Help At Your Fingertips

Care for your feet while on holiday

Forget high heels if you are going to do a lot of walking while on holiday. Opt instead for sensible footwear with cushioned soles which can absorb shocks.
Forget high heels if you are going to do a lot of walking while on holiday. Opt instead for sensible footwear with cushioned soles which can absorb shocks.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Three common foot injuries to keep in mind while you're pounding the pavement

Endless hours of holiday shopping not only hurt your wallet, but also your feet - especially if you are pounding the pavement in flip- flops or that new pair of high heels.

It can result in foot-related injuries, said Ms Lee Qimin, a podiatrist at the National University Hospital Rehabilition Centre. She gives a rundown of three common injuries.

PLANTAR FACIITIS

This injury afflicts a band of tissue that runs from the heel bone to the ball of the foot, called the plantar fascia, which absorbs shock and supports the arch of the foot.

People who wear shoes with poor support or hard shoes are more likely to suffer this injury.

Tips: Choose proper footwear with a contoured footbed or insert off-the-shelf orthoses into shoes to absorb some impact of walking, especially on hard surfaces.

Do daily stretches of the calf and plantar fascia. To alleviate pain, massage your foot by rolling it over a golf ball or frozen water bottle.

ACHILLES TENDINITIS

This is irritation to the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel. Repeated flexing at the ankle joint while walking on steep slopes or uneven terrain can strain this tendon, causing pain at the back of the heel or lower calf.

Tips: For mild cases, reduce the distance and duration of walking. Avoid walking on uphill slopes as this will stretch the tendon further. Also, do regular calf stretches.

If you experience severe pain, stop walking and place cold packs on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes, up to three or four times daily.

LUMBAR STRAIN

This is an ache in the lower back. The repetitive movement of walking can worsen an existing lower-back injury.

Tips: Engage your abs as you walk; pull your belly button towards your spine, while keeping the spine elongated. To realign your posture, cross your hands at the wrists and raise your arms overhead. Stretch, then lower your arms, allowing your shoulders to fall back into place.

Stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors daily as these muscles can affect your gait and posture.

Poon Chian Hui


Choosing the right shoes

Look out for the following features when buying footwear:

•Heels with a broad base, no more than 2.5cm in height. Avoid very flat shoes and sky-high heels.

•A firm heel counter that fits snugly around the back of the heel. This helps to secure the foot in the shoe.

•A broad outsole, for a wide base of support.

•A sole made of cushioning and shock-absorbing material, such as rubber, and which has enough grip to keep you from slipping.

•The material should be breathable, such as leather, to ensure ventilation within the shoe.

•Sufficient width and depth of the toe box, so the toes are not too cramped.

A rounded toe box is ideal.

•Fastenings like laces or straps that let you adjust the shoe's width and secure your foot better. This reduces strain on foot muscles.

•The shoe should be bendable at the ball of the foot, but sufficiently stiff at the arch to provide support.

Source: Ms Lee Qimin, podiatrist at National University Hospital

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2015, with the headline 'Care for your feet while on holiday '. Print Edition | Subscribe