Thursday, 26 December 2013

Common Jogger’s Foot Problems

Running is amongst the best and most simple forms of exercise. All that is really needed is a good pair of shoes and a place to jog. Running is good for the heart, toughens the entire body and relaxes the mind. But it does place extra stress and burden on your feet. Over time, this can cause damage and affect the utility and functioning of the feet. Joggers are prone to foot problems and injuries. Most of them are minor and can be treated at home. But if they are ignored, or the wrong treatment used, then the condition can become aggravated and serious.

Sprains

Sprained ankles are amongst the most common of jogger’s injuries, especially among those who run on rough ground and cross country trails. What happens is that while jogging on an uneven surface the ankle may be forced to turn in a direction that is opposite to the foot or beyond its normal movement range. When that happens, the ligaments that provide support to the ankle joint can get torn. There are three ligaments involved but in most cases a fractional tearing of only two is involved.  A serious sprain can involve a complete rupture of all three ligaments. For minor sprains wrapping the ankle in bandages and wearing shoes that provide lower leg support is usually all that is required. But if the ligament damage is more serious then specialized treatment and rehabilitation may be required.

Tendonitis

A tendon is a strand of strong tissue that connects muscle to bone so as to allow the skeleton to move freely. When the tendon running down the back of the leg is stressed beyond the normal, a condition called Achilles Tendonitis or painful Achilles Heel results. This causes a sharp pain to be felt somewhere between the heel and the lower calf. The pain will usually increase the more the leg is used and reduce as the leg is rested. Treatment typically consists of a regimen of ice combined with rest and minimal walking on hard surfaces and up hills. Recovery usually takes a few weeks.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is the technical term for a loss of flexibility in the arch of the foot. The common symptoms of this are (a) intense pain on the sole of the foot when standing up after an extended period of sitting or lying down and (b) a strong painful sensation of something pulling or tearing in the sole of the foot while walking. While there are many causes for this condition, regular running on stony surfaces and uneven ground is a common one. Application of ice and rest will help to cure a minor case but if the pain persists, a podiatrist should be consulted.

Flat Feet

Flat feet, or fallen arches as the condition is also called, occurs when the tissue supporting the curve of the arch of the foot becomes elongated because of improper distribution of body weight. This can be caused by genetics or a style of jogging that places excess stress on the feet.  The condition results in soreness of the lower foot and lower back pain. While arch supports may provide immediate relief, a podiatrist should be consulted for proper long term relief and treatment.

Apophycitis of the Heel

Before adulthood the human heel has two bones that fuse into one at puberty. Excessive running by adolescent runners can result in the bones becoming or remaining disjointed. The result is usually pain and soreness of the foot, particularly in the heel area. Immediate relief may be possible by using heel pads, but only specialized treatment by a podiatrist can offer a long term cure.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Shoe Buying Basics

Sore and aching feet are amongst the most common of minor physical complaints the world over. In fact they are so common that often people get so used to the pain and discomfort that they ignore or don’t notice it. And if the discomfort is bad, a good soak or foot rub will usually ease the pain. But ignoring foot pain is not safe. The pain is a sign that something is wrong and what is happening could affect the health of your feet, ankles, knees, back and spine. The result of any of these problems can be far reaching and affect the way you live and the quality of your life. Looking after your feet is an important but often ignored aspect of overall healthcare.

It Starts With the Shoes

The starting point of good foot health is wearing the right shoes. Buying a new pair of shoes is not a simple matter of going to a shoe store, find a pair you like, trying it on and, if it seems to be okay, buying it.  There is a science to good shoe design and knowing what makes a good shoe can help you make the right shoe buying choices. Here are the things to look for:
·    Unless asked to by a foot doctor, do not wear shoes that provide ankle support (like basketball shoes) as this may cause the ankle to become weak.
·    Avoid shoes that are very narrow in the middle of the outsole. If the print the shoe makes is similar to a footprint, it will not provide stability when walking.
·    Try to bend the front of the shoe upwards. Only the front 1/3rd of the shoe should bend. The rear2/3rd should be stiff and hard to bend. Since your foot does not bend in the middle, neither should your shoe.
·    Hold the front of the shoe in one and the rear in the other. Try and twist the shoe. A good shoe should not distort or become deformed easily.
·     Press against the back spine of the shoe (also called the counter). Squeeze the sides of the counter at the same time with the other hand. The counter supports the heel and should not lose its shape easily.
·    Remove the insole from the shoe and compare it to your foot. The insole should be about one thumbnail width longer than your foot.
·    Some people have a marginal difference in the size of their feet. If this is the case with you, buy a pair of shoes that is right for the larger foot.
·    Pick a shoe with material that breaths or which has perforations. This will allow the feet to remain dry.
·     When trying out the shoes avoid any design or size that allows the foot to roll outwards or permits the heel to lift in the shoe. While some materials like leather will stretch with use, a new shoe should never be so tight as to be uncomfortable.
·    Walk on a vinyl or linoleum surface in or in front of the shoe store to see if the shoes squeak or slip. A good pair of shoes should not slip and should be quiet.
The above guidelines are meant to help you buy shoes that are good for your feet. That does not mean that such shoes need to be expensive or ugly. There are lots of good shoes that are both good to your feet and also look nice.