As the sportsman’s injury, plantar fasciitis makes sports headlines in the USA, UK podiatrist, Martine Abrahams sheds some light on this common, often debilitating condition

Image Albert Pujols, player for Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the latest elite athlete left sitting on the bench, thanks to plantar fasciitis

High profile athletes might create headlines, but this painful condition can affect us all.

The plantar tendon and its function:

The plantar tendon runs the length of the bottom of your foot, spanning the area from the base of the toes to the front of your heel. The two ends of the tendon attach at the base of the toes and at the front of the heel bone by means of fascia, a strong fibrous membrane. The plantar tendon keeps the arch of the foot from flattening completely when the foot bears weight, providing cushioning and shock absorption during walking, running or standing. This tendon also allows you to point your toes.

What is Plantar Fasciitits?

When the plantar fascia tissue is stressed, small tears can occur, which in turn, causes extreme pain during movement or even weight bearing – or any movement that creates a pull on the tendon.

Stressors can be varied in nature and include: regular exercise/sport, heel striking during striding, tight calves, inflexible Achilles tendon and wearing high heels.

Image

Other common causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Wearing inflexible or worn out shoes
  • Very low or high arches
  • Being overweight
  • Spending long hours on your feet
  • Tight calf muscles or tight/stiff ankle muscles
  • Walking barefoot in soft sand for long distances
  • Those with natural flat feet (hyper-pronation) seem to suffer this condition more than others

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis:

Pain can be extreme and is often felt on the underside of the heel and more intense at the start of the day:  “You almost want to pee in your bed rather than go to the bathroom,” Pujols told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s really painful in the morning.”

Treatment:

This condition can be difficult to treat and, perhaps most annoying for those who enjoy exercise, is that the main solution is rest, combined with physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections and/or night splints to stretch the injured fascia.

As a short-term pain relief measure, you can roll the bottom of the foot back and forth over a tennis ball or cold bottle of water, to gently stretch out the tendon and disperse the fluid that pools there.

Stretching exercises can also help:

Image

Orthotics can be worn to help support the foot arch:

Image

Ultimately, prevention is probably better than cure where plantar fasciitis is concerned.  Wear good shoes with adequate arch support; stretch the area well before and after exercise and regular foot massages will all help.

Advertisements

Watch out pregnant women – it’s not only your bump that gets bigger – often feet do too! Laser expert podiatrist Martine Abrahams talks feet and pregnancy

Image  Watch out pregnant women – it’s not only your bump that gets bigger – often feet do too!

As if the hot summer months weren’t enough to bear, try adding a 7lb bump and swollen feet into the bargain – not much fun!

Why do feet get bigger?

The obvious reason is fluid retention.  Gravity pulls fluid down to the lower extremities resulting in ballooning ankles and.

A lesser-known cause of enlarging feet during pregnancy is due to the secretion of hormone ‘relaxin’  during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.  This aptly named hormone helps to keep pelvic joints loose and ligaments soft, offering the baby a smoother journey down the birth canal.

Sadly, it’s not just the abdominal ligaments that loosen – those in the feet can too, resulting in toes spreading and feet seeming to get bigger.

Are the changes permanent?

Thankfully any fluid build up will subside after the baby is born, however for those of you who have suffered negative effects of softening ligaments, this could well be permanent.

Some women claim their feet have grown up to one size post pregnancy!

What can you do?

I advise if you can, to wear larger shoes that sit comfortably for the duration of your pregnancy. Try not to invest in anything too expensive, as you may need to revert to your old shoes around one month after the birth.  Wearing tight shoes can cause or aggravate bunions or other painful foot issues such as ingrowing toenails, corns and calluses.

Image     The good news is that your pregnancy will only last 9months (if you’re lucky!) The bad news is that your feet could grow with each pregnancy, so maybe hold off that Blahnik treat until after your family is complete!

Festival goers BEWARE – fungal spores lurk in dark, damp conditions, waiting to take hold in those vulnerable nail beds!

Glastonbury Festival 2013 is upon us and I hope all you intrepid campers have fun in the sun…Image

…but, JUST in case the British summer does what it does best, please remember to take good care of your feet Image

Clearly foot care will not be your number one priority, but maybe it should move up the list – at least a little!  

Why? Fungal spores love dark, damp and dirty conditions and the fields of the Glastonbury Festival provide the perfect breeding ground – especially when the heavens open!

During the summer months I see an increasing number of holidaymakers who made the brave decision to camp in the UK, only to come home with fungal nail infections and Athlete’s Foot.  

Fungal spores enter via any small break in the skin integrity and soon take hold.  Once established, the infections can be difficult to eradicate.

 Here are some practical tips to help avoid nail fungal infections during the long weekend:

Trim your nail short before you go

Dry feet thoroughly after bathing – try to keep your towel clean and dry (!)

Wear 100% cotton or wool socks – helps absorb the sweat and moisture 

Wear shoes that have wide space for your toes to ‘breathe’

In wet and moist areas, avoid walking in barefoot

If possible, wear shower shoes, sandals or flip flops when going to public areas

Before going to bed, try to thoroughly dry your feet

NEVER share shoes and sandals with others

Avoid injury to nails, nail beds, and nail plates 

If you do suspect a fungal nail infection has taken hold, then book in to see your local podiatrist.  Over-the-counter solutions are not particularly effective and you may well need a more sophisticated treatment such as state-of-the-art Lunula Laser. 

Symptoms of nail fungus:

  • Thickened nails
  • Crumbly or brittle nails
  • Nail distorted in shape or separated
  • Nail with no lustre or shine
  • White, yellow or brown coloured nail

How does it work? Unlike conventional solutions, the Lunula Low Level Laser is the first treatment to tackle the root cause of nail fungus – not just the symptoms.  Known as the ‘COLD’ laser – this new device does not rely on heat to treat, instead utilises two light wavelengths, 635nm and 405nm, to tackle differing cell membranes. 

Have a fabulous time – if nothing else, keep your feet happy by avoiding walking barefoot around the venue, and let’s hope you will all be basking in sunshine. (I’ll save my sunscreen lecture for next year!)

   HIGH HEELS CAN LEAVE A LASTING IMPRINT

Image   HIGH HEELS CAN LEAVE A LASTING IMPRINT ON YOUR FEET acknowledges famous shoe fanatic, actress Sarah Jessica Parker

We all have our favourite heels that come out for special occasions, but, for those of us who wear them all the time, take note: high heels can damage your feet and cause a whole load of problems as the years move on.

Not just foot pain, problems range from the more common concerns such as bunions, corns and calluses to more complex issues like misshapen hammertoes or excruciating pain in the ball of the foot, which seems to get worse every time the shoes are worn.

Will women stop wearing their vertiginous favourites? Not likely, judging by a survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association, which showed some 42% of women admitted they’d wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort; 73% admitted already having a shoe-related foot issue.

Shoes that constrict the natural foot shape are bound to cause pain and, at the same time, excess weight is placed on these parts of the foot.  So crushing the foot along with extra weight can cause extreme discomfort.

Image Bunions – described as an enlargement of bone or tissue around the joint at the head of the big toe. Footwear is not the only cause of a bunion. Genetics do play a significant role, and people who have bunions in the family are also much more likely to have bunion than people who do not. Injuries to the foot can also be a factor in developing a bunion. However, there is no doubt that high heels aggravate this condition, and in many cases cause the misshapen toes.  Introducing lower heels into your wardrobe can stop the problem getting worse, but surgery to correct the bunion is often required.

Image Corns and Calluses – build up of layers of dead skin, usually on the toes, soles or sides of the foot (the body’s way of building natural protection against trauma) as a result of ill fitting shoes.  Before treating your own feet with home remedies, please consult a Podiatrist as you could cause damage by if you remove too much hard skin yourself.

Image   Tips to protect your feet and still enjoy your heels:

1.  Get a proper fit – avoid styles that leave too much room at the toes, allowing the foot to move forward, putting increased pressure on the toes

2. Cushion! Invest in gels pads to protect the ball of the foot.  We lose fat on the ball of our feet as we age so replacing this with a cushion can help

3.  Thicker heels give improved balance and distribute weight through the foot instead of isolated pressure points

4. A gradual drop from heel to toe can be easier to wear than those with a straight drop

5. Open toed high heels can avoid excess pressure on toes and corns

6. Take a rest from heels as much as you can, to allow toes to spread in a more natural fashion and to stop the calf muscles tightening

The Queen of Heels has just admitted to the damage her Blahniks have wrecked on her feet and it also looks as if Victoria Beckham has had her notorious bunions repaired. Ultimately, enjoy your footwear, but do take notice of what your feet are telling you – if they hurt they’re sending you a message!

Sarah Jessica Parker: “I went to a foot doctor and he said, ‘Your foot does things it shouldn’t be able to do. That bone there…You’ve created that bone. It doesn’t belong there.'”

http://uk.eonline.com/news/396572/sarah-jessica-parker-high-heels-ruined-my-feet