There will be two types of people this upcoming Sunday, those who watch the Super Bowl and those who play in the Super Bowl. Both groups should be majorly concerned about their feet. No matter how much I would love to believe that the Seattle Seahawks or New England Patriots read this blog, I’m not holding my breath, so let’s look at foot pain from the point of our sports spectators.
Football stadiums are designed to hold tens of thousands of people. The University of Phoenix Stadium (where the 2015 Super Bowl will be played) holds 63,400 seats, with the option for expansion of temporary seating to 72,200 seats. Maybe, it’s the small size of the seats or perhaps it’s the hard materials that make the seats uncomfortable, but the majority of people will spend the game standing rather than sitting. Standing for long periods of time, like the average 3 hours and 35 minutes of a professional football game, can cause or aggravate many foot problems.
Foot health problems that can arise from standing too long will not simply occur from standing for the length of one football game. However, millions of Americans work on their feet all day and already have foot pain or problems that can be further irritated by more standing. First and foremost, pick the right shoes! It may seem logical to wear flat shoes, but having a heel of about ¼ inch can help support the foot properly. So can the proper arch support. For people with low or flat arches, shoe inserts can “bump up” the arch and provide stability. Arch support reduces weakness and soreness in the legs and feet. Gel, foam, or plastic insoles provide extra cushioning which can make standing for long hours much more comfortable. Anti-fatigue insoles are also available and work by combining the properties of arch-support, extra padding, and moisture management.
Shoe size is a big factor in foot comfort. When picking your shoes for the big game, make sure they have room for expansion. Hours of standing can result in swollen feet. The soles of your shoes should give sold footing and not slip. Thick soles provide extra cushion while walking or standing on hard surfaces. Athletic shoes are a great choice because different pairs are designed to alleviate specific ailments such as fallen arches, high arches, wide feet, plantar fasciitis, bunions, thinning heel pads, and more. Good shoes should also be lightweight and aerated. There is no reason to put up with foot discomfort when so many good shoes options are available.
One easy way to keep your feet from hurting at the big game is to stretch them. Flex and point your feet at regular intervals. Raise, stretch, and curl your toes for five seconds. Bend your leg back at the knee and place your foot on the seat of your chair to stretch your quadriceps. Give your calves a stretch by placing the ball of your foot on the back of the chair in front of you. Keep your heel on the ground and lean into it lightly. Keep blood flowing to the feet and ankles by periodically lifting each foot and writing out the letters of the alphabet with your toe. There are hundreds of stretches you can do mindlessly while putting all your energy into cheering on your team.
Most of us are not lucky enough to watch the big game at the stadium so we do so on our televisions (which, let’s face it, is so much better because we get to see the commercials). You may think you have it better than those standing for hours on end at the game, but sitting for three or more hours can also worsen foot problems.
Sitting in one position for too long causes swelling in the feet and ankles. Movement is important. If you sit with your legs crossed, reverse or uncross them every so often. Get up and walk around during the game. I’m not suggesting that you make a visit to the kitchen or buffet table each commercial break. That certainly isn’t the best for your health, but walking around the couch several times will keep your feet healthier. If you can, grab the recliner chair or the footstool and elevate your legs. This reduces swelling.
However you decide to watch the 2015 Super Bowl, make sure that you don’t neglect your feet. Without proper foot care, the players wouldn’t be able to run down the field to make the touchdown. Same goes for you as a spectator. Reaching down to rub those aching feet might mean missing the game changing play. Wear the right shoes, stretch periodically, and elevate and ice your feet when you get home. Doing so will ensure that your feet remain healthy and happy for many Super Bowls to come.