The Achilles Tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and is responsible for propelling your entire body weight forward and up during activity. It can take forces up to 12 times body weight during a sprint! This tendon does not have a rich blood supply, so it is more susceptible to injury, causing irritation, inflammation and leading to pain and swelling. In severe cases, this can result in complete rupture of the tendon.
Achilles Tendinitis most commonly results from a series of stresses causing a chronic condition over time, but can result from a single incident. Some causes include:
In order to prevent Achilles tendinitis, try these stretches before engaging in any physical activity:
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The big toe of the foot is called the Hallux. When the Hallux begins to deviate inward in the direction of the baby toe, this condition is called “Hallux Valgus”. As the toe moves more in this direction, a bony prominence starts to develop on the outside of the big toe, over the metatarsal bone. This is called a Bunion.
Tight-fitting footwear like high-heels and narrow-toed shoes can often increase the risk of bunion formation. Excessive pronating or rolling inwards of the ankles may also be factors causing bunions.
Symptoms can start with pain at the joint at the base of the big toe when wearing certain shoes. This can be accompanied by redness, tenderness or swelling and eventually the big toe begins to change shape, curving inwards and restricting joint motion.
Treatment depends on the degree of deformity. The only way to actually remove a bunion is through surgery. However, there are other non-invasive methods to correcting, managing, and preventing bunions:
Bunions can be prevented by avoiding poor-fitting shoes with narrow toe boxes.
If the bunion:
Doctors will typically base their diagnosis on symptoms and findings from special tests. X-rays are often taken to determine the integrity of the joints in the foot and to test for arthritis.
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Diabetes causes your blood sugar levels to be unstable and can be higher or lower than normal. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your body. Damage to your nerves means that you may have burning pain or lose feeling in a part of your body. This is often referred to as Diabetic Neuropathy Damage to the blood vessels in your feet, and means that your feet may not be getting a proper blood supply.
People with diabetes have to be very careful with their feet, because decreased circulation and other diabetic conditions could affect overall health of the foot. Diabetes affects the immune and circulation systems. This weakens the body’s capacity to heal itself. Diabetes can also injure sensory nerves in the foot. The risk of developing a large range of foot-related problems can increase with nerve damage and poor circulation.
Diabetic Socks – The first line of protection for your feet is a sock that is specifically designed for the unique needs of people with diabetes. These socks have these key features:
A Human Kinetic Specialist at Kintec Footlabs can help you to find the best sock to meet your needs. These diabetic socks help reduce foot and leg swelling by increasing blood flow. This non-constricting sock promotes circulation and alleviates muscle fatigue, helping you feel revitalized and energetic throughout the day.
Orthotics for Diabetes – Uniform and improved pressure distribution is paramount to avoiding injury to the diabetic foot.
Soft, full contact orthotics are required to provide optimal pressure distribution.
Kintec’s F-Scan system can pick up subtle pressure points between the foot and shoe or insole that the practitioner cannot otherwise see. Find our more about Kintec’s orthotics.
Foot Complications – For those with diabetes, small foot problems, when left untreated, can turn into serious problems or infections that could lead to amputation. It is important to monitor for the following foot complications:
Consult a Doctor if:
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Arthritis is a condition that can occur at any age. Arthritis means “pain within a joint.” There are 28 bones and more than 30 joints in the foot. Ligaments are what keep the bones and joints in place. Should arthritis develop in one or more of these joints, simple tasks like walking and balancing may become difficult and very painful.
Depending on the joints affected, the signs and symptoms of arthritis of the foot will vary. Common symptoms include tenderness, restricted motion, swelling, foot deformities, and soreness in the soles and heels of the feet when walking.
There are several different types of treatment for treating pain that arthritis may cause. The treatment may depend on the location, type and degree of pain that arthritis may cause in the foot.
See a doctor and based on your medical history, symptoms, and examination results, he/she can prescribe the proper treatment for you and the arthritis pain in your feet.
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Metatarsalgia (forefoot pain) is a general term for pain felt at the ball of the foot. A Neuroma is inflammation or enlargement of the sheath surrounding the nerve. Neuromas can occur along any nerve but usually appear at the ball of the foot in between the 3rd and 4th toes.
Metatarsalgia pain usually appears as a dull ache or burning sensation around the ball of the foot. Neuromas can cause numbness or tingling in the toes, or sharp electric-like shocks that shoot up into the leg or down into the toes. The pain usually increases with prolonged standing, walking or running, and subsides when the shoes are removed from the feet. People suffering from metatarsalgia also tend to have clawing or hammering of the toes.
Foot Mechanics: Normal feet have an arch across the ball of the foot called the metatarsal (or transverse) arch. When this arch falls it places additional pressure on the middle three bones. This fallen arch can also cause these bones to be squeezed together, pinching the soft tissues (nerves and tendons) that are in between and surrounding the bones.
Footwear: Footwear plays an important role. High-heeled shoes place additional weight on the ball of the foot and narrow pointed shoes squeeze the toes together. Footwear like this aggravates these conditions and should be avoided.
Rigid High Arch Feet: This places excessive pressure on the balls of the feet. This foot type can be prone to metatarsalgia and neuroma.
Flexible Flat Feet: With flexible flat feet as the arch of your foot falls, the foot lengthens. This causes excess shearing forces underneath and between the metatarsal bones. This foot type can be prone to metatarsalgia and neuroma.
Individual and Muscular Factors: As we age, much of the protective fat pad under the ball of the foot is lost. Weak foot muscles can cause the transverse (metatarsal) arch to collapse. Tight calf muscles promote early heel lift during walking. This places more stress on your forefoot. Weight gain also increases the stress on the ball of the foot.
In some sports, athletes are made to spend additional time on the balls of their feet. Ballerinas and sprinters are particularly susceptible, as are football players as they crouch on the line of scrimmage.
Early treatment is essential. You should combine as many treatments as possible to obtain the best results. If poor foot function is involved, then long-term treatment is generally aimed at reducing the pressure on the forefoot and supporting the metatarsal arch. In the event of a severe neuroma, surgery may be required. It is usually done only as a last resort.
Such as anti-inflammatories (NSAID) may be prescribed by your doctor to reduce the pain and inflammation.
Proper footwear eliminate high heels and narrow pointed toed shoes. Look for lower, wider fitting shoes that stretch easily to relieve pressure across the ball of the foot. Shoes that offer increased cushioning will help to protect your feet.
These pads can be placed in your shoes to re-establish the transverse arch. They can improve the alignment and help to relieve pressure on the nerves and soft tissues.
Custom Foot Orthotics
Orthotics play an important role when the cause of the pain is the result of poor foot function. They help to support and align your foot in a mechanically correct position and alleviate stress on the metatarsal heads and joints. This helps to protect your foot from damage caused by simple daily activity. Frequently, metatarsal pads are placed directly into the orthotic.
Can also help reduce the pain and inflammation. Specific exercises may be prescribed to help strengthen any weak foot muscles.
Early recognition and treatment can prevent the condition from progressing. If you are experiencing pain, consult your physician. They may refer you for a biomechanical assessment of your feet to start conservative treatment early.
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Also called Chondromalacia Patellae or Runner’s Knee—is the inflammation of the cartilage of the kneecap (patella), which prevents it from gliding smoothly within the femoral groove, found at the end of your thighbone (femur). When inflamed, the now softened cartilage of the patella doesn’t track properly in this groove, causing a roughening of the patella’s under surface and discomfort in the knee.
The most common symptoms of Runner’s Knee are pain under and around the kneecap. It may be a sharp pain or dull ache made worse by kneeling down, by walking down stairs, by prolonged sitting, and/or during sporting activities that require squats or deep knee bends. Cracking or clicking sensations around the kneecap may also be experienced.
While there are many effective treatments for Runner’s Knee, you should combine as many treatment options as possible to hasten the healing and recovery process:
Consult your physiotherapist before starting any therapeutic strengthening and stretching exercise program. For your reference, here are some exercises that will help balance the musculature around your knee and help prevent further injury.
IlioTibial Band Stretches: Stand near a wall with the left leg crossed in front of the right. Lean the trunk towards the left and extend the right arm over the head. The goal is to feel a stretch over the right hip and down the outside of the right leg. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds. Repeat this on the opposite side and alternate 5 times each session. Perform this routine twice daily for the best results.
Quadriceps Stretch: Using a strap wrapped around the lower leg, bring it up until you feel a gentle stretch down the front of the thigh. Remember to remain standing straight pushing the hips forward. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. Alternate 5 times per session and perform this routine at least twice a day.
Static Quad Extension: Sit on the floor with a pillow or rolled-up towel under your knee. With your toe pointed towards the midline of your body, push your thigh into the floor and lift your heel off the ground. Hold for five seconds and repeat 15 times per leg. Perform this exercise at least twice daily.
Shallow Squats: Using an exercise ball against a wall, do a controlled squat keeping your knees directly over your feet and in line with your second toe. Repeat 10-20 times per session and perform several times a day. To enhance the effect of this exercise place a firm nerf ball or pillow between the knees, holding it there while performing the movement
Often, doctors will recommend a combination of physiotherapy and proper footwear. Orthotics can also help to ensure proper foot/leg alignment.
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Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation, fraying and/or tearing of the plantar fascia, resulting from excessive stress/tension on the tendon. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of tissue that originates from the heel and fans across the bottom of the foot in a V-shape. It maintains the shape of the arch in your foot. Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. It is a painful condition that can strike at any age and linger on for quite some time.
Plantar fasciitis is a common foot problem characterized by pain under the heel or arch on one or both of your feet. It starts as a dull ache, which may become more painful if left untreated. Other symptoms include sharp heel or arch pain during your first few steps in the morning, or with increased walking, running and sports activities.
Early treatment is essential. You should combine as many treatments as possible for the quickest, most effective recovery.
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Shin Splints can generally be described as pain at the front of the lower leg. The most common cause for the pain is inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bone).
At first signs, it is a good idea to have your doctor take a look as more serious conditions, such as anterior compartment syndrome can be disguised as shin splints.
This condition is usually an overuse or overtraining injury. This can be from either increasing the amount of activity you have been doing, increasing intensity of the training, or increase the frequency of the activity. It is very common to runners, especially when hills are involved. Other factors can lead to shin splints:
Foot Mechanics: Flatter feet that tend to overpronate, or roll inward, place more strain on adjoining muscles, while high arched feet may be very rigid and unable to absorb impact forces easily.
Muscular Factors: Inflexible and tight calf muscles add extra strain on the shins.
Activities: Although the forces involved in running cause it to be a popular source of shin splints, any high impact activity can lead to this condition.
Individual: Running style, such as running on your tip-toes or flat footed, can increase your chances of developing shin splints.
Footwear: Wearing old worn out shoes, shoes without good cushioning, or shoes with the wrong design for your foot mechanics make you more susceptible to shin splints
Rest: Use pain as a guide, and add cross-training activities, such as swimming or cycling to give shins a chance to rest while still maintaining your cardiovascular fitness.
Stretching and strengthening calf muscles: Consider starting a weight training program, and stretching daily, especially after activity.
Ice: In the early stages, apply ice if very painful to area for 15-20 min allowing at least 45 min for the area to warm before icing again. Icing is most effective up to 48 hrs following an injury. Never ice before activity.
Heat: Apply heat for 15—20 min after the initial acute period (after 48 hrs), especially before training.
Orthotics: If inflammation and pain is caused by overpronation, custom made orthotics or arch supports can help correct your foot mechanics. Orthotics can also help increase shock absorption for high arched rigid feet. At Kintec, we have a variety of custom orthotics created for your specific biomechanical and activity needs.
Footwear: Making sure you are in well cushioned shoes, or adding a cushioned insole, will help absorb impact forces.
Taping: Some sports taping methods are helpful for taking pressure off the shins.
Sports massage and/or Physio: These methods can reduce recovery time, talk to your doctor before starting any rehabilitation program.
Anti-inflammatory drugs: Combined with rest and ice, these can reduce inflammation but underlying causes (such as muscle tightness or foot mechanics) should be addressed to eliminate a reoccurrence. Consult with your doctor before taking any medication.
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