The feet are one of the most durable parts of the human body. They have mighty strength that can carry a person’s weight and help maintain proper posture, balance, and gait. So, when the feet are affected, it can significantly impact one’s overall well-being. That’s why proper care for your feet is very important.
In this post, you’ll learn more about how feet problems can affect your fitness and overall health.
Restrict You From Performing Weight Exercises
Doing weight exercises is not recommended if you have plantar fasciitis or inflammation of the tissue connecting the toes and the heel bone. Those who usually experience plantar fasciitis are runners, obese individuals, those who are always walking barefoot, as well as people with high arches or flat feet.
This foot problem is chronic and can take about six to 12 months to completely heal. The inflammation must subside before resuming weight-bearing activities and exercises.
So, how do you deal with plantar fasciitis? Check out these tips to help manage plantar fasciitis:
- Use an ice pack to relieve inflammation: You may wrap a small- to medium-sized towel or face towel around a plastic bag that is filled with crushed ice. Wrapping a towel around a frozen pea or corn package is also a good idea. Apply it on your heel at least three times a day for about 15 minutes at a time. Also, you can fill a pan with ice and water and soak your heel for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day, keeping your toes out of the water.
- Stretch: You can do stretching of your Achilles tendon, calves, and the bottom of your feet, making the muscles of your legs and feet stronger. Stretching helps stabilize your ankle, relieve pain, and prevent this foot problem from coming back.
- Take pain relievers: You can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are available over the counter. Click here to learn more about other options in treating plantar fasciitis, including surgery.
Feet Problems Affect Your Balance
Balance nerves “mechanoreceptors” send messages to the brain to let you know how your feet are working. Aside from being responsible for maintaining balance, balance nerves make you aware of the location of your feet in space. However, if the brain nerves are damaged, the brain may not get the feedback properly, thus causing balance problems, making you at risk of falls and affecting your fitness.
Here’s how feet problems can affect your balance and overall fitness and health:
- A stiff foot, including arthritis, while doing a walking cycle results in little to zero shock absorption, in which excessive shock is applied through the ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
- The foot type that is commonly associated with stiff feet are “high arched” and supinated feet, affecting the nerves of the legs and feet.
- One tell-tale sign that your balance nerves aren’t working well is frequent tripping over the edge of a lifted footpath or small ground bumps, restricting you from performing exercises that require balance, such as yoga and Pilates.
Quick Guide On Common Feet Problems
This foot problem is a painful condition involving raised fluid pockets caused by standing or walking for prolonged periods of time, having sweaty feet, or wearing ill-fitting shoes. While blisters aren’t very serious, the pain can be intolerable to some people, restricting them from exercising and performing other movements and activities. Make sure to check with your doctor if your blisters come with flu-like symptoms.
If you notice a bump on the side of your big toe, making it bend toward your toes, it may be a bunion. Tight-fitting shoes, prolonged standing, or inherited foot structure are the risk factors of developing a bunion. Because of inflammation and pain, even walking is restricted.
Corns are thickened skin of the soles of the foot or toes. Corn formation is a normal body response to prevent blistering of the feet, like when you always wear poor-fitting shoes, or you have hammertoe or bunions. While corns are unsightly, they’re usually not painful. However, over time, this foot issue can be a big problem if it becomes irritated, which can impede you from exercising. The doctor may prescribe medications or perform surgical removal of corns.
Claw Foot Or Claw Toe
This foot problem may be obvious at birth. With this particular condition, the joint of the first toe points up, while the second one points down. Other conditions that may cause claw toe is a serious medical condition, such as diabetes, cerebral palsy, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke. Treatments for claw foot may include wearing proper shoes, splints, medications, toe exercises, and surgery.
The big toe is usually affected by gout due to high uric acid levels in the body. This condition causes intense pain. It commonly affects older men, aged 40 years old and above. Some gout patients may feel like their feet are on fire.
While gout may come and go, it can develop into a chronic condition that may cause joint damage. Treating gout includes medications and lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding certain foods, including seafood (shrimp and shellfish), sardines, organ meats, grain liquors, and red meat.
Fungal Nail Infection
Fungal nail infection is caused by fungi entering the toenail due to moisture, and the signs and symptoms usually develop gradually. Using a public locker room or swimming pool, a skin injury, being exposed to contaminated nail instruments, and medical conditions, such as diabetes, are some of the causes of fungal nail infection.
Here are the signs and symptoms of fungal nail infection:
- Streaking or scaling
- Yellow spots
Athlete’s foot is a contagious feet condition that usually appears after being exposed to wet environments, such as public showers, swimming pools, and locker rooms. Having this foot problem can affect your fitness because of the unsightly look, foul smell, and discomfort it brings. Your confidence level can be affected, restricting you from performing at your best.
Take a look at the important things you need to know about athlete’s foot:
- The common signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot are stinging, burning feet, and itchiness. Foot blisters, dry, raw, and cracked skin, and crumbly toenails may also develop on your feet.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) products are available in treating athlete’s foot, such as foot powders and sprays. Your doctor can prescribe medications to resolve a severe athlete’s foot.
Hammer Toe Or Mallet
Hammertoe or mallet is diagnosed when the curved toe points down instead of outward. Genetics, poor-fitting footwear, or other foot problems, such as bunion, high arch, toe injury, or arthritis, are the risk factors of hammertoe.
This foot condition may cause pain when walking or stretching the feet. Also, the wiggling of your toe may seem difficult to do. Wear comfortable shoes and use over-the-counter footpads and cushions to experience relief from the symptoms.
A plantar wart is a wart found on the bottom of the foot, and which is caused by human papillomavirus. It’s usually transmitted in locker rooms, public swimming pools, and other moist environments. When walking, plantar warts cause pain, restricting a person from performing walking cycles and other exercises. Plantar warts are treatable and, sometimes, go away on their own. Salicylic acid-containing products can help address this specific condition.
Ingrown toenails refer to toenails that grow into the skin surrounding them. These usually occur when you have curved nails, compressed toes, poorly trimmed nails, or a toe injury. Also, genetics play a role in the development of this foot problem.
Mild ingrown toenails usually cause tender skin and discomfort that can be treated with pain relievers, topical antibiotics, and warm soaks. Severe ingrown toenails may become infected, causing redness, pain, pus, and bleeding, and may not heal on their own. Sometimes, an ingrown toenail might require surgery.
Metatarsalgia Or Stone Bruise
Metatarsalgia or stone bruise is a condition that affects the ball of the foot. It is caused by high-impact exercise, poor-fitting shoes, or other underlying conditions. The area between the arch and toes may feel numb or sharply painful. Others describe the feeling as having a pebble inside their shoes, with symptoms getting worse with time.
Here are some ways to treat stone bruise:
- Rest your feet
- Apply ice
- Take pain relievers
- Use well fitting shoes
- Consult your physician for severe symptoms
Heel spurs are associated with calcium deposits growing between the arch and heel. The signs and symptoms of a heel spur include swelling or inflammation, pain, and a bony front heel protrusion. Another foot condition, plantar fasciitis, may accompany heel spur.
Here’s how a heel spur is treated:
- Check your footwear and avoid tight-fitting shoes
- Rest your feet
- Use a cold compress
- The doctor may prescribe physical therapy, medications, or surgery.
A person who lacks foot arch has a flat foot, which, sometimes, requires treatment. Standing for long periods and exercising may cause pain, thus impeding fitness activities. Pain relievers, lifestyle changes, and orthotics are the recommended treatments for flat foot.
How To Properly Care For Your Feet
1. Evaluate Your Footwear
Always wear comfortable shoes and avoid tight fitting ones that may cause pressure to the feet.
2. Keep Your Feet Clean And Dry
Wash your feet properly in warm, soapy water every day. Avoid soaking your feet as it can strip off the natural oils of the skin. After washing your feet, dry them thoroughly, paying close attention in between the toes, where most fungal infections develop, such as athlete’s foot.
3. Moisturize And File
Dry skin should prompt you to apply moisturizing cream, most especially between the toes. Calluses and hard skin should be removed using a foot file or pumice, but avoid overdoing it because it could result in skin damage.
4. Cut Your Toenails Carefully
It’s important to trim your toenails using proper nail clippers. You need to cut straight across and not down the edges or at an angle, which may cause ingrown toenails.
5. Change Socks Everyday
Changing your socks everyday can keep your feet from smelling bad. Cotton socks are a great option, as well as bamboo or wool socks that allow your feet to breathe, keeping them at the right temperature. There are also specialist socks that are available for workout or sporting activities.
Feet Safety Tips During Exercise
1. Stretch Your Feet
Stretch your hamstrings and feet by using a tennis ball, which you can roll underneath the soles of your feet. It helps relieve foot tension and reduce symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Foot-specific exercises strengthen the feet. Balance exercises and barefoot exercises keep the feet strong. Yoga moves, such as Mountain Pose, is an excellent feet workout.
2. Rest Your Feet
High-impact exercises may cause foot problems, so make sure to rest your feet in between sets to avoid them.
3. Keep Your Feet Clean And Dry During Exercise
Avoid bacteria, fungus, and viruses by keeping your feet clean and dry. Wear a waterproof sandal or flip-flops when you shower after exercise at a public locker room. Dry your feet using a clean towel and use antifungal foot powder. Inspect your feet for blisters, cuts, spots, or bruises regularly. Most of all, don’t ignore foot aches and pain.
4. Wear Comfortable Shoes
Investing in a good footwear can help avoid feet problems. Wearing ill-fitting shoes usually lead to foot pain and injuries. There are many types of shoes one can use during a workout. Walking sneakers provide better heel and overall cushioning as compared to running sneakers. On the other hand, flexible shoes are best for walkers as they offer excellent cushioning for the ball of the feet, promoting optimum arch and weight support.
Feet problems, such as arthritis, bunions, corns, blisters, athlete’s foot, and foot structural abnormalities, can affect your fitness. Some patients are unable to perform their usual exercise routines because of pain, inflammation, and irritation caused by these feet problems. That’s why prompt medical consultation is highly recommended to diagnose and treat any foot problem early on. By doing so, you’ll improve your quality of life and resume to your normal activities and fitness regimen as soon as possible for your overall health.