How COVID is Changing Feet [for Better and for Worse]
COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on many people and families. That should not be discounted in any way.
However, what can sometimes be overlooked are the many subtle ways that existing through the pandemic have influenced our lives – and that includes factors that affect our foot and ankle health.
As we continue to struggle with COVID cases, our office and many other podiatry practices have seen increases in other problems, too: heel pain, toe injuries, insertional Achilles pain, and more.
It’s not all negative, though. We have seen some silver linings, too.
Let’s go through how the pandemic has been affecting feet, and what can be done to improve foot and ankle health during these times. Of course, if you currently have trouble that needs a professional approach, never be afraid to reach out!
The Decline in Wearing Shoes
The pandemic has led to a great many people either working from home or, unfortunately, not currently having work to go to.
That, in turn, has led to a significant decrease in wearing shoes. Who often thinks of putting on their loafers for a trip around the living room, after all?
Now, one way this has been a good thing is for those who have forefoot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes. Having a more open-toed outlook on life can be helpful for their situations, and may be even more comfortable if they’re wearing slippers for some cushioning and a tiny amount of support. Even a change from dress shoes to sneakers with more open toe boxes can make a difference.
A loss of time in shoes, however, can sometimes be a bad thing when it comes to the development of heel pain. We’ve had more patients come in with new cases over the year, many tied to now being more barefoot at home!
It’s not something we often tend to think about, but standard workdays in standard shoes add up to a lot of hours that our feet are surrounded by footwear! If those shoes are good (no high heels or tight toe boxes, for example), they may have been providing your feet good support and motion control.
With less time in shoes, your feet may be more prone to conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis that result in heel pain. This can be especially true if your feet are spending a lot of time on hardwood floors, or if you have tight calf muscles and Achilles tendons that are not benefiting from the slight rise in the heel that shoes can provide.
Fortunately, there’s an easy step to take here that can help: start wearing your shoes more indoors! Just because you’re at home now doesn’t necessarily mean you still aren’t taking lots of steps. Don’t skimp on support.
More Walking, More Often
Although this will likely drop as we head through winter, we’ve seen plenty more people out and walking through the summer and fall. A big contributor to this phenomenon: adopted pups!
We are all for dogs getting people out and moving more. It’s great for your feet and your general well-being!
Of course, whether walkies is your reason or not, we have still seen some problems when an increase of activity has led to overuse injuries in the feet.
You don’t have to commit to being a track star to increase your risk of sports injuries. You just have to be exerting your body more than it is currently conditioned to handle. Help mitigate your risk by wearing the appropriate shoes when you’re moving (no flip-flops, even for quick jaunts outside!) and working to gradually increase the time and intensity of your activity week-to-week. Don’t go all out all at once.
There Have Been More Amputations
We hate to see this one. Dr. Leibovitz has seen more amputations during this year alone than he has through his entire career.
The main culprit here is a drop in vulnerable people receiving proper attention. Conditions involving diabetes, nerve damage, and/or poor circulation have not been properly monitored as circumstances led to dropped appointments and care opportunities. In turn, small problems went untreated and ended up becoming much larger and more serious.
If you live with diabetes, it is more critical than ever to do as much as you can to keep track of your foot health. This includes:
Properly managing your blood sugar.
Wearing shoes indoors (preferably diabetic shoes and socks).
Keeping your pathways clear of obstructions and dangers.
Inspecting your feet every day for signs of trouble, and not delaying on notifying us of them.
If you care for someone who is vulnerable and may need assistance in these matters, please ensure they receive it.
Still Here for Your Foot and Ankle Needs!
Whether you are a past patient of ours or someone new (and we’ve been delighted to meet more of you lately!), please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any foot or ankle concerns you may have.
Another pandemic-related change that’s well worth taking advantage of telemedicine.You can consult with Dr. Leibovitz remotely if that is a better option for you, and we are more than happy to accommodate that whenever possible.
We are still open for in-office appointments as well, taking strict measures to space out appointments and provide as little exposure risk to our patients and staff as possible.