Is Osteopathy the answer for the walking wounded?

There’s not been a great deal of good news in 2020 but for the humble art of walking, it has been a revolutionary year.  “It’s all we could do.” I hear you cry.  That’s as maybe but figures published in October show that between May and July 2020, 39% of people said they were walking more.  Perhaps taking inspiration from Captain Tom Moore who raised £33m for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden before his 100th birthday.

Health and wellbeing benefits

Whatever your reason for doing it, walking is good for us.  These are just some of the benefits:

  • Improved circulation. Walking wards off heart disease, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart
  • Strengthened muscles
  • Better bone strength
  • Can help with weight loss
  • Improved your mood
  • And in 2020 it has been one of the few ways to catch up with friends!

Give wellies the boot

But, before you go wild and set off on a hike, please do give some thought to your footwear.  When it gets muddy, we can be tempted to dig out the wellies.  And these are great for keeping our feet dry but not really designed for any significant walking.  They are the Winter equivalent of flipflops – you have to clasp your feet when you walk!  Instead, make sure you have something suitable – whether that be walking boots or a sturdy pair of trainers depending on your walking aspirations!

And, as with any sudden increase in activity, keep an eye out for any aches or pains and don’t try to walk through injury.  Not surprisingly, one of the first places to feel the pain of walking can be our poor feet.

Pain and tenderness under the heel

Probably one of the most common foot issues I see in my Osteopathy Clinics is Plantar Fasciitis.  A painful condition that causes pain in or near the heel.

It is caused by an inflamed or swollen plantar fascia.  This is the strong band of tissue that stretches from your heel bone to your toes. Its purpose is to support the arch of your foot and act as a shock absorber within your foot.

Damage to the plantar fascia can be brought on by various situations and lifestyle factors including excessive standing, walking or running (especially on hard surfaces), causing overuse or stretching of your sole.  It can also be is a particular problem in people with flat feet or high arches. Interestingly, it used to be called Policeman’s foot due to them historically walking long distances in very hard shoes!

Pain in the heel or calf

Damage to the Achilles tendon – the body’s thickest tendon that runs 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.

Ankle agony

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 not being able to bear weight.

How can Osteopathy help with foot and ankle pain?

Depending on the issue and your age and fitness I can use a combination of electrotherapy, gentle massage and manipulative techniques to reduce pain and inflammation and increase the mobility of the joints and the flexibility of the muscles in the foot.  If appropriate I may also incorporate some acupuncture to help with the pain and inflammation.

I will often look at muscles and joints in the lower limb, the knee, hip and lower back and may treat any joint restrictions and muscle tightness we find there too. Often improving the movement in the joints of the lower back will help the foot and ankle function better.

I may offer specific balancing, strengthening or loosening exercises.  And I can also provide advice on strapping and brace supports, footwear and any lifestyle factors that might be hindering healing.

X-rays, scans or other tests may be required to make a full diagnosis and I may refer you to your GP for any additional investigations and treatment such as advice on pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications.

So, if your feet are feeling the pain of 2020 then why not book an appointment with me?  I have clinics in both Bromley and Orpington and would be delighted to help you to put your best foot forward 2021.

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