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Summer Vacation Tips for Healthy Feet

Ouch! Nothing ruins a summer vacation faster than a painful or injured foot.

From the airport to your hotel room, there are steps you can take to prevent foot and ankle pain and injury. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons offers 10 tips for keeping your feet safe this summer:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes to the airport. You never know how long you will wait in line, how far you will walk to the terminal or if you will have to make a mad dash to make a connecting flight. Loose-fitting flip-flops and sandals increase your risk of tripping, falling and spraining your ankle. Sprains should be evaluated by a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours to ensure proper healing. Many people suffer repeated sprains because they didn’t see a doctor for previous injuries.

  2. Wear socks with those comfortable shoes. Not only do socks protect skin from shoe friction that can cause blisters and calluses, they can also keep you healthy. You’re required to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detectors at airports. Walking barefoot through an airport exposes your feet to bacteria and viruses that could cause plantar warts and athlete’s foot.

  3. Avoid bringing new shoes on vacation. They can be stiff and unforgiving. If you plan to dance the night away or do a lot of walking, wear shoes that will make your feet as happy as you are.

  4. Check your children’s shoes for fit and comfort.

  5. Pack flip-flops or sandals and use sparingly. Use them in place of walking barefoot in locker rooms and around pools, where you may pick up athlete’s foot, a plantar wart infection or toenail fungus.

  6. Pack an antifungal cream or powder. If you’re staying in a hotel or using public pools, using an antifungal product can help prevent athlete’s foot.

  7. Place a towel on the floor before entering the shower or bathtub. This can prevent slipping when you exit. The towel will also help dry toes and protect them from infections.

  8. If you are traveling more than two hours, be sure to stretch your legs and pump your feet. This will help circulate the blood to prevent deep vein thrombosis, or dangerous blood clots in the legs.

  9. Consider wearing compression socks on the plane to help prevent blood clots and deep vein thrombosis by pushing the blood through the legs and back to the lungs and heart.

  10. Pack a small first-aid kit. Chances are you’ll develop a blister from that long walk through the shopping village or scrape your foot on a piece of coral at the beach. Clean your feet with saline (eye solution), apply a small amount of antibiotic cream and cover with a band-aid or gauze. If you suffer a puncture wound, see a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours for professional cleaning of the wound to prevent infections and other complications.

Is Foot Pain Ruining Your Golf Swing?

As you head to your favorite golf course this spring, make sure your feet are in shape before approaching the tee box. Your big toe, heel and ball of your foot are the spots most likely to cause pain that can ruin your golf swing.

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Behind these pain-prone spots can lie stiff joints, stretched-out tissues and even nerve damage. But pain relief is possible and frequently does not require surgery.

Three conditions

The three most common foot conditions that can be the barrier to a perfect golf swing are neuromas, arthritis and heel pain.

  • Neuromas are nerves that become thickened, enlarged and painful because they have been compressed or irritated. A neuroma in the ball of your foot can cause significant pain as your body transfers its weight from one foot to the other while swinging the club.

  • Arthritis can cause pain in the joint of your big toe that makes it difficult to follow through.

  • Heel pain typically results from an inflammation of the band of tissue that extends from your heel to the ball of your foot. People with this condition compare the pain to someone jabbing a knife in their heel. Heel pain can make it uncomfortable for golfers to maintain a solid stance during crucial portions of the swing.

Other painful conditions

Several other painful conditions can also make the perfect swing difficult. Ankle arthritis or ankle instability can affect the proper weight shift during the golf swing. Some athletes and former athletes develop chronic ankle instability from previous ankle sprains that failed to heal properly. Achilles tendonitis can also contribute to balance-threatening instability during your golf swing. Ill-fitting golf shoes may cause corns and calluses that make standing uncomfortable.

Foot pain is not normal. With the treatment options available from your foot and ankle surgeon, a pain-free golf swing is clearly in view. When your feet are not in top condition, your golf swing will not be either.

Six Tips to Prevent Kids’ Spring Sports Injuries

Foot & ankle surgeons stress importance of safe transition from winter to spring sports.

In today’s competitive youth sports landscape, many young athletes transition from playing winter to spring activities without considering the increased risk of incurring a sports-related injury. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) encourages parents to help their athletes play it safe and take the necessary precautions to prevent foot and ankle injuries that can occur when going from indoor to outdoor sports.

“While sports-related injuries can occur during any season or activity, transitioning from winter to spring sports can bring about a different set of concerns,” said Gregory Catalano, DPM, FACFAS, a Massachusetts-based foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow member of ACFAS.

“Participating in sports during the spring vs. the winter season can require athletes to move from one type of playing surface to another. Competing on these different surfaces with varying impact can add stress to an athlete’s foot or ankle. And going from sport to sport without allowing time for the muscles and bones to rest can lead to overuse injuries, especially in younger athletes whose bones are still developing.”

If your child plans on participating in a sport this spring after coming off of a winter sports season, consider these six tips to help protect them from serious foot or ankle injuries:

  1. Get a preseason health and wellness checkup. Having a medical evaluation in advance of the start of a season can help identify possible health concerns that have the potential to lead to injury.

  2. Take it slow. Ask your child’s coach to gradually increase their playing time during practice and to avoid pushing them full throttle. It is important that your child’s feet and ankles become accustomed to the level of activity required for the sport they are entering. Adequate conditioning can help keep a player free from injury and can improve his or her performance during the season.

  3. Wear proper, broken-in shoes. Different sports require different shoe gear. Wearing the appropriate, well-fitting, broken-in athletic shoes designed for a specific sport can eliminate heel and toe discomfort and can improve your child’s performance.

  4. Check their technique. Most parents are their child’s biggest cheerleaders. As such, you may be able to notice a difference in your child’s form and technique, which is often a tell-tale sign that something may be wrong. Ask your child’s coach to notify you if s/he is placing more weight on one side of the body or if it is something more obvious like a limp.

  5. Insist on open communication if your child has pain. Express to your child athlete that s/he should inform you and the coach of any pain or discomfort as soon as it occurs. Overuse injuries can be subtle and develop overtime, such as Achilles tendonitis and shin splints. The sooner an injury can be detected, the sooner it can be treated.

  6. If an injury occurs, remember RICE. Often, an injured foot or ankle can be healed with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If your child complains of foot or ankle pain, s/he should take a break from playing and allow time for recovery. If the pain persists, it may be the cause of something more serious. Consult a foot and ankle surgeon for a complete evaluation.

Enjoy Pregnancy Without Foot Pain

ACFAS offers mothers-to-be remedies for aching feet.

“Oh, my aching feet” is a phrase you hear often from pregnant women. But are sore feet a symptom they just must deal with during pregnancy? According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), the answer is no. Many remedies are available to help alleviate foot pain.

According to Marybeth Crane, DPM, FACFAS, a Dallas-area foot and ankle surgeon, women often experience foot pain during pregnancy because of increased weight, foot instability and swelling. “In the last five years, I’ve seen an increase in pregnant women with foot pain because more women than ever before are active, even running marathons, during their pregnancies,” Dr. Crane says. ACFAS recommends the following guidelines to help reduce foot pain during pregnancy.

Painful, Swollen Feet—Pregnant women often experience throbbing, swollen feet due to excess fluid buildup (edema) in the feet from the weight and position of the baby. To reduce swelling, put feet up whenever possible, stretch legs frequently, wear wide comfortable shoes and do not cross legs when sitting.

Arch Pain—Pain in the arch can be due to both arch fatigue or overpronation (or the flattening of the arch). Overpronation causes extreme stress to the ligament (the plantar fascia) that holds up the arch of the foot. The best way to prevent arch pain is to stretch daily in the morning and before and after any exercise, do not go barefoot and wear supportive low-heeled shoes.

Ingrown Toenails—Excessive stress from tightly fitting shoes causes painful ingrown toenails. Give your feet a break: wear wider shoes during the last trimester of pregnancy to avoid ingrown toenails. If you experience an ingrown toenail, avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. It is best to seek treatment with a foot and ankle surgeon.

It is also not uncommon for women to experience a change in their foot size during pregnancy. “A permanent growth in a women’s foot, up to half a size, can occur from the release of the same hormone, relaxin, that allows the pelvis to open to deliver the baby. It makes the ligaments in your feet more flexible, causing feet to spread wider and longer,” Dr. Crane adds.

Pregnancy and pending motherhood should be a joy. If foot pain persists, a visit to a foot and ankle surgeon can provide relief with conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, foot orthotics, supportive shoes and minor toenail procedures.

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