Posts for: July, 2018

Cycling is a great way to keep in shape while minimizing the impact on your feet and ankles, but that doesn’t mean there are no risks for your feet. All the energy you push through your legs is transferred directly into the bike through the bottoms of your feet. Arch pain, heel pain, and toe pain are all common complaints of cyclists. Luckily, just a few simple steps can help you avoid pain and injury and keep you going for miles to come.

Better Footwear

It should come as no surprise that your cycling shoes will affect your foot health. Shoes too tight or pointed in the toes can lead to issues such as bunions or hammertoes. There should be at least 1” of room between your toes and the front of the shoe. Just like all shoes, cycling shoes need to have arch support to avoid issues like plantar fasciitis. Sweat-wicking socks are strongly advised as sweaty feet can lead to fungal growth and athlete’s foot.

READ MORE: What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Seat Fitting

Your bike seat is at the proper height when your leg extends 80-90% of the way on the downward stroke of your pedal cycle. Knees should be directly under the hips in this extended position. Having your bicycle seat too low can put added pressure on the bottom of the foot and throw off the alignment of your hips and back. Improper seat height is usually felt in the knees, but pain can transfer downward to include calf pain and Achilles tightness. Seats that are too high put all the work on the toes to push the pedal down and back, straining the plantar fascia and leading to arch and heel pain.

Fitting Pedals

There are many types of pedals and each works for a different style of riding and cycling shoe. Your pedals should be fitted to the size of your shoe and position of the cleats. Small pedals can mean increased strain on a single part of the foot, exacerbating conditions such as Morton’s Neuroma. Wider or longer pedals will increase the surface area that your foot contacts, distributing pressure evenly.

READ MORE: Neuromas

Fitting Cleats

Cycling cleats should fit snug in the heel and wide around the forefoot. The cleat should place the ball of your foot (metatarsal arch) directly over the center of the pedal. Older-style clip-in pedals with toe cages are less adjustable and tend to place more of the forefoot over the pedal. Without proper alignment, your toes will end up doing all the pushing, putting extra strain on your plantar fascia.

Proper Pedaling

While riding a bike is easy, riding it properly is another story. Using the correct part of the foot during each push will help alleviate and prevent issues. Your forefoot (just behind the toes) should provide the majority of the energy for each push. There should be an angle of 20 degrees between your heel and the pedal, except during the forward part of your stroke when the angle decreases to less than 10 degrees. For leisure cycling, there should be even force used throughout the pedaling cycle. For competition racing, over 96% of your energy is expended on the downstroke.

READ MORE: Choosing The Right Shoes

Avoiding cycling injuries is easy when you maintain proper seat positioning, have the correct pedal and shoe size, and keep your pedaling stroke strong and even. If you have pain in your hips, knees, ankles, heels, or arches after a long ride (or especially after a short one!) come visit the FAAWC. We can help correct underlying conditions and suggest ways to protect your feet for miles to come.

Summer is fully upon us and things are heating up outside. When the sun beats down, it can cause major problems for your feet and result in serious burns. While sunburn is an obvious culprit, hot surfaces underfoot can leave you with first and second-degree burns on your feet.

The skin on your feet is thin and, unless you live your life in flip-flops, sees the sun less than your face, arms, and legs. Sunburn on the tops of feet can start in a matter of minutes after exposure. Sunscreen can wash off in the water or rub off on shoes and needs to be reapplied often.

First and second-degree sunburns on the tops of feet can make walking, wearing shoes, and every other activity incredibly painful. If you do get burned, be extra careful the next time. Severe sunburns may take up to six months to heal, during which time your skin is extra sensitive.

The bottoms of your feet may seem more resilient, but don’t be fooled. Hot surfaces underfoot can leave you with serious burns. Hot sand is responsible for thousands of emergency room visits each year and can really put a damper on an otherwise awesome beach vacation. Sand has a low specific heat, meaning it doesn’t take much energy to heat it up.

If you aren’t sure that your feet can take the heat, place the back of your hand against the ground and hold it there. If you can stand that temperature on your hand for more than 10 seconds, your feet will probably be fine. If you do get caught mid-sprint on a hot patch of sand, bury your feet. The layer beneath the top that has been baking in the sun is actually quite cool and can provide relief during the long haul to the water’s edge.

Wearing shoes is the best way to avoid burning. Flip-flops may protect from below, but the sides and tops of your feet are still exposed. Opt for fashionable FitKicks or versatile RocSocs that will take you straight into the water and keep your feet protected.

If you do get burned, use these helpful tips to relieve symptoms and start healing:

  • Cool feet with cold water soaks
  • Use burn moisturizers or aloe to soothe
  • Cold compresses can take down swelling and reduce itchy feelings
  • Keep hydrated as this will help cells heal faster
  • Avoid wearing shoes or socks that irritate the area until it is healed
  • Avoid itching, peeling, or bursting blisters as this can lead to pain and infection

Yoga is a combination of physical movements and mindfulness. This ancient practice was first mentioned in the Rig Veda, a text from Northern India written almost 5000 years ago. Today, there are dozens of styles and types of yoga to participate in, but they will all help your feet.

One of the biggest benefits of yoga is an increase in flexibility. Slow movements and pose holds work to gently stretch the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Poses such as Downward Facing Dog will stretch the Achilles tendon and keep your calf muscles loose. A healthy and stretchy Achilles tendon can protect you from conditions such as tendonitis, heel pain, and more.

READ MORE: Your Achilles Tendon

Another benefit of yoga is an increase in balance. You most likely stand with more pressure on one leg or the other, which throws off your center of gravity. Poses such as the Mountain Pose teach you to be mindful of your center and have a more even stance. Increased balance not only protects you from potential falls and ankle sprains, but can also improve functional movement, making you a better athlete and protecting you from sports injuries.

While most yoga is done barefoot, we recommend a foot covering for several reasons. Although it is a slow form of exercise, it’s likely you’ll still work up a sweat. Sweaty feet on a slippery floor can mean a face plant instead of a proper pose. This is particularly important during Bikram yoga, commonly referred to as hot yoga. Another reason to wear foot coverings is to protect against fungus which can lead to athlete’s foot.

READ MORE: Fungus and Your Feet

There are many ways to enjoy yoga, from taking a local class to following a YouTube video tutorial. Try these poses if you want to keep your feet and ankles healthy:

Chair Pose

Mountain Pose

Downward Facing Dog

Tree Pose

Extended Triangle Pose

Warrior II Pose

When you travel, it’s important to have the right shoes for every part of your journey. From the airport to the beach to a night on the town, travel shoes need to be both functional and fashionable. Proper footwear will ensure your vacation is all smiles, not memories of achy feet.

Whether it’s a family road trip or a long flight to a foreign country, the shoes you wear in the car, bus, train, or airplane need to be chosen carefully. Foot and ankle swelling is a common side effect of travel, meaning your shoes should be a half to full size larger than the ones you wear at home. If you are driving, resist the urge to wear flip-flops.

READ MORE: How the Wrong Shoes Make You a Bad Driver

Another reason to avoid flip flops is germs! If you slip off your shoes and stretch your legs under the seat in front of you on the airplane, just imagine how much dirt, food, and other nasty substances that carpet has seen. Make sure you are wearing socks or grab a pair of FitKicks to feel you’re wearing nothing at all.

Compression socks are especially important for people who experience foot and ankle swelling. If you suffer from foot odor, use Bromi-Lotion! It’s an antiperspirant lotion that helps stop excessive foot sweating and foot odor. Your fellow passengers will thank you for this small gesture.

Once you reach your destination, you still need the right shoes for every activity. If you’re a beach-going vacationer, safeguard your feet from shells and hot sand with a light pair of water shoes. If you’re a hiking-up-the-mountains vacationer, find sturdy boots that protect your ankles from twisting on the uneven terrain. If you’re a lets-go-on-a-historic-walking-tour vacationer, wear shoes with good arch support to keep you going for miles.

READ MORE: Shoes for the Activities We Love

We cannot stress enough the importance of wearing proper footwear when you travel. Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean your health and common sense can get left behind at home. Wear comfortable and supportive shoes. If you don’t, your fun could be cut short by foot pain.