Look after your feet and ankles – and they will look after you
Following last Sunday’s nail-biting London Marathon, the race season is now well and truly up and running – excuse the pun!
Even if you’re not a long-distance runner, the warmer weather and longer days are bound to entice you outside in the fresh air. Whether you’re playing tennis, basketball, five-a-side football or simply walking the dog, always remember to warm your muscles up properly beforehand.
Do also spare a thought for the Cinderellas of your body – aka your feet and ankles. Day in, day out, they do a lot of hard work so it’s hardly surprising that these highly complex structures can be prone to injury. Comprised of many small bones connected by muscles, ligaments and fascia (bands of connective tissue), your feet carry your entire bodyweight. And, as the hinged meeting point for the leg and foot bones, your ankle joints control the up and down motion of your feet.
Common foot and ankle problems
Achilles heel – damage to the Achilles tendon (actually the body’s thickest tendon, running down the back of the calf to the heel bone) can lead to swelling, bruising, pain in the heel or calf and difficulty walking. It affects athletes and non-athletes alike, especially in middle age. Common causes include age-related wear and tear, over-exercising and wearing flat shoes. You can treat it yourself using ice and rest.
Plantar Fasciitis – an inflamed or swollen plantar fascia (aka the band of tissue stretching from your toes to your heelbone) can cause stiffness, pain and tenderness under the heel and difficulty in walking, especially first thing in the morning. Causes include a tight Achilles tendon or overuse by walking or running on hard surfaces. It can also be is a particular problem in people with flat feet or high arches. Wearing a slight heel can help.
Acquired flat foot – this occurs when the inner side of the foot or inner arch flattens. The foot may roll (pronate) over to the inner side, potentially damaging your ankle joint and Achilles tendon, and also causing shin pain. Symptoms can include, pain, swelling, change in foot shape and pain and/or swelling in the knee.
Ankle sprain – abnormal stretching, twisting or tearing of any of the muscles, bones, tendons or ligaments surrounding the ankle joint can cause a sprain. Symptoms include swelling, bruising, pain and an inability to walk. For the first 24-48 hours, the best way to treat a sprain is by RICE (rest, ice for at least 20 minutes at a time, compression with an elastic bandage to provide support, and elevation to help reduce swelling) but if symptoms persist or you develop a fever don’t hesitate to seek medical treatment. You could have a fracture or an underlying condition such as arthritis. Recovery time depends on the cause and severity of the injury.
How can Denise help with foot and ankle pain?
I will take a full case history and gently examine the affected and surrounding areas. Most of these conditions can be prevented or helped by wearing correctly fitted, appropriate footwear and adequately warming up/cooling down before and after exercise. They also respond well to gentle manipulation, massage and electrotherapy and/or acupuncture to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as:
- Specific balancing, strengthening or loosening exercises.
- If necessary, advice on strapping and brace supports, footwear and any lifestyle factors that might be hindering healing. We may also refer you to a podiatrist for further advice.
- I may refer you for X-rays, scans or other tests and to your GP for advice and painkillers/medication.
What our clients think
“Prior to discovering acupuncture I had tried various forms of pain relief for osteoarthritis in the hands and feet. I was sceptical at first then felt the benefits and have returned on a regular basis for treatment. Again recently when I damaged the ligaments in my foot Denise has helped with the treatment, which has enabled me to get back to an active lifestyle.” Lynn Sylvester
So, if you have any pain or problems in your ankles and/or feet, please get in touch to see if I can help.