Happy Feet: Health for the Sole

Look down at your feet for one second. Most of us probably don’t think about our feet much. However, feet need much more than scrubbing, clipped toenails and fancy polish. Feet are the foundation of our bodies, and they go through a lot—exercise, high heels, winter boots, flip flops and even going barefoot. The point is that when we don’t take care of our feet, we can experience debilitating pain. Thankfully, local experts on feet have advice that will offer great relief to your mind and your soles. 


Thinking on Your Feet

Our bodies are connected in such an amazing way that everything works together to create movement. What happens when one part is off-balance or injured? Another part is called into service to compensate, which can create more pain than some can stand (excuse the pun). This time of year, our feet see a lot of daylight, which can cause extra strain and overuse, as we spend a great deal of time barefoot. Many people also spend more time participating in outdoor sports and activities. While being active is fantastic, it can wreak havoc on our feet if proper care isn’t taken. Some common foot injuries include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, fractures and foreign bodies. 

Taking Everything in Stride

If you are new to exercise and outdoor activities, it’s important to take it slowly and listen to your body. Overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis, which typically affects the sole of the foot, can happen over years or just a short time after being sedentary. Dr. Loring Stead, podiatrist treating foot and ankle conditions and board certified in Foot and Ankle Surgery at Olmsted Medical Center and former runner, has been treating patients’ feet for about 30 years. His sees feet as the body’s ground floor, and if the foundation is shaky, the rest of the building won’t last. Dr. Stead states, “As our physical abilities become less, our judgment has to get better.” 

Picking up on subtle differences can make all the difference in diagnosing the underlying issue. Dr. Todd Buchanan of Northgate Chiropractic states that proper foot care includes wearing appropriate shoes, icing after activities, general massage and reflexology. If you spend a great deal of time on your feet, try freezing a bottle of water and rolling your foot over it at the end of the day. If you have been sedentary, Dr. Buchanan advises stretching regularly and strengthening feet by picking up a towel with your toes. 

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Preventing injuries before they happen is the first step to caring for your feet. Fortunately the Rochester area has multiple resources for foot care. OMC’s team can fit patients for custom orthotics and advise those looking to become more active. At Northgate Chiropractic, patients receive a wide variety of treatments, such as foot adjustments, ultrasounds and electrical stimulation. They also have a digital motion X-ray machine, which allows providers to see images in real time. To find shoes that work for your feet, visit the team at TerraLoco, located across from Apache Mall. They can assess your gait to discover individual needs and give you options for the best footwear. 

“I have had plantar fasciitis, eliminated it, and believe there are many ways to keep it from recurring,” comments Tom Williamson, mechanical engineer and long-distance runner. “I take Feldenkrais Method® consultations from Lisa Walker at Hermitage Farm.” The Feldenkrais Method uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement, flexibility and coordination. 

Empowered Bare feet

If you’re a barefoot advocate, you may want to learn proper strengthening techniques, not only for the feet but also for the entire body, to create balance. Empowered Wellness and Fitness Studio encourages all of its participants to set their feet free and wiggle their toes. They practice fitness from the ground up and the core out. They incorporate foot exercises into personal training programs, as well as group fitness classes. 

Empowered Wellness owner Emily Watkins says, “We are the only gym in Rochester with BARE® trainers certified through Evidence Based Fitness Academy, and we are continually training to know more of the science behind training barefoot. We offer help to anyone looking to strengthen their feet and learn more about the connection between strong feet and a strong body.” 

You can learn more about this specific barefoot training or even become certified as a BARE instructor. Barefoot expert Dr. Emily Splichal will be at Empowered Wellness and Fitness Studio from July 24-26. More information about these trainings can be found at evidencebasedfitnessacademy.com/us-canada-workshops.html.

By Caitlin Summers, a local certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.