Prepare Your Feet for Autumn Hikes

  • By Ruth Ann Cooper
  • 13 Jun, 2016

As the days become cooler, many are lacing up their hiking boots and heading to the trails to take in the brilliant fall foliage in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. However, outdoor enthusiasts aren’t always aware of the beating their feet can take with constant and vigorous hiking on uneven terrain. Walking up and down steep hills and on slippery surfaces can put stress on the muscles and tendons of the feet and ankles.

The good news is that with a little preparation, you can avoid problems, such as heel pain, ankle sprains and Achilles tendon injuries when taking your autumn hikes.

Wear the Right Shoes

·        Cross-training athletic shoes do not offer the support needed for hiking on uneven, steep and slippery terrain. Investing in strong, stiff-soled, well insulated and moisture-proof hiking boots will lessen the stress on muscles and tendons and will reduce the risk of injury. I always wear hiking boots whenever I hit the trails. Trekking poles can also provide stability and provide a bit of an upper body workout during your hikes. I also use trekking poles every time I hike the trails. Roads, Rivers and Trails on Main Street in downtown Milford offer top quality hiking boots and trekking poles along with other hiking equipment.

Easy Does It

·        Hiking is like skiing; beginners should take on less difficult trails until they become better conditioned and more confident. Lax physical conditioning is a primary cause of foot and ankle injuries. In addition to stretching exercises and strengthening of foot and leg muscles, balance exercise will help you improve your ability to traverse challenging terrain. Do not attempt more than your body is ready for; ease into your hiking routine before planning a long, serious trip. The Appalachian Trail requires weeks of training.

Listen to Your Body

·        If you start hurting, take a break. Pain is your body’s warning sign something is wrong. Serious injury escalates if you continue to hike in pain. And if foot or ankle pain continues even after you have rested, schedule a visit to my office as soon as possible. Ankle and Achilles tendon injuries, especially need to be properly evaluated and treated as early as possible. If left untreated, they can lead to serious problems that can keep you off the trails for a long time.

 

Dr. Ruth Ann Cooper

By Ruth Ann Cooper 22 May, 2017

What lies hidden in the grass, dirt or sand can definitely wreak havoc on bare feet. From nails, shards of glass, slivers of wood, pieces of seashell at the beach, thorns from trees and plants or sometimes discarded toothpicks, each can puncture the skin of the foot and cause serious injury. Even after the object has been completely removed from the foot, any dirt or bacteria pushed into the wound from the puncture can lead to an infection, painful scarring or even a cyst. Any puncture wounds should be promptly treated in my office within 24 hours.

Besides hidden dangers, “everyday childhood injuries” can also interrupt a summer break. Protect your children’s feet from traumatic injuries, such as bicycle injuries and lawn mower accidents, by making sure they wear sturdy shoes while riding a bike or when cutting the grass.

Do not discount sunburn on the feet. Protect your children’s feet from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of their feet. Feet, like shoulders, burn faster than the rest of the body since they are most perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Not only is sunburn of the feet painful, it can also cause skin cancers that often go unnoticed until they become very serious.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 20 Apr, 2017

Competitive youth sports often require many athletes to transition from winter activities to spring activities without considering the increased risk of incurring a foot or ankle injury. Moving from indoor to outdoor playing surfaces with varying impact can stress a young athlete’s feet and ankles. Going from sport to sport without allowing time for muscles and bones to rest can cause overuse injuries.

If your child plans to participate in a sport this spring after playing through the winter sports season, follow these six tips:

  1.       Get a preseason health and wellness checkup. A medical evaluation before the season begins can help identify any health concerns that could possibly lead to injury.

2.       Take it slow. Ask the coach to gradually increase children’s playing time during practice to avoid pushing them full throttle. Your child’s feet and ankles need to become accustomed to the activity level required for a sport.

3.       Wear proper, broken-in shoes.   Different sports require different shoe gear. Wearing the appropriate, well-fitting, broken-in athletic shoes can eliminate heel and toe discomfort.

4.       Check your child’s technique. Watch for any changes in your child’s form or technique. Ask the coach to notify you if your child is placing more weight on wide side of his/her body or limping.

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, such as Achilles tendonitis and shin splints, can be subtle and develop over time.

6.       If an injury occurs, remember RICE. An injured foot or ankle can often 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.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 06 Apr, 2017

This painful condition results from inflammation of the tissue band (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. Repetitive activities, such as a new exercise routine or walking on a daily basis, can put stress on the ligaments in the foot, leading to inflammation and pain.

The good news is heel pain can often be relieved using conservative methods, but it must be treated early.

 Heel pain can become chronic and debilitating if not properly treated.

I can help you find relief with therapies, such as:

  •  Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Stretching exercises
  • Orthotic devices
  •  Physical therapy
  • Footwear modifications
  •  Activity limitations
  • MLS Laser Therapy
  • Extra Corporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)

 Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to nonsurgical treatment, some require surgery. If you continue to have heel pain with non-surgical treatment, we can discuss your surgical options.

Heel pain should not stop you from enjoying the beauty of Spring. Make an appointment with my office if you are experiencing heel pain so my staff and I can help you resume a healthy and active lifestyle.

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