If you're a runner, it goes without saying that your feet take the brunt of the punishment. In fact, for runners the feet are more vulnerable to injury than any other part of the body. Luckily, both long-distance runners and casual joggers can improve their performance by paying extra attention to their feet and taking steps to prevent common foot problems. Poor fitting footwear is often the source of many foot problems caused by running. A visit to our practice can help you determine the best shoes for your foot structure.
A Runner's Roadblock
While many running-related foot injuries can result from a fall or twisted ankle, most running injuries are caused by overuse, meaning the majority of runners experience foot and ankle pain because they do too much for too long. Runners should be aware of the signs of foot problems that can slow them down if not treated promptly. Common foot and ankle injuries experienced by runners include:
Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis and other calf-related injuries are prevalent in runners. Poor training, overuse and improper footwear are the three most common reasons for this condition. A sudden increase in distance or pace can strain the muscles and tendons in the foot and ankle, causing small tears within these structures that result in pain and inflammation. Appropriate shoes and training are the most important steps to preventing Achilles tendonitis. Conservative treatment includes rest, ice, stretching and sometimes orthotics or physical therapy.
Heel Pain: Runners develop heel pain more than any other foot-related injury. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, the result of placing excessive stress on the ligament in the bottom of the foot. Rest, stretching and support are the best ways to ease the pain and inflammation. Reduce your mileage and avoid hill and speed workouts. Stretch before and after you run, and ice your heel after each workout. Special splints and shoe inserts from our practice may also provide support and relief for your heel pain.
Stress Fractures: Stress fractures are small cracks in the surface of a bone. Runners generally notice gradual muscle soreness, stiffness and pain on the affected bone, most often in the lower leg or the foot. Early diagnosis is critical, as a small fracture can spread and eventually become a complete fracture of the bone. Stress fractures are typically caused by increasing training more quickly than the body's ability to build up and strengthen the bone.
If you have symptoms of a stress fracture, you should stop running immediately and see a podiatrist. This injury can keep a runner off the track for several weeks, and is not an injury that you can run through. Depending on the severity of the stress fracture, a cast may be necessary.
If you experience chronic foot pain from running, make an appointment with a podiatrist. Leaving foot injuries untreated could result in more serious conditions, ultimately keeping you from your best performance. Keep in mind that these are not the only foot ailments caused by running, and when at-home foot care isn't effective, you'll need to be evaluated by a podiatrist. As in most cases, prevention is the best medicine. Good footwear, proper training and recognizing a problem before it becomes serious are your keys to staying on the road and avoiding foot injuries.
The arch structure of our feet determines how we walk, which means our arches need to be both sturdy and flexible in order to adjust to different walking surfaces. For most people, their feet have a curve or an arch at the bottom that provides flexibility and shock absorption. But for the five percent of adults in the U.S. with flat feet, also known as fallen arches, the arches of their feet are either partially or completely collapsed.
One common type of flatfoot is adult-acquired flatfoot. It is caused by overstretching the tendon that supports the arch. Flexible flatfoot is also common and occurs when the foot is flat when standing, but returns to a normal arch in non-weight-bearing positions.
Factors that increase your risk of flat feet include:
- Excess weight
- Injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
When to See Your Podiatrist
Most adults with a fallen arch experience little to no pain. For these patients, treatment is rarely necessary. Painful flatfoot, however, may be the sign of a congenital abnormality or an injury to the muscles and tendons of the foot. Pain can be severe, making it difficult to walk, wear shoes and perform simple everyday tasks. More than achy feet, flatfoot can also lead to other, more serious problems and pain for your ankles, knees, back and hips.
Common symptoms associated with flat feet Include:
- Swelling along the inside of the ankle
- Feet that tire easily or ache after standing for an extended period of time
- A lack of mobility in your foot and difficulty standing on your toes
- Sore, swollen feet; especially in the heel or arch of your foot
Steps Away from Flat Foot Pain Relief
If you are experiencing pain caused by flat feet, visit our practice for an evaluation. We can identify the cause of your pain and recommend the best treatments for your type of arch.
Talk with your podiatrist about the following treatment options:
- Shoe inserts/ Orthotics
- Shoe modifications
- Rest and ice
- Stretching exercises
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
Whether you were born with flat feet or you acquired fallen arches over time, if your flat feet are causing you pain or interfering with your day to day activities, visit our practice. We can work with you to determine the best treatment options to eliminate the pain, improve your mobility and get you back to the activities you love.
People with diabetes are prone to foot problems, often developing from a combination of poor circulation and nerve damage. Damage to the nerves in the legs and feet diminishes skin sensation, making it difficult to detect or notice pain or temperature changes. A minor sore or scrape on your foot may get infected simply because you don't know it is there. A decrease in blood flow makes it difficult for these injuries to heal. And when a wound isn't healing, it's at risk for infection. Left untreated, minor foot injuries can result in ulceration and even amputation.
Foot Care for Diabetics
Simple daily foot care can help prevent serious health problems associated with diabetes.
We recommend the following tips for keeping your feet healthy and preventing foot complications:
- Wash feet daily. Keep feet clean with mild soap and lukewarm water, and dry thoroughly.
- Moisturize. Moisturize daily to keep dry skin from cracking, and avoid putting lotion between your toes as this may cause infection.
- Trim your toenails carefully. Cut straight across, avoiding the corners; visit our office for assistance
- Never treat corns or calluses on your own. Visit your podiatrist for treatment.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold.
- Keep the blood flowing in your feet and legs. Elevate your feet when sitting, don't sit cross-legged, and stay active.
- Inspect your feet every day. Check your feet for cuts, redness, swelling and nail problems. Contact our practice if you notice anything unusual, even the slightest change.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking restricts blood flow in the feet
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and never walk barefoot
- Visit our practice for regular exams. Seeing a podiatrist at our office regularly can help prevent diabetic foot problems.
At our practice, we understand that living with diabetes can be challenging. Let's discuss simple ways you can reduce your risk of foot injuries. We'll work with you to create a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and gets you back on your feet so you can enjoy the things you love. Remember to inspect your feet every day. If you detect an injury, no matter how small, come in for an exam right away.
Corns and calluses are thick, hardened areas of skin that develop in response to your body's natural defense to repeated pressure or friction. While neither condition presents a long-term or serious health risk, they can be painful, irritating and unattractive.
Identifying a Corn or Callus
Corns and calluses are similar in nature, but differ in size and location. Corns are smaller than calluses and usually have a hard, thickened center surrounded by red, inflamed skin. They typically develop on the tops and sides of your toes and can be painful when touched. Calluses generally develop on your heels and balls of your feet. They vary in size and shape, although almost always larger than corns.
For most people who develop calluses or corns, eliminating the source of pressure is usually enough to make the thickened skin disappear. We recommend the following for treating corns and calluses:
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks. When footwear fits properly, there is less opportunity for friction and rubbing to occur.
- Soak your feet in warm, soapy water to help remove corns and calluses. Rub the thickened skin with a pumice stone to remove toughened layers more easily.
- Keeping your feet moisturized with foot cream or lotion will help improve the quality of your skin and rid your feet from calluses or corns.
When to Seek Care
When corns and calluses don't respond to conservative care, contact our office for a careful evaluation. We can investigate the possible causes of your corn or callus, safely remove the thick, hardened area of skin, and recommend appropriate footwear and treatment, including padding and inserts. Never attempt to cut away a corn or callus on your own, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation. Instead, seek advice for careful removal and proper care.
A bunion is an abnormal, bony prominence that develops on the joint at the base of your big toe. As the big toe joint becomes enlarged, it forces the toe to crowd against your other toes, and the pressure exerted on your big toe joint results in inflammation and pain. Early treatment is necessary to decrease the risk of developing joint deformities.
Bunions develop due to prolonged abnormal pressure or motion on your big toe joint, most often caused by inherited structural defects, poor-fitting shoes, foot injuries, or congenital deformities. Women are generally more prone to bunions because of the shoe types typically worn, such as high-heels and narrow-toed shoes.
Bunion pain can range from mild to severe, often making it difficult to wear shoes and perform normal activities. You should contact our office if you notice the following symptoms:
- An enlarged, visible bulge on your big toe joint
- Restricted movement of your big toe or foot that prevents you from performing normal activities
- Irritation, corns or calluses caused by the overlap of the first and second toes
- Frequent pain, swelling or redness around your big toe joint
Treatment For a Bunion
Treatment for a bunion will vary depending on its severity. Identifying the condition in its early stages is important to avoid surgery, with the main objective of early treatment being to relieve pressure and stop the progression of the deformity. Many times conservative treatments, such as padding, modified footwear or orthotic devices can be highly effective for preventing further growth and reducing the pressure and pain.
We recommend the following for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions:
- Wear comfortable shoes that don't cramp or irritate your toes and avoid high-heeled shoes
- Apply ice to reduce inflammation and pain
- Our podiatrists can show you how to apply padding to your foot to place it in its normal position and reduce stress on the bunion
When early treatments fail or the persistent pain associated with your bunion is interfering with your daily activities, a surgical procedure may be recommended as a last resort to realign the toe joint and alleviate the pressure. We can advise you on the best treatment options available to relieve pressure on the bunion and slow the progression of the joint deformity.
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