The feet of children grow and change rapidly during their first year, reaching almost half their adult foot size. Most changes in children’s feet are a natural part of development, but others require attention and treatment from a professional. That’s why it’s important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s feet to ensure proper growth during every stage of development. A podiatrist provides expert care, diagnosis and treatment of ankle and foot disorders in children.
Here are some tips to help parents guide normal development for their child’s feet:
For babies, avoid covering the feet too tightly, as this restricts movement and can delay normal development.
If your child participates in sports, choose sport-specific shoes that fit his or her feet properly
Observe walking patterns. Does the child toe in or out; have bowlegs or knock-knees; limp or experience other gait abnormalities? These problems can be corrected if they are detected early.
A child’s feet change rapidly, so check your child's shoe size often. Shoes should be supportive, well-cushioned and roomy.
When applying sunscreen, remember to apply to the feet.
Kids love the freedom of being shoeless, but walking barefoot may increase a child’s risk of infection, sprains or fractures.
Remember, your child doesn’t necessarily have to show signs of foot pain or discomfort for something to be abnormal. A child’s feet are very pliable and can be deformed without the child recognizing the warning signs. Carefully monitor your child’s feet. If you notice unusual symptoms, seek professional care immediately. Deformities will not be outgrown by themselves.
Your child will depend on his or her feet for the rest of their life to get them where they need to go. Whenever you have questions about your child's foot health, contact your trusted podiatrist. Any pain that lasts more than a few days, or that is severe enough to limit the child’s walking, should be evaluated by a professional.
Whether you’re training for your very first marathon or preparing for your 10th, it’s important to begin your training program on the right foot. A lack of experience coupled with the repetitive impact placed on the feet and ankles during a long run can produce enough stress to cause hairline fractures and other debilitating foot injuries.
Many foot problems seen in marathoners are caused by the repetitive pounding over the months of long-distance running. With some people, injury is triggered by the abnormal foot biomechanics, and in others it is because of poor training. During a 10-mile run, the feet make about 15,000 strikes, at a force of three to four times the body's weight. Even if you have perfect foot mechanics, injuries and pain are often unavoidable with this amount of stress.
To prevent injury during training, it’s important to pay close attention to your feet. When increasing mileage, avoid doing so too quickly. The increased forced can make your feet more susceptible to stress fractures.
Basic tips for training include:
- Follow a training schedule that is appropriate for your experience level
- Start easy and increase your mileage slowly
- Stretch and warm up properly to reduce strain on muscles, tendons and joints
- Choose appropriate footwear based on your foot structure, function, body type, running environment and training regimen
- Never ignore pain. If the pain gets worse with reduced exercise and rest, stop training and visit your podiatrist
Aside from stress fractures which often occur from overtraining, additional foot problems you may experience include:
- Toenail problems, including ingrown and fungus
- Heel pain, such as plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendon and calf pain
- Toe pain, such as bunions
- Shin splints
Before you start training, our practice recommends visiting a podiatrist for a complete evaluation of your lower extremities. Our office will examine your feet and identify potential problems, discuss training tactics, prescribe an orthotic device that fits into a running shoe (if needed) and recommend the best style of footwear for your feet to allow for injury free training all the way up to your race day. It is especially important to come in for an exam if you have already started training and are experiencing foot or ankle pain.
Training for a marathon is hard work. It takes time and dedication. At our practice, we offer special interest and expertise working with marathoners to ensure good foot health throughout your entire training program to help you achieve your goals.
The Achilles tendon is the strong band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. This lower leg tendon enables you to walk, jump, stand on your toes and climb stairs. You rely on it virtually every time you move your foot.
When the tendon is stretched beyond its normal capacity, a complete or partial tear may occur. Most Achilles tendon ruptures occur as a result of sport-related injuries when forceful jumping or sudden accelerations of running overstretch the tendon and cause a tear. Individuals with Achilles tendinitis -- weak and inflamed tendons -- are also more susceptible to tendon tears.
Signs of a torn Achilles tendon include:
- Sudden, sharp pain in the back of the ankle and lower leg
- Snapping or popping sensation at the time of the injury
- Swelling down the back side of the leg or near the heel
- Difficulty walking or rising up on the toes
The best treatment for a torn Achilles tendon is prevention. Avoiding this injury could save yourself months of rehab and extended time away from your game. Help prevent injury to your Achilles tendon by:
- stretching your calf muscles regularly
- limiting hill running and jumping activities that place excess stress on the Achilles tendons
- resting during exercise when you experience pain
- maintaining a healthy weight
- alternating high impact sports, such as running with low-impact sports, such as walking or biking
- wearing appropriate, supportive shoes with proper heel cushioning
If you suspect a ruptured Achilles tendon, visit our practice as soon as possible. Until you can seek professional care, avoid walking on the injured tendon and keep it elevated. Ice the affected area to reduce pain and swelling and, if possible, wrap the injured foot and ankle. For partial tears, swelling and pain may be less severe, but prompt treatment should still be administered.
Treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture can be surgical or non-surgical. Surgery to reattach the tendon is generally recommended, followed by rehabilitation, especially for individuals who want to return to recreational sports. Our pracitce can evaluate the severity of your tear and suggest the best treatment plan. With proper care, most people return to their former level of performance within six months.
How to Maximize Your Game with Good Foot Health
When it comes to exercise, your feet are one of the most overlooked parts of the body, enduring tremendous strain and stress during a hard workout. It's no surprise that an athlete's foot and ankle are prime candidates for injuries. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), poor foot care during physical activity is a contributing factor to some of the more than 300-foot ailments.
The following tips may help prevent foot and ankle injuries to keep you in the game.
Get a check-up
Visit our practice and your regular physician before starting any sport or fitness activity. This should include a complete foot and physical exam. During a foot exam, a podiatrist can identify whether your previously injured ankle is vulnerable to sprains, and recommend supportive ankle braces for increased stability.
Pre-workout warm up and stretch
Jogging before a competition or workout can help reduce the risk for foot and ankle injuries by warming up muscles, ligaments and blood vessels. Proper stretching before beginning a workout is also important. When muscles are properly stretched, the strain on joints, tendons and muscles is greatly reduced.
Treat foot and ankle injuries immediately
It's possible to injure bones in the foot or ankle without knowing it. What may seem like a sprain at the time may actually be a fracture. See a podiatrist at the first onset of ankle pain. The sooner you start treatment, the better your chance of preventing long-term problems like instability, and the sooner you can get back in the game.
Wear shoes specific to your sport
Different fitness programs require different footwear. Wearing the appropriate type of athletic shoe for your unique foot type and needs can help prevent foot problems while keeping you at your best performance. Remember to replace old, worn shoes in order to ensure optimal stability and support.
Pay attention to what your feet are telling you and remember to rest and consult our office when you first notice pain. Exercising is a great way to stay energized and fit, but if you're neglecting the health of your feet, you may be setting yourself up for serious injury.
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