Friday, 23 February 2018

4 Conditions Faced by Ballet Dancers that Podiatrists Can Help with

Leaping in your Pointe shoes or maneuvering those highly athletic moves may give you an adrenaline rush as a ballet dancer, but they could be causing you foot pain and injuries too. From improper technique and fatigues to wearing toe shoes or thin slippers that aren’t designed to absorb shock (and thus making your lower extremities absorb most forces of impact), there are several factors that can make your life and especially, your feet, prone to problems and injuries. Here are four such common foot conditions that a podiatrist can help you with:
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1. Corns and calluses: Ill-fitting shoes that trigger fiction between your feet and the shoes, or wearing pointe shoes without breaking them in, can cause corns and calluses. Apart from being painful and interfering with your performance, these may even cause ulcers, if left untreated. If you already suffer from corns or calluses, a podiatrist can help treat and remove them. If you aren’t yet affected by these conditions, a podiatrist can help you select the right shoes, suggest tips on proper foot care and even offer insights into breaking in pointe shoes the right way to prevent corns and calluses.

2. Cuboid syndrome: This condition is triggered when the ligaments and joint close to your foot’s cuboid bone become torn or injured. When you perform pirouettes or jumps, your foot may sometimes fail to hold its proper alignment, which in turn may cause cuboid syndrome. With joint manipulation, assessing your technique, strapping, and use of in-shoe devices for offloading pressure, a podiatrist can help you continue with your dance moves while letting the injured region get healed.

3. Epiphysitis: Extreme bio mechanical demands that ballet places on the dancer may cause this condition when the first metatarsalphalangeal joint is subjected to extensive (90 to 100 degrees of) dorsiflexion. Epiphysitis is characterized by inflammation, tenderness and pain that subside with rest. A podiatrist can help by suggesting modified activities that you should continue with for four to five weeks until your symptoms subside. After this, your foot doctor would let you resume your normal routine gradually, based on your tolerance level.

4. Stress fractures: Ballet’s repetitive movements often trigger stress fractures, particularly of the metatarsals and toes. When diagnosed with a stress fracture, your podiatrist would suggest you rest, to let your bone get healed properly. This is usually followed by a series of rehabilitation exercises (dance-specific) that would let you return to your dance routine sans any discomfort or pain. Since healing bones is a long procedure that can take about six weeks, consulting a podiatrist is the best way to keep yourself well-conditioned (by following the advised strategies and exercises) while letting your injured bone have the rest necessary for its healing.

Ignoring your foot pain or dancing with troubling issues can often worsen the situation and may even threaten your career as a professional, or even force you to stay away from your dancing shoes in case you are a hobbyist. So, it’s best to consult a podiatrist at the first signs of a problem to make sure the root cause is diagnosed the right way and treated promptly. After all, you don’t want to hang up your dancing shoes due to a foot injury or serious foot condition, right?

Monday, 22 January 2018

5 Skiing/Snowboarding Tips for your Leg and Foot Health

Maybe you are a snowboarder or skier: you slide downhill at breakneck speed over fresh snow under a clear, blue sky! Is there anything to beat that exhilarating adrenaline-pumping moment?

However, if you want to enjoy your favorite sport to the fullest, the safest way, you have to keep your legs and feet strong and healthy to avoid stress and more importantly injuries. Here are five tips that would help you achieve it.

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1 Choosing the right boots

Every foot is unique: you need to find boots for skiing or snowboarding that offer you the perfect fit. If you are unsure about which boot is the ideal match for your ability and your feet, seek advice from a technician who is familiar with such things.

Every foot is unique: you need to find boots for skiing or snowboarding that offer you the perfect fit. If you are unsure about which boot is the ideal match for your ability and your feet, seek advice from a technician who is familiar with such things.

2 Using appropriate equipment

For the sake of saving a few dollars, do not continue to use your old boots or equipment for another year; do not hesitate to buy appropriate new boots, boards, bindings etc. Remember – using faulty/worn out equipment can cause discomfort and may even trigger injuries, thus robbing you of the pleasure of snowboarding or skiing. It would be better to rent modern updated versions than risk your leg and foot health by using the outdated gear.

3 Warming up properly

In your rush to slide down that steepest slope or catch the first lift to the mountain’s apex, you may often neglect the warm-up run. It’s necessary for your legs, feet, quads and hips, to warm up properly; it would boost blood flow, stretch your muscles, and make them ready for action. You will thus be able to find the ideal rhythm to enjoy skiing or snowboarding to the fullest.

4 Taking precautions to avoid frostbite

Frostbite is an injury caused when your body tissues and skin become exposed to extreme cold and begin to freeze. Perhaps you are unaware that even when your feet and toes are well covered in socks, they can suffer frostbite.

Whether you are a skier or snowboarder, the best way to steer clear of frostbite is to avoid staying outdoors for long periods, especially when you notice that the weather is bitingly cold. Additionally, you should always wear proper socks and other necessary clothing to beat the chill. It’s equally important to ensure that your boots and socks aren’t so excessively tight that blood circulation is restricted.

5 Following posted signage and official trails

You should never ever take risks that you will regret later for example, going off the beaten path, especially when you are alone, or going out of patrolled areas. It’s always wise to follow posted signage and orders of mountain/resort patrollers. Skiers or snowboarders in these areas will be safe in the hands of mountain patrollers in case of emergencies.

Let not foot and leg injuries deter you from enjoying this skiing and snowboarding season. Remember these tips to make the most of your favorite activity.

Friday, 22 December 2017

5 Simple Leg and Foot Exercises for Desk Workers

Staying shackled to your desk for a better part of your workday is indeed bad for your health. It’s tough to give your body the necessary exercise it needs, if you don’t have a company gym membership, or can’t go to fitness classes in the morning or evening. Your leg and gluteal muscles go unused for long hours every day, if you are a desk worker, glued to your chair.

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As a result, they become tight, weakened and even atrophied over a period. You can end up suffering from one or more of several leg and foot issues – from decreased hip mobility, weak bones, poor circulation in legs (causing blood clots, swelling in ankles, varicose veins, etc.) to problems with stability and poor power of your stride when you jump or walk (due to restricted range of motion of the leg muscles).

However, the happy news is that with a few proven and easy legs and foot exercises, you can ward off many of these problems prevalent among desk workers. Top five such exercises are listed below for your benefit.

          1.  Get up and walk: Stand up and walk every 20-30 minutes – to bring a glass of water, share some office info with a colleague, or simply file a paper. This will bring the otherwise unused leg muscles into use and improve blood circulation. Even when you can’t walk around the office frequently, take a break to stand up and simply stretch your legs and feet for a few minutes.

         2.  Spot jogging: Find an empty stairwell or conference room and jog in place for 60 seconds, bringing your knees as high up as possible. Take rest for 30 seconds and follow it up with a repeat to give your static legs some welcome and beneficial action.

       3.Leg extensions: Simple exercises would be to extend your left leg in front, hold for ten seconds, lower it down and stop short of touching the floor; hold the position again for 10 seconds. After doing 15 reps, you should switch legs and repeat the same workout with your right leg.

        4Circling the feet: Raise your left foot slightly from the ground, and make circling movements  – five times clockwise, and five times anticlockwise. Bring your left foot to rest and repeat the exercise with your right foot.

       5  One-legged squat: With the support of a desk or wall, balance your weight on your left leg with the right leg extended straight in front, as high as possible. Next, squat down as far as you can. Hold the position for ten counts, come back to the normal position and repeat after switching legs. 

If you are interested in more exercises, you may even walk up and down a flight of stairs once or twice flexing and extending the toes and feet. Even with a desk job, therefore, you can care for your leg and foot health by following a simple workout routine as outlined above.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Childhood Obesity and Foot Problems

Childhood obesity is a growing threat worldwide today. Considerable focus is on various health problems related to this threat that may continue onto teenage years and adulthood.

However, foot health related to this issue remains a largely neglected domain. With pain in the lower legs and feet on the one hand and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle on the other, it has become a vicious cycle, which is extremely a tough task for a child to break.

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Foot problems of obese children

Heel pain: Obese children carry an additional body weight; the excessive pressure they put on their feet often flattens it, causing the plantar fascia (the flat band of tissue connecting your heel bone to your toes) abnormal strain. This is a key cause of heel pain of obese children.

Sever’s disease: The heel bone isn’t developed completely until a child is 14 years or older. Overweight children often fall prey to Sever’s disease – a painful inflammation of the heel’s growth plate  due to repetitive stress and muscle strain. Since children are likely to walk or move around a lot, it worsens the pain. Due to the excessive weight obese children put on their feet, their heel bones may even suffer hairline fractures or stress fractures.

Arch/calf muscle pain: Pain in the arch of the foot or calf muscle is another common complaint in overweight children, which often makes it difficult for them to run or walk.

Congenital foot problems: Inherited or congenital foot conditions like the following may be noticed in some obese children: hammertoes, bunions, tarsal coalition (an abnormal bond between two or more bones located towards the back portion of the foot and heel) and pediatric flatfoot.   Overweight aggravates these conditions.

Slower gait: Obese children often face the prospects of developing an unsteady, slower gait; this is because they try to retain balance as they carry around their excessive body weight. They become habituated, over a period, to a wider stance and an increasingly hesitant, slower walk; as their gait slows, their instability increases. They may have less flexible feet and growing discomfort levels.

Making obese children physically active

The following ideas ensure obese children to be physically active:

 ·       Limiting their time for TV, the internet, or onscreen games

 ·       Making them go for a regular morning/evening walk

 ·      Presenting them with a pet  to play with and run about

·   Organizing for them physical/fun group activities in the backyard or the nearby park

 ·      Enrolling them in swimming/dance/soccer classes

 ·      Making them play tag or skipping rope

Combating childhood obesity

It’s best to have a coordinated team approach to address issues related to childhood obesity. Parents, teachers and childcare providers can work together to help children develop and stick to healthy eating habits, follow a workout routine and live an active life.

A reputed podiatrist in your area can: monitor periodically your child’s ankles, feet, knee, hips and legs; create awareness of foot health; suggest how injuries can be avoided; treat potential symptoms of diabetes development and/or bio mechanical issues; correct gait asymmetries, if any; address any other problem that demands attention. 

Childhood obesity has a close connection with several foot problems that are likely to assume psychological dimensions, if unattended. Therefore, it’s important for you as a parent, to ensure that your child eats a healthy meal, avoids untimely snacks and junk food and follows a firm workout routine.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Dealing with Toenail Fungus

When tiny fungal pathogens get under your nail plate to feed upon the nails and skin, they trigger toenail fungal infection. Common causes of toenail fungus include: walking barefoot in damp areas or public places like swimming pools, showers, locker rooms etc; provision of an entry point for the fungi by a microscopic injury; use of unsterilized tools during a pedicure.

People suffering from chronic conditions like circulatory problems, diabetes, or immune-deficiency are particularly at risk of fungal nails. Excessive perspiration and a history of athlete's foot too could be contributing factors that trigger toenail fungus.

This disease causes a progressive change in the color and quality of your toenail; it thickens, suffers yellow or brown discoloration, and eventually, may slowly start getting separated from the nail bed, which is often embarrassing and ugly.

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When to see a podiatrist

Since toenail fungus can be present for years without causing any pain, it’s often ignored. As soon as you notice signs like thickening, discoloration, or abnormal toenails, you should consult a podiatrist. Remember – the sooner the professional treatment, the better would be your chances of getting back healthy nails.

Diagnosis and treatment

Based on the severity and type of infection, the scope and duration of treatments may vary. By detecting a fungal infection early, your podiatrist can culture the nail to find the exact cause, and advise a suitable treatment plan. This may include oral or topical medication, and removal of debris and diseased nail matter from the infected nail (debridement).

Severe cases may need surgical intervention, where the infected nail is removed temporarily to apply a topical anti fungal directly to the affected region. In case a chronically painful nail does not respond to these treatments, the podiatrist may decide to remove it permanently for curing the fungal infection and preventing any chances of a distorted nail growth.

Preventive steps

Your first line of defense against toenail fungus is daily inspection of the toes and feet and good foot hygiene. With feet that are dry and clean, you can steer clear of this disease. Here are a few simple preventive steps that can help you deal with toenail fungus: 

  •  In damp public areas, wear shower shoes as regularly as possible. 
  •  Every time you return home from outdoors, use water and soap to wash your feet and pat           them   dry. 
  • Wear well-fitted shoes that let your feet breathe. 
  • Cut your toenails straight across to ensure that they do not protrude beyond the tip of the         toe. 
  •  Prevent moisture buildup; do not wear excessively tight hosiery.
  •  Instead of woolen or cotton socks, wear socks made up of synthetic fiber that keep your feet dry by wicking away moisture faster.       
  •            Disinfect all home pedicure tools and instruments you use for cutting nails. 
            ·     If you suffer from athlete's foot, get it treated promptly. 

Toenail fungus is often taken lightly and ignored until it’s too late. Remember to seek medical attention on time; or else, the infection may spread fast and end up impairing your capability to do your daily chores or even jeopardize something as simple as walking.

Monday, 25 September 2017

5 Foot Care Myths Debunked

Many myths and old wives’ tales are fun to laugh at; however, when they involve your health, you must get your facts right, or run the risk of making worse seemingly harmless conditions. From cuts and bunions to broken ankles, you do have anecdotal myths galore; but podiatrists advice getting right the facts behind them instead of blindly believing them. We bust five common foot care myths here for your benefit.

Myth-1: Shoes trigger bunions

Fact: In most cases, bunions stem from either congenital deformities (which refers to deformities present at birth) or inherited faulty foot types. Foot injuries too can trigger bunions. Although many wrongly believe bunions are inherited conditions, the foot type lies at the root of the problem. Wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight and narrow can crowd your toes and increase your risk of bunions or worsen them over time; but shoes are not the culprit to blame.

Myth-2: My injured ankle/foot isn't broken if I can walk on it

Fact: Despite the extent of your injury and the level of pain you can bear, it’s not impossible to walk on a broken ankle/foot. However, podiatrists strictly advice against doing this, since it will worsen the damage already caused by the broken bone. It’s wise not to put any undue pressure on it (by standing, walking, etc.) and to get your injured foot diagnosed immediately by a foot doctor. You may apply ice on the injured foot and keep it elevated to get some relief from the pain.

Myth-3: Foot pain with old age is normal

Fact: Suffering from foot pain isn’t normal, no matter what your age is. Therefore, instead of taking old age as the cause of any foot pain that you might be experiencing and neglecting the condition, you should make an appointment with your podiatrist right away. A proper diagnosis of the condition is necessary for timely treatment and quick relief from the pain. 

Myth-4: Any foot wound would heal on its own

Fact: Remember that a majority of deep wounds won’t heal on their own. It is important therefore to get your foot wound examined by a podiatrist within 24 hours. If you wait for too long, the wound may become infected. In some cases, the condition may worsen and require hospitalization that might end in amputation. Limb loss statistics of the Amputee Coalition of America show that almost 185,000 lower extremity amputations are recorded in the US on a yearly basis and an estimated 2 million Americans live with limb loss.

Myth-5: Duct tape can ‘suffocate’ warts

Fact: Warts are commonly caused by viral skin infection and you can’t suffocate them with duct tape. This is especially true if you have pre-existing conditions like diabetes or suffer from neurological, immunological, or circulatory problems: you need to be extremely careful with warts removal, which should ideally be done under professional care. It’s best to consult your podiatrist for carrying out the right process of warts removal rather than try doing it on your own with duct tape: it could aggravate the harm already done instead of doing any good. 

Don’t neglect your foot and ankle conditions, carried away by common myths. Treat them in earnest by consulting an experienced and reputed podiatrist for the right diagnosis and treatment.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Improving your Balance: Try out these 4 Foot and Ankle Exercises

 It is not uncommon for many of us to step into a hole in the yard accidentally while playing with children and lose balance. You might run after your dog and suddenly trip and fall on an uneven surface or suffer the same embarrassment due to any other cause.

In such a situation when your body loses its balance, the ‘righting reflex’ is triggered automatically to regain the standard upright position. This is a natural reaction to the mishap to correct a deviation and achieve a stable equilibrium.

If your body fails to react properly, it could cause muscle strain, broken bones, or a fall, which in turn would lead to serious injuries. Your feet and ankle are the first to react when your body’s natural upright position is upset. In order to maintain a healthy balance, it is necessary that you strengthen them and ensure their proper functioning. Here are four foot and ankle exercises you can try out for this purpose: 

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1 Towel scrunches

Sit on a chair and spread out a hand towel on the floor close to your feet. Now, use your toes to grip the towel and release it repeatedly, while trying to bring it close to the chair’s base.

To make this exercise a bit more intense, you can keep some weight (say, one small hand weight) at the far end of the towel, and then try scrunching it. With towel scrunches, you can activate the intrinsic muscles of your toe and feet, which are crucial for the overall arch and foot stability.

 2 Balancing on a cushion

Put a pillow on the floor, and try standing on its soft but unsteady surface. Making your ankles and feet work towards finding stable balance, this exercise helps strengthen your joints and the connecting muscles.

Once you feel you have found your balance for standing atop the pillow, raise your hind feet slowly without moving from your position. This may be difficult to start with, but attempt to do at least ten foot raises. This will make your ankle joints and muscles stronger apart from improving your balance.

3 Walking in a conventional line (heel to toe)

This is an extremely useful exercise to tone up your ankle joints, thus improving their flexibility, apart from strengthening the surrounding muscles. Foot doctors often suggest this exercise for patients with ankle arthritis since it improves blood circulation and helps reduce stiffness.

4 Single leg stance (with open and closed eyes)

Vision plays a key role in your body’s balance. This exercise aims to improve your steadiness by decreasing your vision. Stand on one leg at a safe place and count 10 seconds. Then change your leg and repeat.

Next, repeat the stance with both legs as before but with your eyes completely closed. With your vision reduced to zero, you will find the balancing task quite difficult. Yet, keep practicing, as it will strengthen your joints and muscles. It will contribute to your improved overall balance.

Be cautious while practicing these exercises: during the initial stages, if you need to, use your hands to get the support of a wall or a table for the balancing exercises. In case you are recovering from or have recently recovered from any foot and ankle injuries, make sure to consult with your expert foot doctor before practicing any of these workouts.