The inimitable Bette Midler once famously quipped: “I firmly believe that with the right footwear, one can conquer the world”.
While I’m willing to begrudgingly accept the possibility that she may not have been referring to her deeply held love of podiatry, she might nevertheless be on to something. I mean, even Kim Jong Un invested in secret lifting shoes in an attempt to give him an edge in nuclear negotiations. What more evidence do we need to prove footwear’s central role in global affairs!
Even if world domination isn’t quite your thing, and you’re more concerned with conquering your regular jogging or power-walking circuit, there can be no denying Midler’s wisdom: what you put on your feet can play a significant role in helping you achieve your goals. More importantly, making poor shoe choices can cause pain and damage to bones, joints and supportive tissue, or exacerbate pre-existing issues such as arthritis, shin-splints, corns, bunions, achilles pain and more. Lest you think that such problems might be limited to your feet, “committing shoe-icide” as some like to call it, can alter your gait, with flow-on ill-effects all the way up your spine.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to ensure that you don’t put your foot in it. Here are some crucial things to remember:
The Right Shoes for the Job
You wouldn’t wear a tux to a pool party, would you? By the same token, matching the shoe to the purpose is critical:
Don’t Be a Slave to Fashion
The Perfect Fit
Identifying the right type of shoe is half the battle. The next critical issue is getting the right fit:
Keep them Fresh
Wearing worn-out shoes can be just as harmful as a poor fit. You’ll know it’s time for a new pair If:
With some common sense and care, you can ensure that your footwear not only looks the part but keeps you safe and healthy. If you’d like specific, tailored advice on the right shoe for you and your needs, feel free to book in an appointment with one of our expert Podiatrists. We’re here to help. And if you’re feeling really keen, talk to us about lacing techniques…
It wasn’t long ago that foot injuries weren’t taken too seriously. In fact no minor injuries were. It was a simpler time when we understood just little enough to not worry about what we put in our bodies, the atmosphere or on TV. If a bone wasn’t actually poking out at an angle, parents and coaches alike didn’t always rush you off to the doctor, because it was probably going to go away. Except of course when it didn’t…
Fortunately, we live in more compassionate times. We also live in times that are overloaded with information, available anywhere at massively fast download speeds. It can lead to impatience, because your body has an irritating tendency to not rush healing, even though it knows how busy you in fact are! Thankfully, there are ways to help you spend less time in my office, unless you’re passing and want to use the coffee machine…
Keep It Low Impact
Your 5km jogs are out, so this is the perfect time to try some alternative forms of exercise that place minimal or no burden on your feet. Swimming, water jogging or pedaling on an exercise bike can all keep your heart and lungs pumping without excessive pressure on the extremities. Many Pilates and yoga stretches involve no foot pressure, so talk to an instructor about a program that works for you. If you’re into resistance training, seated upper-body exercises are the way to go until you’re ready to put some weight back on your feet. Remember, this is a temporary thing, not a total lifestyle change, so if you treat it as such, it will be easier to do what you need to, to get better gradually.
Take It Slow
When you’re feeling like you’re on the mend, it’s tempting to throw yourself right back into your routine. This approach can have serious consequences and lead to re-injury or long-term damage. Just because it feels better, don’t be fooled into thinking your body is fixed. It simply doesn’t need to restrain you by hurting as much. It figures you knew that. When you’re ready to reintroduce load-bearing exercise into your schedule, a good rule of thumb is to start with 50% of your original capacity, then work your way up by 10-15% per week until you’re back at your peak. If it hurts, dial the pressure down a notch and try again next time.
Just because you aren’t putting direct pressure on your feet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t putting indirect pressure on the injury site. Tighter muscles, which come from using them and allowing them to shorten, means that there is still traction from the tendon insertions on your foot bones and this can exacerbate the problem, assuming of course that wasn’t the original problem in the first place (plantar fascia and achilles tendon, I’m talking to you…). A simple increase in stretching, especially in this awesome freezing weather can make all the difference.
The Right Gear
Your beaten-up old runners spell trouble as you work towards recovery. Ensure your feet are protected with good-quality, comfortable shoes with plenty of cushioning and support to reduce impact and jarring. Custom-made orthotics can also provide additional support as you ramp your way back up to full activity. In the midst of Winter, make sure your muscles are kept warm too, so they have more adaptability when you’re working out.
Water is a crucial part of aiding your recovery. It is the primary means through which nutrients and oxygen are transported to the injured area, both of which are required for damaged tissue to heal. Adequate hydration will greatly assist your body as it works on healing itself.
A foot injury doesn’t have to spell doom for your fitness regime. With careful planning and care, you can be back to your best before you know it. For everything in the meantime, we’re here to help.
Be careful what you wish for – that’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way this year. After sweating through what seemed to be the stifling summer that never ended and the autumn that never happened, I found myself praying for winter’s arrival with blessed relief. I should have known better. Melbourne weather, on the other hand, has a way of exacting sweet revenge from those that mock it, and has it ever hit back with gusto!
Icy mornings and shivering nights don’t just play havoc with your heating bills. They can be surprisingly harsh on your feet. With the thongs and sandals firmly ensconced in the back of the shoe cupboard, our feet see far less light of day, and there can be a tendency to neglect them. If your feet are not exactly feeling the love this winter, here is the definitive guide to how you can keep them happy and healthy during the cold months:
Cream of the Crop
Winter means more time inside with the heater blasting, which translates to dry skin. Your feet are no exception, and a daily application of moisturiser will help keep them hydrated and avoid cracked heels, corns and calluses. Spending a few extra minutes massaging the cream into your feet thoroughly will have the added benefit of stimulating circulation, which promotes general foot health, especially If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
We get it. It’s cold, and the very last thing you want to do is to kick off those toasty Uggs and go au naturale. Nevertheless, your feet need to breathe, and even as little as 20 minutes a day can be sufficient to keep excess sweating, bacterial and fungal infections at bay. As unappealing as this might sound, take a deep breath and grit your teeth. It’s character building!
You’d be amazed how many people fail to make appropriate footwear choices in winter. Happy feet need sturdy shoes that keep them warm and dry, yet allow room to breathe. If you don’t have space to wiggle your toes, then switch to a pair that does. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that you have multiple pairs of shoes that fit this bill. The extra warmth can cause moisture to accumulate, increasing the risk of tinea and other infections. Switch your shoes out regularly and ensure that they have sufficient time to air out before the next wearing.
The cold snap has not brought with it much rain, but trust me, it’s coming. When it does, it’s critical to ensure that you keep your feet as dry as possible. If you’re caught in a downpour or accidentally step into a puddle that soaks right through, be sure to change your shoes and socks as soon as you can.
As tempting as it is to spend your time curled up under a cosy blanket with a hot cup of tea, staying active is a great way to promote foot health. Increased activity means improved circulation and reduced foot and ankle swelling. If you’re stuck behind a desk all day, take a few moments every day to do some foot exercises to get the blood pumping.
Synthetic socks are one of your feet’s worst enemies, and never more so than in winter. Always opt for socks made with natural fibres such as wool or cotton. Such materials are far more breathable and will counteract any build-up of moisture that would otherwise have been trapped by synthetic fibres.
With a little bit of common sense and a decent serving of care and attention, your feet can stay in outstanding shape and be ready for action once flip-flop season returns!