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 20 Jul, 2017

With warm weather in full swing, most of us have been enjoying the outdoors, whether that means tending to our yards and gardens, playing recreational sports or spending time at the beach. However, it takes just one wrong step for summer fun to turn into a painful ankle sprain or fracture. Walking, running and playing on uneven surfaces, such as grassy lawns, beaches and hiking trails, leave us susceptible to ankle trauma. Lightweight,  unsupportive summer footwear, such as sandals or flip-flops, make it even more difficult for us to regain balance on uneven surfaces.

 Sprains are one of the most common ankle injuries, but how can we tell if ankle pain is a sprain or a fracture? An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments in the ankle. These ligaments are like rubber bands that stabilize the ankle and limit the side-to-side motion. When these ligaments are stretched or torn, which can happen, for example, when the ankle is suddenly twisted, a sprain results. A fracture can also occur when the ankle is rolled under and the ankle is twisted. In this case, one or more bones may break or the ligament may pull a piece of bone off when it tears.

 When you have an ankle sprain, rehabilitation is crucial and it starts the moment your treatment begins. Treatment of ankle fractures depends on the type and severity of the injury. If you suffer from an ankle injury, follow the R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol and contact my office for a proper evaluation or seek care at your local Emergency Department after hours. In some case, surgery may be necessary to repair the fracture and other soft-tissue related injuries, if present.


  If you or a family member suffer a sprained or fractured ankle this summer, follow these steps:   

  1.       Stay off it. Walking with a sprain or fracture can cause further damage.

2.       Ice It.   Make an ice pack by wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables in a lightweight towel. Do not apply the ice pack for more than 20 minutes each hour.

3.       Wrap It.   A loosely applied elastic bandage can help stabilize the ankle and can reduce swelling.

4.       Elevate it.   Lie with the leg on a pillow so that the ankle is above the level of your heart. This will help with pain and swelling.

5.       Call my office.   Prompt diagnosis and treatment are important in a successful recovery.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 14 Jun, 2017

  1. Wear comfortable shoes to the airport. You never know how long you will wait in line, how far you will walk to a terminal or if you will need to run to make a connecting flight. Loose fitting flip-flops and sandals increase your risk of tripping, falling and spraining your ankle. Sprains should be evaluated by a foot and ankle specialist within 24 hours to ensure proper healing.
  2. Wear socks with your comfortable shoes.   Not only do socks protect skin from shoe friction that can cause blisters and calluses, they also keep you healthy. Walking barefoot through an airport metal detector exposes your feet to bacteria and viruses that could cause plantar warts and fungus.
  3.   Avoid bringing new shoes on vacation.   If your vacation includes walking tours, hiking or dancing, wear worn-in shoes that support and cushion your feet.
  4. Check your children’s shoes for fit and comfort.   Make sure their shoes are not too big or too small and ensure that they provide proper arch support and shock absorption.
  5. Pack flip-flops or sandals and wear sparingly. Use them in place of walking barefoot in locker rooms and around pools, where you may pick up athlete’s foot, a plantar wart infection or toenail fungus.
  6. Pack an antifungal cream or powder.   Use an antifungal product to help prevent athlete’s foot if you are staying in a hotel or swimming in public pools.
  7. Place a towel on the floor before entering the shower or bathtub.   The towel will help prevent slipping when you exit and will also help dry toes and protect them from infection.
  8. Stretch your legs and pump your feet if you are traveling more than two hours.   This will help circulate your blood to prevent dangerous blood clots in your legs known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  9. Consider wearing compression socks on the aircraft.   These can help prevent blood clots and DVT by pushing the blood through the legs and back to the lungs and heart.
  10. Pack a small first-aid kit. If you develop a blister on your foot, clean your foot with saline solution, apply a small amount of antibiotic cream to the blister and cover it with a Coverlet bandage, Band-Aid or gauze. If you suffer a puncture wound, see a foot and ankle specialist within 24 hours for professional cleaning of the wound to prevent infection and other complications.

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.

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