To Your Health
October, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 10)
- Other conditions: More serious conditions attributable to foot dysfunction include plantar fascitis (inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the heel), Achilles tendinitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon), Morton's neuroma (thickening of nerve tissue between the third and fourth toes, causing sharp pain on the ball of the foot), anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, arthritis, and hip and lower back pain. These conditions usually create even more pain than excessive supination/pronation and can seriously affect someone's health and quality of life. They are often the reasons why people consult doctors for help.
Factors That Affect Your Feet (for Better or Worse)
Genetics: You cannot outrun your genes. Flat feet or excessively pronating feet run in families. Parents pass it on to their children. If one parent has flat or collapsed arches, their children will have it also to some degree. If both parents have overpronated feet, their kids will absolutely have flat feet as well. I check children for this around age 7.
Surfaces: Concrete and stone are the worst surfaces for the feet. Generally, the harder the surface, the more stress on the arches and the faster they will collapse. Dirt, rubber tracks, carpeting and grass are all softer surfaces that offer some cushion to the feet and help to reduce strain and shock.
Shoe types: If you look inside almost every shoe, sandal, flip-flop, boot, etc., you will notice that there may be some inner arch support. Hardly any shoe has outer arch support or support for the arch under the ball of the foot. For this reason, looking for "good" shoes is often a myth.
I suggest that you bring your shoes into your chiropractor's office so they can look at them for you. It is too difficult to list the "good shoes" for you because the best brand or type for you varies based on your feet and your lifestyle.
Orthotics and arch supports: Unfortunately, since most shoes do not have proper arch support, it comes down to one of my favorite sayings, "It doesn't matter what shoes you buy, it matters what you put inside them."I have spent much of my practice explaining to patients what you have read so far in this article. So many of them have had no idea that their pain could be related to their feet. My primary way of helping them besides adjusting their feet is offering them custom-made, flexible orthotics that support all three arches of the feet.
Arch supports help to stabilize and support the feet so that they can have healthy movement patterns. This can reduce pain not only in the feet, but in other areas of the body as well.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Good foot and arch health doesn't just happen; one person might be more inclined to develop foot problems than another, but the fact is, with the amount of time we spend on our feet and their role in our lives, it's really just a matter of time. My message is simple: I cannot tell you how bad your feet will get in the future if you don't bother helping yourself now, but if you're already in pain and decide not to do anything about it, I guarantee things will only get worse with time. This is not to scare you, but to emphasize how important your feet are and teach you to look at your feet in a different way than you may have before.
I'll leave you with this: Ladies, do you know or remember what your mother's or grandmother's feet look(ed) like? I'll bet you do. Probably not a pretty picture. Your feet will look like theirs (and feel like theirs) if you don't do anything to take care of them. Gentlemen, we tend to not care as much, but get a look (if you can) at your father's or grandfather's feet, too, because we will suffer their fate as well without intervention.
We spend much of our lives taking our feet for granted - if we are lucky. If we're not, we suffer one or more of the painful, often debilitating conditions that can affect the feet. That's why your feet are so important and why you need to take care of them. Talk to your doctor about the importance of foot health and what you can do to ensure the stability of your foundation- your feet.
Kevin M. Wong, DC, a 1996 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose, Calif., practices full-time in Orinda, Calif. He is also an instructor for Foot Levelers, Inc.