Good health involves every part of your body and your core is vitally important for your health...the core of your foot, that is! Yes, the foot has a core. You may know it as the “arch” of your foot. This simple-looking structure works in every part of standing, walking, and running.
As human beings began to walk and run, the arch of the foot had to develop to keep up with the added strain and pressure. The plantar fascia (the band of tissue running along the arch, is connected to a variety of muscles. The stability and movement of the arch are controlled by these intrinsic and extrinsic muscles—aka the core.
Most of these muscles are small, beginning and ending in the foot. When these muscles are weak, your foot loses stability and strength. This can leave you open to common injuries such as plantar fasciitis, flatfoot, or tendonitis.
The core of your foot is affected most by your foot mechanics and also your weight. People who overpronate or underpronate will need to address these issues to keep their foot’s core strong and healthy. Orthotics are very helpful in keeping your core healthy, and FAAWC is able to provide all orthotic types.
Easy ways to train your foot’s core include picking up a marble 30 times with each foot and pressing your toes into the ground to lift your arch while you’re standing flat (hold for 20 seconds and repeat three times on each foot). Complete these exercises twice a day for maximum results.
You can have a healthy foot core with just a little practice and regular visits to your podiatrist. Call the FAAWC today to schedule an appointment. 740.363.4373
When it comes to running shoes, there’s some steep competition for who is the best. Knowing what brands or styles to buy can be overwhelming with the plethora of choices available. But in the Olympics of running shoes, there are a few brands that stand out as gold medal winners.
If you’re looking for a quality brand of running shoe to protect your foot during activity, try Asics, Brooks, New Balance, or Saucony. Some of the features of a good running shoe include:
- Good cushioning
- Heel-to-toe drop
Quality running shoes often begin at $100 or more, which seems like a steep price, but protecting your feet from injury is critical for overall health. This does not mean that you necessarily need to pay over $100. New versions of popular styles are released yearly. The changes between versions are often small, meaning last year’s model can be purchased for a bargain while still providing the quality you need.
When you purchase running shoes, do so from a specialty store with sales associates who know their stuff. Try the Asics, New Balance, or Fleet Feet store. Know your foot type and running stride before you go. If you aren’t sure, see a podiatrist at the FAAWC for an evaluation. Try on shoes at the end of the day and wear the socks you usually run in. Also, RUN in the store when you try on shoes. The differences in feeling between walking and running are enough that you cannot tell a good running shoe by just walking. Feel free to be picky and try on many shoes until you find the right one.
Choosing a running shoe doesn’t need to be a challenge. Just go for the gold! (Our gold medal winners, that is.)
Running is a wonderful form of exercise. Not only does it work out your body, but many runners cite the mental benefits of reduced stress. However, if you’re running with an improper technique, you are leaving yourself open to injury and pain.
The Ideal Running Position
Proper running form includes your head, back, arms, legs, and feet. Start from a relaxed position with your head up and shoulders down. Keep your back straight so your head, shoulders, and hips stay in an upright line. Arms should swing directly ahead in pace with your legs. Don’t lock your knees when your foot strikes the ground. Keep your legs relaxed and flexible. Aim to land on the middle portion of your foot with each step, then roll off through the front of your toes.
Less Than Ideal
If you have a less than ideal running posture and form, then you are leaving yourself open to injury and pain. Avoid heel-striking or toe-striking. Landing on your heels impedes forward momentum and puts additional strain on your legs and knees, often causing shin splints. Landing on your toes is jarring to your foot and can lead to stress fractures in the toes or metatarsal bones. Other common running injuries that occur from improper form include Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
What Is My Form?
The best way to determine if you have a proper running form is to video yourself running. Take multiple videos from different views and angles. Be sure to include a video of your entire body (to see about proper head, back, and arms form) and several videos zoomed in on your feet. If in doubt, head to a running-specific shoe store or your podiatrist for an evaluation.
What Can I Do About My Form?
If you find that you are primarily a toe or heel-striker, there are ways to modify your stride to strike mid-foot. This takes a conscious effort and practice, so don’t expect things to change on your very next run. Try practicing your stride on soft surfaces (grass, carpet, etc.) with no shoes. Your foot is more likely to land naturally on the mid-foot when you are barefoot. Also, look for shoes with an increased heel-to-toe drop. This style initiates a mid-foot strike and helps with keeping proper form.
Walking and running are great for your health… mostly. Unfortunately, walking and running injuries are common and can affect your ability to participate in these daily activities. Here, we break down the top three running/walking injuries and what to do about them.
One of the most common injuries in runners is Achilles tendonitis. This condition presents with pain in the back and bottom of the heel bone. The pain may be sharp, or it can feel like a constant, dull ache. This pain generally increases when you push off for stepping or when you climb stairs.
You can help avoid Achilles tendonitis by stretching your calf and hamstring muscles well before each run. Well-fitting shoes and avoiding steep inclines and declines can also help. If you are experiencing pain from Achilles tendonitis, do not continue your activity.
Use ice and OTC pain medications to treat immediate symptoms, then call the FAAWC for an appointment. Your podiatrist may recommend compression socks, ankle contracture splints to stretch the calf muscle, physical therapy, or complete immobilization for 1-2 weeks.
We talk about this one a lot. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common injuries for athletes and runners. Like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis presents with pain, mostly in the back and bottom of the heel. This pain will be sharp and often occurs with your first steps in the morning.
Plantar fasciitis pain can be treated with OTC pain meds and ice, but intervention from a podiatrist is necessary to resolve symptoms for good. Your podiatrist might immobilize the plantar fascia with taping or recommend a calf splint. They may offer injections to reduce swelling and promote healing. You may also be prescribed orthotics to assist with good foot movement during activity.
Wearing proper shoes with your new orthotics and paying attention to what your feet are telling you is critical for healing. Recognizing signs and seeking treatment early will increase your chances of eliminating symptoms for good.
Stress fractures occur over time from the constant impact of walking and running. Most often, stress fractures occur in the metatarsal bones (the long bones connected to your toes). These hairline fractures cause a dull, prolonged aching in the ball of the foot.
To diagnose a stress fracture, you will need to see a podiatrist. Your podiatrist will take x-rays of the hurting area to identify the exact location and severity of the fracture. They may run additional tests to rule out whether the fracture occurred due to bone density or nutrition issues. Walking boots are commonly prescribed to help reduce stress on the fracture. You will need to keep pressure off the foot until healing concludes which means limiting or suspending your exercise.
The best way to avoid a stress fracture is to wear well-fitting and padded shoes. Ask your podiatrist about orthotics to help with any improper foot mechanics. Don’t increase your distance, pace, or frequency of exercise suddenly. Stop running when the pain starts and seek treatment immediately.
Exercise is important, but an injury can occur easily and cause significant pain if you aren’t paying attention to the signs and symptoms. To avoid the three most common running/walking injuries, take care of your feet and visit your podiatrist often.
If you’ve learned anything this month, hopefully you’ve learned how vital your Achilles tendon is to your daily foot and ankle functioning. If you have experienced acute or chronic pain in your Achilles tendon and calf muscle, you require treatment.
Conservative treatments for Achilles-related injuries include rest, bracing, heel lifts, calf stretching, physical therapy, immobilization, and steroid shots. However, some Achilles issues require a surgical solution.
If your Achilles tendon has ruptured, a surgical solution can reattach the ends of the tendon and allow healing to progress. If you experience chronic insertional pain or have a heel spur that is not improving and causing issues for your Achilles, a surgical solution may be necessary. Surgery can also be used to lengthen calf muscles, which can greatly affect your Achilles tendon health.
Surgery for Achilles tendon issues is quite common. In fact, it is one of the MOST common foot and ankle injuries. The surgery necessary will depend on the cause of your issues. For bone spurs, the tendon is detached, the spur is removed, the tendon is cleaned up, and then the Achilles is reattached. During a lengthening procedure, the tendon is released from either the heel or high up in the calf muscle and then lengthened and reattached.
Patients will need to remain non-weight bearing for six to eight weeks and then walk with a boot or brace. Physical therapy to strengthen the Achilles and calf may continue for two to three months after your surgical procedure. Regular physical exercise can be resumed within four to six months.
If you are living with an Achilles tendon issue, heel spurs, or tight calf muscles, a surgical solution may be the answer you are looking for. Call the FAAWC today to schedule your appointment. 740.363.4373.
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