(Spoiler..if you are a tad squeamish one of the pics may not be for you)
With almost every form of exercise the feet take the most impact and yet sometimes it’s the least looked after. For those who foam roll frequently and stretch out regularly I applaud you but do you also take time to look after those toes?
With everything we already have to do each day adding to our fitness routines can become tiresome and tedious, but when we can fit things in and around what we already do and reap massive benefits it’s just bliss.
Facts about the feet
- 1/4 of the bones in your body are located in the feet (52 bones in a pair)
- Plantar fasciitis affects approx 10% of the population
- In a pair there are 250,000 sweat glands on the feet
- Feet are at their largest at the end of the day
- The pressure on the feet when running can be up to 4x the runners body weight
- Anshat Saxena hold the current world record forbhaving the most toes with 10 on each foot
- Ankle sprains are the most common sports injury, as the inner ankle is stronger the injury is more likely to be from ankle inversion when the foot turns inward on a fall
- The average person walks 115,000 miles in a lifetime, which is more than 4 times around the Earth (runners will go way beyond this measure)
- Matthew McGrory from the US hold the world record for the largest feet at size 28.5, that’s some big socks!
- Women experience foot problems 4 times more than men
- If your second toe is longer than the big toe then you have a unique condition called Morton’s Toe just like 25% of the population
- The sweat glands in the feet produce approximately half a pint of perspiration daily
- The perfect time to buy new running shoes is in the afternoon when your feet are more swollen
Foot pain & Plantar Fasciitis
To avoid injuries to the feet, look after them! Plantar pain can come on for many reasons; tight achilles and calves, heavy heel striking, unsupported low or high arches or wearing inflexible or worn out shoes. To have a better understanding I always advise clients to get their gait checked. Any good running/ sports shops can offer this facility in store or this can be assessed by your friendly Sports Therapist, like me.
95% of the Sports injuries I see in clinic are preventable and by taking better care of the body we not only do better in our chosen sport but also in every day life. You can’t be comfortable standing at a gig or driving to work or running round the park after the children when your feet are in pain. These easy stretching techniques below can help in your recovery process. (Please note these are only given in advice and are done at users own risks. Please seek advice from your health profession with any health conditions first.)
Self myofascial release, strong stretching not painful
The below are basic self myofascial release techniques you can easily and quickly do at home.
1) Roll a tennis ball using the bare sole of the feet on the floor. Work from the toes backwards to the heel. Be gentle and gradual.
2) Place a cushion on the floor and stand on it feet together and slowly dipping down into the ski squat position. Use assistance or the wall to steady yourself. Doesn’t need to be a deep squat, just enough for the feet to feel a bit challenged. Do 3 squats.
3) Stand barefoot on the bottom step of the stairs with heels over the edge of the step. Gently lift the body weight up and then lower so the heels come just below the step. Slowly and carefully with this one. Can do both feet together three times or one at a time 3 each foot.
These will help to loosen off the 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles/tendons in each foot. For the squeamish please stop reading now!
Subungual Hematoma (or black nail)
For a lot of sports people black nails are common and I wanted to share this to really help anyone who was unaware. Black nails can occurr for many reasons but mainly due to one intense direct impact or a prolonged impact to the nailbed. Trauma to the nail damages the tiny blood vessels and the resultant bleeding that can occur under the fingernail puts pressure on the many nerve endings in the nail bed, causing considerable pain.
Having a black nail can be considered by some as a sign of you stepping up your training or it can just be that your shoes are ill fitting or not suitable for your chose sport. With this type of injury the first pain you experience is the build up of fluids directly under the impact zone resulting in what appears to be a black nail. If this is throbbing and painful to touch in the first incident get it on ice. Never apply ice direct to the skin as this will burn and damage the soft tissue. Use a barrier such as a t-towel and gently place an ice pack (or bag of peas) over the affected area. If the throbbing and black colour continues to get worse don’t wait, call your GP. There’s really no need to suffer with this injury. I did in the past because I didn’t know any better, today I do.
Two things I discovered this week.
- Don’t lift a weights bench when you’re tired as you may squash your thumb
- Don’t be squeamish, get to the GP right away so they can fix it
On Monday afternoon I moved a weights bench and my thumb got caught under it as I was letting it go on the floor. It hurt a bit but straight away the adrenaline kicked in. By Monday night at home my hand was throbbing like crazy, I couldn’t touch or move it, I certainly couldn’t sleep and I was concerned about how that would affect me at work that week. I’d had the same issue twice before, with long distance running, on my right big toe (before I had my gait checked properly) and these two injuries caused me so many problems. When it happened on my toe nail I couldn’t run properly for weeks and in one incident I lost the whole toe nail. On Tuesday morning after a bad night I called the GP for advice and they explained everything. Within a short time I was assessed, X-rayed (due to crush injury) the nurse released the pressure and the pain went. Not to get into too many gross details but I’ll explain how simple it was to resolve. After we made sure there was no broken bones the nurse had a small heated pin pen and touched the nailbed three times. It didn’t hurt and on the third touch a tiny blood fountain erupted from my fingernail and the relief was felt instantly. Within seconds the throbbing died down, my hand eased and the pressure inside my nailbed was gone. Bliss! It’s been 24 hours and although the nail injury is still noticeable there barely any pain and I have full range of movement.
With my toes I waited it out and the pressure never released until the nail grew out or dropped off. If you have this kind of injury get it seen to! I didn’t know this could be done until this week and honestly I wish I had known earlier.
If you’re interested in having your gait analysis checked or to have your feet assessed for the right type of running shoe check out your local fitness store. For local people go and see Dan and the guys at Up & Running in Darlington. Just don’t forget to say you were sent by Wolfpack Training UK so they know you’re a serious athlete!