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Oxfam Trailwalker - my FootDr

Oxfam Trailwalker

Oxfam Trailwalker - my FootDrWell it’s that time of the year again! Oxfam Trailwalker is for a wonderful cause and every year raises much needed funds and awareness. Unfortunately, it also goes hand in hand with some foot and lower limb injuries that could easily be avoided with a little preparation!

So here are 10 friendly suggestions from the team here at my FootDr podiatry to help you get through the hard yards relatively unscathed!

1.      Prepare

First and foremost, prepare your body for the challenge with some training. Covering a distance of 100 km in one hit with no training is a great way to get injured. Start preparing a few months out from the big day by going for regular walks (beginning with a smaller distance for novices) and progressing to a bigger team walk on the weekends (for instance 30 km) over varying terrain. The course incorporates a variety of surfaces and gradients so choosing walking trails that are similar will help you adapt when in the big event! Regular walks will also increase your fitness and get your body comfortable with walking/jogging long distances.

2.       Address any problems early!

If you have had any pre-existing injuries or worries with your walking/jogging style; seek advice on support/guarding against major injury. The team here at my FootDr podiatry centres conduct biomechanical assessments regularly and would only be too happy to advise you on best course of action!

3.       Wear in your footwear!

The shoes you choose to wear for the event should be supportive (adequate cushioning) and suited to your particular foot type.

The shoes should NOT be brand new. New footwear takes time to shape specifically to your foot; wearing them straight up for 100km WILL GIVE YOU BLISTERS.my  FootDr podiatry - blisters

It is best to wear the shoes for a couple of weeks prior to the event for some bigger walks to make them comfortable. Resting the shoes for 3 days prior to the event will also make sure that the rubber in the soles is at it’s full potential!

4.       Stretching

Regular stretching and massage can help keep the muscles pain and injury free. A tight loaded muscle is more likely to suffer injury when fatigued. Keeping flexible will help protect you from major injury; so stretching after warming up during regular exercise and after warming down will go a long way to conditioning yourself for the major walk. Through-out the course there are a number of health professionals including podiatrists and physiotherapists who can help you in the event of minor injury or pain.

5.       Stay hydrated!

In the days leading up to the walk drink plenty of fluids to prepare your body; starting a 100km walk/jog dehydrated will only lead you to fatigue quickly and predispose you to injury. Exercise causes the body to use up it’s water stores whether for fuel or perspiration. There are regular drink stations along the trail walk, do not hesitate to use them!

6.       Blistering!

my FootDr - BlistersThe dreaded blisters will inevitably make an appearance during Oxfam due to the constant friction war of skin vs shoe! There are a number of ways to reduce the friction including good socks, checking you footwear fits correctly and if you are aware of any specific points you are prone to blistering, a few well-placed bandaids or strips of strapping tape can also help to prevent the blisters.

Podiatrists and medical staff will be on-hand at the check points to help relieve any discomfort, but being proactive will help reduce the pain!

7.       Toenails!

Yes Toenails! Cutting your toenails 3 days prior to the event will ensure that they are not too long that they will cause injury but also not too short that they will cause discomfort!

8.      Health Professionals are there to Help

If at some point during the walk you feel you have injured yourself and are in worlds of pain, CONSULT A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL at the nearest check point. Everyone who participates in Oxfam is a hero in their own right, but major injury is not part of the legacy. Seek medical assistance even if you are unsure, it is better to be safe than sorry!

9.      Assess the damage

The finishing point! You will be very tender towards the end of the walk/jog, not only have your muscles and joints in your legs taken a bashing but so have your feet. After finishing the big race, it’s a good idea to assess for any damage and have it seen to- whether it is blood blisters, skin irritation, lost toenails or major callus build up the last thing you want is infected feet!

10.  Recuperation

The following day- you will be sore. It is important to rest and recuperate; basic first aid Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation is a good treatment for the residual soreness; especially for the feet and legs! So put them up, throw on some ice and rest easy knowing what a great job you’ve done!

If you have any queries regarding footwear advice, biomechanical assessment or injury prevention don’t hesitate to come in and see one of our helpful, friendly podiatrists.


Killer Heels

As a podiatrist, up to 40% of my day involves treating ladies of high heel wearing age, some of who have made a conscious decision to buck the trend and choose comfort over fashion, and many who haven’t.

The human foot was once described by Leonardo Da Vinci as “a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art”, and this is evidenced by our ability to walk, run, jump, and play. However, it doesn’t take much to upset the fine balance between precision function and disaster. High heels, by their nature shift the body’s anatomy into foreign territory, causing marked postural and alignment strain. If horses could talk they would tell you that walking on your toes (equine) has its drawbacks, and we’ve only got two feet to manage with!

By elevating the heel bone (calcaneus) there is an immediate change in the distribution of weight under the feet from the heel to the forefoot – the percentage of which is directly proportional to the height of the heel. With regular use, the calf muscles in the lower leg can permanently shorten, leaving you unable to comfortably wear flat shoes and further increasing pressure under the ball of the foot.

Habitual high heel wearers will invariably, at some point, suffer heel pain and disability because of this alteration in the way our body adapts to the ground and distributes weight.

Common complaints can include calluses, corns and blisters right through to permanent deformities including bunions, hammer toes and acquired flat feet. This list does not include increased incidences of fractures of the ankle and metatarsals (forefoot), arthritis, pinched nerves, tendonitis and other soft tissue injuries and inflammation.

Foot alignment or lack thereof, has the potential to affect the posture and position of all the joints in the lower limb and also the pelvis and the back. Many studies have found that increasing heel height increases anterior pelvic tilt and subsequent increased curvature of the lower spine (lumbar lordosis). Again, with repetitive use this can generate chronic lower back pain and increase intervertebral disc compression as well as deteriorate core stability strength.

Before you lose faith and trust in all things fashionable, here’s some tips on how to minimise risk while wearing your heels:

• Like most things in life, moderation is the key. Avoid wearing heels when walking to and from work (joggers are the safest bet), and kick off the pumps in the office and replace with flats.

• Pick shoes that suit the activity for the day – flats or shoes with only a slight heel pitch are best for standing and walking, whereas heels may be suitable during a seated meeting or dinner date.

• Keep the heel height sensible – really anything over 5cm is hazardous and should be for only special occasions.

• Stilettos (Italian for dagger) could not be named more aptly – really a dangerous shoe for ankle sprains and fractures. Try broader heels with more stability and tread on the ground.

• Stretch your calf muscles regularly to improve fl exibility and reduce the likelihood of muscle contraction.

• Seek immediate assistance from a podiatrist should you experience pain, swelling or a change in shape of any part of your foot. People suffering from diabetes, reduced circulation or with a history of foot problems should check with their podiatrist before changing footwear styles.

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