By Kate Caetano, Rehabilitation Podiatrist and Run Coach
Our feet give us freedom! They let us walk, run and manoeuvre through life!
But do we take care of the very things that support us? Our feet carry our weight, take the pounding of impact forces and twist and pivot as we move around the office or golf course, running around after the kids and many other daily activities.
We cram them into tight business shoes or high heels and really only notice them when they send that sharp pain of plantar fasciitis when we get up from the chair….too late.
The foot is overworked, irritated and now needs TLC to recover. Rewind….what could we have done to prevent this or at least stop it coming back?
Our feet are meant to be flexible enough to pivot and absorb shock, strong enough to propel and stabilize, as well as give us feedback to adapt.
Being able to spread the toes, point the foot and pull it back is just the tip of the iceberg. We need our feet to communicate with our bodies so the muscle that allows us to tiptoe (posterior tibialis tendon) and land safely (soleus) is not forcing the foot to do all the work.
Here are some tests to ensure you are reducing your risk of foot pain and problems.
Can you pick up small marbles with your toes and hold them for 20 seconds (and without getting a cramp)? Can you stand on one leg for 30 seconds feeling stable? Can you sit on your feet in a kneeling position?
And if you have only the front of your feet on a step can you drop your heels lower without holding on? If you can’t do any of these exercises pain-free you are at risk of functional foot conditions like plantar fasciitis.
So what if you can’t do these exercises?
- Start taking note of which shoes hurt your feet after being out and about in them, and ditch them!
- Practice some foot strengthening and training:
- Practice moving marbles around for about 45 seconds/per foot a day
- Try slow heel raises, focusing on keeping your ankles straight and twisting, build by five raises a day, then try raising with both heels and then slowly lowering one
- At home with bare feet, try walking heel to toes, thinking about controlling the movement
- If you’re experiencing pain in your feet, please book in for a consultation with me and I can assess what might be causing your pain