But athletes aren't the only ones who suffer from debilitating foot injuries ' the kind that hamper not just a person's exercise regimen but also his or her overall quality of life. Local experts say a few lifestyle changes can make a big difference in the health of your feet.
Even trend-setting fashionistas, who spend their days coolly preening for the cameras in sky-high heels, are plagued with foot problems. Recently, fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker, who played the Imelda Marcos-inspired Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw, tore tendons in her foot while stumbling down the street in stilettos.
So, are the stylish new 4-inch heels worth the price of pain? No way, says Jeff Mentel, physical therapy director at Laborde Therapy Center. He identifies two categories of problems caused by high heels ' immediate and long-term. The immediate conditions include sprains and fractures from rolling ankles, particularly from spike-heeled stilettos. A common misconception is that wide heels are safer. "Wider heels are a little bit deceptive, because though they may give you more stability laterally, women tend to get fooled by that, and think that they are OK for them," he says. "So, they end up wearing them all day long, rather than taking them off during the day to let their legs rest."
High heels can also cause toe deformities, such as hallux valgus or bunions, hammer toes, and corns. They can even trigger nerve compressions. "The problem with high heels is that most of them are narrowed at the forefoot, which narrows the toes and pushes them together," explains Dr. Peter D. Vizzi, a local orthopedic surgeon. "This causes toe deformities, but also nerve compressions, called neuromas."
A common consequence is Morton's neuroma, a thickening of tissue around the nerves of the foot, commonly between the third and fourth toes. This condition causes pain, stinging, burning or numbness. "The pressure on the forefoot puts a lot of pressure on that nerve, causing it to swell and produce a lot of pain, discomfort and inability to walk much," Mentel explains. "It is going to vary by other factors, such as a person's weight and activity level."
Over time, conditions can become more serious, leading to arthritis, tendonitis and collapsed arches. "When women get out of the high heels and go back into more of a flat, they can start getting some collapsing of the arches, as well as Achilles tendonitis," explains Dr. James A. Noriega, a podiatric physician and surgeon. "It just depends on how high of a heel they are wearing. Higher heels tend to shorten the Achilles tendon a little bit quicker."
Long-term wear of high heels could lead to serious complications requiring surgery. "The deformities can lead to the possibility of surgery to correct them if they get to a point where they are continually painful or cosmetically displeasing," Vizzi says.
Conservative treatments for high heel-related injuries include using anti-inflammatories and switching shoes. Vizzi recommends footwear with wider toe boxes and lower heels. He also prescribes toe spreaders and corn pads. These products are available at drug stores and orthotic centers.
Experts say the key is to wear fashionable shoes only as needed. Noriega suggests wearing heels no higher than an inch and a half. But, he realizes that people have work and social obligations where they need to look stylish. "I tell my patients to wear high heels only when they need to, such as for weddings, funerals or other activities where they need to be dressed up," he says. "I've seen women working out in high heels, and I really don't recommend that at all," he jokes.
Vizzi suggests keeping an extra pair of shoes in the car. "If you are at an event where you just have to wear high heeled shoes, try to put a pair of comfortable shoes in the car, and do everything else you can do out of the high-heeled shoes," he says. "Obviously, it can be a time-related problem, so the less the time you spend in the heels, the better off you'll be in the end."
But it's not just high heels causing foot pain. On the other extreme, health care professionals are also seeing increasing numbers of injuries from another kind of footwear, flip flops, a big trend in the blistering-hot South. What appears to be a comfy shoe can cause a host of complications, says Noriega, noting that the main long-term problems occur from the lack of support. "If you are walking on concrete with flip flops, your foot is taking the whole brunt of the walking, versus your shoe taking some of the force," he explains. "So, we'll see a lot of arch pain and a lot of heel pain. Wear them to the beach, to the pool," he says. "Don't go shopping in your flip flops. And, don't wear them all day, every day."
The leading complication from extended flip flop wear is plantar fasciitis, the same condition Fuqua suffered while training for his first marathon. With this condition, people tend to have morning pain with the first step out of bed, as well as pain when getting up after any period of extended sitting.
Noriega initially treats plantar fasciitis conservatively with anti-inflammatories, lots of stretching and arch supports. Mentel employs a treatment regimen where patients start the morning in bed with a heating pad on their foot for about 10 minutes, then roll their foot back and forth on a can on the floor, and finally place a belt around their toes and hold them back with their hands to stretch out the calf muscles. More advanced treatments include injections, physical therapy, night splints and even surgery.
Risk of foot injury shouldn't deter anyone from high-impact workouts, but before you hit the pavement, invest in quality running shoes, advises Vizzi, himself a runner. He advises buying a comfortable, wide-toed running shoe that is not too tight and cautions all runners against doing too much too soon. "The running shoes tend to be wider, and usually do not cause the forefoot problems that some of the attractive shoes produce," he says. "People who go from not running to running six miles a day in a very quick time frame can get things like shin splints and tendon injuries that really will set them back quite a bit," Vizzi observes. "We see a lot of people who go from nothing to trying to overdo it, and really injuring themselves."
Mentel notes that people should first recognize what they want to accomplish ' long distances, short sprints, weight loss, or cardiovascular improvement. That will determine your training program and shoe type. "Any serious runner will know that first of all, running is an art, and there are different types of running," he says.
Before starting to run, Noriega recommends a good walking program. Aspiring athletes can gradually add jogging, then graduate to full-fledged running. Vizzi suggests starting slowly, then doubling distances every week. For example, a beginning runner can start with half a mile, double that to a mile the following week, double that to two miles the next week, and so on.
To avoid injuries, Noriega recommends checking feet after every jaunt to make sure that no blisters or pre-blistering areas, called "hot spots," are forming. "And making sure that their shoes fit appropriately ' that's the best advice," he says.
Those who have suffered a major injury say the fear of not being able to exercise ' and in some cases not even walk without pain ' scared them into paying close attention to the health of their feet. Just ask Fugua, who takes time every day to stretch his feet and makes sure his shoes are the perfect fit. "I have not have had any problems since," says the now avid runner, who has completed several marathons and more recently is venturing out into triathlon competitions.
Newcomer to Top 50 among five companies selected for Naval contract
INDstyle 2014 brings down house
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
Both sets of figures — adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes — were released by the U.S. Labor Department.
Texas declined by five rigs, West Virginia dropped three and Louisiana was down two.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
Three bedroom patio home or three bedroom traditional
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Ramsey Morein prepares an old Cajun classic also known as chaudin in this latest episode of filmmaker Stephen Meaux's culinary series.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
We’re in the second year of the second term of the first black president of the United States. And so it might seem that as Americans, as a nation, we have come a long way. And perhaps we have. But the recent killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., left me angry and sad. Here we go again, I thought.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
A federal appeals court in New Orleans has upheld a federal safety board's right to investigate the role of Transocean Deepwater Drilling Corp. in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
In what world does it make sense to balance the budget for a public school system by cutting schools from the poorest neighborhoods?
A supporter of a lawsuit against the oil industry has been re-nominated to a seat on a south Louisiana flood control board despite opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal.
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
Two bedroom cottage or four bedroom traditional
D.A. Mike Harson gets a gift from a federal judge as he tries to hang onto his job.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The eclectic beauty of modern, prints, boho
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
The nominating committee for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East was set Thursday to nominate applicants for two people on the board whose terms have expired.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
Restaurant could see ‘a little facelift,’ Bobby Butcher tells Daily Report.