Ask The Expert

Feet For Life Month: Expert Top Tips

You only get one pair of feet, which is why it is so important to look after them!

Half of Brits who take up running or a new sport quickly get injured – with many admitting they wear uncomfortable trainers just because they look good, according to a new study from The College of Podiatry.

The research, which was commissioned to mark foot health awareness campaign, Feet for Life month (June), and contained feedback from 2,000 UK adults, found exercising typically leaves people nursing injuries for 26 days a year.

Not only this, but did you know:

  • Footwear is the biggest cause of foot problems in the UK, say podiatrists
  • The foot is one of the body’s most intricate ‘machines’ – with 26 bones
  • The average person uses their feet to walk 150,000 miles in a lifetime (equivalent to walking around the world five times)
  • A young adult’s foot produces about an egg cup of sweat on a summer’s day, so give them some air time. Don’t keep them smothered in airless trainers, synthetic socks or plastic boots day in day out
  • Running increases the pressure on the foot by up to seven times.

As it’s the Olympics this year, many people will be inspired to put their trainers on and get active. Without a doubt, exercise offers many benefits, but it’s crucial to make sure you are looking after your feet. The theme for the College of Podiatry’s Feet for Life Month in June is ‘fit feet’. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of good foot care when taking part in sports.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, consultant podiatrist from the College of Podiatry has given his ‘top tips’ for those taking part in sport and exercising when looking after their foot health:

Matthew says, “When you run, your body weight is multiplied by up to three times, with your feet bearing the brunt of this stress at every stride. The demands made on feet and lower limbs can lead to a range of injuries, including sprained ankles, leg pain, knee pain, and joint and muscle problems.”

“The rest of your body could also be affected when you are not in trainers that fit or are suitable for the activity. Wearing good supportive footwear is vital to avoid long term problems and injury. Getting the right shoe really cuts down on the likelihood of suffering a sports-related injury. So whether walking, running or dancing, always remember to do the following.”

  • Choose the correct footwear for the sport – If running is your thing, buy a running shoe which has adequate cushioning in the midsole and a flared heel for stability. However, if it’s a racquet sport such as squash or tennis, buy shoes designed for racquet sports that give better control on the court when moving and stopping suddenly – a running shoe may not be suitable for this due to lack of lateral support.
  • Follow the 1cm rule – when shopping for the perfect footwear ensure you can wiggle your toes a little – leave 1cm of room from the top of your longest toe to the end of your shoe. Try on both shoes and walk around the shop to make sure they don’t pinch or rub. Trying shoes on in the afternoon helps as your feet can swell throughout the day.
  • Always wear socks – to reduce the risk of fungal infection and blisters. The best running socks are ones that are made from synthetic materials which are designed to keep sweat away from the skin, (such as CoolMaxÒ) as they don’t absorb moisture like 100% cotton socks, and keep the feet drier.
  • Warm up and stretch – before starting any form of exercise, stretch and warm up your entire body and then stretch and cool down at the end of every session.
  • Prepare your body – incorporate strength and flexibility exercises into your regime to ensure that your body is in the best possible condition for exercise and sport and think about your diet – a healthy body is linked to healthy eating
  • Seek expert advice if necessary – if you have on-going foot pain that doesn’t go away, have it examined by a podiatrist.

Remember, your feet should not be painful. If you are in pain or need foot health advice visit a podiatrist. During June, podiatrists are offering free foot health checks around the UK in local gyms, golf clubs, libraries and health clubs so you can make sure your feet are ready to ‘Step into Action’. Visit the College of Podiatry’s website www.feetforlife.org to find a health check near you and for other foot health information.

 

Matthew Fitzpatrick, consultant podiatrist from the College of Podiatry

Matthew Fitzpatrick

About Matthew Fitzpatrick

A consultant podiatrist from the College of Podiatry, Matthew is an MSK Specialist Podiatrist with over 10 years clinical experience working with athletes and dancers in London. He studied at University College London Medical School & The London Foot Hospital.

About The College of Podiatry

The College of Podiatry is the academic authority for podiatry in the UK, and an independent charity dedicated to feet health research, education and public awareness. It works closely with the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists – the professional body for the UK’s registered chiropodists and podiatrists. In short, they’re the UK’s experts for everything and anything to do with feet.  Podiatry is the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other disorders of the feet and associated structures.

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