Sunday, 23 October 2016

4 Common Foot Problems Plaguing Runners

Of all parts of the body, the feet happen to be the boon or bane of runners; that is perhaps why most runners have a love-hate relationship with their own feet, depending on the fortunes or misfortunes of their chosen profession. Runners have to deal with various foot problems – from overuse injuries and blisters to fractures and soreness.

While some of these conditions can be treated easily with medication, shoes with proper support and orthotics, others may need elaborate treatment together with staying off the running track for quite some time. Listed below are four most common foot problems that are anathema to runners:

Plantar fasciitis

Runners who intensify their training sessions all of a sudden, or use shoes with improper support may feel acute pain on the bottom of their feet. This happens because of the inflammation of plantar fascia, a thick fibrous layer of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. This foot problem is known as plantar fasciitis. Those with too weak or tight calf muscles are also prone to this condition.

Foot doctors advise using proper running shoes with inserts or orthotics to avoid this ailment, the victims of which would benefit if they stretch their feet, apply ice on the bottom of their feet and roll the affected foot (after the pain has subsided) on a tennis ball.

Stress fracture

Though stress fractures can occur in any of the several bones comprising the foot, they are most likely to affect the metatarsals (a group of five long bones that lead to the base of each toe from the mid- and hind-foot). Runners do suffer from stress fractures when they step accidentally on potholes, stones or uneven surfaces. Staying off the running track is the only solution in such cases to let the affected bone heal.

Athlete’s foot

This is a fungal infection affecting the foot skin, especially between the toes. Runners who sweat a lot and leave their skin moist for a long time are prone to this ailment. Since this is a mildly contagious disease, contact with an infected person or towels, shoes, etc., can increase the risk. The fungus could also be present on the floor of showers or locker rooms shared by runners. The best way to guard against this disease is to keep the skin dry between toes, wear absorbent socks and change wet shoes as soon as possible. 

Friction induced problems

Shear force works on foot skin while one runs; it can cause accumulation of fluid in some areas leading to blisters. Corns and calluses can occur when shear forces aren’t strong enough to form blisters. To reduce the friction at work between the feet and the shoes, a runner should wear well-fitted shoes along with absorbent socks. Applying petroleum jelly on the affected area or using prescription treatments would offer speedy relief from these friction-induced foot ailments.

The foot is an amazingly complex mechanism that comprises several muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments. All these parts have to work well together for a good running practice. A single disruption, injury or ailment of any of these parts would affect the proper function of the feet. Runners should never ever ignore foot pain or any other discomfort: they should consult promptly an experienced foot care specialist.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Diabetic Foot Care: 5 Important Tips

Diabetes can impair blood supply to your feet and trigger diabetic peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensitivity of nerves to pain, temperature, and pressure particularly in the legs and feet). Because of this, foot injuries take a longer time to heal; cuts, bruises or other foot injuries are likely to go unnoticed and untreated and get worse. Given below are five important tips for diabetic foot care.

1.Managing the condition

You should follow these steps assiduously to manage your foot health effectively: eating a balanced diet (rich in fruits and vegetables recommended), monitoring your blood sugar level, staying active and controlling weight gain with a regular exercise regimen, limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking. In addition, regular general health and foot health check-ups are crucial to recognizing red flags and taking prompt treatment.

2.Daily foot inspection

Check your feet every day to spot sores, cuts, corns and calluses, red spots, blisters, infected toenails and swelling. If you find any, attend to them promptly asking your foot doctor for advice. You can use a pumice stone to smooth corns and calluses, but don’t cut them as it can damage your skin and may even cause infection.

Remember to trim your toenails and seek help if you find them yellowish, thick or growing back into your skin. If you find it difficult to bend over and inspect your toes, you can use a mirror or ask your family to help. Every time you return home, make sure you wash your feet, dry them and inspect to see if they are clean.

3.Choosing the right footwear and socks

The right footwear that provides adequate support to your feet is crucial for good foot health. It’s best to buy shoes in the evening when your feet are at their largest – they do swell during the day; that would help you get a good fit. While buying, you should ensure that the shoes do not pinch your toes or feet, and the toe box is comfortable.

According to foot doctors, you should avoid wearing high heels or shoes with pointed toes that put undue pressure on your toes. For daily wear, flat walking shoes or athletic shoes would be a prudent choice. Just like shoes, the right socks too are crucial. Wear lightly padded, clean and good fit socks with no seams; that would help avoid walking barefoot and injuring your feet accidentally.

4.Avoiding barefoot walking

Walking barefoot and stepping on something that hurts or cuts could be dangerous, since you may not notice that your foot is hurt. Even while indoors, avoid going barefoot for all it takes to hurt your feet is a misplaced nail or a child’s toy. As you avoid going barefoot on hot pavements or sandy beaches, be on guard to take the same care when at home.

5.Seeking medical attention for foot ailments

Whether you experience numbness, unexplainable pain, or suffer injuries, cuts or bruises that refuse to heal, don’t try over-the-counter medicines. Consult your foot doctor for correct diagnosis of the cause and proper prescription of medications, taking into consideration pre-existing health condition, if any. You can even seek from your doctor foot care tips on special shoes and orthotic support for free and comfortable mobility.

With conscious follow-up action on these tips and periodical consultation with an experienced podiatrist, you can avoid foot ailments and enjoy perfect foot health, despite your diabetes.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Preventing Foot Discomfort during Air Travel: Five Simple Ideas

You love air travel but hate one thing about it. You get too limited space to relax and sit comfortably. Sometimes it gives you a trapped feeling and can lead to several health problems, the most common being swollen foot.

When you sit for hours at a stretch in the same position, the muscles pumping blood to your feet tend to become inactive, causing inflammation and pain. Low cabin pressure along with dry air circulating in the plane could also lead to swollen foot. Furthermore, dehydration during the flight may worsen foot problems.

Given below are five simple ideas for you to keep in mind to ensure sound foot health during air travel.

1. Reduce salt intake before travel

Daily intake of salt is necessary to enhance your ability to perform. However, it has its downside too. Salt retains fluid, which could lead to swollen foot. Therefore, medical advice for you is to reduce salt intake on the day or even a day before the travel.

2. Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated before and throughout your travel is a good precautionary step to avoid swollen foot. Better, carry your own bottle of water, if you can take it past security. If you can’t, buy one after security clearance in one of the stalls there. Do not hesitate to get it refilled inside the aircraft. A well-hydrated body can forestall the chances of swollen foot. In addition, it keeps you active with frequent bathroom visits!

3. Stroll around in the aircraft

You do not have to sit tight keeping your seat belt fastened after the take off: stroll around in the aircraft when allowed. It keeps blood flowing as you pace along the aisle.

Your movement will be easier, if you can have an aisle seat. If you can’t get one, carry out frequent foot exercises. Rotate the feet and point your toes up, down and sideways. You can even prop your feet up and then down, if the seats next to you are unoccupied.

4. Pamper yourself with foot massage

Another way to avoid swollen foot and ensure blood flow is pampering your feet with a foot massage. Get rid of those shoes, simply put your foot on the lap and give it and the toes a good rub, and some gentle twists. This will reduce the strain, help you feel relaxed and will keep the blood circulating.

5. Place your feet properly

A huge baggage near your feet can be a bothersome obstruction, which prevents you from stretching your feet. If you place your feet in awkward positions, blood flow is affected and it adds to your swollen foot woes. What you should do, therefore, is to keep all your hand luggage in the overhead storage bin, so that you have ample legroom – in airline parlance ‘seat pitch’ – to place your feet comfortably.

You may not be able to avoid taking flights; but you can definitely avoid swollen foot during and after the journey. Wearing proper and comfortable footwear, making enough legroom to stretch and a dose of quick exercise can offer great relief even when you are in mid air. However, if the problem persists after the journey, you should consult an expert podiatrist for timely treatment.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Basics you should know before a Bunion Surgery

If you have long been suffering from foot pain due to bunions, you may be considering surgery as a feasible option. However, you should know you could get relief from bunions more often by taking appropriate medicines, in consultation with an experienced podiatrist.

Changing your footwear can sometimes be helpful. If all other options fail, surgery remains the only solution to get rid of this foot pain once and for all.

If you are decided on a bunion surgery, make sure you have gathered enough information about the procedure. Given below are a few such basic details you should know before the surgery. 

Suitability for bunion surgery

Age is not really a serious issue for this foot surgery. Anyone can undergo this operation, provided they are in good health. The following foot conditions indicate strongly the surgical option:

  • Difficulty while walking or carrying out regular activities
  • Pain while wearing shoes
  • Inability to move the big toe properly
  • Constant swelling of the big toe
  • Failure of anti-inflammatory drugs in providing relief
  • Bending of the big toe towards the other toes in severe cases

Preparing for the surgery

The first step to bunion surgery is a proper consultation with an experienced podiatrist, who has already conducted successfully several such operations. You should provide the surgeon with your medical history, giving critical health information, if any, of diabetes, heart or lung disease, allergies etc.

The doctor may ask you to do a few clinical tests like X-ray, electrocardiogram, and routine blood tests. Inform the podiatrist about the medicines you take. Usually the doctor instructs you how to get prepared before the day of surgery. 

Risk factors

Just like any surgery, bunion operation has its share of risks too. You may have prolonged toe pain/irritation, which arises due to insertion of hardware during the surgical procedure.

The operation may leave you with complications such as over/under correction, stiffness of the big toe joint, prolonged swelling/infection and nerve problems. Moreover, the most disheartening point is that bunion tends to recur after a few years in spite of a successful surgery. 

Recovery after the surgery

Generally, the recovery time varies from two to six weeks or even more. If you expect that your foot would retain its prior-to-surgery scarless look, then you will not be happy with the outcome! Mostly the operation leaves you with an unpleasant bump on the side of your toe, which is not easy to hide. In addition, you will suffer some discomfort or other after the surgery.

A detailed discussion with the foot specialist is necessary for you to be fully aware of what it means to undergo a bunion surgery, and to have a realistic expectation about its outcome. Clarify with the podiatrist all the issues that keep worrying you, get satisfactory answers, and then only should you decide on and proceed with the surgical procedure.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Nutritional Deficiencies that Cause your Cracked Heel

Thick dry skin may start building up around your heel. The accumulated dry skin already lacks moisture, and when it is coupled with excessive foot activity, you end up with cracked heel. When you have heel fissure, it doesn’t really go well with your fashionable footwear. If left untreated, cracked heel can cause you great discomfort, severe pain, and even bleeding.

Generally heel fissures affect the outer layer of the skin, but in severe cases the internal layers of dermis can get affected too. The root cause of all these heel problems can be traced to certain nutritional deficiencies. Here we take a look at five key deficiencies – of vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin A

When it comes to promoting cell division and growth, vitamin A plays a key role: consume more of green vegetables, milk, eggs, carrots and orange to enrich your body with this important vitamin. Recommended daily consumption for adult women is 700 mcg, and for adult men 900 mcg.

Vitamin C

Cracks or wrinkles appear when free radicals begin destroying the structural support of elastin and collagen to your skin. Start taking more of citrus fruits and green vegetables to supplement your body with an adequate dose of vitamin C. Recommended daily consumption of this essential nutrient for different age groups of men and women ranges from 75 mg to 120 mg. Consumption of more than the recommended dose may lead to some other problems.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E serves almost the same purpose as vitamin C: it protects your skin cells from the harmful effect of free radicals. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, and can help keep the skin cells strong and smooth. Raise your daily consumption of nuts, green vegetables, whole-grain products and fortified cereals to replenish your body with more of vitamin E. Regular recommended consumption of vitamin E is 15 mg per day.

Omega 3 Foods

Your daily diet must contain a total of at least 4,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acid, in the form of salmon fish oil, cod liver oil, walnut, herrings, flax seeds, tuna, white fish, egg yolk, sardines, anchovies, etc. This is an important nutrient which assists your blood circulation. Omega-3 can help heal wounds, enhance skin integrity and reduce inflammation. Make sure that your diet contains all the three types of omega-3 fatty acids.


Your body needs enzymes to improve the condition of skin cells, and zinc provides exactly the same. Daily intake of Zinc can benefit your body in multiple ways. It serves to keep your cells growing, and has a specific wound-healing capacity.

Adding zinc to your daily diet is not that tough, as there are many foods which contain this essential mineral. Take more of red meat, oysters, poultry products, whole grains and seafood to nourish your body with this essential mineral. Daily recommended intake for adult men is 11 mg, and for adult women 8 mg.

If your body misses any of the above nutrients, your heel will register the negative impact sooner rather than later. Do include these vitamins and minerals in your daily diet, following the guidelines. If your cracked heel continues to bother you even after revising your diet chart, it is best to consult a podiatrist for specialized assistance.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Taking Care of Your Foot Health: Five Shoe Categories You should Strictly Avoid

The definition of a ‘good’ pair of shoes varies from person to person. While current trends of style and fashion remain the prime criteria for many consumers, there are some, who consider durability of shoes as of crucial importance. Maybe, women buyers are typically charmed by style. They pick up shoes which have instant appeal. Unfortunately foot health seems to merit the least consideration.

Buying a good pair of shoes is not really rocket science, but it’s not that easy either. Often people invest in flashy pairs only to discover later those shoes are unsuitable for foot health. Here we take a look at five particular shoe categories which you should try to avoid at any cost.

Ultra-narrow high heels

As maintained by expert podiatrists, your ‘ultra-narrow high heels’ is to blame for painful foot conditions. Such a pair can cause soreness of Achilles tendon. As the high heels position your feet unnaturally, the extra stress on your foot bones may result in hairline fractures. If you love to wear narrow heels, the safer choice would be to shift to chunky heels with greater surface area.

Ballet flat

As a ballet flat doesn’t offer any arch support, it hampers normal foot function. This can cause not only knee pain, but also hip and back problems. Another painful condition you might experience due to little arch support is plantar fasciitis (pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia that connects your heel bone to your toes). If you can’t really resist the temptation of a cute pair of ballet flats, go in for orthotic inserts to provide extra cushioning to the heel portion.

Flip-flop slipper

A flip-flop can be trendy, no doubt, but it doesn’t offer adequate protection to your foot. When you wear a flip-flop, most parts of your foot remain exposed, and are thus vulnerable to sudden injuries; suffering unexpected cuts and scratches is quite common. If you are diabetic, you should strictly avoid the flip-flop. Sandals with adequate thickness would be comparatively safer.

Platform shoes

When you take a close look at a pair of platform shoes, you will notice the rigid foot beds; whether they serve to add value to foot wear fashion or not, they certainly serve to obstruct normal foot function.

When you walk, it’s normal for your foot to bend a little; but the rigid platform soles resist the bending. If the shoe heels happen to be much higher than the toe portion, greater pressure is applied to the metatarsal bones. Consequently, your foot health is affected considerably. Flatter platform shoes would be a better alternative though not advisable.

Pointy toe shoes

Pointy toe shoes may be your favorite, simply because of the extreme trendiness. However, you pay a heavy price for the pointed toes: if you wear such shoes regularly, your toes get crushed constantly, leading to foot conditions like blisters, hammertoes or bunions.

In worst cases there can be nerve pain too. Sometimes your toenails may develop bruises as well.  Shoes with wider toe boxes may offer some relief to your sore feet.

Buying a pair of shoes is not simply for proclaiming your style quotient: it should be more for preserving your foot health. If you are still uncertain of the right shoe selection, do consult an experienced podiatrist for healthy guidance.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

How You can Prevent Swollen Feet

Foot swelling can indeed affect your normal life. Suddenly you realize one day your regular shoe size does not fit properly. Also, you feel certain heaviness and pain while walking.

The good news is that, with a little bit of precaution, you can prevent the foot and ankle swelling problem. Discussed below are a few easy-to-adopt measures, which should take care of your puffy foot.

Don’t stand or sit for hours at a stretch

Most jobs today demand sitting or standing for long hours. After work, you find walking quite uncomfortable and sometimes painful too. The simple solution suggested is to interrupt your sitting or standing work schedule, and take a break after every one or two hours.

You may take a few steps up and down, or elevate your feet and do some stretching exercise for a couple of minutes in your own office, to relax your taut foot muscles.

Do regular exercises

Swelling of foot or ankle happens often due to poor blood circulation and fluid distribution. Weight gain is another reason which causes excess pressure on your muscles and joints.

An effective solution for you is to draw a regular exercise schedule, and stick to it religiously. To start with, do the exercise under expert supervision, before continuing it on your own.

Eat balanced diet

Stay away from high salty food, as it can cause fluid retention, which in turn can trigger foot inflammation. It would be good for you to prepare a healthy diet chart, avoiding excessively oily and sugary foods: they can lead to weight gain too. If needed, seek the help of a dietician who would suggest an appropriate diet plan to match your body needs.

Lose weight

Obesity is one of the major underlying causes of foot problems. Your food habit might not be the sole cause for weight gain.

Health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis and gout too may trigger obesity. Also, some medicines can cause weight gain.

Weight loss, therefore helps cure not only your foot problems, but also the other health problems mentioned above.

Avoid foot/ankle injury

If you have a sprained ankle, it can lead to swelling. This is because, the ligament which holds your ankle in place, stretches beyond its limit due to the injury. Take adequate rest, if you have foot or ankle injury. Also, apply ice pack, keep your foot elevated and wrap the injured portion with a compression bandage for relief.

Usually foot and ankle swelling is not a cause for concern. For instance, pregnancy often triggers foot swelling, and the problem recedes by itself after delivery. In general, you can depend on the measures suggested above.

Most foot problems are temporary, which can be solved by changing your lifestyle and diet, and, if necessary, by taking some simple medications.

However, if you suffer puffy foot along with certain other health issues, you can’t afford to take it lightly. Sometimes your foot condition can be a warning signal, indicating serious health ailments. Consult with a podiatrist or senior physician promptly in such instances.