This post was brought to you by Scarsdale Medical Group.
Now that warm weather is (slowly) approaching, we are all eager to take advantage of warmer temps and get active outside. “Whether you’re heading out for a run or a round of golf, it’s important to be very mindful of your foot health,” says podiatrist Dr. Michelle Castiello of Scarsdale Medical Group. Her goal as a podiatrist is to keep her patients, who range from 2 to 92 (and older), as active as possible for as long as possible.
As seasons transition, it’s important to take stock of your current situation. Many people are either not as active in the winter and/or have been exercising indoors only. The best way to prevent injury is to be prepared. If you’ve been running three miles on a treadmill for several months, it’s important to realize that you may need to gradually work up to running three miles outside where the conditions and terrain are different. Most injuries occur from overuse of our bodies when we do too much too quickly. Common soft tissue foot injuries, including plantar fasciitis and shin splints, can be the result.
Another necessary check as you pick up new activities with the change of season is your footwear, meaning sneakers for most people. “You should check your sneakers every six months to see if they are worn out and still offer the support you need,” says Dr. Castiello. Also, it’s important to wear the correct sneaker for the specific type of exercise or sport you are performing: running shoes for running, tennis shoes for tennis, and cross trainers for aerobics. “Different activities, like tennis, which requires a shoe with side support, require different footwear, and that’s really important,” says Dr. Castiello.
It’s most important to warm up your body and stretch out your muscles before running, especially your legs (from your lower back to your feet). Dr. Castiello recommends stretching your feet before and after running, and performing these two steps:
- Roll a tennis ball (or, even better, a frozen water bottle) under the ball of each foot for 1 to 3 minutes. It’s like a deep tissue massage for your feet, and the frozen bottle works to decrease inflammation and help soreness.
- Stand with your toes on the edge of a step, and lower your heels down 10 times and hold the stretch for for 10 to 15 seconds each time. That exercise works to to stretch out your feet, achilles tendon and calves, and helps avoid plantar fasciitis.
If you’re training for a long-distance event like a marathon, consider your current activity level and slowly build up from there. “Follow a training schedule, and strive to increase your mileage by 10 percent each week,” says Dr. Castiello. “Also, it’s important to account for rest in your training schedule, and for anyone who runs, in general. If you run several times a week, remember to take days off to rest and/or do other forms of exercise that use different muscles.”
If you tend to play tennis in the spring and summer months only, slowly transition into playing again and definitely examine your tennis shoes. “Proper shoes are essential for tennis players,” says Dr. Castiello. “You’re on the balls of your feet a lot, and moving side to side. Tennis requires shoes with good lateral stability to avoid ankle and tendon injuries.” Also, take into account that hard courts are less forgiving than grass or clay courts, which allow for more shock absorption.
Many people disregard golf as a sport where foot injuries might occur, but that is not the case. First of all, your foot is part of your golf swing, particularly your big toe joint. Arthritis in the big toe joint is quite common, and Dr. Castiello recommends a range of motion exercises for this. Proper shoes play a role in golf because a firmer sole may alleviate the pain of arthritis in the big toe joint. Golfers who don’t properly stretch out their feet are prone to plantar fasciitis, which is heel pain caused by inflammation of the ligament on the bottom of the heel. The water bottle stretch is a great idea before walking 18 holes.
Dr. Castiello also advises that “staying hydrated is very important for foot health. Dehydration makes you more prone to muscle cramps and increase the likelihood of foot injuries.”
And perhaps most importantly, don’t ignore foot pain! If you have foot pain and have treated it with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevate) for 3 to 4 days without any significant change, see a podiatrist right away.
Michelle Castiello, DPM offers a full range of podiatric services for patients of all ages. She is board certified by The American Board of Podiatric Medicine and The American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry. Dr. Castiello specializes in surgical and non-surgical treatments of all disorders of the foot and ankle, and is currently on staff at Montefiore Medical Center and White Plains Hospital Center.
The provision of high-quality, personalized health care to Westchester County and New York’s Hudson Valley region has been the mission of the Scarsdale Medical Group for more than 50 years. Their working philosophy of compassion, confidence, and commitment has enabled them to become known and respected by patients and peers throughout the tri-state area.
Scarsdale Medical Group, Podiatry Center, 600 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 102, Harrison; 329 White Plains Road, Eastchester; 914-723-8100.