August Articles 2014

Getting Back into Sports after Foot and Ankle Injuries

One of the most common injuries that athletes suffer from is a sprained ankle, a very painful and frustrating problem. A sprained ankle usually causes one to avoid participating in sports, and once someone has sprained their ankle, they are very likely to sprain it again.

To get back into sports after a sprained ankle, one should follow the RICE method, which is consistently recommended by physical therapists and sports medicine doctors. The RICE method involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If one follows the RICE method soon after experiencing a sprained ankle, he or she will likely get back to the playing fields in no time. In addition to using the RICE method, an athlete should wear an ankle brace after experiencing a sprained ankle to help alleviate the pain and keep the ankle safe until it heels. A brace will also help to stabilize the ankle, and prevent serious injuries in the future. Many times, people suffer from sprained ankles due to weak ligaments near the ankle; because an ankle brace keeps the ligaments in the foot from moving too much, it will help someone avoid this injury.

Fractures in the foot and ankle are another common type of injury athletes suffer. Stress fractures typically occur in the bones of the forefoot. An athlete will usually experience stress fractures if he or she partakes in a sudden increase in athletic training. A stress fracture can be either stable or displaced. A stable stress fracture involves no shift in bone alignment, while a displaced stress fracture involves bone ends that no longer line up.

After an athlete has a stress fracture in the foot, he or she will immediately need to see a doctor. Rest is usually the key to treat this problem. One will have to refrain from any strenuous activities or the sports that caused the injury. A doctor or specialist may be able to pinpoint the specific part of an athlete's training that caused the stress fracture. If this is possible, then an athlete will not have to worry about refraining from his or her sport in the future; he or she will simply have to stop training in such a way that an ankle or foot injury results.

The key for any athlete is to care about the treatment process for an ankle or foot injury. Athletes need to rest and take time before hitting the fields. The more an athlete invests in the treatment and recovery process, the more likely he or she will be able to return back to normal athletic performance.

Arthritic Foot Care

The average person walks about 75,000 miles during their lifetime, which puts a lot of pressure and stress on your feet. As you age, you lose flexibility and elasticity in the 26 bones and 30 different joints located in your feet, as well as weakening your shock absorbers. Adding arthritis to this mix makes things worse, with inflammation and distorted joints, which is why arthritic foot care is a crucial part of your daily routine at this stage of your life.

The last thing you need if you suffer from arthritis in your feet is for additional, painful conditions to arise, such as bunions, neuroma, or hammertoe. Buying well-fitting shoes, shoes with a lower heel and more room, and shoes that have better arch support are good places to start. Because arthritis will cause you to lose the arch in your foot, it is highly recommended to buy shoes that can support your arch.

On top of getting enough arch support, you need to have a comfortable fit as well. Leaving a finger width between the back of the shoe and your foot is an easy way to measure and gauge the proper size, and having a square or rounded toe box in the front will help even more. It is also recommended to use shoes that have a rubber sole, as this provides a cushion and acts as a shock absorber. It also provides flexibility for the ball of your foot when you push off your heel to walk.

Shoes are not the only way to get proper arthritic foot care though. Exercise helps a lot and will not only strengthen your muscles and joints, but help prevent further injury and pain. For example, stretching the Achilles tendon in the back of your heel will give your foot added mobility, reducing pain because a lack of mobility causes stress in this area. Another good example is massaging the ball of your foot and your toes from top to bottom.

As previously mentioned, one of the best exercises to do is stretching your Achilles tendon. To do this, simply lean against a wall with your palms flat, place one foot forward and one foot back, making sure both feet are flat on the floor, then lean forward, bending your forward knee towards the wall but keeping your back knee straight and unbent. You will feel your Achilles tendon and calf muscles stretch. Another great exercise is the big toe stretch that alleviates stiffness. Place a rubber band around your big toes, keep your feet together, and pull your toes away from each other. You can also place a rubber band around all the toes of one foot and then try to separate them, stretching them out.

Aside from stretching and exercise, pain can be alleviated with non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs, heat, and ultrasounds. Topical medicines with capsaicin can also help. So far, there is no completely pain free remedy for arthritic feet, but following some of this advice can go a long way in helping you stay as pain free as possible.

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, 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. 

Foot Rehabilitation for Athletes

There is no sport that completely prevents the foot or ankle from becoming injured. In fact, even simple activities such as darts and pool might cause injuries to the foot. When an athlete does suffer from a foot injury, he needs to find a way to get back on his feet right away. Immediate results may be desired, but they are not always possible.

All foot and ankle injuries deserve immediate attention. When the foot or the ankle gets injured, muscles surrounding the bones can weaken or atrophy through disuse. While the bones heal on their own, it takes a more concentrated effort for an athlete to regain full use of his feet and ankles. A doctor may recommend that a person go through a course of physical therapy. The course of physical therapy treatment uses simple, repetitive isometric exercises. The use of the exercises will cause the body to rebuild the muscles and tendons in the area over time and restore the full range of movement.

When selecting ankle and foot rehabilitation services, an athlete needs to find a licensed sports therapist (other physical therapists work with more generalized conditions, and while these kinds of physical therapists are dedicated to their job, they do not necessarily understand the special demands of the athlete). A good sports therapist will take their time with a patient, and make sure that he or she understands the problem and the options available for treatment. As long as the doctor expects a person to return to the sport which he enjoys, the sports physical therapist will recommend the exact exercises a person needs to get back in the game.

Although the professional athlete needs a trained sports therapist, an amateur athlete or the weekend player can benefit from foot rehabilitation services for athletes as well. An ankle or foot injury does not have to cause a person go give up the game he loves entirely, so long as he or she seeks out a sports therapist.

Physical therapy may not always heal certain injuries perfectly, but it will more quickly and effectively help the afflicted person get better.  Less severe injuries may only take a person out of his favorite sport just for a little while, if he or she sees a sports therapist. If a full recovery is possible, it is definitely worth it to check out ankle and foot rehabilitation services.

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