No matter what sport you play, the type of shoe you wear while playing your favorite game is one of your most important pieces of equipment. Choosing the most appropriate, supportive athletic shoes for your specific sport and foot structure can make a huge difference in keeping your feet healthy and comfortable while improving your performance. Serious back, knee, hip and heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, fractures and painful blisters are some of the common conditions faced by athletes wearing the wrong footwear.
From soccer and tennis to golf and basketball, the structure of your foot and any abnormalities should be considered when selecting a proper shoe for your activity. Look for a shoe that combines flexibility, support and cushioning to absorb impact and lessen shock on the feet. Before selecting an athletic shoe, it is always recommended to consult your podiatrist for a professional evaluation of your foot type, any underlying deformities and helpful shoe buying tips.
Types of Shoes
There are unique variations in the way different athletic shoes support your feet. This means that it’s not good to play football in the same shoes you use for jogging. Your feet require different support for different activities, and not all shoes are equal to every task.
A good sports shoe should be fitted to support the foot in the position that is most natural to the movement required. For instance, a running shoe is designed to accommodate high-impact activity, while a shoe built for tennis or basketball should provide a combination of flexibility and sideways support.
Out with the Old
Like most pieces of equipment you use on the field, your athletic shoes will wear out after a period of time, and an old, worn out shoe is a common cause of sport-related injuries. If you run, track your mileage to determine when your shoes have endured too much activity. When you notice obvious wearing of the soles or you sense a lack of cushioning from the shoes, it may be time to buy a new pair.
Remember, the best pair of athletic footwear doesn’t have to be expensive to support the needs of your feet and body during a workout. There are numerous shoes available that will fit both your needs and your budget. When your feet are protected by the right footwear, you can reduce your likelihood of injury. Visit our office for an evaluation and shoe recommendations.
The feet bear a lot of stress from day to day. That’s why podiatrists recommend stretching as a great way to revitalize and strengthen the feet. Simple stretches can be performed at home as a part of your morning routine, or even at work while you’re sitting at your desk. Improving your flexibility through stretching can help prevent foot injuries, increase your mobility, improve performance and posture, and relieve stress.
When Should I Stretch?
It is especially important to stretch properly before starting any exercise routine. When muscles are warmed up prior to a workout, the strain on muscles, tendons and joints can be reduced and injuries avoided.
Simple stretches include flexing your feet repeatedly while pointing your toes to help build strength in the foot muscles or rotating your foot from side to side while you point your toes. Massaging the muscles in your feet with your hands is another helpful way to promote circulation and relaxation.
Always allow at least 5-10 minutes to fully stretch your muscles, which should include a stretch/hold/relax pattern, without any pulling or bouncing. Before beginning any new type of stretch, visit your podiatrist first to ensure it will be safe for your particular foot pain.
What Kind of Stretches Should I Do?
Here are just a few helpful stretches you can do at home to help lessen foot pain and improve foot health:
- Stretch for Calf Muscles: Excessive tightness of the calf muscle can cause many foot problems. To stretch this muscle, face a wall from approximately 2-3 feet away. Lean into the wall, keeping heels on the floor and knees extended. Hold for 10 seconds as the calf muscle stretches, then relax. Do not bounce. Repeat five times.
- Stretch for Hamstring: Put your foot with knee straight on a chair or table. Keep the other leg on the floor straight with knee locked. Lower your head toward the knee on the chair or table until the muscles are tight. Hold to a count of 10 then relax. Repeat five times, and then switch to the other leg.
- Stretch for Plantar Fascia: This stretch for heel pain can be performed in the seated position. Cross your affected foot over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the toes of your painful foot and slowly pull them toward you. The fascia should feel like a tight band along the bottom of your foot when stretched. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat it 20 times for each foot. This exercise is most effective when you first wake up, before standing or walking.
Stretching in combination with supportive footwear will help you keep your feet healthy and fit. Whether you’re gearing up to train for a marathon, or simply looking to revitalize your feet after a long day at work, talk to your podiatrist at about the best foot stretches for your individual needs.
You should be giving your hardworking feet a little TLC every day.
Think about how much walking and moving around you do on any given day. Think about the tight, uncomfortable shoes you often put your feet in. It’s no wonder that feet sometimes retaliate after all these years of abuse. If you are wondering what you could do to keep your feet healthy and happy, our Wilmette and North Shore, IL podiatrist Dr. Gary Rogers has some helpful suggestions:
Keep Feet Clean
While this rule of thumb should go without saying, it’s important that you understand how to properly cleanse your feet. You should be washing your feet every day, and we aren’t just talking about letting the water run over your feet in the shower. You actually need to use soap and water to get those feet clean. Make sure to get all areas of your feet, including between toes. After washing your feet, ensure that feet are dried completely to prevent fungal infections.
Trim Those Toenails!
Leaving nails too long can cause them to snag on things and can make wearing shoes uncomfortable. Keep your toenails trimmed regularly to prevent ingrown toenails from happening. Of course, trimming improperly can also lead to ingrown toenails, as well. Don’t trim nails below the tips of your toes (as this can increase your chances of developing an ingrown toenail) and make sure to trim nails straight across rather than at an angle.
Pumice Away Calluses
If you find that all that time spent on your feet has turned them as dry as the Sahara then you may also find that your feet have become cracked or callused. If you have calluses you can pumice them away yourself. After soaking your feet in warm water for up to 10 minutes, use a pumice stone and gently and carefully remove the thick, dead layers of skin. Make sure not to rub too aggressively or too deep, which can lead to an infection. Of course, if pumicing your calluses has you nervous, or if you have diabetes or nerve damage in your feet, then our North Shore foot doctors can do it for you.
Apply a Moisturizer
If your feet aren’t particularly dry you may think that you can just forgo the moisturizer but everyone should apply a moisturizer to their feet once a day. Of course, if your skin is healthy and supple you can often get away with using just a light moisturizer; however, those who are prone to dry, flaking skin will want to consider using a thicker emollient.
If you are experiencing foot pain or other problems with your feet, it’s important that you get the problem checked out right away. Call Wilmette Foot and Ankle Clinic in Wilmette, IL and serving the North Shore.
Stress fractures are notoriously misdiagnosed and undertreated. In many cases, symptoms may persist for an extended period of time before the diagnosis of a stress fracture is even made. That’s because stress fractures don’t typically occur from an unforeseen trauma, as with a sprain, but rather from repetitive stress.
What Are Stress Fractures?
Stress fractures are tiny, hairline breaks in the bones. They can occur in any bone, but most often afflict the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot. Athletes are especially susceptible to stress fractures, as this common injury is often a problem of overuse. It frequently results from overtraining and high impact sports, such as running, basketball and tennis. People with an abnormal foot structure or insufficient bone may also be more vulnerable to suffer a stress fracture.
What Are the Symptoms of Stress Fractures?
Pain is the primary symptom of a stress fracture. In the early stages, the pain may begin toward the end of an activity and resolve with rest. Untreated, the pain will eventually persistent with minimal activity.
The most common symptoms of stress fractures include:
- Pain with or following normal activity
- Pain at the site of the fracture
- Tenderness and swelling at a point on the bone
- Pain intensified with weight bearing
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are recommended as an initial treatment plan for stress fractures. You should also minimize all weight-bearing activities until you have fully recovered. Other treatments may include immobilization of the foot, footwear modifications, orthotic devices and in some severe cases, surgery. Rest is the key to a full recovery, and returning too quickly to normal activity may result in more serious damage.
Overuse injuries and stress fractures aren’t completely unavoidable, but you can take extra care to help prevent stress fractures from occurring. Remember to increase any activity or training program slowly and gradually. Wear supportive footwear with good cushioning to help manage the forces placed on your feet and legs during high impact activities. If pain or swelling returns, stop the activity and rest for a few days.
Stress fractures come on gradually and may not present obvious symptoms at first, so it’s important to recognize the early warning signs to prevent further damage. If you suspect a stress fracture, contact our office right away for an evaluation. Proper diagnosis is essential to prevent further damage and improve recovery time, as stress fractures tend to get worse and may even lead to a complete break if not treated right away. A podiatrist will examine your foot or ankle, take an x-ray to determine if there is a break or crack in the bone, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan for optimal recovery.
The feet of children grow and change rapidly during their first year, reaching almost half their adult foot size. Most changes in children’s feet are a natural part of development, but others require attention and treatment from a professional. That’s why it’s important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s feet to ensure proper growth during every stage of development. A podiatrist provides expert care, diagnosis and treatment of ankle and foot disorders in children.
Here are some tips to help parents guide normal development for their child’s feet:
- For babies, avoid covering the feet too tightly, as this restricts movement and can delay normal development.
- If your child participates in sports, choose sport-specific shoes that fit his or her feet properly
- Observe walking patterns. Does the child toe in or out; have bowlegs or knock-knees; limp or experience other gait abnormalities? These problems can be corrected if they are detected early.
- A child’s feet change rapidly, so check your child's shoe size often. Shoes should be supportive, well-cushioned and roomy.
- When applying sunscreen, remember to apply to the feet.
- Kids love the freedom of being shoeless, but walking barefoot may increase a child’s risk of infection, sprains or fractures.
Remember, your child doesn’t necessarily have to show signs of foot pain or discomfort for something to be abnormal. A child’s feet are very pliable and can be deformed without the child recognizing the warning signs. Carefully monitor your child’s feet. If you notice unusual symptoms, seek professional care immediately. Deformities will not be outgrown by themselves.
Your child will depend on his or her feet for the rest of their life to get them where they need to go. Whenever you have questions about your child's foot health, contact your trusted podiatrist. Any pain that lasts more than a few days, or that is severe enough to limit the child’s walking, should be evaluated by a professional.
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