Toe Jam

Keep 2002 Resolutions - Safely

Will your plans to shape up for the summer include some sort of aerobic activity? While this is a great way to lose weight, aerobic exercise can also be detrimental to your feet if not properly fitted with protective shoes.

Quick lateral movements combined with extended periods of jumping can lead to injury and such exercise forces your feet to support 3 times your body weight. Shoes with sufficient shock absorbing cushioning are crucial for injury prevention. Aerobic shoes must have arch designs that compensate for side-to-side motion and supportive uppers to provide forefoot stability. Be sure the toe box is high enough to prevent irritation of the toes and nails. Buy shoes in the afternoon when the feet swell slightly, using the same socks you will wear while working out. The type of shoes you need will be determined by the type of aerobic activity you plan on doing. Aerobic, running, walking, and spinning all require a certain type of footwear. A good cross-trainer can often be used for multiple aerobic activities.

Walking: Rx for Health

Melissa is a 44 year old, overweight teacher who wants to start an exercise program and sensibly decides to have a checkup before plunging into it.

"Doctor," she said, "I read about all these people walking, and I don't understand. How can something as casual as that get me in shape?"

The answer, as most serious walkers know, is that health walking is about as closely related to walking as swimming is to dog-paddling in a pool. There's more to it than walking to the mailbox.

About 97 million men and women are walking regularly, and podiatrists are delighted.

Besides being healthy for feet and involving fewer injuries than jogging, walking has many potential benefits - reduced blood pressure, stress, and arthritis pain, to name a few.

Melissa is approaching her exercise goal the right way, by realizing that a fitness program won't be any fun - much less possible - unless her feet are in good shape. She'll get some pointers about warm-up exercises, pacing her gradual buildup to a regular walking routine, and another important aspect of walking programs in which podiatric physicians specialize: proper footwear.

Walking: It's a good Rx for health.

For Therapy, turn to RICE

The most important elements of treatment for many injuries begin with RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If you injure your feet (or any other part of your body), RICE is a good rule of thumb.

REST: Stop using the injured part as soon as you realize that an injury has taken place. Use crutches to avoid bearing weight on the injured limb and discontinue exercise or activity immediately.

ICE: Ice helps stop bleeding from injured blood vessels and capillaries. The more blood that collects, the longer the healing time will be. Ice can be applied by soaking in buckets of ice water or ice packs. Ice the area for about 30 minutes. Remove for about 15 minutes and then reapply. Repeat this cycle for 3 hours.

COMPRESSION: Compression decreases swelling by slowing bleeding and limiting the accumulation of blood in the injured area. To apply compression safely, use and elasticized bandage (Ace bandage) or a cloth bandage if this is not available. Wrap the injured area firmly, over the ice. Begin wrapping below the injured site and extend above the injured area. BE careful not to compress too tightly. If pain, numbness, cramping, or blue nails become evident, the blood flow is being constricted. Remove the bandage immediately and wait for the symptoms to disappear. Then rewrap - less tightly.

ELEVATION: Elevating the injured area above the level of the heart will decrease pain and swelling at the injury site. Elevate the iced, compressed area in whatever way is most convenient. Prop an injured leg on a solid object or pillows. Elevate injured arms by lying down and placing pillows under the arm or on the chest with the arm folded across.

If pain and swelling persist or worsens, consult your physician immediately.
IF THE SHOE FITS . . .Three out of four Americans complain that their feet hurt, and little wonder. Every workday, most of us spend a quarter of our time standing on our feet.


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