Dr. Steven Rosenberg - Foot Care

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How to Stay Healthy When Exercising

Dr. Steven Rosenberg - Wednesday, March 27 2024

Incorporating rest and recovery into your fitness routine can help you avoid injuries and allow you to feel your best. Getting the proper amount of sleep each day is a vitally crucial factor in staying healthy. The more rest combined with exercise and a healthy diet will impact how you perform in the workforce. Exercising regularly decreases work stress, staying pain free and getting the proper amount of sleep is the recipe for a balanced and successful lifestyle.

Who, Why and How Injuries Occur

Those who are vulnerable to upset that balance, are health-conscious active people who exercise and train regularly. There are many types of exercisers, weekend warriors, gym rats who work out for hours at the gym, competitive runners that train for 10 k’s or marathons while others play pickleball, tennis, golf, softball or walk counting their steps each day. Patients will tell me that once they hit a certain level of activity if not in shape their body fatigues and they are more prone to injuries, it is the too much, too soon, too quickly syndrome we are all vulnerable too. Regardless of what form of exercise you choose, your feet play a significant role, they are the engines that keep your body moving. So, when your feet hurt, you hurt all over, the engine shuts down, your energy changes and your normal sleep patterns are disrupted.

Injuries occur from soft tissues inability to stabilize unstable bone segments. Repetitive Stress of a specific exercise movement can cause muscle imbalances and muscle fatigue. The main contributing factors as to why injuries occur when exercising are as follows. Poor technique of your exercise routine and abnormal foot bio-mechanics in your lower extremity creates unhealthy habits which can lead to repetitive overuse injuries. Repetitive overuse syndrome is the result of gradual micro trauma due to an increase of stress on a particular body part such as your legs or feet. Structural limitations in our bodies can limit our ability to perform at a high or any level for prolonged periods of time and the body breaks down. These two factors can trigger problems leading to plantar fasciitis, muscle / tendon strains, shin splints, ankle and knee Joint pain and ligament sprains. Finally, the shoes you wear during exercise and the types of surfaces that you participate on are also major factors causing injuries. Something as simple as wearing the wrong type of footwear for a sport or the wrong size can be a major factor in answering the mystery of why” I got hurt.” Court shoes are for racket and paddle sports whereas running shoes are for runners and walkers but should not be worn while playing tennis, pickle-ball or other court sports. Wearing a shoe that is too narrow and tight in the toe box area can trigger painful ingrown toenail problems which can impact the way you walk and your sleep. Hard unyielding playing surfaces such as concrete can fatigue your muscles faster and wear you down. If you are a runner, grass, dirt, or all-weather surfaces are better shock absorbing ones giving your feet and lower legs a softer landing by reducing the impact load and stress on your body.

There are two types of injuries that active exercisers can experience. Acute which is pain with sudden onset, your “OMG, OUCH” moment. The injured area becomes inflamed quickly and often micro edema / swelling is present. Aggressive treatment will minimize your down time. I usually recommend using ice packs or ice in a zip lock bag for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off the first few hours, over the counter topical remedies in gel or cream form that have a homeopathic remedy called arnica in it which is a natural anti-inflammatory, rest, compression and sometimes elevation. These types of injuries may require additional treatment by a medical professional if you do not see a positive change in the first 24-36 hours. Obviously, if the injured area usually resolves quickly and normal healing occurs your back exercising quickly. However, “Never wish and hope an injury will get better on its own after a day or two” if you are still experiencing constant pain. Soft tissue injuries that are not treated immediately can become chronic over time which can last for days, weeks or months.

Most injuries that exercisers experience in their lower extremity are soft tissue in nature, usually affecting the legs and feet. The common ones are plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

The treatment falls into two categories traditional and alternative. Traditional treatments would consist of cortisone injections, physical therapy, oral non-steroidal anti- inflammatory medications known as NSAID’S, custom made orthotics or over the counter arch supports and a last resort surgery. Alternative therapy options include homeopathy injections with arnica as the main anti-inflammatory which comes in oral and topical forms, stem cell therapy, prolo – therapy (proliferation therapy), acupuncture or electrical current therapy using a variety of electrical frequencies (i.e., Interferential) to increase blood flow and reduce swelling.

The reason that acute injuries become chronic is because of denial and lack of urgency to take the time to seek medical treatment. The most common excuse is “I thought it would get better on its own” or “it only hurt a little bit and I can push through it.” As we all know, “when your feet hurt everything hurts” which can disrupt normal sleep causing focus and alertness problems in the workplace.