Posts for: November, 2011
Hikers and hunters: Long, vigorous hikes take toll on feet, ankles
(Greensburg, PA -November 11, 2011) –As brightly colored leaves dazzle the fall landscape, hikers and hunters nationwide will migrate to mountains, woods and fields, but many, unfortunately, are ill prepared for the beating their feet will take, warns a local foot and ankle surgeon.
“Hikers, hunters and others who love the outdoors often don’t realize how strenuous it can be to withstand constant, vigorous walking on uneven terrain,” said Cherrie Cindric, DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) located in Greensburg, PA. "Lax physical conditioning and inappropriate footwear bring scores of outdoor enthusiasts into our office each fall for treatment of foot and ankle problems such as chronic heel pain, ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, fungal infections and severe blisters."
“Walking up and down steep hillsides and tramping through wet, slippery fields and wooded areas puts stress on the muscles and tendons in the feet and ankles, especially if you haven’t conditioned properly before hitting the trail,” said Cindric. “Also, many don’t realize that cross-training athletic shoes aren’t the best choice for extended hiking and hunting. Had some of my patients worn sturdy, well constructed hiking boots, they wouldn’t have suffered sprained ankles or strained Achilles tendons.”
Cindric advises hikers and hunters to make the investment in top-quality hiking boots. She said strong, well insulated and moisture-proof boots with steel or graphite shanks offer excellent ankle and foot support that helps lessen stress and muscle fatigue to reduce injury risk. “The supportive shank decreases strain on the arch by allowing the boot to distribute impact as the foot moves forward. So if a boot bends in the middle, don’t buy it.”
In wet and cold weather, wearing the right socks can help prevent blisters, fungal infections and frostbite. Cindric recommends synthetic socks as the first layer to keep the feet dry and reduce blister-causing friction. For the second layer, wool socks add warmth, absorb moisture away from the skin, and help make the hiking boot more comfortable. “Wool lets moisture evaporate more readily than cotton, so fewer blisters develop,” she added.
What happens if your feet or ankles hurt during a hike or hunt? Cindric said pain usually occurs from overuse, even from just walking. “If you’re not accustomed to walking on sloped or uneven ground, your legs and feet will get tired and cause muscles and tendons to ache,” she explained. “To avoid a serious injury, such as a severe ankle sprain or an Achilles tendon rupture, rest for awhile if you start hurting.”
According to the ACFAS consumer website, FootHealthFacts.org, pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. “Serious injury risk escalates significantly if you continue hiking in pain.” she likened hiking to skiing, in that beginners should take on less difficult trails until they become better conditioned and more confident.
Evaluation by a foot and ankle surgeon is recommended if there is persistent pain following a hiking or hunting outing. “I’m most concerned about ankle instability and strained Achilles tendons. Inattention to these problems at their early stages may lead to a serious injury that will keep you off the trails for a long time,” she said.
Yard Cleanup Can Be Tough On Feet
Fall is the time to clear out the remains of summer gardens from the yard. Dr. Todd Cindric, DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, reminds you to keep your feet and ankles safe from injury by following these helpful tips.
Wear appropriate shoes for the task:
No matter how warm it is, don’t wear sandals. Wear sturdy leather shoes with support to protect
your feet from sharp objects, including the blades of power equipment.
Keep children away from power equipment:
Protect your kids and others from severe trauma. Leaf blowers, power lawn mowers and chain
saws should not be left out where kids are playing or where other inexperienced users can
Don’t work on wet surfaces:
Don’t work on wet surfaces. Ankle sprains and fractures can easily occur from slipping on wet
grass or leaves, especially when carrying heavy loads across the yard.
Remember, yard work is workout!
Before starting your yard work, warm up and perform stretching exercises, just as you would
before working out at the gym. By stretching prior to activity, you can help avoid stressing
muscles and tendons in the foot, ankle and calves. If you overdo it, get in to see your foot and ankle specialist for proper care of your injury!