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Are Your Feet Healthy?

Did You Know? The average person walks roughly 115,000 miles throughout their lifetime. That is the equivalent of circling the globe four times!

Talking about feet can make people squeamish, but they are a very important part of the human body. More than 80% of Americans suffer from foot pain or injuries every year and the causes are numerous, from strains, sprains, fractures, and just simple wear and tear. The risk of foot injury is increased by common underlying health conditions like obesity and diabetes. The health of our feet and toes can have significant lasting effects on our quality of life, which is why maintaining good foot health is important.

“Each bone in the foot has protective articular cartilage cushioning it from rubbing directly against other bones. It allows the bones to move smoothly. It acts as a shock absorber and is tough enough to last through a lifetime of regular use because of its elasticity. Unfortunately, if injured the healing process can be long due to limited blood flow and slow regrowth,” – Dr. Ross Benthien, Orthopedic Surgeon, Foot & Ankle Specialist.

Wear Feet-Friendly Footwear!

Investing in the proper footwear is especially important to maintaining foot health. People tend to go to a foot & ankle specialist for ailments such as bunions, flat feet, and plantar fasciitis. Much of the pain and discomfort experienced from these conditions could be prevented by wearing proper footwear and following a daily foot care routine. If you are experiencing foot pain it may be time to throw away those unsupportive flip-flops! 

  • Repair, recycle, or toss out worn shoes when appropriate.
  • Routinely resize your feet to ensure a proper fit of your new shoes.
  • If you have flat feet, try shoes with additional arch support to see if it provides relief.
  • Padding painful areas can be helpful, but if pain persists or skin irritation develops you should have it checked.

Give Your Feet A Good Stretch

Our muscles and tendons lose elasticity over time and they often become tight or contracted as we move through our daily lives. When it comes to our feet, muscle tightness places abnormal stresses on joints, tendons, and ligaments, resulting in common conditions such as arthritis, arch pain, tendonitis, and flat feet. A routine stretching practice done throughout your life may be the greatest and simplest, way to avoid these nagging foot conditions. Try these stretches to avoid hurting your feet:

Stretch #1

  1. Face a wall and place your hands against it.
  2. Extend one leg behind your body.
  3. Push your heel to the floor as far as it will go. You want to feel a gentle pull in your calf muscles.
  4. Hold for a moment to feel the stretch and then switch sides.
  5. Repeat three times on each leg.

Stretch #2

  1. Stand tall on the edge of a step or platform, with your abdominal muscles pulled in.
  2. Secure the balls of your feet firmly on the step with your heels hanging over the edge.
  3. Raise your heels a few inches above the step as you stand on your tiptoes and hold for a second.
  4. Lower your heels back to even with the platform.
  5. Repeat ten times.

Injuries Are Unpleasant. Especially When It Comes To Your Feet.

Foot injuries are common and nearly everyone has experienced one. Traumatic injuries such as sprains, strains, and even fractures (broken bones) can occur during everyday activities like walking the dog or using the stairs. Overuse injuries can also be quite painful and often happen as we take on new activities or increase participation in our old favorites. Increased activity in the spring often brings on a rash of new foot and ankle complaints. If you develop foot and ankle pain, here are some treatment options:

Sprains and Strains

  • Elevate your limb, preferably above your heart.
  • Apply ice for the first few days, typically 20 minutes on followed by 20 minutes off.
  • An elastic bandage (Ace Wrap) may help to control swelling. Be careful not to over-tighten.
  • Limit your activity and allow your body to heal.
  • Pain and swelling typically peak and starts to improve after three days, but if your symptoms persist or involve significant swelling and bruising you should consider seeking medical attention.

Activity-related pain or overuse injuries

  • Avoid or curtail activities that caused the condition. Consider low-impact exercises such as an exercise bike, elliptical, yoga, or weightlifting.
  • Resting the foot as much as possible. Many over-use injuries can take weeks or even months to resolve. This requires patience. 
  • Once the initial pain resolves, stretching can often be very helpful in speeding recovery and preventing recurrence.
  • Like with acute injuries, icing, and compression can offer relief. If you can safely do so, the limited use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) can diminish pain.
  • If symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, you may benefit from a medical evaluation.

Recurrent pain or long-standing pain

  • Often results from arthritis or chronic tendon conditions.
  • Rest the foot as much as possible avoiding activities that worsen the pain.
  • If you have swelling, icing the area may be helpful. If you can safely do so, the careful use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be helpful.
  • If you can comfortably do so, try some gentle stretching exercises.
  • Remember the shoewear basics, look for wear and a good fit and consider a replacement, but also be aware that new or expensive shoes often will not solve these problems. 

Working on your feet all day can do a number on your feet, legs, and back. At OAH, we specialize in treating our patients with the very best care. From foot injuries resulting from an ankle sprain, fractures, arthritis, deformity (bunions, flat feet), nerve compression, and other less common ailments, we provide surgical and non-surgical options to relieve your pain and make sure you can move with confidence. Step it up and come on over to OAH!

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