Don't compromise your game!
The right foot gear will keep you performing your best and injury free.
By Dr. Andrew Saffer
During a ten mile run, the feet make approximately 15,000 strikes, at a force of three to four times your body's weight. Even strolling around your neighborhood for an evening walk puts about one and a half times your bodyweight on your feet. The average non-athletic person will log approximately 1,000 miles per year on their feet. Twenty six bones work with the foot's ligaments, muscles and tendons in two very small structures to support and balance the weight of your entire body. And you thought they were just feet.
Whether you're training for the Bridge Run, playing tennis, or even golf, it's essential to make sure that your feet are comfortable and protected. It's important to remember that foot problems are not only menacing to your feet but can also affect the proper functioning of other parts of the body, including the hip, knee, and back. Because these injuries are progressive, you are probably not even aware of the damage that you're doing.
Before we go any further let's discuss common foot disorders that could be problematic over time and some basic treatment options. A majority of foot pain is the result of a faulty relationship between the bones and muscles of the foot. Incorrect alignment can result in significant discomfort. This abnormal function can lead to foot disorders such as plantar fasciitis (heel pain), achilles tendonitis, bunions, hammertoes, and calluses.
Many of these common "overuse" injuries can be attributed directly or indirectly to improper shoes. Choosing appropriate footwear will not only help prevent injuries but will also let you participate to the best of your ability.
For example, with respect to running shoes it is essential that your specific foot type matches the construction of the running shoe. Pain can result when the shoes' construction doesn't match your foot type. All shoes are constructed from a "last" which is the inside shape of the shoe. Generally, running shoes have a straight last, modified last, or a curved last.
If you have been told that you have a flat arch then you would most benefit from a straight last shoe which maintains support beneath the arch. If you have a high arch foot you would benefit from a curved last shoe which provides more cushioning. If your feet are neutral then you should choose a modified last shoe. Fortunately, most athletic shoe stores employ people who have knowledge of the factors that go into choosing the right pair of shoes.
For some, the right shoe is only half the battle. Custom molded orthotics are prescription medical devices that can be made from various techniques such as plaster cast impression, foam boxes, and our new state of the art technique, "Three dimensional digital scanning."They are designed to control alignment and function of the foot in order to treat or prevent injury-causing forces on bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Often, orthotics are used to limit motions such as excessive pronation where your arch may tend to collapse inward. They also make activities such as running, walking, and standing more efficient. Orthotics work like shock absorbers to remove pressure and stress from painful areas in your foot and ankle. They can restore balance, improve sport performance and even alleviate pain in the knee, hip, and lower back. Orthotics are sport specific and different sports may require different orthotics (golf shoes, cycling shoes, tennis sneakers, ski boots, etc.)
Forgive my digression but it should also be noted that in addition to providing relief from painful foot problems or injury, custom orthotics may also benefit people who must walk or stand excessively on the job. In the case of overweight individuals, orthotics can help to counteract the extra stress on the feet, as minor problems are often magnified due to increased weight and stress.
Our new state of the art digial scanner system captures a digital scan of the feet, in a neurtal stance position. The three dimensional image is sent to our orthotic technicians via email. Based on our specific prescription, the technicians customize a device to meet the patient's specific needs.
The orthotic style most often used in athletes is semi-rigid. It allows for dynamic balance of the foot while running or participating in sports. By guiding the foot through proper functions, it allows the muscles and tendons to perform more efficiently. It is constructed of layers of soft materials, reinforced with more rigid materials.
You may be surprised to find that your insurance company will fully or partially cover custom orthotics. Many insurance companies are beginning to recognize that for some, orthotics can be an effective tool in eliminating pain and promoting the overall health and well being of the foot and therefore the rest of the body.
As you gear up for Spring, make sure that you have the appropriate shoes paired with an orthotic device (if necessary) so that the muscles, tendons and bones of your feet function at their highest potential.
You can find more information about this topic and others online at www.carolinafootspecialists.net.