Happy Feet Forward – Ways to keep your feet in healthy condition for an active, injury free lifestyle
Your feet mirror your health
Feet are your body’s foundation so keeping them healthy is important to your overall health. For people with active lifestyles, especially those pursuing any kind of sports for example running, sprinting, playing football – keeping your feet health in check is a necessity.
High impact training including playing basketball, skipping, dancing are all activities that can put strain on your feet. For those taking up high impact sports such as football and running marathons at a professional level, your feet are prone to discomfort and even injuries. These sports place considerable performance demands on the feet and hence the higher chances of injuries. According to the American American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons, research also states that 25 percent of athletic injuries are related to the foot and ankle.
For professional athletes or those in daily sports, some of the common foot related injuries or problems are:
- Plantar fasciitis – This is an inflammation of the plantar fascia or thick tissue beneath the foot. It joins the heel bone to the toes. It can become a common cause of heel pain caused due to overuse by weight bearing conditions like running, standing, walking. Additionally, athletes can also experience arch pain. This condition happens in the hollow region along the inner side of the foot between the heel and ball of the foot. Arch pain can be due to injury or trauma to the feet caused by jumping, running or even hiking.
- Ankle sprains - These are among the most common sports injuries, it can range from moderate to severe pain caused due to twisting of the foot damaging the ligament of the ankle. Swelling, tenderness, bruising, instability are signs of an ankle sprain and you must attend to it immediately. With an ankle sprain, follow the RICE method - rest, ice, compression and elevation.
- Morton’s neuroma – This is an inflammation of a pinched nerve in the ball of the foot. The condition is common among runners because of the repetitive pressure on the forefoot while running, also common in runners with a high arch who strike the ground with their forefoot and runners who wear shoes that are too narrow.
- Flat Foot - This means a person has very low arch or no arch on the feet, that is one or both of their feet may be flat on the ground. The structure of our feet arches determines how we walk. Some people with flat feet may experience pain such as leg cramps, muscle pain or fatigue in the foot. Flat feet are either genetic so you may be born with or develop them later in life due to an injury, fracture, arthritis or other reasons. Fitted insoles or custom-designed arch supports may help relieve pressure on the arch.
Methods and treatments to address foot problems and injuries
- Wearing comfortable shoes with stable arch support will reduce the strain on your feet
- Wearing insoles for better alignment, pain relief, foot support and cushioning. The right Insoles can provide improved balance, reduce fatigue, and stabilize your ankles
- Exercises help to relieve pain by loosening up and strengthening the soft tissues in your feet. Tightness in the Achilles tendon can often have a knock-on effect on the plantar fascia, so these areas are particularly important to target.
- Exercises such as toe raises, toe curls, Achilles’ stretch, plantar massage (tennis ball foot rolls), sand walking, seated heel raise.
- For reducing swelling, pain relief and for foot relaxation ice packs pressed against the bottom of the foot can help. Do not apply ice directly to the skin; instead, try wrapping the ice pack in a towel
- Take frequent rest periods to avoid straining your foot muscles due to relatively long hours when involved in activities like running, standing, or walking.
- Consult a physiotherapist or your doctor for any further issues with your foot and ankle.
Your feet undergo wear and tear daily. All kinds of activities can put strain on them, even walking or standing for long hours. Therefore, find the best sole mate for your feet. The correct kind of insoles that can aid both in preventing foot injuries but also bring comfort when required.