Category Archives for "foot pain"

What is Flat Foot?

When you look at a foot, there is typically a gap underneath the inner part of the foot when you stand. This is your arch. This arch provides the spring in your step, and allows body weight to be more efficiently distributed across your feet and legs. The structure of the arch can also determine a person’s gait. People with flat foot will have something known as a fallen arch, where they have either no arch in their feet or an arch that is very low to the ground. A common cause of flat feet includes genetics, as this is a trait that can be passed on from parents through genes. Having weak arches, or a foot/ankle injury can also lead to a flat foot. Flat foot can also come with age, as well as many other factors.

If you’re looking at your feet right now and discover that your arch is low or absent, you don’t need to worry. Flat foot only needs treatment if it causes discomfort, or leads to pain in another part of the body. Many people seem to have a low arch or no arch without ever experiencing any pain. 

Exercises to manage symptoms of flat feet include:
Heel Stretches

  • Keep one leg forward and the other behind you
  • Press both heels firmly into the floor, while keeping your spine straight
  • Bend into the front leg and push yourself against a wall with your arm to feel a stretch in the back leg and Achilles tendon.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on each side. 

Golf Ball Roll

  • Sit on a chair with a tennis or golf ball under your foot
  • Sit straight while you roll the ball under your foot, focusing on the arch
  • Repeat for 1-2 minutes.

Towel Curls

  • Sit in a chair with a towel under your feet
  • Push your heels into the floor and curl your toes to scrunch up the towel
  • Hold this for a few seconds and release. 

Other methods to treat flat feet include orthotic devices, motion control shoes, or going to physical therapy to correct flat feet, in the case that it is a result of injury or poor form.

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Turf Toe Injuries/MTP Sprain

What are Turf Toe Injuries? 
Commonly reported as a sports-related injury, turf toe refers to a condition where there is damage to structures around the big toe caused by hyperextension (bending the toe back too far) (McCormick & Anderson, 2010). Pushing forcefully off the big toe, as people do when they begin to run or jump, places repeated stress on the metatarsophalangeal joints (MTP) around this area. Sports that involve frequent stopping, starting, and sudden changes of direction (e.g. basketball, soccer, etc.) can be a main cause of turf toe. 

Symptoms of turf toe include pain when extending the big toe, or bearing weight upon it, a “popping” feeling in the foot when the injury occurs, swelling and inflammation, as well as instability and limited movement of the big toe. According to a report by McCormick & Anderson (2010), most turf toe injuries are mild and do not require surgical treatment, however in more severe cases, surgical procedures may be necessary. 

Doctors grade turf toe injuries from 1 to 3 depending on the extent of damage to the MTP joint, sesamoids, and surrounding tissues, ligaments, and tendons (McCormick & Anderson, 2010). 

Grade 1: Plantar complex is stretched, leading to tenderness and swelling 

Grade 2: Partial tearing of the plantar complex, resulting in tenderness, swelling, and bruising. Movement is restricted

Grade 3: Plantar complex is torn, leading to severe tenderness, swelling and bruising. The toe is very painful and difficult to move. 

Prevention?

  • Wearing flexible footwear while running on artificial turf, or other hard surfaces
  • Wearing shoes with better support, to stop the toe from bending excessively when a person pushes off of it
  • A physical or sport therapist can work with individuals to correct an problems with their gait, which could enhance their techniques while playing sports
  • Performing exercises and stretches such as the following, to improve body alignment (Jenn, 2016):
    • Shin Dorsiflexor Release
      • Find a stable, firm surface roughly at knee height
      • Place a tennis ball under the front of the shin and kneel onto it
      • Move the ball along the sore spots to target the entire muscle
      • Perform on each leg for 3-5 minutes
    • Soleus Release
      • Sit on the ground with your lower calf on top of a tennis ball or foam roller
      • Place the other leg over the one being released to add pressure
      • Roll yourself up and down over the ball, focusing on the tender spots
    • Big toe mobilization with movement 
      • Stand with one foot in front of you, and one behind, with the weight on the front foot
      • Anchor a resistance band attached to your front foot to a chair behind you
      • Rock your front knee forward as far as you can without raising your heel, pushing your knee outward
      • Repeat for 3 sets of 10

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Jenn, F. (2016). Podiatrist-recommended turf toe exercises for athletes. Retrieved from https://healingfeet.com/sports-injury-2/podiatrist-recommended-turf-toe-exercises-athletes

McCormick, J., & Anderson, R.B. (2010). Rehabilitation following turf toe injury and plantar plate repair. Clinical Sports Medicine. 29(2). doi:10.1017/j.csm.2009.12.010

Heel Spurs

What is a Heel Spur?
Being the largest of the 26 bones in the foot, the calcaneus, or the heel bone, absorbs a majority of the weight of the body. A heel spur is a bony growth that forms on the bottom or back of the heel bone (“Heel Spur”, 2005). Heel spurs are often related to a condition called plantar fasciitis, however it’s important to not get the two mixed up. A heel spur is a bony projection that occurs from the bottom of the heel along the plantar fascia, whereas plantar fasciitis is caused by an inflammatory process where the plantar fasciitis attaches to the heel due to an abnormal force being placed on it. It is important to differentiate between the two since plantar fasciitis will subside on its own over a period of time, whereas a heel spur will be there permanently, unless surgery is required.

Symptoms of heel spurs can include pain, inflammation or swelling at the front of your heel (“Heel Spur”, 2005). The symptoms can spread to the arch of your foot, and a small bony protrusion may be eventually visible. However, only about 50% of people with heel spurs experience pain from them or even see a change in the soft tissue or bones surrounding the heel. Therefore, heel spurs are often discovered only through X-rays and other tests done for foot ailments.

Prevention?
Heel spurs can be prevented by minimizing wear and tear
· Wear well-fitting shoes with arch support and shock-absorbent soles
· Avoid exercises that involve jumping or repeated stress on hard surfaces, such as pavement or concrete
· Avoid prolonged walking downhill or rocky or uneven surfaces
· Warm up with calf and foot stretches before exercising
  · 1-Legged Squat

  · Wall  Squat On Exercise Ball

  · 1-leg bridges with thera-band isometric
  · Strengthening Ankle Stabilizer Muscles

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Heel spur. (2005). Postgraduate medicine 118(1). doi:10.3810/pgm.2005.07.1689

Plantar Fasciitis

Causes
Plantar fasciitis may be the most common cause of heel or bottom of foot pain. It is common among runners and athletes due to the repetitive stress on the feet with running, sprinting and jumping. It may also occur after wearing footwear with inadequate support, or when you have a change in daily tasks (e.g. starting a new job where you’re on your feet most of the day when you were previously at a desk job with mostly sitting). It may also be a side effect of tight calf muscles or Achilles tendon as this would create greater pull on the heel bone. Wearing high heel shoes can be a factor in the development of plantar fasciitis. Those with either particularly high arches or particularly flat feet may also be at greater risk for developing plantar fasciitis. Whatever the case may be, the repeated stress and strain on the plantar fascia causes an inflammation of the fascia itself.

Symptoms
Pain in the heel or bottom of the foot is the major symptom of plantar fasciitis. It is pain that is usually localized to one spot and is tender to the touch. Pain is likely worse in the morning after the first few steps out bed and eases up as the day goes on. It is important to note here that if the pain is excruciating and you cannot put weight on your foot, it is a good idea to seek out an x-ray or doctor’s assessment to rule out stress fracture. If you are able to bear weight and walking makes it better, it may be more likely that are you are dealing with plantar fasciitis. 
Treatment
Treatment is likely to include exercises to loosen the calf muscle and stretch out the plantar fascia. Something simple such as flexing and pointing the feet a number of times before getting out of bed can help.
In the image above, the patient is shown stretching the bottom of the foot. This is done by flexing the foot (and stretching the Achilles tendon) and also flexing the toes. By flexing the toes, this creates a deeper stretch along the bottom of the foot. Anything that stretches out the calf muscles is also a good idea. If stretching alone is just not cutting it, try using a foam roller to roll out your calf muscles and a golf ball or foot roller (which can be found at many dance shops) to help ease the tension on the heel bone (i.e. the calcaneous). You can also see your massage therapist to have them work on that tension.
If you usually wear high heels, try wearing ballet flats or a lower heel until pain subsides. If your shoes are worn out, invest in a more supportive pair. Or if new shoes aren’t in the budget, try using an arch support from the drugstore in your old shoes and see if it makes a difference. Use ice on your heels at the end of the day to try to decrease inflammation. And as usual, come see your physio or RMT for more specific recommendations because being on aching feet all day is not fun.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Plantar Fasciitis Release Technique

Plantar Fasciitis

The name may sound mysterious, the experience isn’t. Millions of people undergo any number of the following on a daily basis: a pain in their heel the moment their foot hits the ground in the morning; tenderness in the heel and arch area; pain in the heel or arch area after taking the first few steps following a long period of sitting; discomfort and throbbing in the heel and arch area after long periods of standing.

What It Is

Plantar fasciitis is painful inflammation of the heel and bottom surface of the foot. It is generally caused by overstretching of the fibrous tissue (fascia) that connects the heel to the forefoot.

Breaking the injury cycle requires an overall approach, examining critical elements such as postural alignment, biomechanics, musculoskeletal balance, correct footwear and training.

In addition to working on larger corrections in your posture, stride, strength and flexibility, here are a few specific tools to help you get on your road to recovery:

Reset It

Bend the knee of your exercising leg. Place your hands under your metatarsal heads and toes. Flex your top arch and toes toward you. Move until your natural end range of motion. Gently assist with your hand as you continue to move. Return to start position. Exhale as you flex your toes and arch toward you. Inhale as you return to start position. Repeat for two sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Stabilize It

Assume the same starting position as your “reset” exercise–bending the knee of your exercising leg. Place your hands under your metatarsal heads and toes. Extend your toes and top arch toward the ground. Resist with a gentle pressure with your hand resting on the top of your foot. Exhale as you move. Inhale as you return to start position. Repeat for two sets of 8-10 repetitions. Increase resistance with your hand as you get stronger and your body adapts and adjusts to the exercise.

Release It

While seated, cross your affected leg over your opposite thigh or bend your knee. Using your thumb or fingers start applying a very gentle pressure between the inside of your heel and inside anklebone. Because your fascia may already be inflamed, go slowly, allowing your thumb or fingers to be taken into the distorted tissue. You can use a muscle salve or a more adhesive substance for a better grip. Take the time to allow the micro bundles of your facial fibers to unwind at their own pace.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Tips for Living with High Foot Arches

High foot arches are surprisingly common, but they can create problems for people who do not know how to best live with them or perhaps do not even realize that they have high arches. High foot arches do not support the body properly and tend to place excess pressure on the pelvis, which can eventually result in postural problems. High arches can be the result of a congenital abnormality, trauma, or sometimes even a neurological disorder.

Do I have high arches?

If you have any concerns about your feet, then a visit to your local podiatrist is always a good idea. Your podiatrist will be able to determine if you need a particular type of shoe , over-the-counter insert, or custom orthotic to support your foot. An easy way to check whether you have high arches is to look at your footprint any time you are in bare feet. If your footprint shows a curved, narrow print with only a thin strip connecting the heel and ball of the foot, then you probably have high arches.

What are the common problems resulting from high arches?

The biggest problem for people with high arches is that their foot tends to supinate, or roll outwards, while walking or running. This can lead to pain while walking or running as the high arches are not supporting the body correctly; the side of the foot makes contact with the ground first and normal pronation does not occur. If you are not sure whether your foot supinates when you walk you only need to take a look at a pair of shoes that you have worn for a while. If your shoes have more wear on the outside than on the inner edge of the shoe, then you know that your feet roll outwards as you walk.

If you do have this problem, there are a few things you can do to make your life easier:

  • Try to maintain your ideal body weight. Being overweight can cause problems for anyone but as high arches do not support the body properly supported the problem is worse for those with this condition.
  • Buy stable shoes with good arch support. The pain you experience after walking or running can be reduced by distributing your body weight evenly – cushioning your feet with arch supports will help to spread out the weight.
  • If none of these options help to relieve the pain you experience then it may be helpful to purchase an orthotic insert to address your issue.
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

The Mystery of Foot Cramps Explained

Muscle cramps (including the foot) are extremely common; in fact, according to MedicineNet.com, it is estimated that 95 percent of people experience a muscle cramp at some time in their life! There are many causes and treatments of muscle cramps, so if you are interested in learning more, keep reading!

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons defines a muscle cramp as an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. Cramps can affect any muscle under voluntary control (skeletal muscle). Cramps can involve part or all of a muscle, or several muscles in a group. Cramps of the extremities, especially the legs and feet, and most particularly the calf, are extremely common. Other common areas for muscle cramps include: back and front of the thigh, hands, arms, abdomen, and rib cage muscles.

So, who gets cramps? Like I said earlier, statistics show that just about everyone will get some type of muscle cramp during their lifetime. They can come at any time too, with exercise or activity, or even when at rest or during sleep. Sometimes all it takes is the slightest movement that shortens a muscle to trigger a cramp (in your case, pointing your toes in Pilates shortens the muscles of the arch of your foot, which seems to trigger the cramps). According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, some people are predisposed to muscle cramps and get them regularly with any physical exertion. Muscle cramps are very common among endurance athletes who perform strenuous physical activity. Those at greatest risk are people over age 65, those who are ill, overweight, overexert during work or exercise, or take certain medications.

Common causes of muscle cramps include: overuse of a muscle, dehydration, depletion of salt and minerals (electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and calcium), muscle strain/injury, or simply holding a position for a prolonged period of time. Another type of common muscle cramp is a nocturnal or rest cramp, which happens in your calf or toe muscles when you are resting or sleeping. However, the exact cause of muscle cramps remains unknown, although some researchers believe inadequate stretching and muscle fatigue leads to abnormalities in mechanisms that control muscle contraction.

In terms of treatment for muscle and foot cramps, you can generally treat muscle cramps with self-care measures, and most cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched. For many cramps of the feet and legs, this stretching can be done by simply standing up and walking around. Typically, you want to try and gently stretch the muscle away from the cramping position and hold it there until the cramp goes away. Gently massaging the muscle will often help it to relax, as will applying warmth from a heating pad or hot/warm soak. If the muscle cramp is associated with fluid loss, as usually is the case with physical activity, fluid and electrolyte replacement is essential. There are a few steps you can take to prevent muscle cramps. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of liquids every day and during physical activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals and continue hydration after you’re finished. Also, stretch your muscles before and after you use any muscle for an extended period. If you have night cramps, stretch the affected muscles before bedtime.

Although most muscle cramps are benign, sometimes they can be an indication of a more serious medical condition. You should see your physician or medical health professional if the cramps are severe in nature, happen frequently, are persistent, fail to respond to simple treatments, or are not related to obvious causes like exercise or injury. You could have problems with circulation, nerves, metabolism, hormones, or nutrition. However, it is uncommon for muscle cramps to occur as the result of a medical condition without other obvious signs that the medical condition is present.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.