Issues with feet can affect anyone at any age. Parents shouldn’t assume that signs of foot problems in children are merely “growing pains.
Managing children’s health is complicated enough, especially for first-time parents. It can be a struggle to truly know and even understand which signs and symptoms are temporary and which point to more serious concerns.
In truth, the professionals a The Podiatrist and Kidsnmotion agree that there are some pediatric foot problems that resolve themselves with growth and time. However, there are clear signs when children need medical help.
Common foot problems can range from pediatric flat foot, toe walking, in-toeing and flat or high arches to tarsal coalitions (an abnormal bridge of tissue that connects two normally separate tarsal bones plus extra bone growth — quite simply, when the bones of the feet fail to separate during fetal development).
While these conditions of the feet and their treatments are different, they share some common signs that show parents there is a problem that needs to be addressed:
- Pain, swelling and redness that does not subside
- Development of thick calluses in one area of the foot
- Problems with the way your child walks
- Shins or thighbones that appear to turn inward
- Ankles that are weak or easily give out
As much as your child’s general health and well-being is important, do not ignore symptoms; foot health is just as important as any other medical examination.
There are several treatment options for these conditions. Whether a less invasive approach — such as shoe modifications, orthotic devices and physical therapy — or a more intensive intervention — such as bracing, steroid injections or even surgery — is needed, The Podiatrist can advise parents on which treatment offers the best long-term prognosis.
If you believe that a family member is experiencing any of the above symptoms, perhaps it’s time to seek professional help and book a consultation for a thorough examination, diagnosis and possible treatment with The Podiatrist.
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)
Being that your feet are the connection to the ground, they have to primed and steps should be taken to avoid injury that can slow you down or knock you out of the race. So whether you are training to win or simply running to run, it is important to know what foot problems can occur, and hopefully treat them before they become a marathon-breaker.
Specific Marathon Foot Issues: No matter how experienced a runner, the foot is always susceptible to running injuries, and this risk amplified during marathon training. On marathon day, however, there is specific injury risk because runners tend to me more committed to “running though” a problem (new
A method to remember marathon-related foot problems is the mnemonic “ABCD“:
Abrasions & Blisters
Cramping & Tendon Problems
Disorders of the Toenail
Provided below are explanations of marathon-related foot injuries as well as preventative measures. Should you, the reader (or runner), have any additional preventive solutions or tips for any of the running ABCD’s, please share them.
Abrasions & Blisters: Pressure points and repetitive irritation set the stage for abrasions and blisters. Common runner pressure spots are on the top of the toes, big toe joint area and the back part of the heel. Runners with bunions and hammer toes are more likely to have skin irritation. An abrasion is a simple break in the skin, whereas a blister is lifting of the skin with a fluid collection beneath it.
- Preventive Solutions:
Prevention is best form of treatment. Keep skin thoroughly moisturized, as dry
skin is more prone to tearing. Callused areas should be targeted, and urea
creams are specifically useful in breaking down excessive skin build-up.
Callus/corn removers should be used cautiously as they contain salicylic acid
and can excessively deteriorate tissue, leading to open sores.
- Socks are important in the battle
against skin irritation when running long distances. Specialty socks have
specific protective cushioned areas dedicated to pressure spots.
- Ill-fitting footwear is one of the
main reason for friction, so it’s important to have sneakers that best fit your
foot type. Also, carefully inspect the stitching at the front of the sneaker
where the toes bend to be sure that it does not rub when fully extended. Newer
sneakers are more likely to be problematic.
Bone Breaks: Fractures (aka bone breaks) are the most serious problem that a runner could develop. They typically start as a microscopic fracture (stress fracture) and can progress onto a through and through break. Most common are metatarsal stress fractures involving the second toe region. Heel strike runners may be more susceptible to stress fractures of the heel bone.
An acute stress fracture is often present with varying degrees of pain, swelling, and sometimes redness, though stress fractures may occur without you even knowing it. Running with a stress fracture is not medically advised, and most health care professionals would recommend calling off the race. Runners who don’t heed such advice may fully fracture through the bone which could lead to bone displacement (malalignment) — a potentially serious problem. Some people may have brittle bones making them more likely to develop a bone injury. Certain foot types seem to be more prone to stress fractures — very flat feet or very high arched feet.
- Preventive Solutions:
Over stressing the foot is what often leads to fractures. Pain may also be an
indicator that you are training beyond the current capability of your foot, so
it may be necessary to scale back. Pain should not be ignored, and any could be
a sign of a fracture, so seeking professional medical care is recommended.
- More cushioned sneakers do not
necessarily offer more protection from developing an injury, and running form
may be more important. Nonetheless, properly fitting running sneakers are
important to help you become more in tune with your running technique.
Depending of foot structure, orthotics may help balance the foot and take
pressure off those spots prone to stress fractures.
- Proper nutrition is important in
maintaining strong bones. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation, a
precursor to bone. Calcium is needed for proper bone health and Vitamin D helps
promote Calcium absorption. Eating a balanced meal should be a part of your
overall health plan.
Cramping & Tendonitis: Biomechanical and structural problems within the foot tend to manifest as shin splints, arch cramping, plantar fasciitis and/or tendinitis. Less experienced runners tend to develop these problems and is commonly the result of training past the capabilities of your foot. Tight musculature may also be at the root of cramping and shin splints. These problems tend to be self-limited and resolve with targeted treatment programs, but can set you back in terms of being marathon ready.
- Preventive Solutions: Building
strength and stamina slowly is the best method to avoid injury. Be sure to
incorporate a thorough stretching program to keep muscles and tendons stretched
and warmed up. Weak muscles within the foot can be strengthened with specific
foot training programs. Ease cramping in the foot with post-run Epsom salt
baths. Deep tissue massage is also a helpful measure.
- Arch supports (orthotics) can help
manage arch pain by providing support and perhaps better alignment of the foot
in certain people. Of course, foot type plays a big role in selecting the
proper amount of support. Running in the wrong-type of sneaker for your foot
may be responsible for discomfort, so changing sneakers may be beneficial. A
break from running may be necessary to resolve the problem. Runners with
persistent problems should seek the advice of a health care professional.
Disorders of the Toenail: A black toenail is a problem that every marathon runner has experienced, and is the result of bleeding beneath the nail plate. Pressure and friction from repetitive running seem to be the culprit. The damaged nail can be painful and often results in the toenail falling off.
Fortunately, a black toenail doesn’t typically interfere with training and common is self-limiting.
- Preventive Solutions:
Prevention is difficult, as the black toenail is often the result of prolonged
toenail irritation from the intense mileage of training. Again, properly
fitting shoes with enough room for the toenails are helpful. Keep toenails well
trimmed to not create a fulcrum for the nail to become lifted. It is unclear if
moisturizing the toenails offers any protective benefit but a soft nail may,
theoretically, be less prone to damage. Should you develop an acute painful
black toenail, then medical attention may be needed to alleviate the active
collection of blood. An irritated loose nail may become infected and this can
By the time marathon day rolls around, and if you have avoided or overcome injury during your training and your feet are pain free, then you likely have feet that are ready to start a marathon.
For any advice on footwear or if you have any problems, make an appointment with The Podiatrist.
One particular injury, known as shin splints, happens more commonly among athletes who engage in running, such as soccer players, football players and runners. Shin splints, however, are not limited to athletes of just these sports.
What are shin splints?
Shin splints is a general term but refers to many types of injuries that occur in the region of the lower leg (where the calf and shin are located). Shin splints can be caused by inflammation or injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones within the lower leg. In some cases, shin splints can be caused by stress fractures in the shin bones.
What are the signs and symptoms of shin splints?
Shin splints are characterized by a great deal of pain to the lower leg, especially so in the lower portion of the shin closer to the foot. The pain usually worsens when physical activity is begun but eases as the activity continues. The pain may return once the physical activity has been discontinued but often returns later, typically the next morning, much more painful than it had been the previous day. The pain typically intensifies when the toes and foot are bent downwards. In some cases, swelling and redness can be observed in the flesh along the shin bone. Sometimes lumps can be felt beneath the skin along
the shin bone. Shin splints may make it difficult and even excruciating to walk or move.
How are shin splints treated?
There is no cure, however, there are many different treatments available that may help ease the pain associated with shin splints. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be taken to help reduce any swelling that may be contributing to the pain. When the pain is especially intense, icing the area may help ease the pain. Shin splints can be the result of the stress of flat feet so wearing special orthopedic footwear, such as shoes with arch support or foot orthoses, may help ease the pain associated with shin splints. Sometimes physical therapy and special range of motion exercises may help ease the pain of shin splints. Strapping the affected area also helps relieve some of the symptoms. Rocktape is a very effect strapping solution for all your sports injuries. When shin splints become especially painful, medical interventions and narcotic pain medications may become necessary. Sometimes a physician may order an X-ray to determine whether or not a stress fracture may be the cause of the pain. Crutches may be needed if the pain is bad enough.
If you feel you have ‘shin splints’ or any other foot related problems, visit The Podiatrist.