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Foot Ailments

POOR ALIGNMENT AILMENTS

Being told to "stand up straight" probably seemed like a rite of passage in your teenage years, but those nagging adults were onto something. It is essential to have proper alignment for overall good health. Proper body alignment not only helps prevent pain and injury, but can also boost your confidence & mood.

Improving your alignment & posture will likely take some time and conscious effort, but the feel-good benefits are worth it.

 

 

What does proper alignment look like?

First there should be a determination on how is your overall alignment. We suggest using the "wall test" to find out: (Healthline)

  • Stand so that the back of your head, your shoulder blades and your buttocks touch the wall, and your heels are 2 to 4 inches from the wall.
  • Put a flat hand behind the small of your back. You should be able to just barely slide your hand between your lower back and the wall for a correct lower back curve.
  • If there's too much space behind your lower back, draw your bellybutton toward your spine. This flattens the curve in your back and gently brings your lower back closer to the wall.
  • If there's too little space behind your lower back, arch your back just enough so that your hand can slide behind you.
  • Walk away from the wall while holding a proper posture. Then return to the wall to check whether you kept a correct posture.

The Effects of Poor Alignment

Once completing the “wall test” above, understand that ideal posture is often the exception rather than the rule. Poor posture is very common and can affect you head to toe, contributing to a number of problems. These problems include, but are not limited to: (U.S. News Health)

  • Headache. Poor posture can strain the muscles at the back of your head, neck, upper back and jaw. This can put pressure on nearby nerves and trigger what are known as tension-type or muscle-spasm headaches.
  • Back and neck pain. Pain and tightness or stiffness in the back and neck can be due to injury and other conditions such as arthritis, herniated disks and osteoporosis, but poor posture is a common contributor. Though rarely life-threatening, back and neck pain can be chronic and reduce your quality of life.
  • Knee, hip and foot pain. Muscle weakness, tightness or imbalances, lack of flexibility, and poor alignment of your hips, knees and feet may prevent your kneecap (patella) from sliding smoothly over your femur. The ensuing friction can cause irritation and pain in the front of the knee. Poor foot and ankle alignment also can contribute to plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the thick band of tissue connecting your heel to the ball of your foot (plantar fascia) becomes inflamed and causes heel pain.
  • Shoulder pain and impingement. Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that connect your upper arm to your shoulder. Muscle tightness, weakness or imbalances associated with poor alignment and posture can cause the tendons in your rotator cuff to become irritated causing pain and weakness. A forward, hunched posture also can cause these tendons to become pinched (impinged). Eventually, this can lead to a tear in the rotator cuff tissue, a more serious injury that can cause significant pain and weakness and limit your ability to carry out daily activities.
  • Jaw pain. A forward head posture may strain the muscles under your chin and cause your temporomandibular joint (commonly known as “TMJ”) to become overworked. This may result in pain, fatigue and popping in your jaw, as well as difficulty opening your mouth, headaches and neck pain.
  • Fatigue and breathing problems. Poor alignment leading to bad postural habits may restrict your rib cage and compress your diaphragm. This can reduce lung capacity, leading to shallow or labored breathing, fatigue and lack of energy, which can affect your overall productivity.

Better Alignment, BETTER LIFE !

Improving your alignment and posture can help prevent or reverse many of these conditions. You'll be amazed to see how your quality of life can improve.

The most basic approaches to improving your posture from the feet up is by using simple stretches to make sure that your muscles and tendons are limber and not too tight. Taking a few minutes every day to stretch your calves, fascia, and other muscles and tendons in the feet and legs can make a world of difference. When your muscles are limber and stretched, you’ll avoid a situation where one group of muscles is pulling another forward or backward subtly, throwing off your stride. General yoga poses work great for overall stretching.

Next, and JUST AS IMPORTANT, is to make sure your feet are properly supported. Your feet are your foundation every time you run, walk, jump, or stand. The impact from these simple daily activities, combined with the weight of the human body can place a great deal of strain on the heel and arch of the foot. Over time, as the body tries to compensate for this strain and pain, gait abnormalities can develop that result in poor posture.

Wearing orthotics can have a tremendous positive impact on good posture, since the way the feet absorb and distribute impact has a big effect on the rest of the body. Quality orthotics help lift the arch to an optimal height and cushion the heel, the feet (and therefore the ankles, legs, hips, etc.) are more balanced, helping you avoid stumbles and falls that can injure or throw any number of the body’s muscle groups, bones, or tissues out of alignment and creating poor posture.

SelectFlex insoles use a patented arch lifting technology called the PowerLift Arch. The PowerLift Arch provides the wearer with 3 levels to support the arch with dynamic alignment with every step. This unique arch technology dynamically lifts your arch into a comforting sine wave motion that provides up to 89% more arch support with every step.

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PROBLEMS CAUSED BY OVER-PRONATION

When the arch of the foot collapses excessively downward or inward, this is known as over-pronation.  The way a person’s foot strikes the ground can have significant effects on their body.  Due to lack of proper arch support, people who over-pronate are susceptible to more injuries than people with normal pronation.

Pronation and Over-Pronation

Pronation refers to the foot’s natural way of moving from side to side when a person walks or runs. It occurs as the weight is transferred from the heel to the ball of the foot as a person goes through their walking gait or running stride and specifically refers to the amount that the foot rolls inward toward the arch. Although some pronation is normal, over-pronation can cause various injuries.

Over-pronation is generally caused by either flat or very flexible feet, which people are often born with. However, there are also conditions and situations that can increase a person’s chances of developing flat feet or weakened arches, which can lead to over-pronation. These conditions and situations include (FootSmart):

  • being pregnant
  • being overweight or obese
  • taking part in any activity, such as running, that involves repeatedly striking the foot on a hard surface for an extended period

Over-Pronation and injuries

Over-pronation puts people at an increased risk of developing specific injuries. This is because it disrupts the body’s natural alignment and causes increased impact when the foot strikes the ground. Injuries that frequently occur in people with over-pronation include: (HealthLine)

Diagnosis

Visiting a podiatrist, chiropractor or pedorthist can validate your condition of over-pronation, however many people can self-assess by using one of the following methods:

  1. Look at your feet while standing. If there is no clear space between the foot and the floor where the arch should be, you likely over-pronate.
  2. Check the wear pattern of your shoes. If the majority of the wear is on the inner part of the shoes, you are likely a person with over-pronation.
  3. Analyze your footprint after taking a few steps with bare, wet feet. A person with normal pronation will see their heel print connected to the toe prints with about half of their foot width. A person who over-pronates will see their heel print connected with the full width of their foot.

Treatment options

Once diagnosed, you should see a specialist for if you are experiencing pain or a chronic injury, especially if you have tried to self-correct the problem in the past. A specialist can recommend treatment options that may help solve the problem. There are numerous treatment options available for over-pronation, however the main ones often prescribed are: (Active.com) 

1. Choosing Supportive Shoes - A person with over-pronation should take extra care when selecting shoes, particularly when picking shoes for any activity that involves repeated foot strikes, such as running or walking. Anyone with over-pronation should look for shoes that offer extra support and stability so that the shoes minimize the impact of each step (Podiatry Today). (https://www.podiatrytoday.com/article/5664A) person with over-pronation looking for supportive shoes may want to do the following when selecting shoes:

  • have both feet measured
  • shop at the end of the day and end of the week when feet are a little puffy
  • wear thin socks when shopping
  • look for shoes that offer extra arch support
  • A running store that offers some form of walking-style analysis, a podiatrist or pedorthist can recommend good shoes.
2. Wearing Orthotics - Orthotics are special inserts that slip into shoes to offer extra arch support and help minimize the impact of the way someone walks. Over the counter orthotics are available without a prescription and may provide enough support to prevent injuries due to over-pronation. In some cases over-pronation may require custom orthotics, which a podiatrist can order based on an analysis of the person’s walking style.
SelectFlex arch-control insoles offer a customizable option at over-the-counter prices. At approximately ¼ the cost of custom orthotics, SelectFlex provides an adjustable level of dynamic support to the arch that you cannot achieve from either generic or custom static insoles.

3. Exercises for Over-Pronation – Exercises that strengthen the arches and muscles around them can help to not only relieve the ailments caused by over-pronation but can often be used as a preventative measure. These exercises can help support the arches of their feet and the muscles that help support the arches: (Pain Resource) 

  • First position demi plié: Think of a ballet dancer for this exercise. With turnout from the hips, so the feet angle outward and the heels are together, bend your knees while keeping the heels on the floor.
  • Rolling the feet: While standing with feet hip-width apart, roll your weight to the outside of the feet and then back to normal position repeatedly.
  • Seated calf stretch: Tight calf muscles can put too much stress on the Achilles tendons, worsening flat feet. Stretch calf muscles by sitting with your legs extended in front of you with feet flexed. Then hinge forward at the waist and reach for your toes.

Some people cannot prevent over-pronation but can reduce its effect through the use of orthotics and proper footwear as detailed above. You can also help reduce their risk of an injury related to over-pronation by doing the recommended exercises and maintaining a healthy weight.

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WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS? INSOLES, STRETCHES, AND OTHER TREATMENTS

foot treatment

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain today. Runners and those who work on their feet are most often affected, but it can cause heel pain in a wide range of people for a number of reasons. If you are feeling the pain of plantar fasciitis, you should consult with a doctor. They are likely to prescribe stretching, over-the-counter medicines, or insoles designed for plantar fasciitis sufferers. Here’s what you need to know if you suspect you have plantar fasciitis.

WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?

Plantar fasciitis is when the thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects your heel bone to your toes gets inflamed. This band, called the plantar fascia, acts like a shock-absorber, supporting the arch in your foot. But if the tension and stress become too great, it can cause small tears in the fascia. Although the cause in many cases is unclear, repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed.

People with plantar fasciitis often describe it as a stabbing pain felt during the first steps of the morning as they are getting out of bed. The pain then typically decreases, only to return later in the day, especially after standing for long periods of time or walking after sitting for a long time.

TREATMENT AND PAIN MANAGEMENT

There are a number of ways to treat plantar fasciitis pain, from adding a plantar fasciitis insole to your shoe to surgery. Here are some of the most common, non-invasive treatments.

STRETCHING AND STRENGTHENING

Exercises that stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen lower leg muscles will help stabilize the ankle and heel.

TAPING

Physical therapists also use athletic tape to support the bottom of the foot.

NIGHT SPLINTS

Your doctor or physical therapist may recommend a night splint that flexes the foot and stretches the calf and arches while you sleep, holding the plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position overnight.

PLANTAR FASCIITIS INSOLES

Orthotic insoles are specially designed to alleviate pain and tension away from the plantar fasciitis tendon with for fitting arch support that distributes pressure more evenly over the footbed throughout the day, providing added comfort.

OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEF

Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can ease the pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis.

APPLY ICE

To reduce inflammation, especially after a long day at work or intense exercise, icing the heel of the foot can help manage pain.

SUPPORTIVE SHOES

Wearing shoes with a supportive heel and that stabilizes the foot is important if you want to manage your foot pain from plantar fasciitis. Footwear like flip flops and high heels are only going to aggravate the problem. According to Dr. Kenneth Jung, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, California and featured in Prevention Magazine, adding a shoe insert or insole for plantar fasciitis can enhance the effectiveness of the shoes you already own.

Jung says that adding a shoe insert will externally support the arch, thus reducing the stress or load on the arch. Plantar fasciitis insoles also provide a cushy cup for your heel to relieve pressure, and together help make your foot more comfortable.

AT RISK FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS

People can develop plantar fasciitis without an obvious cause, however, there are factors that increase your risk.

WORKING ON YOUR FEET

Nurses, factory workers, teachers and others who spend most of the work day walking and standing on hard surfaces can damage their plantar fascia.

FOOT MECHANICS

The shape of your foot and how your foot makes contact with the ground can put added stress on the plantar fascia and cause irritation. This can include having flat feet, high arches, and overpronation of the foot.

AGE

People between 40-60 are most likely to be affected by plantar fasciitis. 

HIGH-IMPACT EXERCISE

Any activity that places a lot of stress on the heel can be a contributing factor to plantar fasciitis, including long-distance running, crossfit, and even ballet.

WEIGHT

Adding extra pounds can put stress on your plantar fascia.

Anyone who struggles with the pain of plantar fasciitis, whether it's first thing in the morning or after a long day at work, is looking for simple, affordable relief. If you are experiencing foot pain, your first move should be to see a doctor. You will find there are many treatments for plantar fasciitis that do not require a prescription.