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World Physiotherapy day- Importance of Footwear

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By Dr Martin Shivapur (MPT M.I.A.P)

I would like to wish each Physiotherpist a happy World Physical Therapy Day which is on 8th September every year. The day is an opportunity for physiotherapists from all over the world to raise awareness about the crucial contribution the profession makes to keeping people well, mobile and independent. 

Footwear is a form of attire for the feet basically used to protect it from injuries from the harsh environment. In today’s world they are worn as a fashion statement to match their outfit or for a specific sport or activity. According to the archcheological findings footwear has been used since the earliest human history which dates back to 5000 BCE.

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Later on with the civilisation there’s is more advancement in research to serve the purpose, sport,comfort and protection. Modern technology and the material used are highly researched today in the footwear industry. A gait analyser is used to study the walking pattern and other deformities and accordingly the footwear is researched with different materials like leather, canvas, etc for a particular activity or sport. The footwear industry today is a multi billion dollar industry which has given rise to stiff competition and research.

Footwear is worn to the office or workplace for a long duration. It is usually worn between 4 to 14 hours. Always remember to take off your shoes if working from desk for a long time so that you allow the feet to breathe and the muscles to relax.

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As in terms of keeping the feet healthy and free from injuries, footwear are recommended for a particular work or activity. But even with the proper footwear a human is bound to get injuries. The most common injuries are as follows

  1. Neuromas – occurs in those who use too tight and high heeled shoes in which the nerves between the toes are compressed and lead to a condition called Morton’s neuroma.
  2. Stress fractures – seen in high impact activities like running, jumping dancing,etc. Usually seen in 2nd and 3rd metatarsals(long toe bones).
  3. Plantar Fascitis – usually gives sharp pain in the heel when a few steps are taken. This is because of the tight fascia connecting your toes to your heel on the bottom of your foot. High-impact sports, extra weight, and jobs that require walking or standing on hard surfaces increase your risk.
  4. Heel spurs – occur when calcium deposits build up on the bottom of your heel bone. Often, they don’t causepain themselves but can can irritate the plantar fascia, triggering pain along the arch and heel. Calf and foot stretches work well to relieve it
  5. Bunions – This bump of bone and tissue at the base of your big toe forms when the joint connecting it to your foot shifts out of place. Narrow-toed and high-heeled shoes cause most cases, though heredity plays a small role. If left untreated can cause pain so severe it limits your ability to walk. Fortunately, treatments like ice, over-the-counter foot pads, and wearing shoes with wider toe boxes often bring relief.
  6. Ankle sprains – This common injury occurs when the ligaments on the outer side of your ankle stretch or tear, causing pain, swelling, and sometimes an inability to bear weight. For mild sprains, rest, ice, compression and elevation—the RICE protocol—usually does the trick.
  7. Achilles tendinitis – The lengthy Achilles tendon can grow thick, inflamed, swollen or painful when asked to do too much, too soon (for example, after beginning an ambitious exercise program). Tight calf muscles may also play a role. Often, pain decreases after switching from a high-impact exercise to a cross-training program, such as biking, elliptical or swimming, paired with moves to stretch and strengthen the calves

Before buying a pair of shoes remember the following

  • The shoes should conform to the shape of your feet.
  • Shoes should be made of soft leather, wherever possible, and provide your feet with sufficient room.
  • A flexible shoe sole is a must.
  • Keep them as flat as possible.
  • Try both the shoes and walk to check the comfort.
  • buy shoes in the evening because feet change in size and shape depending on the time of the day.
  • Buy a reliable branded shoes for comfort and long lasting.

Exercises for feet.

1). Toe raise, point and curl for flexibility.

To do this exercise:

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Keeping the toes on the floor, raise the heels. Stop when only the balls of the feet remain on the ground.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering the heels.
  • For the second stage, raise the heel and point the toes so that only the tips of the big and second toes are touching the floor.
  • Hold for 5 seconds before lowering.
  • For the third stage, raise the heel and curl the toes inward, so that only the tips of the toes are touching the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Build flexibility and mobility by repeating each stage 10 times.

2). Big toe stretch.

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Bring the left foot to rest on the right thigh.
  • Using the fingers, gently stretch the big toe up, down, and to the side.
  • Remain in this position for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat this 10 times before switching to the other foot.

3). Toe curls for strengthening.

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Lay a small towel on the floor in front of oneself, with the short side facing the feet.
  • Place the toes of one foot on the short side of the towel. Try to grasp the towel between the toes and pull it toward oneself. Repeat the exercise five times, before switching to the other foot.
  • To make this exercise more challenging, weigh down the opposite end of the towel with an object.

4). Marble pick for strengthening.

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Place an empty bowl and a bowl of marbles (20 is good to start with) on the floor in front of the feet.
  • Using only the toes of one foot, pick up each marble and place it in the empty bowl.
  • Repeat, using the other foot.

5). Sand walking for strengthening.

  • Head to a beach, desert, or even a volleyball court.
  • Remove shoes and socks.
  • Walk for as long as possible. Increase these distances slowly over time, to avoid overexerting muscles in the feet and calves.
martin shivapur

Dr Martin Shivapur (MPT M.I.A.P)

Physiotherapist, Ergonomist and Pilates trainer.

contact – 9964936587.

Mail – [email protected].

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