Podiatrist gives ‘health of the feet’ tips

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***With summer here and exercise regiments increasing, health care professionals recommend that people keep a few things in mind for good foot health.
“First and foremost is the shoe,” said Maj. Jacqueline Chen, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center podiatrist, marathon winner. “The shoe has to be large enough.”
Sounds like simple advice. But it’s advice that isn’t always followed – especially by a large number of females, who sacrifice comfort for fashion.
“In America, 70 percent of women wear a shoe that is too small for them,” she said.
A foot crammed into a tiny shoe does not bode well for foot health. “Wearing a shoe that is too small can cause a pinched nerve, hammer toe (wherein the knuckle of the big toe bends upward) and increased bunion deformities,” she said.
This is especially true during the summer months when people typically become more physically active. It is imperative to have the proper shoes before tackling a marathon or any significant cardiovascular training.
“When a person runs, three times his body weight comes down on each foot, every time it strikes the ground,” said Major Chen. “Even lightly shuffling around causes an impact of twice the person’s body weight.”
Aside from being too small, the shoe also should not allow the foot to roll in or out. And don’t keep shoes around too long. The sole of a shoe will lose 50 percent of its shock absorption within six months – even if it’s just sitting in the closet, she said.
Socks also play a role in foot comfort. Socks that wick sweat away from the foot can help runners avoid nagging conditions, such as blisters and athlete’s foot.
The most common injury she sees in LRMC’s Podiatry Clinic is planter fasciitis, also known as heel spur syndrome. It’s caused by overuse and prolonged standing.
“It’s basically too much too soon,” said Major Chen. “A sedentary person comes into the military and begins running every day, standing in formation for prolonged periods of time and carrying extra weight can cause heel spur syndrome. Avid runners also can develop this condition by increasing their running distance too quickly.”
Runners should not increase mileage more than 10 percent per week, she said.
The best way to avoid heel spur syndrome is to stretch the Achilles tendon before and after exercise, wear arch supports and choose a good pair of shoes.
“You don’t have to break the bank when buying a pair of running shoes,” said Major Chen. “A good pair can be purchased for under $100.”