Posts for: September, 2018
Ever since the invention of the high heel, women have been falling head over…well, feet for them. But the high rates of falling when wearing high heels may not be worth the aesthetic benefits.
Heels change our center of gravity, forcing it higher and leaning us further forward. Because our center of gravity is not actually centered over our hips, knees, and ankles anymore, our natural balance is thrown off. This leads to trips, falls, and injury. The most common injury sustained from wearing high heels is an ankle sprain or strain.
READ MORE: Finding Your Perfect Heel Height
In the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, reported incidences of injury from high heel falls nearly doubled to 8.83 per 100,000 emergency room cases. Women ages 30-39 suffered an above average number of falls with 11.07 per 100,000. And the 20-29 age group takes the cake with 18.29 per 100,000. 1
Surprisingly, almost half of these falls happened in the home. When your podiatrist tells you not to walk around the house barefoot, they don’t mean keep your high heels on all morning and evening. In fact, it’s best if you spend as little time as possible in high heels as they not only impact balance but also affect driving and can lead to foot and ankle issues such as hammertoes, bunions, neuromas, plantar fasciitis, pump bump (Haglund’s deformity), Achilles tendon tightness, and more.
READ MORE: Pregnancy and High Heels
Long-term wear also changes your muscle efficiency, foot positioning, stride length, and pace. The good news is, your feet will adjust back to their default over time as you stop wearing high heels, but it could take a while before you feel totally stable again. It seems like the majority of women now agree that the risks of heels may not be worth it. High heel sales were down 12% in 2017 with sneaker sales rising 37%.
If you love your heels, you can absolutely keep wearing them. Just know that you are at an increased risk of falling and injuring your foot and ankle when you wear heels. Try carrying a pair of flats for driving, walking long distances, and changing into after a long day or night.
Exercise is a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle, but for those with limited mobility or poor balance, exercise can be a daunting idea. If you're looking for a winning combination of low-impact and high-quality exercise, there is a perfect solution that invigorates the body, works the heart, strengthens muscles, and improves balance. You may know about it already.
It’s called tai chi.
This ancient Chinese martial art is the perfect option for folks looking for low-impact, gentle exercise options. While it is a form of self-defense, the only thing you’ll be defending yourself against is poor health. In fact, tai chi has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of falls among the elderly by up to 43%. That’s because tai chi has mega benefits for your feet.
The slow, graceful moves of tai chi are all based in your feet. It is through the feet that energy is transferred upwards, through the legs and core, into the shoulders and arms. Proper “grounding” is the key to successful tai chi. Grounding is the act of achieving and maintaining balance through ground contact.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Gently press your toes into the ground. Don’t curl or force them. The idea is to connect the pads of your toes to the ground naturally. Now, shift your weight back slightly so your heel pad is exerting equal pressure toward the ground as your toes. It may be good to try this barefoot at first to really feel the connection. If you are properly grounded, balance is easily achieved.
The second thing grounding your feet does is raise your arch. A properly raised arch will stretch the foot and promote the movement of Qi. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the energy that flows through every living thing. The major pathways in the body that Qi flows through begin and end in your feet. This is the basis for foot reflexology. Tai chi is said to activate these pathways and improve general health.
Footwork in tai chi is slow and controlled. The graceful motions are easy to follow and will build accurate footing, flexibility, and strength. Changes in position draw attention to the feet, their angle, weight distribution, and placement. Increasing awareness and sensations in the feet can help improve balance.
Many people choose to practice tai chi barefoot to increase their sensitivity and awareness. For many people, this can be detrimental, so shoes are strongly suggested. Make sure your shoe is flexible and flat. Shoes that pull up at the toes will not allow for proper grounding. A broad sole can be useful for maintaining balance. Some specialty martial arts shoes are available for purchase.
If you would like to try a free tai chi class, visit the FAAWC on Wednesday, September 26th from 3pm to 6pm. We will be offering free tai chi demonstrations along with our balance challenge. Read more HERE!
An ankle sprain happens when the ligaments, soft bands of tissue connecting bones, are hyperextended and the ankle bone shifts laterally (to the side). There are varying degrees of severity for sprains and a wide variety of treatments. One of the most commonly recommended treatments is for patients to wear an ankle brace. This could be temporary as the ankle heals or it could be recommended for extended wear during exercise and sports.
READ MORE: Sprain or Strain? Part 1
A first-degree sprain is generally mild and only requires RICE and a lightweight brace. For these injuries, a compression sleeve or elastic slip-on sleeve may be adequate to hold the ankle stable. If you experience frequent sprains or a more severe sprain, a mid-weight duty brace is encouraged.
Second-degree sprains are considered a moderate injury. The best brace for a second-degree sprain is one that Velcro’s or laces up the ankle. These braces should be adjustable in multiple places to avoid putting pressure on swollen areas while still keeping the ankle stable.
READ MORE: Sprain or Strain? Part 2
Third-degree sprains are the most serious and require full ankle support or even a surgical solution. Where casts were common in the past, braces have now taken over as the treatment of choice. An Aircast or similar brace will extend past the ankle to mid-calf, protecting the joint while still allowing for weight bearing and movement. Stirrup braces may also be used as they have rigid sides that Velcro around the ankle to hold it in place.
Some people may prefer to wear a brace during sports or while exercising as a preventative measure. This is also a good idea for people who experience chronic ankle sprains and are at higher risk for reinjury. Medium support braces, such as those used for second-degree sprains, are best for any activity involving lots of side-to-side (lateral) movements. Medium and light support braces should be worn daily during rehabilitation.
READ MORE: Quick Tips for the Shoe Store
Your podiatrist will help you choose the right brace for your unique needs. Any brace should be breathable and waterproof or sweat-resistant. You may also need to purchase a larger pair of shoes to accommodate the size of the ankle brace. Call the FAAWC today to discuss your options.
Join the FAAWC on Wednesday, September 26th from 3 pm to 6 pm for our Balance Challenge event.
Fatal falls are common among seniors but can be avoided with recognition and correction of the underlying problems–balance, muscle strength, and stepping accuracy. Balance may be impacted by many things, especially foot problems such as neuropathy, which causes a loss of sensation in the feet. Knowing your risk and how you can improve your balance will go a long way toward your continuing good health.
For your enjoyment, we will have multiple stations set up around the office to test balance, strength, range of motion, and more. Participants will be evaluated while making one circuit through our testing stations. Here’s what you’ll experience:
- Sit and Stand Testing Station
Participants will attempt to sit down and stand up from a chair as many times as possible in 30 seconds. This exercise tests overall balance and leg strength.
- Sit and Reach Station
Participants will sit in a chair, extend one leg, and reach toward their toes. This tests balance and range of motion.
- Arm Curl Station
Participants are challenged to complete as many arm curls as possible in 30 seconds. Five-pound dumbbells will be used for the ladies and eight-pound dumbbells will be used for the men.
- Apley Scratch Test Station
Participants use one hand and attempt to touch their opposite shoulder blade (scapula) by reaching over and behind the back. This tests cardiovascular endurance.
- Step Station
Here you will stand in place and march for two minutes, trying to lift your knees each time past the level of your mid-thigh. This tests balance and the range of motion in your hips and knees.
- Airex Pad Station
The Airex pad is designed to mimic unstable surfaces, such as grass. Participants will stand on the pad to test balance and endurance.
- Hurdle Stepping
Our mini-hurdles start at 3” and go up to 1’. Participants will need to balance while stepping over as many hurdles as they can manage.
- Zig Zag Agility Ladder
The zigzag ladder tests coordination and balance through quick foot movement. Participants will step in and out of the ladder spaces while being timed.
- Lilly Pad Stepping
Navigate over our “lily pads” of varying sizes to test your balance and the accuracy of your foot placement.
In true FAAWC fashion, we will be giving away fantastic prizes, including:
- $400 gift card to Tanger Outlets
- $100 gift card for personal training with Dave Lewis of FitFam
- 1-hour pedicure in our PediCare Salon
- And more…
Prizes will be awarded at the end of the event by random drawing. Everyone participating has an equal chance of winning and your scores will not be used for awarding prizes. For those not wishing to participate in our balance challenge, you are still welcome to drop by for refreshments, tai chi demonstrations, and more fun with our FAAWC doctors and staff.
Don’t forget to join us on Wednesday, September 26th at the FAAWC from 3 pm to 6 pm!