The 3 Week Diet

Getting Back on Your Feet as Quickly as Possible Following Overuse Injuries

Whether you are an avid runner, walker or sports enthusiast, foot problems caused by exercise or overuse may sideline you. Injuries may indicate that changes are necessary in how you approach an activity or that underlying problems exist, such as flat arches or bunions.

Problems small and large, from painful corns and calluses to stress fractures, all can interfere with an active lifestyle. The challenge is to find ways to get back on your feet quickly. Here are some treatment recommendations for overcoming and preventing some common foot maladies.

Corns and Calluses

Pedi-Gel-U-Shaped-Callus-Pad-on-footIn response to friction and pressure, the skin of feet often will form corns and calluses. Corns are hardened, raised bumps on the tops and sides of toes that can be painful. Calluses, which are areas of thickened skin on the bottom of feet, usually are not uncomfortable.

Unless you are diabetic and require different foot care interventions, doctors may include corn patches and callus pads containing salicylic acid in treatment of these skin irritations. Also, the Mayo Clinic notes that if you have structural problems, such as flat arches, orthotic shoe inserts may help prevent corns and calluses.

Plantar Fasciitis

Perhaps you first felt the stabbing pain stretching from your heel to your toes when you were standing and lifting weights at the gym. Then, maybe the pain surprised you by recurring when you got out of bed in the morning. This is plantar fasciitis, which involves painful inflammation of the thick band of connective tissue supporting the arch of your foot from heel to toe. The Mayo Clinic notes that 90 percent of people who develop this problem respond to “conservative” treatment without surgery, but recovery can take a few months.

In addition to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, treatment involves stretching exercises and may include arch supports.

Achilles Tendonitis

A mild ache at the back of your leg just above the heel following exercise signals inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects calf muscles to heel bone. Achilles tendonitis is a frequent sports injury caused by overuse and activities, such as intense workouts and jumping, that stress the tendon and calf muscles.

Your doctor likely will recommend over-the-counter pain medication, stretching exercises and a self-care regimen referred to by the acronym RICE, a therapy used for many foot injuries:

  • “R” stands for rest, which helps heal body tissues. In extreme cases, a walking boot and crutches may be necessary.
  • “I” signifies an ice pack applied for 15 minutes after exercise or pain.
  • “C” indicates compression by wrapping the ankle to reduce swelling and movement of the tendon.
  • “E” tells you to elevate your foot above heart level to further aid reduction of swelling.

Sprains and Strains

Although they are different kinds of injuries, sprains and strains are both caused by pushing joints beyond their normal range of motion. Sprains involve overstretching ligaments connecting bone to bone. Symptoms may include pain and bruising. A twisted ankle is a common foot sprain. When a muscle is stretched too quickly it can tear. This is called a strain, or muscle pull, in which a muscle or tendon is overstretched.

Self-care therapies, such as practicing RICE and taking ibuprofen are common treatments. But surgery may be necessary if a ligament is torn or a muscle is ruptured.

Stress Fractures

Sometimes, repetitive, jolting force —

often experienced during distance running or jumping — leads to tiny cracks in bone called stress fractures. However, weakened, osteoporotic bones can also lead to these cracks, which may become apparent due to tenderness or swelling.

The Mayo Clinic says that if you are beginning a new exercise program, take it slowly to avoid stress fractures. It adds that acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the painkiller of choice, because some research indicates that ibuprofen and other NSAIDs may interfere with bones healing. A walking boot or crutches likely will be prescribed until healing is complete and you can get up and active again.

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