How To Avoid Common Winter Sport Injuries

Winter is the time to stay indoors, wrapped in a blanket, sitting by a fire while the snow falls outside. Then some of us take advantage of the thick ice or heavy snow to enjoy some of our favorite seasonal sports. From skiing to snowboarding and ice hockey, there are countless things you can do this winter to stay active. However, as with any sport, it’s paramount that you take the proper precautions to avoid injury. Keep reading to learn how to prevent some of the most common winter sports injuries.

Knee Injuries

Injuries to the knee joint are prevalent, especially in skiers. Medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains happen to be the most common knee injury. While the overall percentage of knee joint injuries has stayed the same for the past 25 years, the number of knee ligament ruptures, specifically that of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), has increased when compared to MCL sprains.

Besides the improvement in diagnostic technology, there are other reasons we see a rise in ACL tears. Most doctors can agree on the advancements in ski boots and bindings. While the evolution of these factors reduces ankle and shin injuries, it seems that the knee is now taking on most of the brute force from cutting turns and hard stops. Because the release mechanisms within the boots and bindings are not fast enough, your knees are more at risk of a twisting injury.

Not to worry, you can participate in several preventative activities. One thing you can do is wear a knee support. You should also use “multimode” release bindings because rear-release boots can reduce the risk of ACL injury. It would be best to have your bindings professionally serviced every year. This will ensure that they are appropriately adjusted for your personal use. Finally, try not to walk in your ski boots too much. Walking in your boots can affect the fit with the bindings and ultimately interfere with the release mechanisms.

Ankle Injuries

As knee injuries are more common in skiers, ankle injuries are more common in snowboarders. Many snowboarders are at risk or have already had a fracture of the ankle’s talus bone. It’s essential that you see a doctor as these can be easily misdiagnosed as an ankle sprain, as the fracture does not always appear on x-rays. If the pain persists, you may need a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

You can do proprioceptive training to prevent such an injury, such as using a wobble-board. Wobble-board use will improve muscle strength, balance, and reaction times. You should start preventative training at least six weeks before your sports season and continue the training throughout your season, potentially replacing the traditional warm-up. You can also wear a sports ankle brace. These braces will act as a physical restraint, which will help you from going over on your ankle.

Hand and Wrist Injuries

A skier’s thumb results from a fall with the ski pole held in hand. The fall overextends the thumb and causes damage to the ulnar collateral ligament at the base of the thumb. Usually, the fall results in a sprain. However, there can be a complete rupture. For that reason, it’s always wise to see a doctor for the proper treatment advice.

Wrist fractures are more common in snowboarding but can also happen while skiing. As with any fall, the natural response is to stretch out your arms to try and catch yourself. Therefore, Scaphoid and Colles fractures of the wrist are relatively common injuries.

Don’t put your hands inside the ski pole loops unless you’re skiing in deep snow. Weaning thumb stabilizers will help protect the ulnar collateral ligament without limiting hand movements and function. For wrist injuries, you can wear wrist guards. You can purchase these from all good ski shops.

Head and Spinal Injuries

Head and spinal injuries are usually a result of a fall or a collision or due to chair lift accidents. Surprisingly, head and spinal injuries occur more in experienced skiers and snowboarders. Speed is the main factor. However, studies show that helmets lost some of their effectiveness when the injured individual in question was traveling at higher speeds. Although, helmets and eyewear are still the most effective measure you can take to avoid traumatic head and spinal injuries.

The Foot & Ankle Center

Have you injured yourself while participating in this season’s winter sports? Have you hurt yourself in the past and are looking for physical therapy exercises to help prevent a repeat injury? Contact The Foot & Ankle Center today. Our office of professionals is here to help you stay up on your feet. New patients can schedule an appointment here.

How To Get Healthier Feet in the New Year

It’s the new year, which means you probably have one or two resolutions that you are trying to stick to. What’s one more? You may not think about them a lot, but your feet play essential roles in your health. Issues in foot health can create long-lasting effects on the rest of the body. Maintaining proper foot hygiene is vital for maintaining your overall health. So, pledge to get healthier feet in the New Year!

Wear Proper Shoes

It’s best to go with a comfortable pair of supportive shoes with a wide-toe box. Nothing is worse for your feet than shoes that are too small or too big, except maybe not wearing shoes at all. We suggest that you stay away from flip-flops and high heels too. Flip-flops offer no support, and their design leaves your feet open to the elements, which leaves you at risk of developing problems like athlete’s foot or injury. High heels force your feet into unnatural positions. The damage this can cause to the structure of your feet can lead to bunions, corns, and calluses.

It’s also essential to replace worn-out athletic shoes. They have been the perfect pair once upon a time, but after about six to eight months of wear, even the best shoes begin to lose their support functions. If you don’t do this, you’re putting yourself at risk for a sports-related injury, which will lead to less time for you to focus on all your New Year’s goals and more time trying to heal something that you could have prevented.

Daily Foot Care

Wash your feet daily! This is essential to proper foot hygiene. You should be washing your feet daily with warm water, mild soap, and a soft sponge. If your water is too hot or too cold, it could cause skin damage. Once you’re done cleaning your feet, you have to dry them, especially between your toes, as added moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Another crucial part of daily foot care is to wear clean socks. You should be changing your socks at least once a day. If you exercise or sweat heavily, you will need to change your socks more. By reducing the amount of moisture on and around your feet, you limit your chances of developing issues like athlete’s foot or blisters. Another way to reduce moisture is not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Let your shoes air out before wearing them again.

Take Care of Your Toenails

You should be trimming your toenails every two weeks. Use clean clippers or scissors to cut straight across the edge of the nail. Then carefully file the edges. You can use alcohol to sanitize your clippers or scissors. Don’t try and cut your toenails if you have trouble reaching your toes, if you can’t see them on your own, or if you have diabetes and/or neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, or any other circulatory health issues with your legs or feet. You should visit a foot professional instead. If you have discolored toenails, seek medical attention as this could signify an underlying condition.

Conduct Daily Foot Inspections

Check every surface of your foot. This includes the tops and bottoms of your feet, as well as your toes, in between your toes and your toenails. You should look for several different things. These include:

  • Bumps, lumps, blisters, and bruises
  • Cuts, sores, or cracked skin (could lead to infection)
  • Temperature differences (could be a sign of poor circulation)
  • Pain, tingling, numbness, and no feeling at all (could indicate nerve problems)
  • Ingrown toenails with red, puffy skin and tenderness or pain
  • Loss of hair on the foot or leg (could be an indication of poor circulation)

Consult a foot professional if you are unsure what is causing you pain or the pain does not go away by itself. Minor issues should not be overlooked, as they can become quite severe quickly if left untreated.

Exercise More

Get on your feet and get moving! It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Even walking 30 minutes a day is good for your foot health. Not only does this get you in shape, which means you’ll be supporting less weight, but it’s great to help maintain flexibility in your feet by putting your feet through their full range of motion. If you can, walk up and down hills. This will strengthen the muscles in your ankles, legs, and feet, providing more stability throughout your everyday life.

Get Regular Check-Ups at The Foot & Ankle Center

At the Foot & Ankle Center, we can help provide services for all sorts of foot-related ailments. However, we do recommend that you visit for just a regular check-up. These are great because they give you a chance to get a professional’s opinion. If you have any questions or concerns about your foot health, request an appointment today!

How To Properly Treat Cracked Heels

Cracked heels, also known as fissures, are very common, especially in winter. The dry air wicks moisture from the skin, leaving it more susceptible to drying out. According to the National Foot Health Assessment 2012, 20% of adults in the United States experience cracked skin on their feet, with women 50% more likely to have cracked skin. In general, you can treat your cracked heels yourself until they heal. However, severe cracks may require medical attention. Keep reading to learn how to treat and prevent cracked heels!

What Causes Cracked Heels?

There are common causes and medical causes. The first sign of a cracked heel is that you form calluses (areas of dry, thickened skin) around the rim of your heel. The more you walk, the more the fat pad under your heel expands. This expansion causes the calluses to crack. Risk factors of naturally forming a fissure include:

  • Cold temperatures or low humidity
  • Walking barefoot or with open-backed sandals
  • Using harsh scented soaps; these can strip your skin of its natural oils
  • Standing for long periods
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or support your heels
  • Taking long, hot showers or baths

Medical causes of fissures tend to be more severe and typically require medical intervention. Diabetes often causes dry skin, and nerve damage may prevent you from noticing that your feet are cracked and painful. Other conditions that may cause fissures include:

  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Psoriasis
  • Fungal infection
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Juvenile plantar dermatitis
  • Palmoplantar keratoderma-causes abnormal thickening of the skin on the soles and palms

Don’t treat cracked heels on your own if a medical condition causes them. Special treatment from a podiatrist is usually needed. In any case, a podiatrist should evaluate severe fissures, regardless of your medical history. This will help you heal faster and avoid complications, such as infection.  Some medical treatments for severe cracks include:

  • Removing dead skin
  • Prescribing more substantial softening or removal agents
  • Applying medical glue to seal cracks
  • Prescribing an antibiotic for infection
  • Strapping the heels with dressings or bandages
  • Recommending shoe inserts, heel pads, or heel cups
  • Helping the patient change the way they walk

How To Prevent Cracked Heels

Some complications of cracked feet include loss of feeling in your heel, cellulitis (an infection), and diabetic foot ulcer. If you are experiencing an infection, you may feel pain and have redness and swelling around the fissures. If you think you have an infection, call your doctor, as they should address that promptly.

To prevent cracked feet, probably the most important thing you should focus on is your footwear. Avoid flip-flops and sandals with open backs. You should also stay away from shoes with tall, skinny heels and shoes that are too tight. Instead, wear custom shoe inserts to cushion the heel and even out weight distribution. Wear shoes with a sturdy, wide heel that supports and cushions your heels when possible. Other prevention methods include:

  • Wearing clinically tested, padded socks
  • Using silicon heel cups to keep your heel moisturized and to help prevent the heel pad from expanding
  • Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Using a pumice stone a few times a week (avoid removing calluses yourself if you have diabetes or neuropathy, as you may create a wound and increase your risk of infection)

If you already have cracked heels and have taken steps to help them heal, keep in mind that it may take a few weeks for that to happen. During and after this time, make sure to wear shoes that fit and practice proper foot care to help prevent new cracks from forming. In mild cases, moisturizing two to three times a day may be enough to fix the problem, but what type of moisturizers should you be using?

What Type of Moisturizer Should You Use?

To know which types of ointments and creams to use on your feet, you need to know the difference between humectants, occlusives, and emollients.

  • Humectants (hydrators) bond with water molecules from various environmental sources and hold them on the skin’s surface. These are great to use in humid environments. Common humectants are hyaluronic acid and glycerin. If you live somewhere dry, pair your humectant with an occlusive, which helps seal in moisture.
  • Occlusives contain moisturizing ingredients that create a physical barrier on the skin to prevent water loss and lock in hydration. Examples of these include Vaseline, mineral oil, waxes, etc.
  • Emollients: contain moisturizing ingredients that soften skin, which helps keep it supple and decreases inflammation (your skin will feel more comfortable and less itchy). Emollients are butters, oils, esters, lipids, and fatty acids. These have occlusive properties, which help rebuild skin barriers and prevent dry skin.

You want to use an emollient or a humectant first. Once that is absorbed into the skin, apply a thick layer of an occlusive moisturizer just before bed. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is one of the most effective occlusive moisturizers, reducing water loss from the outer skin layer by more than 98%. After applying, put on a pair of 100% cotton socks. This will help lock in moisture and will keep your sheets stain-free. After a few days of following this routine (applying once in the morning and once at night), the skin on your heels should begin to soften.

If you have particularly thick, stubborn skin on your heels, you can use a keratolytic. Keratolytics are agents that thin out your thickened skin by loosening the outer layer and removing dead skin cells. This process allows the skin in the treated area to retain more moisture. Look for products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids, like acetic acid and glycolic acid. Think about pairing the use of a keratolytic with a humectant. That way, you moisturize and remove dry, cracked, and thickened skin simultaneously.

Take Care Of Your Feet with The Foot & Center

To treat and prevent cracked heels, it’s essential to treat your feet with an ointment or cream at least twice a day, to avoid long, hot baths and showers, and to wear the proper shoes for your feet. Here at The Foot & Ankle Center, we can help treat many different ailments, cracked heels just being one of them. If you need a trustworthy and top-of-the-line podiatrist, contact us to book an appointment here!

What Makes Your Foot Fall Asleep?

Have you ever been seated in one spot for a long time and suddenly realized that your foot has fallen asleep? When this happens, your appendage has completely gone numb, or every time you try to move it, you experience pins and needles. Well, this uncomfortable sensation has a name—paresthesia. Keep reading to find out more about paresthesia and what you should do about it.

What Is Paresthesia

So, you know paresthesia is what makes your foot fall asleep, but how? Well, paresthesia is a fancy name for compressed or irritated nerves. A nerve becomes compressed or irritated when you put too much pressure on it. This pressure cuts down on the blood flow to your nerves. Without a proper blood supply, nerves cannot transmit a message from your body to your brain. In the end, the nerves just send messages that the brain can’t make any sense of, so the brain starts producing different sensations in the affected limb.

Symptoms Of Paresthesia

In most cases, symptoms of paresthesia only last at a maximum of 30 minutes and are not typically intense or severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Pins and needles
  • Itching
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Difficulty contracting muscles and using the affected limb
  • A feeling of cold
  • A feeling of burning

Causes Of Paresthesia

As mentioned, when your foot falls asleep, it’s usually because you were sitting in an unusual position that was cutting the blood supply off to your nerves. You can solve this simply by moving around and fixing your posture. However, other causes include:

  • Compression of a spinal nerve (i.e., in the case of a herniated disc)
  • Tension and traction or pulling on a nerve
  • Altered nerve function related to illness (i.e., diabetes)
  • Central nervous system conditions (i.e., multiple sclerosis or stroke)

If you have any chronic symptoms (the paresthesia lasts more than an hour), you should seek medical attention. If it is a stroke, time is of the essence. If it comes on gradually and you have diabetes, make sure your doctor is aware, as this could be a sign of peripheral neuropathy.

Neuropathy is any type of nerve disease.  Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. The arms and the legs tend to be the first parts of the body affected by this condition. Peripheral neuropathy causes weakness, numbness, and pain.

Diagnosing Paresthesia

Whenever you feel pins and needles or numbness in your feet, this is paresthesia. As mentioned, it can be treated on your own unless it is chronic. If your symptoms persist, you need to see a healthcare provider to accurately diagnose the underlying cause; depending on your health history and other symptoms, there are several different diagnostic procedures your doctor may turn to, including:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • EMG
  • Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test
  • Blood tests

Treatment For Chronic Paresthesia

The treatment for chronic paresthesia is dependent on the underlying cause of it. If the cause is MS, for example, you may need a mix of physical therapy and medication. If a herniated disc is causing the unusual sensations and physical therapy is seemingly not enough to return your functional motor skills, you may need surgery. Unfortunately, in cases of peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes, the symptoms are relatively permanent but may change slightly with specific medication.

Visit The Foot & Ankle Center Today!

If you are experiencing chronic paresthesia in one or both of your feet, we may be able to help you get to the bottom of what’s causing it and set you on the path towards managing or curing it. At The Foot & Ankle Center, our healthcare professionals do everything they can to ensure your optimal health and that you walk away from our care with two healthy feet and a smile on your face. Visit our website today to schedule an appointment!

Are Foot Peels Safe?

Are you tired of rough and tough skin on the soles of your feet? Are you so tired that you’re willing to try anything to get baby fresh skin? Well, you’ve probably heard of foot peels. But what exactly are foot peels? How do they affect your feet? In this blog, we’ll answer those questions and determine if foot peels are safe for you to use.

How Do Foot Peels Work?

Most foot peels come in the shape of foot booties. On the inside of these booties are a combination of chemicals and essential oils. Depending on the directions, you are to clean your feet entirely of any dirt, dust, and nail polish before putting on the booties. Then, you wear the booties for one to two hours. After taking the booties off, you rinse your feet and put socks on. Wait about five days, and the peeling should begin.

Foot Peel Ingredients

The most common foot peels are a combination of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), and essential oils. AHAs, like glycolic, lactic, citric, and malic acids, prevent the top layer of the epidermis from sticking together. On the other hand, BHAs, like salicylic acid, dissolve the adhesive holding thickened skin cells together. The essential oils are gentle, botanical ingredients that are natural skin conditioners and moisturizers. They’re also known to possess antibacterial properties, provide aromatherapy to your foot, and protect extra sensitive skin after the dead skin is peeled off.

Possible Risks

There are several possible risks when it comes to using foot peels. First and foremost, you must be careful if it uses anything like AHAs and DHAs. Foot peels are chemical peels for your feet. Unfortunately, no current brand discloses what percentage of their serum contains said chemicals. Not knowing how much of these chemicals are in these foot peel products can lead to chemical burns if you aren’t careful. You can also over-exfoliate, leading to blisters and skin infections, especially if you use a foot peel while you have open wounds or sores.

People with diabetes should also avoid foot peels because high blood glucose levels affect the body’s ability to heal wounds. Those with sensitive skin or a neurologic impairment that can affect one’s ability to feel pain, burning, or tingling sensations should also avoid these types of treatments.

Finally, those with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or anyone with allergies should be cautious of foot peels. Along with various acids, the peels also contain alcohol and artificial fragrances. These ingredients could be harmful to people with allergies, expecting mothers, athletes who need their feet to be extra tough, or anyone with skin sensitivities.

Should You Use Foot Peels

Honestly, the debate over foot peels is split almost down the middle. Some professionals swear by them, and others say stay away if only to protect your sensitive skin. One thing to remember is that foot peeling is often an indication of inflammation, which is not a good thing. You don’t want to be on your feet as they’re peeling, especially if you have sensitive skin are on your feet a lot during the day; you’ll have a lot of discomfort.

However, most of the reviews for the most prevalent foot peels are overwhelmingly positive, and most evidence suggests that these peels are okay for most people. Just remember, you should be cautious if you have skin sensitivities, allergies, are pregnant, or are an athlete.

Try more natural, chemical-free methods like pumice stones, foot scrubs, and pedicures for those who can’t trust that a foot peel won’t do them more harm than good.

The Foot & Ankle Center

At The Foot & Ankle Center, we care about your feet! We pride ourselves on giving out top-quality information about products, conditions, and treatments, all to do with your feet. We want our patients to be as well informed as our professional staff. If you or someone you know is looking for a podiatrist they can trust, reach out to The Foot & Ankle Center today by visiting our website or calling (314) 487-9300 to schedule an appointment.