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Foot Health: Exercise is important, so take steps to stop foot pain and keep working out

By Dr. Sarah Voelkel | October 17, 2013.

There are things to consider before beginning an exercise regimen which will help you stay surefooted and safe from injury and/or pain. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Are your feet preventing you from starting your exercise program?
 
Podiatrists often see patients who have recently started trying to exercise again and are having foot pain.  With programs like the Couch to 5K and Zumba, patients are so eager to get moving that they begin programs like these without consulting their doctor and immediately have foot pain.
 
Don’t get me wrong. These are both great exercise regimens, but here are some tips to get you moving safely:
 
Start slowly
 
A sudden increase in activity level can increase your risk of stress fractures, tendon injuries and other foot pain. Start with low impact activity and gradually work your way up to the high impact activities over several weeks or months.
 
Remember your stretching exercises
 
It is important to perform stretching exercises when physically active to decrease risk of muscle cramps and tendonitis.  Be sure to stretch all muscle groups in the lower extremities, including calves, shins and hamstrings.  I usually recommend stretching prior to and after physical activity.
 
Good shoes
 
One of the most common beliefs of patients is that if they have a good shoe they won’t have foot pain.  Some people spend several hundred dollars on all types of different shoes.
 
It is important to have a good shoe, but remember that not all shoes are made the same. You want to look for a good, solid sole to the shoe.  A good shoe should not be able to fold in half. The only place the sole should bend is the toe area and you should not be able to twist the shoe side to side.  A majority of patients would do well in a neutral style shoe.
 
You’ve tried all the above and are still having pain?
 
A lot of times patients may have an underlying foot structure (too flat of an arch or too high of an arch or one limb slightly longer than another) causing continued foot pain.  Once these structural problems are corrected, most patients do much better and are able to continue with physical activity with little to no problem.
 
We can evaluate you in the office and determine what type of foot structure you have. We may need to provide support and correction with custom orthotics. Custom orthotics give you stability and align your body without surgery. It’s kind of like putting you on a level playing field.  
 
Be smart about your activity. If you have foot pain, see a Podiatrist. We want to keep you moving and we DEFINITELY don’t want foot pain keeping you on the couch! 

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