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Posts for: February, 2015

Last Sunday brought us the most glamorous award show of the season, the Academy Awards. Glittering dresses, tailored tuxes, and some of the world’s most beautiful people dazzled on the television screen. Most of us would give anything to be one of those lucky ladies walking the red carpet. But while their faces remain calm and poised, their feet are screaming in pain. I don’t care who you are; every woman knows that high heels are bad for your feet. We hear it all the time (especially from our podiatrists), but what do they actually do to us? Why are they painful? Are there designs that are better than others?

 

Let’s get one thing straight; pain is never normal. Over 71% of women say that high heels cause them discomfort, but 38% of these women say they would wear them anyways if they look cute. Our feet were never designed to wear the constricting, sky-high styles of today’s modern culture. Heels over two inches in height put immense pressure on the metatarsal (the bone just behind your toes). This pressure can cause lasting nerve damage and a condition called Morton’s Neuroma. Imagine always feeling like there is a pebble right under the ball of your foot…. that’s Morton’s Neuroma. Surgery can correct this condition, but who needs that when we can avoid this condition just by choosing a different pair of shoes?

READ MORE: Neuromas

 

Perhaps the most common foot problem associated with high heels is bunions. We take our five beautifully spaced toes and cram them into a space barely half their size causing permanent damage from the misalignment of our bones. The big toe slowly turns toward the other toes and causes a painful bump on the bone.  Every time you put on a shoe that rubs this bump (aka, every time you put on a high heel) the pain persists and worsens. On top of that, the crossing of our first and second toes means we can expect corns and calluses.

READ MORE: Bunions

So, let’s talk about your Achilles tendon. This is the tendon that connects your heel to your calf muscle. It’s long and it’s important and long-term wearing of high heals damages it significantly. Achilles tendonitis is a common injury of athletes, and while wearing high heels might feel like an Olympic sport sometimes, it shouldn’t be causing us injury. Prolonged wearing of heels shortens the tendon, so when we wear any other type of shoe our tendon works harder to stretch and is more likely to sprain. 

Now, does any of the above sound like fun? Is permanent damage to our feet worth the extra inch of the newest stilettos?  The good news is, there are many easy ways to avoid these injuries and still look good in our favorite heels.

First of all, spend less time walking in heels. Wear a different pair of shoes to and from wherever you are going. Save the pencil thin heels for a very special occasion. How you choose and what heels you choose can have a major impact on foot comfort and health. Make sure you try them on and actually walk around in them. Your feet should know pretty quickly if they aren’t the right heels for you. When choosing heel height, the Huffington Post offers some good advice, “Take the high heel test: Stand on the floor in your shoes with your knees straight, but not locked. Try to raise yourself on your toes so there's at least an inch of space under the heels. If this is not possible, your heels are too high and not appropriate for you.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacy-barrows/high-heels-comfort_b_1945299.html). Make sure the heel width is appropriate as well. If you waddle like a baby just learning to walk when you wear a stiletto, then don’t buy it. Choose something with some support, a wider heel means more surface area for balance. A platform under the toe box on the shoe usually adds some extra cushion and can take pressure off the metatarsal. This is the same reason wedges feel better, more cushion.

I don’t think there will ever come a day when women stop wearing high heels, but we can protect our feet with our choices. Make those choices good ones and if in doubt, talk to your podiatrist; they’ll know what is and isn’t good or you.

 


You may hear people tell you to “listen to your heart” when you ask for advice on a difficult decision. It’s equally good advice when we apply it to the concept of exercise. Exercise is great in any form, but ideally we want to participate in activities that raise our heartbeat above it’s resting rate….and no, watching that heart-pounding police chase in your favorite action movie from the comfort of your couch doesn’t count. But what should we be listening for? What is our optimal heart beat? How do we achieve our ideal heart rate? Well, listen up, because I’m going to tell you.

First, we should understand how our heart operates when we are inactive. The average adult has a resting heartbeat between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Sometime during the day when you have not been exerting yourself, sit down for a few minutes and rest. Place two fingers on the underside of your wrist over your radial artery (beside your tendon on the thumb side of your hand). Count the number of beats you feel during 15 seconds. Multiply this by 4 and you have your resting heartbeat.

Some people may have a slightly higher or lower heartbeat than average, but this can be normal. Athletic people and people who are taking certain medications might have a resting heartbeat closer to 40 beats per minute. Finding what is normal for you personally is important so you can use it as a tool to gauge your overall health and activity level while exercising.

                                      

So what is your target heart rate when you exercise? Start with 220 and then subtract your current age. This is your maximum heart rate. For light to moderate exercise, you want to be at 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. For heavy exercise, shoot for 70-90% of your maximum. Hitting your maximum heart rate is not a good thing. It means you are straining and should slow down. If you are just starting out on an exercise program, take it slow and start with some light exercise. As your body gets comfortable with the increased activity, you may find that you can workout comfortably at a higher heart rate.

The cardio machines at your gym probably have built in heart rate monitors (those silver handles you hold onto). These work well and can help you keep track of how your workout is going. You may also want to consider investing in a personal heart rate monitor. For those participating in weight-loss programs or those recovering from a cardiac event, a good heart rate monitor is invaluable. Many models will indicate with an audible alarm when you are exceeding your target heart rate for that activity. This can help you maximize weight loss or ensure a gradual recovery from injury.

Knowing your heart rate and monitoring it while exercising isn’t an absolute rule, but it’s a great tool to monitor your health and the effectiveness of your workouts. Look for your personal target zones and make sure you know your maximum heart rate. Your heart is the thing that keeps you going, so take care of it and listen to what it’s telling you. Don’t forget, there are lots of resources out there to help you understand your personal fitness, but it’s important to consult a physician before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have an existing medical condition or are taking prescription medications. 


    With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, there are plenty of people still running around looking for that perfect gift for their loved one. If you really want to pamper your sweetheart, get them a pedicure!

    Pedicures are actually really good for your feet and they are NOT just for women, but you should always be cautious when heading to the salon down the road.  A bad pedicure can lead to cuts, infections, and a trip to your podiatrist. The Foot and Ankle Wellness Center, on the other hand, offers you the PediCare Salon. While a pedicure is a purely cosmetic procedure, a PediCare includes medical benefits, which will lead to less time at the doctor’s and more time admiring your soft and healthy feet.

    There are plenty of cosmetology schools that offer classes in manicures and pedicures, but let’s face it, anyone can set up a foot tub and a chair and offer to rub your feet. At the PediCare Salon, we employ only Certified Medical Nail Technicians (CMNT). A CMNT is state-licensed and must complete an accredited program in nail care, including rigorous training, examinations, and the completion of a medical internship under a licensed podiatrist. In other words, they know more about your feet than any average salon pedicurist. This allows our technicians to customize your PediCare with services tailored to your medical needs, adding benefits that the salon down the street just can’t compete with. A regular pedicurist might miss a budding corn or ingrown toenail as they clip and scrub away. A PediCare technician knows exactly what to look for and might already have an idea of your medical history from your recent office visits.

    One of the concerns when getting a pedicure is the sanitary condition of the tubs and the tools. Salons are required to run a sanitation cycle of at least ten minutes between clients for each footbath. On a busy afternoon, this requirement might fall by the wayside, leaving you at risk for any fungi or bacteria left by the previous customer. At the PediCare Salon, you receive a clean medical setting under the direction of your podiatrist. Complete sterilization of our instruments along with strict adherence to aseptic techniques eliminates the risk of a transfer of infection.

    Every step of a pedicure is designed to pamper your feet both cosmetically and medically. The initial foot soak helps soften feet. Next, a skillfully used pumice stone removes layers of dead and calloused skin and helps prevent the build up of dead cells, which can be a cause of bunions and corns. The foot and leg massage along with an emollient-rich moisturizer increases blood-flow and restores the moisture balance to your skin. Moisturized feet are far less likely to get blisters and crakes, and of course they look better too. Nail trimming is important to maintain healthy nails and the polish coating just makes the whole thing fun to look at when it’s finished.

    There are, unfortunately, a lot of ways to turn these benefits to detriments. If you are prone to ingrown toenails and your pedicurist cuts them incorrectly, that could mean another trip to the doctor. If the pedicurist tries to use a razor instead of a pumice stone, run as fast as you can in the other direction.  Cuts are easy to get with these razors and this drastically increases your risk of infection. You should also avoid the trend of the “doctor fish” (those tubs of little fishes that supposedly eat the dead skin right off of you). These fish are known to harbor dangerous bacteria and the practice of fish pedicures is outlawed in 14 states. The PediCare salon uses only safe, sanitary, and proper tools to be used for your pedicure.

    In addition to the many medical benefits listed above, the PediCare Salon offers a polish application for those who bring their own or purchase a bottle directly from the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center. You can also opt for a clear anti-fungal nail polish to be applied.

    All in all, a pedicure is a great thing to keep your feet looking their best, but a PediCare takes you to the next level of health. So the next time you think about heading to the salon, make it the PediCare Salon at the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center. Our service options include a half-hour PediCare, a one-hour PediCare, or a half-hour foot and ankle massage. Call us today to book your appointment.

 

For more information, please visit the PediCare Salon page found HERE.


    February is National Heart Month, which makes sense when you think about the fact that it contains Valentine’s Day and “Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast” day. (Come on, who doesn’t love both those things?). However, we should also be concentrating on our physical heart, not just the emotional one. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The American Heart Association says there are five major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and one of the most prevalent is a sedentary lifestyle.

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, many of you are calling up your favorite restaurant and making romantic dinner plans or rushing out to buy flowers and chocolate. Instead of going for the same old staples, try something different and make your Valentine’s Day into an active date night! It’s easy, fun, and can mean great things for your heart health.

                             

    YOGA

   The benefits of yoga are numerous, but when you share this relaxing activity with a partner, those benefits multiply. They even have a whole form of yoga called partner-yoga, which is specifically designed to improve self-awareness and keep you in touch with your partner’s wants and needs. In terms of your heart, yoga can “help lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function and heart rate, boost circulation, and tone muscles.” (https://goo.gl/zyzQTD) Who knew that a relaxing workout with your loved one could do so much for your health?

    DANCING

   Ladies, there is nothing more attractive than a partner who can shake it on the dance floor (Okay, well maybe a few things, but it’s still a nice talent to have). Skip the fancy dinner and head out to one of the numerous dancing spots in the area. Places like the Emerald City Ballroom offer classes every weekend and are also hosting a semi-formal dance on Valentine’s night. Dancing is also a great way to improve communication and trust within your relationship, not to mention igniting passion during those heart-pounding tangos. Now get dolled up and go burn some calories!

    GAME NIGHT

    Make it a group date and bring everyone over for a home cooked, heart-healthy meal. Afterward, break out the games. Active things like twister or Wii games are a great way to get in some extra calorie burning while having fun. And speaking of having fun, a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center back in 2000 made some interesting discoveries concerning laughter and heart disease. Laughter, such as you might find during a riveting game of charades, can actually reduce your chance of a heart attack. “We don’t know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels,” says Dr. Miller, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately lead to a heart attack.” (http://umm.edu/news-and-events/news-releases/2000/laughter-is-good-for-your-heart-according-to-a-new-ummc-study). So don’t hold back. Laugh to your heart’s content during your active game night.

    BOWLING

    If the idea of staying in for a game night on Valentine’s Day doesn’t excite you, there are plenty more games to be had out in the city. Bowling is another great date night activity that’s good for your heart health. With a plethora of bowling alleys across central Ohio, all of which are well heated against the cold outside, you are almost sure to get a lane on Valentine’s Day.

    BAR GAMES

    Believe it or not, you can work off calories at the bar! Many venues provide entertainment such as shuffleboard, billiards, darts, and corn hole. All of these games keep you moving while you sip your chardonnay. These minimally exertive games will keep you looking calm and fresh all night so your date or your friends might not even realize the good you are doing for your heart. In fact, 60 minutes of corn hole playing can burn up to 180 calories and even more if rigorous victory dancing is involved. 60 minutes of billiards can burn 160 calories (though victory dancing with the pool cue in hand is discouraged during this one).

    WINDOW SHOPPING

   Lots of people love to give gifts on Valentine’s Day, but try switching it up and taking your date shopping for their own present. Not only are you guaranteed to pick out something they like, but you are also doing your heart some good in the process. Aerobic exercises like walking don’t have to mean boring hours on a treadmill. Strutting your stuff through the mall is simple, social, and free (if you are only window shopping). Walking is the easiest heart-friendly exercise to stick with because you have to do it every day to some extent anyway. Park your car far away from the mall and you just added more easy exercise. Take the staircase instead of the escalator and you have even more activity. Shopping may just be the perfect Valentine’s Day date activity for you and your loved one or friends. Just be careful about where you go to shop or window-shop. What started as a healthy activity for your heart may end up being detrimental to your wallet.

    Every step you take brings you closer to a healthier heart. So skip the fancy dinner and box of chocolates and try a fun alternative date. Don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day? No problem. All of the activities listed above are also perfect to do with your friends or even by yourself.