We have all experienced foot pain one way or another – whether it is from walking long distances, playing sports or sashaying in sky-high heels.
As our feet carry the entire weight of our body, it is important that they are in good health. However, most times, we tend to ignore the aches, numbness, swelling and cramps, and only start to care for them when the pain worsens. Sometimes you might even end up having to seek medical help.
Foot pain is a sign of possible abnormalities of its bones, blood vessels and soft tissues. It may also be due to external factors such as uncomfortable footwear.
Due to its anatomy and functions, our feet are susceptible to various types of ailments. Runners, for instance, commonly suffer from a disorder called plantar fasciitis (pain and inflammation in the heel and along the bottom of the foot), and anyone can get bunions from wearing ill-fitting footwear for extended periods.
So before it is too late, start taking care of your feet now. Check out some of the ways you are inadvertently hurting your feet, and what you can do to make it better.
1. Wearing sky-high heels
When it comes to heels, how high is too high?
To most podiatrists, a mere 2 inches is considered too high. But for some women, four inches and above is the norm! In an article in Women’s Health Magazine, Hillary Brenner, a spokeswoman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, said: “We podiatrists like to call it shoe-icide.”
Wearing high heels causes a shift in your body’s center of mass, putting more pressure on the balls of the feet and tiny toe bones. You are susceptible to foot conditions such as metatarsalgia or sesamoiditis, which signify chronic pain and swelling at the ball of the foot.
The long-term effects of continually bending your toes into an unnatural position can cause a range of ailments from ingrown toenails to shorter calf muscles and even nerve damage. High heels have also been known to cause aches and pains, including lower back problems and muscle spasms.
If you can’t stop wearing heels entirely, one solution would be to include soft insoles for better cushioning as they can reduce the impact on the knees. Office ladies, consider storing comfortable footwear under your desk and alternating between the two each day.
Foot reflexology is another great way to soothe your foot’s aches and pains after a long day in heels. As the feet’s several acupressure points are linked to the body’s different organs, reflexologists can treat problem spots in the feet and heal the corresponding body part.
For a more cost-effective way to get regular foot massages, use OSIM’s uSqueez Air. Imagine having your strained calves and tired feet massaged into relaxation just about anywhere and anytime – in the comfort of your own home, under your desk at work or even when lying down on your bed!
The OSIM uSqueez Air features foot reflexology rollers to hit vital acupressure points, kneading all the stress, tension and strains away. Easy to use, light and convenient, this soothing massager is just what your tortured feet need.
2. Wearing shoes that don’t provide good support
Our feet act as shock absorbers, taking the brunt of impact every time your feet hit the ground. It is crucial that you wear the right footwear with good cushioning to protect them. Sports shoes and specially designed shoes for the elderly, for instance, provide adequate support with a comfortable fit.
According to a report from University of Maryland Medical Center, the impact of each step you take applies a force on the foot that is 50 per cent greater than the force of the body’s weight alone. And if you are overweight, the force increases.
To decrease the risk of suffering from chronic feet conditions, avoid shoes with a narrow, pointed front end as these squash the bones and tendons of the foot into unnatural shapes. Ill-fitting shoes that cause stress to your feet may also result in a deformity called bunion, which is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe.
Refrain from wearing footwear without proper arch support such as sky-high heels or even shoes with thin soles. Your feet may develop hammertoes that become painful over time or suffer from tarsal tunnel syndrome – a condition that causes burning, electrical sensations, and tingling over the base of the foot and the heel.
3. Not letting your feet recover after strenuous sports sessions
When you’re running, your feet absorb more force than any other part of your body. It is important that you allow recovery time for your legs and feet after a bout of strenuous training.
Athletes are vulnerable to a variety of foot injuries – the most common being ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures and Achilles tendinitis. And because almost every athlete’s worst nightmare is to not be able to perform or participate at all due to an injury, the recovery process post-training should not be taken lightly.
If your feet are noticeably swollen after your runs or training sessions, lie down for several minutes with your legs raised and put an ice pack on the affected area. This helps the swelling to subside and prevents it from getting worse. A warm footbath helps to relax the muscles in sore feet too.
4. Standing for long periods
If you have to stand for the better part of the work day, you ought to take extra care of your feet because standing for prolonged periods results in poor blood circulation.
As there is no muscle movement to help push the blood from the feet back to the heart, there is a tendency for blood to pool in both the legs and feet instead. This can result in the inflammation of the leg veins, which over time become painful varicose veins. These are visible swollen and bluish veins, which can hinder blood circulation resulting in swollen ankles, itchy skin, and aching in the affected limb.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), prolonged standing also causes joints in the spine, hips, knees and feet to become temporarily immobilised or locked. If untreated, this immobility can later lead to rheumatic diseases like gout and various types of arthritis due to degenerative damage to the tendons and ligaments (the structures that bind muscles to bones).
Foot massage is one way to stimulate blood circulation. OSIM’s uSqueez Air for instance, features full surround airbags in the comfortable massage boots, which inflate and deflate in succession to revitalize the calves, ankles and feet, release muscle tension and promote blood circulation.
This airbag massage technology is not new to the medical world; it is intended to alleviate pain and aid in the recovery process of patients, more commonly for sportspeople. OSIM’s uSqueez Air takes advantage of this technology and combines it with convenience and efficacy. It features five auto lifestyle programs to suit your needs – Reflexology, Energize, High-Heels, Relax and Sleep, with two intensity choices of High and Low.
OSIM uSqueez Air is great if you work around a tight schedule and have other commitments. After a long and tiring day, the massager will ease you into relaxation – a boost for better sleep.
5. Enduring your foot aches and pains instead of addressing the cause
It is one thing to feel pain. But simply enduring it instead of letting your feet recover means you’re pushing your feet to their limit.
Sore feet is one of the more common feet problems people face and it makes things such as standing, walking, running, or working extremely difficult. If you start to feel pain, that may be an indication of a bigger, underlying problem. And when you endure it for days and months instead of getting it checked and treated, you are increasing the risk of chronic feet conditions.
Your feet are the foundation of every stride you take so it’s time to start caring for them and treating them right. Start with the most basic like eating the right food for good overall nutrition and also taking some calcium and magnesium supplements together because magnesium is necessary for calcium absorption.
Calcium helps the heart, nerves, muscles, and other body systems to work properly and it is essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones. Magnesium, on the other hand, helps eliminate tingling sensations or numbness in the feet and improves bone density leading to less foot pains. Together, both can help to strengthen and protect the feet.