If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that things can change in ways we never quite expected.
It was just in last month’s blog we discussed these pandemic lifestyle changes. No shoes means no protection and this has definitely affected people’s foot and ankle health.
But even with that being true, the fundamentals of most foot problems remain the same. Recent lifestyle changes has spiked heel pain. The underlying cause has not changed. A tight Achilles complex and pronation are still the same old players.
So this is all a bit of a roundabout way of saying that foot care tips are eternal!
(Well maybe not always eternal, but most stand the test of time.)
Many of us are chomping at the bit to make 2021 better. A great way to start is to continue the same habits we have talked about before. I am not referring to wearing masks but healthy habits for the care and prevention for foot and ankle problems.
So consider this your yearly maintenance reminder for one of the most important machines you own. Let’s roll those beautiful foot care tips!
Keep on the Watch for New Developments
We regularly stress the importance of daily foot inspections for diabetic patients. It takes less than 30 seconds to inspect your feet each day. This short and simple habit can detect early infection s and prevent complications such as amputation. This becomes increasingly important if there are risk factors such as neuropathy, decreased blood flow, and aggressive deformities.
But the truth is that everyone should be checking out their feet on a consistent basis. It truly is one of the best (and easiest) steps you can take for consistent foot health.
The more you look over your feet, the more you will know what they should – and shouldn’t – look like. So if problems ever do arise such as skin break down, drainage, redness, or increased temperature, you can catch it early. Too often I hear “I did not know that was there” when it is obvious that the problem has been present for years (no exaggeration). The earlier we take action, the better and faster acting the results tend to be.
Thirty seconds a day is all we’re asking. Do it during a commercial break or Hulu ad.
Stick to a Stretching Regimen
Shania Twain must have read this blog when she sings about staying with the best thing for you. Another daily habit that will keep you away from significant problems is stretching of the Achilles complex. This is extremely important for people who are suffering from heel pain. It is also helpful for sports injuries and a lot of other foot problems. You guessed it – it can be beneficial for just about everyone else, too!
Stretching will prevent one muscle group from overpowering another group. The good news- flexible soft tissue is stronger, more durable and can better resist injuries. And the bad news – Tight muscle groups put strain on adjacent connecting tissues creating common such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. A stretching program is not finished once symptoms disappear. A consistent stretching program is necessary to prevent a return of these problems. So as Shania says “Stick with the one that brought you”.
Here’s a video of my Achilles tendon stretching program on the house (for your viewing pleasure …not really on top of a house). We’ll be happy to discuss other stretches with you as well, especially those that may provide you the best benefits for your particular needs.
Don’t Peter, Fawn, or Skip Out on Treatments
Most of our treatment plans have 2 options: 1) protection and 2) correction. The protection option is the same as a maintenance plan. You are heading in the right direction when the symptoms go away. Just like a successful diet, maintaining the program is critical for success. If those simple steps that lead to success decrease or stop – we will we go back to square one. A common cause for an unnecessary return trip to our office is re occurring pain. A great example are orthotics or eye glasses. They require consistent use to prevent problems.
There are treatments that have an end point. Treatments should always be continued for recommended time. If symptoms start to feel and look better before the target date – that is great. But that does not treatment is complete. One example would be stopping antibiotics before their completion. You may be winning the battle against bacteria but the war may be lost if you do not kick them when they are down. Ever watch a Rocky movie? Some fungal infections, can take a really long time to clear up. A fungal nail may take over a year to clear and a chronic skin fungus can take 3-4 weeks.
If you are in a long-term treatment, you should also make sure you are stocked with supplies. You don’t want to run out of Formula 7 antifungal solution or wart medication. Diminished frequency or duration of treatment tends to diminish results.
Keep on Keeping On by Curtis Mayfield
If you had a problem that has been successfully treated, that is fantastic! That doesn’t always mean you’re immune from the problem returning in the future, though. Wouldn’t it be great if once we experienced the common cold we would never have to worry about it again?
Calluses are a good example of this. When we reduce calluses, comfort returns immediately. This is great for your overall foot health, but you need to understand what is the caused. Once that rubbing starts again, you are likely to see your calluses come roaring back. Spoiler alert: it is not a skin problem but most likely a bone problem.
Sometimes preventative care is simple. If a bad shoe causes friction, you can switch to more accommodating footwear! But if the friction-causing factor is from the structure of your foot, you can change shoes until pigs fly and see little change.
The next step is pretty easy: How can we better protect the foot? I wish I could count how many times I heard: “I stopped using my ____ (orthotic, insert) because I was doing so well. I did not think I needed it anymore.” But if conservative care does not provide enough relief we may need to intervene with advanced care.
Either way, the key is a proactive approach to your foot and ankle problems. If you’re active in sports or pursuing fitness goals, a plan to reduce your risk of sports injuries should be first and foremost in your mind. If you are recovering from an injury we want to get you back to activity as soon and as safe as possible. Or if you are just “done” with mudders, caber tossing, or full contact Zoomba, we can help find a reason to bail.
“If you are not winning… your loosing” RB
The world might not be fully “back to normal” (or as normal as it can get) for some time more, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your health or any of the goals you can currently pursue.
We’re here to help you keep moving safely and comfortably through life, whatever it happens to throw at us. Call our Indianapolis office at (317) 545-0505 to schedule an appointment. We can see you either in-office or via telemedicine if applicable.