The Fitness Files reached out to the North Carolina Foot and Ankle Society to find out more about common foot injuries, how to protect your feet, what you should know about foot health and when to contact a podiatrist. One of the organization's members, Dr. Kevin McDonald, a podiatrist in Concord, North Carolina gives his advice and reminds us that "the health of your feet mirrors the health of your body. Take care of both."
The Fitness Files (TFF): What in your experience are the most common foot injuries that result from exercise or physical activity?
Dr. Kevin McDonald, DPM (KM): The most common injuries are a) ligament sprains and muscle and tendon strains from twisting the foot or too much force going through a joint or tendon; b) stress fracture of metatarsal bones from overuse or lack of conditioning; and c) injuries to toenails from jamming the toes into shoes.
TFF: What is the most helpful advice you would give to people to help them avoid foot-related injuries when starting to exercise?
KM: Wear appropriate and well-fitting shoes, build up the activity level gradually, and if your feet being to hurt, scale back or take a break from the activity. So for example, if you severly strain your ankle, stop the tennis game and go home to rest, ice, compress and elevate the injured limb.
TFF: What is the most important tip or information you want people to know about maintaining good foot health?
KM: The health of your feet mirrors the health of your body. Take care of both.
TFF: What is your favorite footwear for your exercise routine and for everyday wear?
KM: I wear sport specific shoes -- tennis shoes for racquetball, basketball shoes for basketball and cross trainers for general running around. There's no one brand that is best for everybody.
TFF: When should people contact a podiatrist about a foot problem?
KM: A pain in the foot that is severe; a pain in the foot that is getting worse, or pain in the foot that is not getting better after one month, are generally good times to get your feet checked.
TFF: Is there anything else you want people to know about foot injuries, avoiding foot injuries or foot health and exercise?
KM: Prevention is the best treatment. "Maybe it will get better" are not good words to live by. Studies show that the faster the treatment is started, the faster the healing can proceed.
Questions and Answers about Sprains and Strains - National Institutes of Health
How to Avoid a "Sandal Scandal" -- and More Tips on Maintaining Good Foot Health - American Podatric Medical Association Association