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Posts for tag: blisters

If the temperatures outside are keeping you indoors this time of year, you’re not alone. I hate the cold. For the brave souls who like to venture out into the snowy weather, a few words of caution. Your toes need to be protected! Proper footwear is always a must because frostbite and chilblains are common foot injuries brought on by the cold. As usual, they are easy to avoid if we understand how they happen and what to do about it.

 

Frostnip

Many people will know frostbite, but there is a milder form of cold injury called frostnip. Just because it’s milder, doesn’t mean it still isn't uncomfortable and bad for your feet. It generally begins in the toes. The skin will turn white or flush red and feel extremely cold to the touch. In a short time, this can lead to numbness or a feeling of pins and needles. Without rewarming, frostnip will lead to frostbite. Think of it as an early warning sign and get yourself indoors where your feet can get care. Soak your feet in water, but bring the temperature up very gradually. Don’t start with hot water; you probably can’t feel if it’s too hot and scalding your feet.

 

READ MORE: Winter Boot Buying Guide

 

Frostbite

In the cold, the blood vessels nearest the skin narrow, diverting blood to the core of the body to protect the vital organs. Unfortunately, this leaves fingers, toes, and nose tips left out in the cold. Literally. Since your body is no longer trying to warm those areas, they have no defense against cold injuries. If you leave them exposed, frostbite will slowly freeze the skin and tissue underneath. In severe cases, tissue will die and need to be surgically removed. If you think you are developing frostbite, seek medical treatment immediately.

 

Chilblains

Most people know what frostnip and frostbite are and how to avoid them, but there is another type of cold injury that can occur even when it's not below freezing. Chilblains is a condition in which the feet react to cold with inflammation. This causes red patches, itching, swelling, and can be accompanied by painful blisters, called pernio. Just like nail fungus likes to grow in warm and moist socks, chilblains like to form in cold and damp socks. Frostbite can onset quickly due to freezing temperatures, but chilblains occur from long exposure to mild cold and humidity. You may not even feel it happening, but long term damage is being done to your blood vessels. Symptoms can stick around for a while without proper treatment, so get yourself to a podiatrist asap.

 

To prevent any cold injury there are some basic steps to follow. Keep your feet warm at all times. When going outside, wear warm socks that pull moisture away from the skin (wool is a good choice). If you don’t have a lot of body fat to keep you warm, add an extra layer of socks. Same thing if you have excessively sweaty feet. Avoid rapid temperature changes if your feet do get too cold. Never warm up your feet if there is a chance of them refreezing before reaching proper medical care.

READ MORE: Keep Your Feet Warm

Just two days ago, Misty Copeland was named the principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre. She is the first African-American to receive this position throughout the company’s 75-year history. No matter if you like ballet or have even seen it before, I’m sure you know what dancing (particularly ballet dancing) can do to your feet. Let’s take a look at the common ailments of the ballerina:

Blisters, corns, calluses, bunions, broken toes, stress fractures, cracked, broken, or black toenails, plantar fasciitis, Achilles fasciitis, neuromas, and many, many more problems. The pressure to continue to dance night after night forces many dancers to ignore these problems and simply push through the pain, turning these small issues into chronic problems.

What exactly causes these issues? Well, ballet shoes come in two forms: ballet slippers and pointe shoes. Ballet slippers (pictured right) can be made from leather, canvas, or satin and have little to no sole or protection. As one physician describes it, “here we have tight fitting, non-supportive shoes, petite and sometimes undernourished athletes performing intricate movements up and down on their toes throughout a huge range of motion over time.” (http://goo.gl/9bcYr4) It is easy to see that with little more than a thin piece of material covering the foot, ballerinas are susceptible to a huge variety of injuries.

Wherever you are right now, lift your foot off the floor and point it. I’m sure you can feel the stretch of the tendons on the front of the foot and the bunching of the tendons above the heel. Now, imagine holding that position for minutes on end and repeating it several hundred times a day…. Not an enticing thought. Ballet slippers offer no support or protection so it’s basically like dancing in bare feet.

Pointe shoes (pictured left) may sound better than slippers since they do offer a stiffer sole and a protective toe box, but think again. Pointe shoes were designed to make the dancer appear as if she is floating above the floor. They are comprised of a hard toe box, a stiff interior shank, a leather sole, and a soft satin or canvas covering. Typically the box is formed of layers of paper and material glued together and shaped. The dancer’s toes push against this as they go “on pointe”. The shank can be made of plastic, cardstock, burlap, or leather and serves as a sort of interior sole. The stiffness of the material determines the support provided for the dancer’s feet. Certain dances may require a softer or harder shank. In addition to the shoe itself, many dancers employ the use of toe spacers, toe pads, tape, and lambswool. These can help prevent some of the exterior ailments (blisters, etc.), but do relatively little for the pressure related injuries caused by the actual weight, impact, and movements of the dance itself.

Serious dancers of all types can be quite sensitive about their foot problems and rarely respond well to being told they need to rest. The most many doctors can do is treat the symptoms, recommend measures to prevent chronic symptoms from returning, and hope that one day the dancers will realize that their injuries are serious enough to take a real break and get them fixed.

If you know a serious dancer or are one yourself, make sure you are taking care of your feet. After all, the average professional dancer retires in their early to mid-thirties and you are going to need healthy feet for the many years that will come after that.

This past Monday, the 119th Boston Marathon raced through the streets. Over 54,000 people lined up to run the 26.2-mile course. A lot of people wonder what on earth could possess someone to want to do that. 26.2-miles of pounding the pavement must wreak havoc on the legs and feet. So what really does happen to your feet during a marathon?

Before you even start your marathon training, you should go see your podiatrist. They have all the information you could want about what happens to your feet as you are running. They can also help you understand your own foot anatomy or problems and help you choose the perfect pair of running shoes. You need to understand how your foot strikes the ground, what to keep an eye out for if you develop problems, and how to avoid those problems all together.

According to Runnersworld.com, after the knee, the foot is the most injured part of the body. These injuries can be anything from a simple blister to a painful fracture. Don’t worry, blisters are a much more common problem than any other, so don’t use the possibility of a stress fracture as an excuse not to run. “The most common locations for blisters are the sides of the heel, the sides or bottoms of the toes, and the arch of the foot. ‘Hot spots’ are areas on your foot that become warm and painful during or after long runs and may or may not develop into blisters.” http://goo.gl/539v0f

It’s important to understand that places where you develop blisters during a short run may be different than the places where you develop blisters on a long run. Right around the mid point of the marathon, the energy you loaded up with before the race begins to lag. Your legs feel the burn of the miles they have gone through and as a result of you’re your fatigue, your pace and stride change. Any change in your stride will change the stress points of your feet and thus change the ‘hot spots’. This can result in blisters developing in places they normally wouldn’t.

So what is the best way you have your foot strike the ground? “Most of the tenets of good running form are universally agreed upon by coaches, athletes, physiologists, form gurus and shoe designers: an upright postural alignment with a slight forward tilt, a compact arm swing and short strides that result in a cadence of 180 steps per minute.” http://goo.gl/wRrZhJ But when it comes to where and how your foot strikes the ground, there are pros and cons to each style. The important thing is to find what works for you. Over-striding is a common problem with new runners. They extend their legs too far which results in a forceful heel strike and you end up doing more work across the same distance and time.

A mid-foot strike is thought by many to be the ideal gait, but for some, altering your running stride to achieve this, can mean under-striding for those with longer legs. This is equally bad. In the end, it’s all about finding what is right for your feet and legs. Make sure that your stride feels natural. If you end up with severe foot pain after running, you are doing something wrong and it would be best to alter your stride.

Another common problem with marathon runners is the recovery. Don’t just collapse as soon as you cross the finish line. Keep moving for 10 or 20 minutes and avoid standing still. Change into a pair of graduated compression socks to help promote blood flow. Later that day, elevate your legs for 10- 15 minutes to reduce inflammation. Over the next couple of weeks, don’t force yourself to continue heavy training. Short walks or jogs (1 – 2 miles) are ok, but if your feet start protesting, put off resuming your running for a couple more days.

When they say anyone can run a marathon, they mean it. But it’s important to listen to your feet and your podiatrist to ensure proper foot health all the way from the first day of training to weeks after the marathon.