Don’t Hobble Through the Holidays with Foot Pain
Are you in for a ho, ho, whole lot of foot pain this holiday season?
After all, ‘tis the season for a whole lot of standing, walking, and activities that could put a lot of pain and stress on your lower limbs:
- Cruising the mall looking for that perfect little something for your significant other, your kids, your co-workers, your boss, the mailman, your dog …
- Wandering the tree farm for hours and refusing to leave until you find a Douglas fir good enough for your living room.
- Long hours decorating your house, baking and cooking, party prepping—and cleaning it all up afterward.
- Rocking your heels to the classy work party.
- Putting on a little more weight than you intended after Thanksgiving dinner.
Okay, okay. Maybe we’re going a little overboard here.
All joking aside, though, it’s true that the holiday season is a particularly bad time to find yourself stuck on your couch, unable to participate in family activities due to chronic heel pain.
Want to stay fresh on your feet through the New Year and beyond? We’ve got some tips for you.
Put away the high heels, the wooden clogs, those weird pointy elf shoes with the bells on the end.
If you spend more than an hour or two in shoes that don’t support your feet properly, you’re probably going to be feeling the consequences of that decision—especially if you do so frequently.
As always, whenever you’re out and about, you’re going to want to stick to comfortable shoes with good arch support and shock absorption, wide toe boxes, and a solid fit for your feet—both in length and in width.
Your shoes should also be sensible and appropriate for the activity you choose. For example, get out the boots for trudging outdoors through rain and snow to keep your feet dry, but avoid wearing them all day if you’re going to be indoors.
What about those fancy Christmas soirees? If you must wear heels to the party, try to minimize the damage. Keep the heel height at 2 inches at the absolute tallest, and the chunkier the better. Bring along a regular pair of shoes, too, so you can switch as needed.
Give Yourself a Break (or Three)
Remember to give your feet regular breaks if you have a big day of standing and walking planned—even if your feet aren’t hurting (yet).
Say you’re cruising the mall. After shopping for 45 minutes to an hour or so, grab yourself a seat, pull out your phone, and do whatever you need to do to give your feet a quick chance to take a load off.
Even just taking a couple of minutes every now and again to offload the pressure can make a real difference in terms of how long you can go without pain, how your feet feel at the end of the day, and how they feel the next morning!
Take Time to Stretch—Or Maybe Even Pamper Yourself a Bit
Over the course of a long day, muscle fatigue and cramping can very easily set in. At home, as well as during your breaks when out and about, take some time to gently stretch out your feet, ankles and legs to minimize your discomfort.
Calf stretches can be especially helpful, since tight calves are not only painful in and of themselves, but can also tug on the ankle, heel, and plantar fascia and cause them to hurt, too. Remember, everything is connected.
At the end of the day, stretch out your arch by rolling a tennis ball or frozen water bottle under your feet. Or, if you want to be a little more luxurious, give yourself a foot massage! If you have to, you might also try icing your heels, or taking an over-the-counter painkiller.
Watch What You Eat
Eating a healthy diet is about so much more than simply maintaining a figure or waistline. What you eat has a direct impact on the health of every cell, tissue, and structure in your body—including your feet. Consider that:
- Diets high in sugar and carbs can cause blood sugar levels to spike, or remain elevated over an extended period of time. Even if this doesn’t necessarily result in a diabetes diagnosis, high blood sugar can still compromise the health of circulation and nerves in your feet and put you at risk of developing conditions like peripheral neuropathy. In addition to phantom pains, cramping, and other symptoms, this also leaves you more susceptible to ulcers and wounds.
- Diets high in purines can trigger attacks in patients who have gout. But the holidays can make it difficult, especially if you love meat, seafood, rich deserts, sweetened beverages, or other high-risk foods.
- Each pound of body weight you put on can increase the force on your feet by 2-3 pounds when walking or running, and even more when jumping. So if you are overweight or obese, improving your diet and exercise can make a huge difference in terms of how much your feet hurt at the end of the day.
It’s not unusual for us to see an influx of holiday-related foot injuries around this time of year, including heel pain, ankle sprains, tendon tears, etc.
Maybe you were reaching up to put the star on top of the tree and tripped, or stumbled off a wet ladder while hanging decorations outside.
Or maybe you decided to play some flag football with the fam on Thanksgiving afternoon and realized you weren’t quite as close to “playing shape” as you originally thought.
While we definitely encourage you to be as active as you can be, it’s important to know your limits and stay safe, too. Don’t attempt any dangerous decorating, especially if you’re alone. Understand that pain is always a bad sign and needs to be addressed—ignoring it will only make it worse.
And with that…
If You’re in Pain, Give Us a Call
We’ll do everything we can to keep your feet working and feeling great—so you can have a restful, enjoyable, awesome holiday season with your friends and family.
We provide comprehensive foot and ankle treatments with a focus on managing your pain conservatively whenever possible. That includes everything from helping you find the shoes you need, to fitting custom orthotics, to physical therapy, cortisone injections, and more.
Each case is different. We know you’re not just a collection of conditions and symptoms. You’re a person—someone with goals, fears, unique activities you enjoy and want to participate in. We promise to listen and take what you say to heart, so we can provide a treatment plan that’s totally customized to who you are and what your needs are.
So if you’re hurting, make sure you give yourself the gift of happy feet this holiday season! You can reach the Comprehensive Foot Centers to schedule your appointment at any of our six offices by calling (816) 455-1155 today.