Are Changes in Your Workout Hurting Your Feet?

by | May 8, 2020

If your plans for this season have included sports, the gym, or many other athletic pursuits, odds are high that COVID-19 has put them into a frustrating tailspin.

Never underestimate humanity’s resilience and ability to adapt, though. While some plans may have gone down the tubes, they have often been replaced with alternatives. People have been supplementing at-home workouts with improvised weights, online exercise classes have gained popularity, and many more people have been out on the trails than any time we can remember!

Whatever your skill and fitness levels are, remaining committed to exercise is a great benefit to your physical and mental health that we hope continues well after this pandemic has ended.

That said, also regardless of your skill and fitness levels, changes to your levels and concentrations of activities can increase your risk of sports injuries if you don’t take the proper precautions. Your feet and ankles can be especially vulnerable, considering they already work so hard to carry the rest of your body so often!

We will be looking into some ways that changes in your activity can cause potential harm to your feet—and how to adapt to keep yourself moving safely—but it’s important that we make one thing clear:

If you are currently suffering from foot and ankle pain, whether from a sports injury or another matter, contact us about it right away!

Our office remains open to help patients with urgent matters such as yours, and we take extensive measures to provide a clean, safe, disinfected, and low-risk environment both for you and our staff. Most insurances don’t require a referral for you to see us, either.

But if things are still feeling all right for now, keep going – but keep these factors in mind.

Is Your Daily Step Count Surging?

We can certainly understand the temptation that may come with suddenly finding yourself cooped up in a house with not so much to do. You want to get out as often as you can; and if a healthy walk or run can be your ticket, so be it!

But if you had a relatively low-step day-to-day and are suddenly racking up miles on a daily basis, that can easily overwhelm your feet.

When walking, every step you take places a force on each foot that can equal more than your body weight. Those impacts are even more severe while running.

Our feet are structured to bear heavy loads, without a doubt. However, they must work up to enduring greater loads, just like any other part of us. The more steps you add to your day, the more total forces your feet have to handle. If you suddenly increase this load day after day, without acclimating first, it can lead to painful conditions like plantar fasciitis or stress fractures before you know it.

Reducing your injury risk in this situation requires two simple actions:

  • Start a new walking or running routine at a low level, and gradually increase the intensity by no more than 10 percent per week (that can mean 10 percent more distance or time, your choice).
  • Just like with any workout routine, give your feet and legs at least a day or two each week to rest and recover. If you want, you can focus on training other areas of your body these days instead (but seriously, there’s nothing wrong with a day of total rest).

Is Your Footwear Up to Par?

While you are more than capable of switching things up when required, your footwear is not as versatile.

When a change to your activity routines demands more from your feet, it is crucial that your shoes are providing the right support and accommodations for those demands.

A pair of everyday sneakers that might have served you just fine while pumping iron at the gym will likely not be so great at absorbing the impacts of distance running, for example. Even basketball shoes made for charging up and down a court are not ideal for the repetitive impacts of pounding pavement.

Shoes that are designed specifically for the activity in mind can provide the best shock absorption, foot support, and motion control for your needs. In some cases, a pair of custom orthotic inserts can provide even more support for any abnormalities in foot structure you might have.

We know that getting new shoes can be difficult at this time, and that online ordering is not preferable, but it may still be well worth it. Make sure where you order from has a good return policy if you need it!

Also, don’t think you’re in the clear if you can find an old pair of shoes in the back of your closet. Shoes that have seen a lot of use (typically 300-500 miles for running, and other measures for different activities) lose their helpful qualities.

Are You Still Warming Up and Cooling Down?

An easy trap that many active people fall into is believing that their “backup plans” don’t require the same preparations as the potentially more intense exercises they have been doing.

Even if an alternative activity is not quite as physically demanding as your primary sports, it can still use different muscles in different ways. Those muscles (and the tissues connected to them) should be shown proper love, too!

Take a few minutes before fully engaging in a workout to warm up the areas you plan to use. Focus more on dynamic stretching, such as light jogging and buttkicks, to get you moving. When cooling down, focus more on static stretching (the classic “stand in one place and stretch” stretches) to help your body ease into a resting state.

You Have Help in Your Corner

We know these haven’t been the easiest or most convenient times for so many of us. But that is why we remain here to help you with any foot and ankle needs you have now, as well as into the future—wherever your active goals take you!

Call our Longmont office at (720) 600-3380 to schedule an appointment with us or find answers to questions you may have. Also feel free to contact us via our online form, if you prefer.

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