It’s time we give our feet the respect and attention they deserve. If your workout has led you down the road to overexertion, there’s a strong possibility you feel it in your feet before you feel it anywhere else. They quite literally carry us where we need to go, and it’s for this reason they’re under constant strain and pressure.
If you’re reading this article, then most likely you’ve already sustained a foot injury. That’s not too surprising, because they’re one of the most common places where we’re likely to seek treatment for injuries that occurred during working out. First thing’s first: if you’re in pain, then see a doctor to determine the cause and treatment for any injury you may have already sustained.
What type of footwear do I need?
If we’re in the gym, the last thing we’re thinking about is safety gear. Still, it should be on your mind. Whether or not you’re a runner doesn’t matter. Anything you do in the gym places additional strain on the muscles and bones in your feet, and the first line of defense is a comfortable pair of shoes built for the occasion.
Be careful not to purchase shoes that don’t properly fit your feet. When you move throughout your day, blood flow will cause your feet to expand and contract. If you purchase footwear that doesn’t leave enough space in between the area from the inside edge of the shoe to your toe, your toes could run out of space and grind against the inside of the shoe. This can cause stress fractures depending on the type of activity you’re engaged in. On top of that, you could notice swelling, blisters, or unsightly calluses. If you’re young and still growing, leave even more space inside of your shoes. Your feet will thank you later.
On the flip side, shoes that are too roomy can mean less support. If you’re a runner, or lift and put too much weight on your feet, it can cause the arches of your feet to tighten and increases the chance of tendonitis.
When we grow older, we often spend a lot of time considering our bodies and how they change.
“Am I too skinny?”
“Am I gaining weight?”
“Am I going crazy, or am I an inch shorter than I used to be?”
Paranoia or not, our bodies do change for better or for worse. What might surprise you is that our feet change shape as well. Instead of holding onto that same old pair of ragged shoes from college, toss them in the trash. As the years go by, your foot arch will fall inward, making your feet longer and wider. To keep track of the changing shape, measure them at least once a year–and purchase new footwear when you do!
This is especially true for those who work out, but make sure you purchase new shoes when the last pair starts to get run down. Before you start running in the new pair, do some light walking in them for a couple of weeks to break them in. Sometimes new insoles for the old shoes may provide a temporary fix, but don’t leave the problem unresolved for too long.
Most importantly, cater to your needs. If you’re a runner, buy a pair of quality running shoes. If you’re hitting the weight room, a pair of sneakers will do just fine. If the situation permits, go barefoot!
Types of foot injuries and how to prevent them
The most common cause of most types of foot injuries is overexertion. Over time, the bones, tendons and muscles in your foot can wear down when you don’t give them time to properly heal. If you’re a runner, then you know these painful sensations all too well.
Most injuries to the foot while working out are caused by accidents or repetitive, redundant activity. Bending your toes back, stepping on your heel or sole the wrong way, or twisting your ankle during a sharp turn can all lead to excruciating injuries. Take care with each step you take. Think before you move! To avoid injuries from repetitive activity, try to cycle through different types of workout routines.
Here are a few common injuries you might experience if you’re not careful:
- Tendonitis is caused by overexertion or repetitive movements, and will usually require antiinflammatories and a wrap. Unfortunately, you’ll need rest to let the tendon repair itself. If you continue pushing your body, the inflammation will worsen and you might require more extreme treatments. Untreated, tendonitis can cause permanent injury.
- Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation that occurs along the heel, can cause sharp pain, and is a common source of concern for runners. Stability shoes can help alleviate the issue, but strengthening the muscles in the foot can prove a more manageable long-term solution.
- Stress fractures are also caused by repetitive activity. Because they are often microfractures, they may not appear on an x-ray, and the pain might only occur during activity. Do not avoid treatment simply because you feel no pain at rest!
How to avoid general foot injuries
When you’re healing from a foot injury you’ve already sustained but don’t want to stop working out, you’ll have to change your routine. No running, walking, or standing. Hit the weights instead, and work on those biceps!
You should already have a basic idea of how to avoid most of the worst kinds of foot injuries by taking care to wear the right shoes and avoid overexertion, so what else can you do to avoid more general injuries?
Well, it can be a great idea to take a look at nutrition. The wrong types of food can be detrimental to your long-term health, and if you’re intent on improving your body while in the gym or on the streets, you should pay attention to everything you eat. The right types of food, on the other hand, can ensure strong bones and tendons while promoting muscle growth.
So what types of food should you eat? Here are just a few examples of good dietary choices for avoiding foot injuries:
- Fruits and vegetables. The vitamin C in strawberries, oranges, or red peppers promotes strong tendons, ligaments, and joints.
- A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, eating fish a couple times a week can greatly reduce the chances of inflammation. If your feet are prone to tendonitis, be sure work this into your diet.
- Soy milk and leafy greens. Adding these items to your diet will boost your intake of calcium, an essential vitamin for keeping your bones strong and preventing loss to your bone structure as you age.
How are you doing so far? Hopefully you can avoid the most common types of injuries by making slight changes to your workout routine or buying a better pair of shoes. Perhaps better eating habits are in order. If you can do all of these things, then you’re well on your way to avoiding all sorts of nasty foot injuries and spare yourself unnecessary downtime!
About the Author
Dr. Steven Brook is a board certified podiatrist and founder of Country Foot Care, which now has two locations on Long Island. With over 20 years of experience in the world of podiatric medicine, his practice prides themselves on offering state of the art care in conjunction with personal attention and the pampering that your feet deserve.