Posts for: July, 2015
Eek... a mouse!
Wow! The Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metro area was buzzing with excitement this past month as they hosted the 2015 National Senior Games. More than 12,000 seniors from all over the country, ages 50 and older, competed in 18 to 20 multi-sport events such as tennis, basketball, swimming, golf, track and field, table tennis, triathlon, volleyball, archery, bowling, cycling, badminton, bowling, race walk, road race, softball, shuffleboard, racquetball and pickle ball.
More than 35,000 visitors attended this 16-day event that showcased some of the country’s premiere senior athletes. Beyond age, some of them had to overcome major physical obstacles. Some were cancer survivors. Some had pacemakers. Some had major reconstructive foot and ankle surgery or total knee and hip replacements. Some had ACL repairs, or rotator cuff repairs and back surgery. Some were even there because they were a part of a generation that wouldn’t allow them to compete during their youth. The games were a personal vision quest for many. All of the athletes shared a common denominator; they had vigor for life and refused to let age get in their way.
Senior Athletes Susceptible to Foot Problems
During the summer months, athletic and recreational programs are in full swing. Despite the differences among the sports, seniors are susceptible to foot injuries. Here are some of the more common questions my senior patients ask me and foot care tips for tennis, golf and running.
TennisTennis is particularly stressful on your feet because of the quick starts and stops and lateral movements from side to side. Common tennis foot problems include ankle sprains, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and tennis toe.
Foot Care Tips: If you have weak ankles or history of sprains, wear a simple ankle brace inside your shoe.Select a stable tennis shoe that is not too rigid and provides flexibility to perform. The shoe should provide durable toe support. Custom orthotics are recommended to provide arch and joint support. Proper warm-up and stretching are also important. These actions will help flexibility, relieve foot pain, and extend playing time.
GolfGolf is stressful on your feet and ankles because of excessive walking up and down hills.Common problems for golfers include: tendonitis, capsulitis and ligament sprains and pulls that keep the golf enthusiasts off the greens. Improper shoes can also cause blisters and neuromas, and other foot and ankle pain.
Foot Care Tips: Walking up and down hills is a normal motion that puts abnormal stress on your Achilles tendon.Walking on uneven surfaces puts a lot of strain on the tendons along the outer portion of the ankle. If you don’t stretch before hand, you will put a lot of wear and tear on your muscles that may lead to severe tendonitis. If you use arch supports in your shoes, you will be surprised how much better your feet feel at the end of a round of golf.
RunningGravity tends to come into play more during running and a considerable more stress is placed on your feet. The 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments and network of tendons, nerves and blood vessels all work together in the foot while running and take on maximum stress. Common foot problems that occur are blisters, corns, calluses, Athletes foot, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
Foot Care Tips: Runners should properly condition their body, build a routine and stretch their muscles, tendons and ligaments before and after each run. Proper running shoes are critical. Shoes should provide flexibility in the right places to help with shock absorption. More rigidity is needed in the middle of the foot. The heel should sit low in the shoe and the cushioned sole should be slightly wider than a walking shoe to absorb impact. Custom orthotics will reduce stress on lower extremities and allow you to run with less fatigue. Keep your feet powdered and dry and wear clean socks. Shoes hold moisture so alternate shoes with each run. If you develop recurring and/or increasing aches and pains, contact a podiatrist to help pinpoint the problem and prevent more serious injury or long-term damage to your feet.It’s important to consult with your physician before you begin a fitness program. If you are participating in athletic and fitness activities for this summer and feeling pain in your feet or ankles, don’t wait to get it checked out! Remember to condition yourself properly to include all-around body strength and flexibility. Select shoes especially designed for the activity you are participating in and follow proper foot care hygiene. Stretching your calf muscle before and after play is important. Pay attention to what your feet.
Contact John Sigle, DPM, or Grant Gonzalez, DPM, at the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois (217) 787-2700 or visit myfootandanklecenter.com for more information. They can help you enjoy the activities you want to do without pills and surgery. The Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois is located at 2921 Montvale Drive, Springfield, IL, and at St. Mary’s Hospital, 1900 East Lake Shore Drive, Decatur, IL.
Perfect for a Native American Festival?
Since the 14th century, the quiet town of Pamplona, located in northern Spain, explodes with excitement from July 6 to July 14. More than a 1.5 million tourists flock to the San Fermin Festival each year to join the weeklong celebration. It’s a nonstop street party filled with parades, music, dancing, fireworks, drinking, bullfights and the running of the bulls.
Some people recognize the Running of the Bulls as an extreme sport. By definition, it falls within this classification because it is extremely hazardous, incredibly difficult, and not in the mainstream of sports. Thousands of thrill-seekers from all over the globe attend this famous event. Although the exact number of runners is unknown, it is estimated there are 20,000 runners each year. During the festival, there are eight runs and as many as 2,000 to 4,000 runners per run. In addition to the dangers of getting mauled by a bull, runners have to contend with overcrowded conditions, slippery conditions, difficult terrain, and limited running space.
At 8 each morning, the town is filled with roaring screams and cheers from the spectators on top of the building rooftops, in balconies and along crowded streets and alleys. Thousands of runners fill the Town Hall Square as they begin the race of their life.
The goal of every runner is obvious; sprint ahead of the bulls in a 900-plus-yard dash through the narrow cobblestone streets to the arena without getting mauled by a massive bull that weighs more than 1,400 pounds.
Most runners make it to the arena unscathed, but hundreds do not. Although there have been many casualties and countless injuries over the past 100 years, runners keep coming back to push their luck against all odds.
Daily newspapers report injury counts like Vegas does after an NFL game. The number of runners who were gored, kicked, trampled and hospitalized is published just like a postgame stats report. Street condition reports are also described similar to the field condition reports prior to a major league sporting game.
It’s obvious that Pamplona officials are unwilling to stop the event. Local authorities blame a lot of the problems on unsafe runners who don’t know what they are doing. In a symbolic effort to make things safer, there are published guidelines for runners that appear to be bizarre and ridiculous. There are even fines for runners who are drunk or wearing sandals instead of running shoes.
From a practical viewpoint, I can agree with the first fine for certain. If it’s not a good idea to drive when you’re drunk, it’s not a good idea to run either, especially if you are trying to run from a stampede of raging bulls.
From a podiatry viewpoint, I can also agree with the second fine for not wearing the appropriate running shoes. Although there is not a running shoe on the market designed to withstand the crushing impact of a 1,400-pound bull, or prevent a bull’s horn from piercing your foot, there are several shoes that are appropriate for the competition. I’m not kidding!
The best trail running shoes for men would have to be sturdy, flexible, lightweight and provide added traction and support. Several trail running shoes offer these qualities.
Of course, there are a lot of other hometown rules that you should pay attention to, but the best advice is to get out of the race and watch from the rooftops.
If you plan on running with the bulls in the future, don’t hesitate to visit the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois in Springfield or Decatur to get your feet in proper condition for the race. Visit myfootandanklecenter.com to get some tips on shoe gear, too. It’s always a good idea to select the right shoes that are well-suited for the occasion.
The Achilles tendon is the strong band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. This lower leg tendon enables you to walk, jump, stand on your toes and climb stairs. You rely on it virtually every time you move your foot.
When the tendon is stretched beyond its normal capacity, a complete or partial tear may occur. Most Achilles tendon ruptures occur as a result of sport-related injuries when forceful jumping or sudden accelerations of running overstretch the tendon and cause a tear. Individuals with Achilles tendinitis -- weak and inflamed tendons -- are also more susceptible to tendon tears.
Signs of a torn Achilles tendon include:
- Sudden, sharp pain in the back of the ankle and lower leg
- Snapping or popping sensation at the time of the injury
- Swelling down the back side of the leg or near the heel
- Difficulty walking or rising up on the toes
The best treatment for a torn Achilles tendon is prevention. Avoiding this injury could save yourself months of rehab and extended time away from your game. Help prevent injury to your Achilles tendon by:
- stretching your calf muscles regularly
- limiting hill running and jumping activities that place excess stress on the Achilles tendons
- resting during exercise when you experience pain
- maintaining a healthy weight
- alternating high impact sports, such as running with low-impact sports, such as walking or biking
- wearing appropriate, supportive shoes with proper heel cushioning
If you suspect a ruptured Achilles tendon, visit our practice as soon as possible. Until you can seek professional care, avoid walking on the injured tendon and keep it elevated. Ice the affected area to reduce pain and swelling and if possible, wrap the injured foot and ankle. For partial tears, swelling and pain may be less severe, but prompt treatment should still be administered.
Treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture can be surgical or non-surgical. Surgery to reattach the tendon is generally recommended, followed by rehabilitation, especially for individuals who want to return to recreational sports. Our pracitce can evaluate the severity of your tear and suggest the best treatment plan. With proper care, most people return to their former level of performance within six months.