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 05 Jan, 2018

Most Americans will have walked 75,000 miles by the time they turn 50 years of age according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Is it little wonder, then, that foot pain affects daily activities- walking, exercising or standing for long periods of time- of a majority of Americans?

 

APMA offers advice for keeping feet healthy in common winter scenarios:

Winter is skiing and snowboarding season, activities enjoyed by nearly 10 million Americans, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Never ski or snowboard in footwear other than ski boots specifically designed for that purpose. Make sure your boots fit properly; you should be able to wiggle your toes, but the boot should immobilize your heel, instep and ball of your foot. You can use orthotics (foot devices that go inside shoes) to help control the foot’s movement inside ski boots or ice skates.

Committed runners don’t need to let the cold stop them. A variety of warm, lightweight, moisture-wicking active wear available at most running or sporting goods stores helps ensure runners stay warm and dry in bitter temperatures. However, some runners may compensate for icy conditions by altering how their foot strikes the ground. Instead of changing your footstrike pattern, shorten your stride to help maintain stability. And remember, it’s more important than ever to stretch before your run. Cold weather can make you less flexible in winter than you are in summer, so it is important to warm muscles before running.

Boots are must-have footwear in winter climates, especially when dealing with precipitation. Between the waterproof material of the boots and the warm socks you wear to keep toes toasty, you may find your feet sweat a lot. Damp, sweaty feet can chill more easily and are more susceptible to bacterial infections. To keep feet clean and dry, consider using foot powder inside socks and incorporating extra foot baths into your foot-care regimen this winter.

Be size smart. It may be tempting to buy pricey specialty footwear (like winter boots or ski boots) for children in a slightly larger size, thinking they’ll be able to get two seasons of wear out of them. But unlike coats that children can grow into, footwear needs to fit properly right away. Properly fitted skates and boots can help prevent blisters, chafing and ankle or foot injuries. Likewise, if socks are too small, they can force toes to bunch together and that friction can cause painful blisters or corns.

 

Finally- and although this one seems like it should go without saying, it bears spelling out- do not try to tip-toe through winter snow, ice and temperatures in summer footwear.

 

MORE THAN ONE NEWS SHOE ACROSS THE COUNTRY HAS AIRED IMAGES OF PEOPLE IN SNEAKERS, SANDALS AND EVEN FLIP-FLOPS DURING OUR CURRENT SEVERE COLD SNAP. EXPOSING FEET TO EXTREME TEMPERATURES MEANS RISKING FROSTBITE AND INJURY. CHOOSE WINTER FOOTWEAR THAT WILL KEEP YOUR FEET WARM, DRY AND WELL-SUPPORTED.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 14 Dec, 2017

Women’s winter boots with high, spiked heels and narrow, pointed toes may seem like the epitome of haute couture but these boots can make feet and ankles unstable on snow and ice covered surfaces.

Falls from high-heeled winter boots can lead to a number of injuries depending on how you lose your balance. If your ankles roll inward or outward, they can break. If your ankles twist, ligaments can be stretched or torn, causing an ankle sprain. Slipping or falling in high-heeled boots can also cause broken toe, metatarsal and heel bones.

Shop for a low-heeled boot this winter and be sure to scuff the soles of new boots or buy adhesive rubber soles to provide greater traction.

No matter what style of boot you decide to wear this season, if you suffer a fall in Cincinnati or Southwest Ohio, call my office for prompt evaluation and treatment and follow the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol:

REST. Stay off the injured foot since walking can cause further damage.

ICE. To reduce swelling and pain, apply a bag of ice over a thin towel to the affected area. Do not put ice directly against the skin. Use ice for 20 minutes and then wait at least 40 minutes before icing again.

COMPRESSION. An elastic wrap (Coban) should be used to control swelling.

ELEVATION. Keep the foot elevated to reduce the swelling. Your foot should be even with or slightly above the level of your heart.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 22 Nov, 2017

1.       If the shoe fits, wear it. When hitting the dance floor or shopping malls this holiday season, do not compromise comfort and safety when choosing the right shoes to wear. Narrow shoes, overly high-heeled ones or shoes not often worn, such as dress shoes, can irritate feet and lead to blisters, calluses, swelling and even severe ankle injuries. Select a shoe that has a low heel and fits your foot in length, depth and width while you are standing.

2.       Do not overindulge in holiday cheer.   Did you know your feet can feel the effects of too much holiday cheer? Certain foods and beverages high in purines, such as shellfish, red meat, red wine and beer can trigger extremely painful gout attacks, a condition in which uric acid accumulates and crystallizes in and around your joints. The big toe is most often affected first since the toe is the coolest part of the body, and uric acid is sensitive to temperature change.

3.       Be safety - conscious about pedicures. Nail salons can be a breeding ground for bacteria, including MRSA. To reduce your risk of infection during a pedicure, choose a salon that follows proper sanitation practices and is licensed by the state. Also, consider purchasing your own pedicure instruments to bring along to your appointment.

4.       Watch for ice and snow . Holiday winter wonderlands can be beautiful but also dangerous. Use caution when traveling outdoors and watch for patches of ice or snow along your trail. The ankle joint can be more vulnerable to serious injury from falling on ice. If you experience a fall, take a break from activities until you can be seen in my office. Use RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) to help reduce pain and control swelling at the site of the injury.

5.       Protect your feet from cold temperatures . Wear insulated, water-resistant boots and moisture-wicking socks to prevent frostbite, chilblains-an inflammation of the small blood vessels in the hands or feet when they are exposed to cold air- or other cold weather-related injuries to the feet and toes.

6.       Listen to your feet . Inspect your feet regularly for any evidence of ingrown toenails, swelling, blisters, dry skin or calluses. If you notice any pain, swelling or signs of problems, call my wonderful office staff to make an appointment to see me.

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