Caring For Yourself, So You Can Care for Others

Bill Withers’ classic 1972 hit “Lean On Me” hammers home the truth that there are times in our lives when “we all need somebody to lean on.”

It doesn’t take much effort to come up with examples. After all, everyone has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at some point (and, more likely, several points). That’s just the nature of life – ups and downs.

Of course, there are times when “leaning” on one another is more than just support during a bad day.

Sometimes, the support we give others is done so in a much greater degree. And this is usually given for those who are closest to us, our loved ones.

If you think about it, we could say that children technically lean pretty heavily on parents – especially in the early years. (And then they start to lean pretty heavily from financial and “car borrowing” contexts in the teen years…)

As time passes, parents might need to lean on their children during the later years.

Putting the parent-child relationship aside for a second (but hold that thought), married couples also rely on each other for support. This support is the cornerstone of the committed relationship. This is the kind of support we may need as we grow old – which is usually the hope for committed relationships! We see older couples walk out of the office with their arms tightly wrapped together becasue of their long-committed relation, but also for the need of balance and strength. If one spouse is the primary pillar care giver and something happens to them, there would be no one to care for the other spouse. If the primary care giver neglects themselves enough, it can stop them from their mission of care.

Clearly, the whole “family structure”—no matter how you might define it—is supposed to provide assurance there will be someone there who can help when it’s needed.

Now, to be able to help those you care about, you have to first start by caring for yourself.

Fortunately, that doesn’t take a ton of effort. Simple measures done consistently can make a tremendous difference in your self-care.

Doing what you can to prevent serious issues is such a simple measure, but can be masked by the other details of life.

Consider a situation wherein a parent takes a child for a bike ride and makes sure the son or daughter wears a helmet, but does not wear one him or herself.

If the parent has an accident and he or she falls to the ground—head smacking hard into the pavement—the child is potentially put in a very bad (and helpless) situation if there’s no one else around. Sure, the child’s head is well-protected, but he or she won’t know what to do.

See, you need to take care of yourself if you’re going to be there to take care of others!

As a quick side note – the good news is that you don’t run across that situation nearly as much nowadays as you once could. It wasn’t that long ago you would often see “kid with helmet and parent without.” But people are getting smarter and this is becoming the norm.

When it comes to taking self-care measures so you can be there for others, this is a particularly important consideration if you’re the only one supporting loved ones!

No matter if it’s just you and your spouse or you’re a single mother raising your kids—or a parent with an older child with disabilities—any unplanned downtime can become a serious situation.

It is virtually impossible to prevent all unexpected problems from arising, but you can at least take some proactive actions to lower the risk of common issues that could develop.

A very common problem—one that is avoidable—is heel pain caused by tight soft tissues.

The leading source of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. This condition develops when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and irritated in response to overuse.

A proper stretching regimen only takes a couple of minutes each day, yet it greatly reduces your risk of this condition.

A simple problem like a callus can lead to an ulcer or infection if neglected. The simplest of treatments can easily prevent this from happening.

Another issue you definitely want to avoid is posterior tibial tendonitis. This condition can be a painful “show stopper,” since your posterior tibial tendon is responsible for slowing down and stopping the force of 2x your bodyweight at the end of every step.

Ask any single mom, and she’ll quickly assure you there is no time for the “show” to stop when you’re raising children on your own! To be active, you rely on your feet – but you can’t rely on your feet if you aren’t active.

An easy escape would be to reduce activity, but you will pay the price 10-20 years down the road when your vessels are clogged, 30 lbs. over weight, and your heart is working overtime.

To be active, you rely on your feet – but you can’t rely on your feet if you aren’t active.

For example, losing excess weight relieves a lot of pressure and strain off your feet. And that relief is much more pronounced when you consider the fact that even simply walking can place upwards of 4x’s your bodyweight in force on the landing foot!

As another example, improved cardiovascular health means the tissues in your feet are supplied by a strong flow of oxygenated blood, which carries essential nutrients.

Since your feet allow you to move around, be independent, and care for others, you simply need to care for them.

You can actually think of your feet as being like a car – if you don’t have the oil changed, you’re going to have major problems down the road.

And having the oil changed is simple! (When you go to a service station, at least.)

Some simple measures you can do to make sure your feet are healthy and able to help you be there for your loved ones include:

  • Mange your diabetes. If you are one of the almost 30 million Americans who have diabetes, you must practice smart diabetic foot care, or you risk losing a foot (or worse!). A big part of this is managing the disease through healthy dietary practices.
  • Wear proper footwear. Shoes need to fit well, provide adequate support, and be constructed from durable, breathable materials. And if you’re active, your footwear choices need to be activity-appropriate (so no wearing loafers for your morning run!).
  • Stretch your feet and legs. We’ve touched on this already, but it’s worth reemphasizing – keep the many soft tissues in your lower limbs limber and you lower your risk for numerous medical issues.

Taking measures like those is a good first step in having the optimal foot health you need to care for others.

Perhaps an even more important step is this:

If you do have foot or ankle pain, don’t ignore it!

Pain is actually a gift. That might seem strange, but here’s the deal – pain is how your body tells you there’s a problem. Without it, you won’t pay attention and will have no motiavtion to solve the issue. It woul be like having a smoke detector without the battery in it: useless.

And resolving the problem starts with knowing what is happening. So, when foot or ankle pain strikes, you can “lean on your go-to foot doc”—which few critics consider to be an improvement on Withers’ original lyrics—to properly diagnose the condition and provide a customized treatment plan for you.

Make sure you’re there to support your loved ones when they need it! (Like Grand Ma’s Hands, for you Bill Wither’s fans. Just Google it and enjoy!)

For information about our Indianapolis podiatrist office, the services we provide, or to request your appointment, simply give us a call today at (317) 545-0505 and we’ll be glad to help you carry on.

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