoe – once a month. Inspect
shoes regularly for signs of wear that could compromise their stability. When it’s time to by children’s shoes, here is a simple guideline for parents.

Checking for three different aspects of a shoe’s design makes it easy for parents to distinguish which models are right for their child’s foot friendly.

Here is procedure to follow when buying new shoes:

1. Look for a stiff heel. The heel counter should not collapse when pressed from both sides.

2. Ensure the shoe bends at the toes, but nowhere else.

3. Finally, make sure the shoe does not twist in the middle.

In addition, keep these tips in mind to help ensure kids are wearing comfortable shoes and practicing good foot health:

*Take children with you when you buy their shoes and shop at the end of the day when feet are at their biggest. Every shoe fits differently, and allowing a
child to have a say in the shoe-shopping process can help promote healthy foot care habits down the road.

* Always buy for the larger foot. Feet are rarely the exact same size, so buy a shoe that fits the slightly larger foot.

* Avoid shoes that require a “break-in” period to feel comfortable. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Be sure your child tries on the shoe wearing whatever type of socks or tights they will use with it.

* Never hand down footwear. Just because a shoe fits one child comfortably doesn’t mean it will fit another in the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread athlete’s foot and nail fungus.

* Whenever possible, purchase shoes at a shoe store staffed by well-trained  fitters. An experienced sales person can help relieve worries over getting the proper fit.

If your child’s shoes show uneven wear or wear out on the heels quickly, it could indicate a problem that should be examined by a Podiatrist who
specializes in children’s foot problems.

Contact your local podiatrist: www.thepodiatrist.co.nz

Bunions: When Do They Become Something To Worry About?

Look down at your feet — would you know if you have a bunion?

Many people know the term ‘bunion’ and that it occurs on a foot, but don’t know exactly what a bunion is.

Most people think a bunion is an abnormal growth of bone at the base of the big toe. This is incorrect (at least in most cases). A bunion is actually a structural problem where the big toe joint becomes subluxed and drifts towards the smaller toes. A displaced bone, called a metatarsal, becomes prominent on the inside of the foot. The bunion simply refers to the enlarged prominent ‘knobby’ area

Bunions may progress in size and severity. A bunion may start of as minor issue and, over time, may develop into a severe disfiguring foot deformity. See below:

So if you have bunion, here are 10 important things you should know, as you consider treatment:

  1. Not all bunions are painful.
  2. The medical term is hallux abducto valgus.
  3. They come in different sizes: small, medium, large or severe.
  4. Genetics. You may have inherited your grandmothers feet.
  5. They occur more often in women than men.
  6. Pointy-toed shoes and high heels may result in bunions.
  7. Bunions may get bigger over time, or not.
  8. The bunion may cause problems with the lesser toes.
  9. Non-operative treatments are mostly aimed at treating the symptoms.
  10. Surgical treatment goals are to realign the natural position of the toe.

When to seek treatment?

There is not a specific pointwhen bunion sufferers ‘must’ start treatment despite the bunion severity. Some people begin treatment with the smallest bunion while others neglect the condition until severe. Reasons to seek medical treatment are:

  • Presence of Pain?
    Pain and discomfort is the most common reason to seek treatment. Pain directly on the bunion is a symptom of direct shoe pressure. Joint pain suggests
    arthritic degeneration. Pain on the ball of the foot is concerning for altered foot biomechanics and a sign of a bigger problem. Pain should not be ignored.
  • Interference with Activity?
    Some people wait until a bunion interferes with activities before seeking medical treatment and I think this is a mistake. Impact activities (such as
    running, tennis) may be more challenging to perform. If left ignored, simple everyday walking may become problematic. You should take measures that keep you  active and healthy.
  • Inability to Wear Certain Shoes? In this subset of patients, it’s the sheer size of the bunion preventing fashionable shoes that motivates treatment — not pain. These patients have learned to live with discomfort but chose fashion over foot health. Clearly, inability to wear shoes is a valid reason for intervention.
  • An Unsightly Bunion?
    Foot care experts are less concerned with cosmetic appearance as they are about pain, activity restrictions and overall foot function. Often insurance
    companies only cover medical bunion treatments if pain is present, regardless of size.
  • Overlapping toes?
    When the second toe has overlapped the big toe, it’s an obvious indicator of a global foot problem, and is often associated with collapse of the foot.
    Interestingly, these problems are not always painful as the condition develops overtime and the pain may be muted, or patients have accepted a certain amount of foot discomfort. The driving force for treatment becomes secondary problems such as metatarsal stress fractures or inability to fit shoes.

How to limit progression of a bunion?

It is important to understand that not all bunions become worse (or bigger). Some bunions never change in size. Others may progress onto a major foot deformity. Genetics play a big role and you may be ‘destined’ to develop a ‘bad’ bunion. Below are non-surgical measures to mitigate pain as well as limit the progression.

  • Smart Shoe Selection: Avoiding shoes that are bad for your foot health may be the best preventive measure you can take. Pointy toes shoes directly pushes on the big toe inappropriately, and in my opinion are ‘bunion formers.’ If the bunion becomes irritated, then spot stretching the shoe limits symptoms. High heels may also contribute to bunions due to altered foot mechanics — so limit time in them. Flip flops are considered a “poor footwear” choice by most health care professionals. Minimalist shoes seem to be a better lightweight alternative.
  • Counteract Muscle Spasms: Muscle spasms within the foot are often due to a muscular imbalance, and an important warning sign that muscles are trying to stabilize bone structure. Strained muscles are less effective at stabilizing the foot and a bunion may progress. Deep massage and mineral foot soaks ease tension in the foot.
  • Foot Strengthening:  It’s important to keep your foot muscles strong to counteract the muscular imbalance. Perform simple toe exercises daily — such as picking up  marbles (or a handkerchief) with your toes. Commercially available toe exercising devices may have therapeutic benefits but studies do not exist demonstrating efficacy.
  • Arch Supports: Bunions and foot deformities tend to occur in people with flat feet and/or ligamentous laxity. Arch supports provide extrinsic structure and promote a more ‘proper’ alignment and may limit bunions from getting bigger. Over the counter inserts are a good first start. Doctor-prescribed molded orthotics have the benefit of being custom to your foot and therapeutically tweaked.
  • Bunion Padding: A pad limits direct pressure and may prevent the pain cascade altogether. Chronic bunion inflammation can result in deeper bone problems, so prevention is beneficial. More importantly, a properly placed pad may provide a physical blockade that prevents the bunion from pushing out. Pads may be composed of felt, moleskin or gel.
  • Toe Spacers & Bunion Splints: The purpose of this intervention is to physically place the big toe in a more normal position. A toe spacer (often made of silicone) is worn while walking. A bunion splint is a useful device (worn while sleeping) to physically realign the big toe.

If you have a bunion, vist The Podiatrist, do what it takes to take care of your feet and prevent progression. If the above measures don’t help, then surgery may be inevitable.

Your feet – Bunions

Definition

A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. Your big toe joint becomes enlarged, forcing the toe to crowd against your other toes. This puts pressure on your big toe joint, pushing it outward beyond the normal profile of your foot, and resulting in pain. Bunions can also occur on the joint of your little toe (bunionette).

Bunions can occur for a number of reasons, but a common cause is wearing shoes that fit too tightly. They can also develop as a result of inherited structural defect, injury, stress on your foot or another medical condition.

Often, treatment involves conservative steps that may include changing your shoes, padding your bunion and wearing shoe inserts. Severe cases of bunions may require surgery to relieve the pain.