Mid Illinois, Springfield / Decatur

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Fitness and Your Feet

By John M. Sigle, DPM, FACFAS, Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois

Athletics and recreational programs are in full swing as we move into the summer months and despite the differences among the sports, all participants are susceptible to foot problems. This time of year is especially important for people to avoid foot problems if they are beginning an exercise program. Here are some of the more common questions my patients ask and helpful tips to prevent foot and ankle injuries during exercise, tennis, golf, and running.

What can I do to prevent injuries when I start working out?
It’s important to consult your physician before you begin a fitness program. This includes a complete physical and a foot exam. Condition yourself properly to include all-around body strength and flexibility. Select shoes especially designed for the activity you are participating in. Follow proper foot care hygiene and stretch your muscles, particularly at the calf, before and after play. Pay attention to what your feet are telling you.

What are the common foot problems playing tennis?
Tennis is particularly stressful on your feet because of the quick starts and stops and lateral movements from side to side. The most common problems are ankle sprains, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and tennis toe.

What are the best ways to prevent injury?
If you have weak ankles or history of sprains, wear a simple ankle brace inside your shoe. Select a stable tennis shoe that is not too rigid and provides flexibility to perform. The shoe should provide durable toe support. Custom orthotics is recommended to provide arch and joint support. Proper warm-up and stretching are also important. These actions will help prevent injuries, relieve foot pain, and extend playing time.

What are the common foot problems associated with golf?
Golf is stressful on your feet and ankles because of excessive walking up and down hills. The most common problems golfers have are tendonitis, capsulitis, and ligament sprains and pulls that keep the golf enthusiasts off the greens. Improper shoes can also bring blisters, neuromas, and other foot and ankle pain.

What are the best ways to prevent injury?
Walking up and down hills is a normal motion and it puts abnormal stress on your Achilles tendon; and walking on uneven surfaces puts a lot of strain on the tendons along the outer portion of the ankle. If you don’t stretch before hand, you will put a lot of wear and tear on your muscles that may lead to severe tendonitis. If you use arch supports in your shoes, you will be surprised how much better your feet feel at the end of a round of golf.

What are some of the common foot problems associated with running?
Gravity tends to come into play more during running and a considerable more stress is placed on your feet. The 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments, and network of tendons, nerves, and blood vessels all work together in the foot while running and take on maximum stress. The most common foot problems that occur are blisters, corns, calluses, Athletes foot, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.

What is the best way to prevent injury?
Runners should properly condition their body, build a routine, and stretch their muscles, tendons, and ligaments before and after each run. Proper running shoes are critical. Shoes should provide flexibility in the right places to help with shock absorption. More rigidity is needed in the middle of the foot. The heel should sit low in the shoe and the cushioned sole should be slightly wider than a walking shoe to absorb impact. Custom orthotics will reduce stress on lower extremities and allow you to run with less fatigue. Keep your feet powdered and dry and wear clean socks. Shoes hold moisture so alternate shoes with each run. If you develop recurring and/or increasing aches and pains, contact a physician to help pinpoint the problem and prevent more serious injury or long-term damage to your feet.

For more information contact The Foot and Ankle Center of Illinois at 217-787-2700 or visit myfootandanklecenter.com

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Keywords:  SHC

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