June Articles 2012

Barefoot Running

 new trend in running and jogging has popped up recently, called barefoot running. Barefoot running is a popular and growing trend that is just what it sounds – running without shoes. Before deciding to do any running without shoes, it's best to understand how this kind of running affects the feet.

Running without shoes changes the motion of running. Most running is done by landing on the heel of the feet. Running barefoot requires a different way of running; in a barefoot stride landing is done on the front part of the feet. Because of this, the impact shifts from the heels to the front feet. Runners also shorten their strides to create a softer landing.

Running barefoot does have its advantages. When running and landing on the front feet, the impact on the feet and ankle is reduced, which may reduce the incidence of stress injuries. It strengthens muscles in the feet, and also strengthens muscles in the ankles and lower legs that aren't usually worked. Overall balance of the body is improved and there is greater sensory input from the feet to the rest of the body, making overall position and motion less stressful on the body. It has been found that in countries in which some of the population regularly wear shoes and some do not, numbers of foot and ankle injuries are much higher in those who wear shoes.

People hearing about barefoot running for the first time are skeptical about it, and there are good reasons for skepticism. Running barefoot certainly has its drawbacks, the obvious being no protection of the feet when running. This makes it likely that when runners land on sharp or rough objects,  scrapes, bruises, and cuts on feet will result. Blisters will form. When beginning this kind of running especially, you may have plantar fascia problems. Landing on the front feet constantly also increases the risk of getting Achilles tendonitis.

So what can runners do to make barefoot running safe? It’s best to make a slow transition from running shoes to barefoot running. The body is used to wearing shoes so to slowly transition to bare feet, start by walking barefoot for a distance and then increase walking distance. Once the feet begin to adjust, try walking and then jogging and gradually increase the distance. If you have foot problems talk to the doctor first before attempting barefoot running. When starting out, it may also be helpful to begin by running on pavement or other consistent surfaces to avoid sharp or rough objects. Minimalist running shoes may also be an option, as they allow for many of the benefits of barefoot running while also protecting the feet from cuts and scrapes.

Athlete's Foot: The Sole Story

Do you suffer from itching, burning, dry, and flaking feet? It could be athlete's foot. Athlete's foot, also known as tinea pedis, can be extremely contagious, often infecting shower floors, gyms, socks and shoes, and anywhere else feet might contact. It's commonly found in public changing areas and bathrooms, dormitory-style living quarters, around locker rooms and public swimming pools. "Commons" areas in prisons and residential care facilities are frequently caught feeding the fungus as well. One step in the wrong direction can be enough to start the fire that can be tremendously difficult to treat.

Athlete's foot is most often caused by the same fungus that causes ringworm (tinea). It can be spread by direct contact with an infected body part, contaminated clothing, or by coming in contact with other objects or body parts that have been exposed to the fungus. Although the feet are more frequently assumed to get athlete's foot, tinea can invade other parts of the body as well so long as the proper growing conditions are met.

Tinea thrives in a dark, warm, and moist environment. Body parts that are often infected include the hands, groin, vagina, and scalp. Although many people never experience athlete's foot, around 70% of the population suffers from tinea at some point in their lifetime. Like most ailments, some people are more likely to acquire this fungal infection than others. People with a history of tinea or other skin infections are more likely to suffer from recurrent, or even additional, unrelated infections. The extent to which a person is tormented by the fungus can vary greatly as well.

While some people are never even aware that they have been infected with athlete's foot, others are pestered with mild to moderate symptoms like dry and flaking skin, itching, and redness. Still others are bothered by more severe symptoms including cracked and bleeding skin, intense itching and burning, and even pain when walking. In the worst cases, tinea can cause blistering as well.

The treatment for athlete's foot begins with prevention. Changes in the environment infected with athlete's foot can prevent spreading. Keeping the area that is infected clean and dry with the use of medicated cleansers and powders is essential. Allowing the area to breathe is important in the treatment as well. Exposure to cool air and light can make conditions undesirable for tinea. Treating the infected area with miconazole, tolnaftate, or other medicated creams, ointments, or sprays not only helps to kill the fungus, but helps prevent recurrences as well. White vinegar-based foot soaks can also be beneficial. Seeing a podiatrist is often a good idea when treating athlete's foot, since more often than not, other skin infections can develop from the initial infection, and recurrences are common.

Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is a new technology used to treat bone conditions such as tennis elbow, shoulder pain and many others. The technique is adopted if the patients do not respond to physiotherapy. During the therapy, sound waves of high intensity are directed to the affected tissues of the body. This leads to combined beneficial effects such as stimulation of the production of collagen fibers, elimination of persistent inflammation and dissolution of highly accumulated calcium.

Shockwave therapy is particularly recommended for a patient suffering from heel associated problems. Heel pain is often caused by a condition referred to as plantar fasciitis. This condition is common among obese people, athletes, and people who spend most of the day on their feet on hard surfaces. The beauty of the therapy is that it involves a very brief healing process - most patients can be on their feet the next day - and has very minimal complications.

When you visit a medical center for the treatment, you will be amazed at how simple the process is, and how easy, contrary to the idea of many patients who are deterred by the dramatic name of the treatment. The technique of shockwave therapy involves, in essence, the creation of inflammation at the site, which leads to more blood flow and prompts the body to send nutrients and healing cells to the area.

The use of shockwave therapy in the treatment of foot problem is very significant in helping patients to recover more quickly from a condition. It is worth noting that the therapy is associated with many benefits as compared to surgery. The procedure is cost effective and safer compared to surgery because it is non-invasive and usually no anesthesia is required. This also means that the treatment has a very brief recovery time.

However, there has been controversy about the use of shockwave therapy. Some doctors see it as merely new-age hype, pointing to studies that show no significant improvement in patients who underwent the therapy compared with those on the placebo. There is literature to support both views, with a good deal of debate raging between sides. Critics also express doubt over the fact that the mechanism by which shockwave therapy works is not precisely known, though there are a number of theories.

The fact remains that shockwave therapy, though undoubtedly in need of more study, provides relief from pain for many with foot and other problems, and does so without a lengthy recovery time. Shockwave therapy is still young and not well understood, but with more research may soon grow into its full potential.


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