Ask any Indianapolis foot doctor what questions they run into this time of year and you’ll hear quite a few that are based on exercise related injuries. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or you’re just trying to stick to your spring time goal of getting fit, proper equipment and technique is essential to foot health. The foot is one of the two most-injured body parts among active folks so while you’re adding that extra speed, mileage, weight or resistance to your training, take simple precautions to prevent these very common injuries.
While a blister may not seem like a tough guy-or-gal injury, it can lead to more trouble (such as infection), and of course, pain down the road. Blisters form by friction; that is, the repeated rubbing of shoes or clothing on the skin. Long distance runners are very susceptible to this common curse. When breaking in new shoes, do so gradually. Also, keep your feet as dry as possible; a moist foot is more prone to blistering. So, after running through puddles, be sure to allow your shoes to completely dry out; and use foot powder to fight sweat. There are also special gels and foot padding to prevent and ease friction.
Though the Achilles tendon is one of the largest tendons in the body, it is also rather susceptible to injury. Achilles tendonitis develops from overuse of the tendon. Repetitive stress and force — such as in an extreme plyometric workout — cause inflammation in the tendon, instigating the pain, swelling and stiffness that define Achilles tendonitis. This tendon, which allows you to jump, run and simply walk, could really suffer by forcing the body to do too much when it isn’t ready. Once developed, Achilles tendonitis can take months to completely heal. Extra support, through a supportive shoe or other wearable option, and thorough stretching, especially of the calves, are fundamental to prevention. Switching up your exercise routine will also help, as will carefully and gradually adding on new workout elements.
When it comes to a stress fracture, it’s all in the name. Chronic stress to a foot can trigger cracks and micro breaks — fractures — in the foot, causing severe pain. Stress fractures are commonly the result of overuse. To help prevent a stress fracture, be sure to use a shoe with great shock absorption. Cross training will also help reduce repetitive stress on the feet because of the diverse nature of workouts. If you’re not one to branch out from your training area, at least switch up your surface (grass versus concrete) to give your feet a break. Luckily, there are plenty of treatments and products to care for all 26 bones, 33 joints and 100-plus ligaments, tendons and muscles in each foot. But if you follow this simple advice, you can prevent most foot injuries before they occur: wear the right shoe, keep them dry, stretch and rest your feet when discomfort arises. However, if an injury is severe or does not subside, please consult a physician.