You often worry about your children’s teeth, eyes, and other parts of their body. You teach them how to wash, brush and groom, but what do you do about your child’s feet as they are still developing? Many adult foot ailments, as with other health issues, have their origins in childhood, and can be present at birth. Periodic professional attention from your podiatrist and regular foot care can minimize these problems.
Neglecting your child’s foot health creates negative effects on other parts of the body, such as the legs and back. Foot health begins in childhood because your child’s feet must carry him or her for a lifetime. Your child’s life is certain to be happier and more enjoyable if you have your child develop strong, healthy feet as he or she grows into adulthood.
Your Podiatrist Explains: The Early Years
The human foot is one of the most complicated parts of the body, with 26 bones as well as ligaments, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. The feet of an infant are soft and pliable, and abnormal pressure can cause deformities. In the first year, a child’s foot grows rapidly, reaching almost half their adult foot size. Podiatrists consider the first year to be the most important in regards to development. To help ensure normal growth, allow your baby to kick and stretch his or her feet, and make sure shoes and socks do not squeeze their toes.
Your toddler will walk when he or she is ready, and you should try not to force this act. Watch your child’s gait once he or she begins to walk. Pay close attention to see if their toe touches first in their step instead of the heel, or if your child always sits while others actively play. Many toddlers have a pigeon-toed gait, which is normal, and some initially learn to walk landing on their toes instead of their heels. Most children outgrow these problems, but they could be a sign of a problem that will continue into adulthood without treatment.
Footwear for your Child
Children should not wear shoes until they can walk, so avoid pram shoes, which are normally soft, and usually made to match outfits. For babies, avoid tightly wrapped blankets that prevent kicking and leg movement. Walking barefoot in the home, where it's safe, is good for children. Your child’s feet are vulnerable to deformity from any ill-fitting footwear until the bones are completely formed at about 18 years of age. In addition, socks made from natural materials are better for your child’s feet than stretch-fit socks.
When buying shoes for your child, the shape of the shoe and the toe area should be wide and round, allowing for toes to move and spread. It is also important for the shoe to have a lace or a buckle. Without this, your child’s toes will claw to hold the shoe on, much the same way you may find yourself doing when you wear flip flops. The heel of the shoe should not be too high, as high heels can also result in foot deformity.
Start early in taking care of your children’s feet, because neglecting foot health is an invitation for severe problems. Contact your podiatrist for further consultation on your child’s growing, active feet. Having strong, healthy feet allows your child to walk, run and play. Take extra precautions to protect their feet, so they may experience a lifetime of healthy activity.
From weekend warriors to professional athletes, it is important to take care of your feet to remain fit and active while participating in sports and other recreational activities. With the repeated pounding that runners’ feet receive on paved surfaces, or from the side-to-side motion seen in court sports, there is no question that athletes’ feet and ankles are prime candidates for injuries. It is important to be on the lookout for some of the common problems associated with athletes – from ankle sprains to heel pain. With help from your podiatrist, you can take charge of your feet and avoid the bench.
Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue, called the plantar fascia, which stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts into the heel bone. It is also commonly referred to as heel or arch pain. Over-pronation may be a cause of plantar fasciitis. As the foot rolls inward excessively when walking, it flattens your foot, lengthens the arch, and puts added tension on the plantar fascia. Over time, this repetition causes inflammation of your heel and arch.
Orthotics Provide Comfort and Stability
Your podiatrist offers orthotics to reduce pain and restore proper function to the feet, thus relieving pain. An orthotic device is inserted into the shoe, and is designed to restore and aid the natural foot function. This is achieved by realigning the foot and ankles to their natural position, allowing muscles and joints to move with less stress and tension.
Many people can benefit from orthotics, including people with jobs that require standing or walking for extended periods of time. Common foot ailments, such as corns, calluses, Morton’s neuroma, flat foot, hammertoe and plantar fasciitis can often be improved with the help of a custom-made shoe insert that fits comfortably into the shoe.
Orthotic devices allow the bones, tendons and muscles of the feet and lower legs to function at their highest potential. Orthotics can decrease discomfort and improve function, not only in the foot, but also in other parts of the body so that everyday tasks aren’t painful.
Foot pain is never normal and should not be ignored. Always visit your podiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Whether you are active in sports or simply want to relieve pain caused by the stresses of everyday tasks, you can benefit from a custom-made orthotic device.
As an athlete it is important to remain on your feet! With the help of sports podiatry, you can ensure their health.
Anytime a person engages in sports, they are running the risk of suffering an injury to the foot and ankle. Many of the injuries that cause foot ailments and pain are caused by high-impact sports, such as running. Other times foot problems can arise from wearing improper footwear or from inadequate training.
There are a number of foot conditions that an athlete can suffer from, including ingrown toenails, athlete’s foot and blisters. Let’s take a brief look at two of the more serious and most common conditions: plantar fasciitis and ankle sprains. When these conditions occur, your podiatrist is available to provide you with the best treatment available.
Heel Pain Caused By Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot ailments experienced by runners and the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a thick, dense tissue that runs from the ball of the foot along the arch, connecting to the heel. People with flat feet or individuals who overpronate are more susceptible to heel pain because of the increased stress that occurs at the heel.
Many times the pain is worse in the morning when you first get up, but subsides as you move around throughout the day. Treatment will vary depending on each case, but generally rest, ice and stretching can help ease the pain. When conservative treatments aren’t effective and the pain persists, see your podiatrist for recommended treatment, such as orthotics.
Caused by an unnatural twisting or force on the ankle bones, an ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries experienced by athletes. The severity of a sprain will depend on the extent of the stretching and tearing of ligaments. How severe the tear is will determine how long it takes for your ankle to heal - sometimes up to several months. When a sprain first occurs, there will likely be chronic ankle pain. The ankle will swell, and discoloration may occur.
The RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) procedure should be administered right away for an ankle sprain. Serious ankle sprains, particularly among competitive athletes, may require surgery to repair and tighten the damaged ligaments. If you’re prone to ankle sprains, avoid running on uneven terrain and wear firm, supportive footwear for improved stability. Unfortunately, ankle sprains are often recurring. Your podiatrist can help determine the severity of your sprain and the necessary course of treatment, including exercises to strengthen your weak ankle.
Heel pain and ankle sprains can be easily treated, yet many athletes delay proper treatment for fear of discontinuing their favorite sport. Delaying treatment will only make the injury worse, often times leading to a far more serious injury that requires extensive care and treatment. If you frequently participate in sports and other physical activities, it’s important to pay close attention to your feet and ankles as they are placed under tremendous pressure and are at high risk for injury.
Remember to train properly for your specific activity and wear supportive shoes that offer stability for your specific sport. If you are experiencing pain for extended periods of time, take time to rest. Chronic pain likely indicates a serious foot problem and continuing to play your sport will only make matters worse. Talk to your podiatrist about the best ways to prevent and treat common sports-related foot injuries.
Most people do not realize the tremendous amount of pressure that is put on their feet during exercise. During running, the 26 bones, 33 joints,112 ligaments, and network of nerves and tendons that make up the foot all work together. Improper foot care during exercise can cause ailments from athlete’s foot to blisters, from corns to heel pain. Your podiatrist is here to help you stay active and keep running without damaging your feet.
Check Your Shoes
One of the most important things you can do for your feet while exercising is wear proper shoes, especially if there is running involved. Good shoes need to provide cushioning for shock absorption because of the force you are putting on your legs, ankles and feet when you run. It's important to select a pair of shoes designed for the shape of your foot and its natural structure and inclination.
Shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are slightly swollen to ensure a good fit. It also helps to wear the type of socks you will wear when running when you try on new shoes. If you use an orthotic, bring that as well. Look for lightweight, breathable shoes to ensure comfort, and consider buying two pairs and rotating them to extend the life of each pair. Running shoes should be replaced about every 400 miles.
Other Guidelines for Foot Care
Aside from having the right shoes for exercise, there are also other measures you can take to preserve the health of your feet.
- Wash your feet every day and make sure they are dried thoroughly.
- Good quality, well-fitting socks is also important for foot care.
- The more weight that is put on your feet, the more strain there is.
- Being in shape and being at a healthy weight will help take some of the stress off of your feet.
- Avoid walking barefoot.
- Do not ignore any foot pain.
Contact your podiatrist as soon as you feel any pain in your feet. The earlier an ailment is diagnosed, the easier it is to heal.
If your feet are suffering from pain or other ailments, you are in luck! Your podiatrist offers custom orthotics to help you stand, walk and run more efficiently and comfortably.
What Are Orthotics?
Orthotics are essentially pads or shoe inserts that have been sculpted to achieve a particular effect on your foot when you walk on them. They can be placed inside many different types of shoes, depending on their thickness and the fit of the shoe in question.
Orthotic devices come in many shapes, sizes and materials to help alleviate your foot ailments. At your local podiatrist, we utilize orthotics to alter or modify foot function. They are designed to treat, adjust and support various biomechanical foot disorders. The most effective are custom-made orthotics, which are created to meet the specific needs of an individual’s foot shape and problem.
They also fall under three different categories: rigid, soft and semi-rigid orthotics. While more rigid orthotics help to control the motion of the foot, softer orthotics mimic sometimes missing or inadequate padding and support on the bottom of the foot.
Why Are Orthotics Prescribed?
Your podiatrist prescribes orthotics as a conservative approach to many foot problems, or as a method of control after certain types of foot surgery. Orthotics correct an abnormal walking patterns and support your foot. By slightly altering the angles at which the foot strikes a walking or running surface, orthotics make standing, walking and running much more comfortable.
Visit your podiatrist today for an evaluation and remain on track for healthy, pain-free feet with orthotics!
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