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Take care of your feet and they will care for you
The human foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints and more than one hundred muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is one of the most complex parts of the human body and often times one of the most neglected. Our feet are an essential part of everything we do. Whether it is walking, exercising, playing sports or just standing; when you’re feet hurt it can impact our lives in so many ways.
One problem many older adults have with their feet is circulation, but this is a problem that can affect anyone at any age. When you don’t have good blood flow in your feet, you may experience tingling, numbness, cramping and discoloration of the skin and toenails. There are many everyday factors that can restrict blood flow in your feet – being outdoors in the cold or having your feet in cold water; shoes or stockings that are too tight; sitting too long with your legs crossed; smoking and drinking too many caffeinated beverages. Individuals who suffer from diabetes need to be particularly sensitive to the circulation of their feet. Reduced circulation can lead to a loss of feeling in the foot, a condition known as neuropathy. This can prevent diabetics from feeling small aches and pains that let us know we have been cut or bruised. Left untreated these small problems can develop into more serious conditions.
As the days get longer and the temperature gets warmer many of us in the Pacific Northwest will be out walking, jogging, running or playing sports. For parents, this also means baseball, softball and soccer season. As we get more active outdoors the chances of injuring a foot or ankle go up considerably.
Here are a few tips to help prevent those common sports injuries:
• Warm up prior to any sports activity – Light stretching or a slow jog for two to three minutes will warm up those muscles.
• Condition your muscles for the sport – Increase your amount of activity gradually over a period of time to build muscle strength and mobility.
• Choose athletic shoes for your foot type – Choose a shoe for the type of foot you have and use sport-specific shoes.
• Replace shoes when tread wears out of heels – People should replace shoes every six months.
• Be careful running too many hills – It is a great workout, but be sure and build up gradually to avoid injuries.
• Prevent recurrent injuries – If you have experienced previous injuries, use a brace or tape to prevent it from reoccurring.
Remember most strains and sprains can be treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation. More serious cases may require a brace or cast. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as you can for any foot or ankle injury, especially if it hurts to walk on it or you’re experiencing swelling. Prompt and appropriate treatment ensures the best possible recovery.
Christopher Bock, DPM is a podiatrist at Franciscan Foot & Ankle Associates in Enumclaw.