Preparing for a long distance walk

Getting your feet ready for a 40 km trek needs a lot of planning and preparation. You’re asking a lot of your poor feet pounding into the ground, and they’ll need some TLC to get you there.

Every individual’s body will respond differently so there’s no one solution that will suit everyone, especially in an endurance event lasting many hours like the Surfcoast Trek.

Just like your fitness, preparing your feet and legs has to start early, not the week before or the day before.

During the 40 km trek, your body will change in a number of ways to keep you going. The extent of the changes will very much rely on how you’ve trained your body prior to the event.

Here’s what will happen for most of us at the 20 to 30 km mark:

  • Muscles in our core and legs will tire and as a result our walking pattern will change, placing more pressure on our joints.
  • Feet may swell causing changes in how the foot fits into the shoe, causing pressure areas, and
  • The heels may start slipping up and down in the shoe as the calf muscles tighten, increasing the risk of blister formation.

Footwear

For endurance walking the shoes you wear will have a significant bearing on whether or not you enjoy the trek. The runners you use around the house or for activities such as walking around the block will probably not be appropriate.

  • Footwear should fit your foot comfortably, not too tight or loose.
  • The upper should be made of a material that will easily breathe and allow the perspiration that your feet generate evaporates into the environment rather than build-up heat in your foot.
  • The sole should not be too stiff or controlling and provide good cushioning.
  • The toe box, (the area of the shoe where your toes are), should be deep and rounded to accommodate any swelling.
  • No part of your foot should slip in the shoes, at any time.
  • It is best if the lace area is as long as possible so you can alter the fit around the heel from the midfoot and the forefoot. You may have to adjust the lacing a number of times during the walk, to make sure your foot is supported and any pressure areas lessened.
    For more information regarding lacing techniques look here: How to Lace a Hiking Boot

Blisters

Blisters are caused by friction, where the surface of the skin is held in one place and the tissues underneath the surface are stretched to the point of tearing. It is influenced by 3 things:

1. The nature of your skin

Our skin often has different qualities depending on age, sun exposure, gender, shoes we wear etc. Some people have firm strong and resilient skin. Others have tender, thin and easily affected skin. The latter type of skin can be toughened to cope and protected for the walk using a number of different taping techniques. Skin temperature also needs to be maintained so that the skin does not become overly sweaty and moist which increases the risk of blisters.

Socks that are designed to ‘wick moisture away’; that is take the moisture away from the skin out through the sock to the other side of the sock, is the best way of managing this.

2. How your foot works

Your foot has two main functions, it has to adapt the body above to the ground beneath, and then has to be stable enough for the body to move over a solid foundation. If these functions are not working properly areas of high pressure develop which can directly cause tissue injury. The most obvious is blisters but also stress fractures and indirectly, increased risk of ligament or tendon damage as muscles get tired; often seen in cases of rolled ankles. Research shows that cushioning insoles can address the direct high-pressure areas, but the reasons why the foot is not functioning properly, causing risk of injury, needs to be understood and then addressed appropriately.

3. The level of friction.

There are many ways people use to reduce friction, but research shows that the best strategy in the heat, for most people, is wearing a merino padded sock. These socks should have built in padding to assist with small pressure areas.  If you often have blisters on or in between your toes, ‘toesocks’, worn under the padded merino socks, can be the answer.

I congratulate everyone who is taking on the Surf Coast trek for the challenge it provides as well as supporting a fantastic local charity which are whole community will benefit from. Total Care Podiatry is proud to support such endeavour by ensure your Freedom through Mobility.

Free Foot & Leg Assessment

To help you prepare Total Care Podiatry is offering Surf Coast trek participants a complimentary foot and leg assessment.  This will take into account your individual requirements and help you work out a strategy to help your feet and legs stay the distance.

Call Total Care Podiatry on 5223 1531 to book in your Free Foot & Leg Assessment.

Make sure you mention that you have registered for the Surfcoast Trek.

WARNING: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist.

A final note on blisters, if the top of the blister rubs off and you’re left with a red raw sore, a band-aid type of dressing is not a good option as it may cause more friction. Instead, compound dressings are good for this, as is some taping, so long as your skin is not sensitive to the adhesive.

Your toned summer body starts with your winter workout!

inter’s here and don’t we know it! cold mornings and nights make it too easy to stay in and let our regular exercise take a break. Your toned summer body starts with hard work now!

Come spring we’re feeling a bit fluffy around the edges and ready to get back into our routine, the sneakers are dusted off and away we go. The joints are a bit stiff and you’re out of breath before you’ve made it past the end of the street. It’s now you wish you’d kept up the exercise through winter.

What can you do to keep up with exercise during the cooler months?

There are many options including working out in the comfort of your own home or joining a gym to help keep you fighting fit.  Adding strength training to the mix, instead of being too focused on the usual cardio workout, will have you reaping the rewards for years to come.

Strength training is not a new thing, however many people, women in particular, tend to shy away from it, thinking it’s only for the hard core gym goers. There have been many studies into the benefits of strength training in its varied forms with outstanding results on its benefits, not only to your physical health, but the flow on affect it also has on your mental health.

Strength Training – an investment in your future!

  • Improved muscle strength and tone helps prevent injury (when the exercises are preformed correctly) and increases your balance, flexibility and coordination
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis, particularly in women. As women age hormonal changes result in the natural loss of bone density, hence increasing the chance of developing osteoporosis. Strength training can help bone strength and slow bone deterioration later in life
  • Helps prevent rolling over on your ankles; very important if you play sports like netball, dance, football etc
  • Leads to increased muscle mass to fat ratio, allowing your body to burn calories more efficiently and resulting in healthy weight loss and maintenance
  • Helps with aches and pain in your back, legs and feet
  • Can result in a better night’s sleep
  • Can increase your self-esteem

Getting Started

If you’re new to strength training, or even just gym workouts, or if you’ve had injuries in the past, it is always advisable to speak to a health professional first so to get a clear picture how to get strong without risking injury. Most health professionals will work in with your personal trainer, exercise physiologist or gym instructor to ensure you get the best outcome.

At Total Care Podiatry we have musculoskeletal podiatry and physiotherapy expertise in assessing your individual risk of musculoskeletal injury that may occur in taking up strength training.

We’ll work with you and your personal trainer so you’re able to reach your exercise goals with the least risk of injury.

Book online or call Total Care Podiatry on 5223 1531.


WARNING: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist.

May the force be with you

We’re often asked why some orthotics work and some don’t?

Why do they work for some people and not for others?

What are orthotics actually designed to do?

A brief history of foot orthotics in the modern era.

Like all areas of medical science, there is always new knowledge coming from more recent and more detailed research. Before 2006 we knew that orthotic therapy was successful at treating the symptoms of pain in people’s feet. We knew this because outcome studies1 showed 80% of people had improvement using orthotics as their main therapy.

The main theory before 2006 was that orthotics stopped excessive rolling in of the foot and flattening of the arch. The idea of stopping excessive pronation was to support the foot in a normal position. Of course, there were several different opinions on what normal was! The problem with this theory was that after several RCT research projects, there was no clear evidence to prove it.

In 2006 a landmark study2 was published which researched the influence of custom foot orthotics on lower extremity dynamics. This was an extensive project that looked at all the ways orthotics could affect the foot and why they could be so beneficial. What this study found was that the height of the arch, the amount of rolling in of the foot or other parameters that had been viewed as important, were not shown to be significantly altered.

The only statistically significant change orthotics made were on the forces occurring through the feet!

Where do these forces come from?

If you were paying attention to science in high school, you will remember the equation F= MA, or force equals mass, (our body) times acceleration, (from gravity).

This force is generated at all times and affects your feet particularly in weight-bearing, when you are standing, walking and significantly when you’re running.

This force is transmitted through your skeletal structure with a supportive network of soft tissues, (ligaments, tendons, fascia, muscles, etc). All this provides stability to assist the transmission of force when you move, that is, in dynamic function. This amazing ability is called Tensegrity.

Wikipedia says “Tensegrity, tensional integrity or floating compression, is a structural principle based on the use of isolated components in compression inside a net of continuous tension, in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other and the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially.” Wow!

No body’s perfect, however. We all have some skeletal misalignment from our genetic heritage. A minor misalignment is usually no problem but if you have something more significant like a twist in the spine, (scoliosis), legs that are bowed, (an excessive internal / external twist in the lower legs) or a leg length difference greater than 6 mm, the placement of the force will not be optimum and will force your body to compensate. Compensation of skeletal misalignment will often place forces on other parts of the body.

So, where does the force go? It travels through your legs and into the foot, to the ground. Not only does the foot have to adapt to the body’s misalignments, it also has to be able to function on lots of different surfaces, like walking on the side of a hill, or in sand or over rocks.

Leonardo da Vinci said “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art “and I wholeheartedly agree with him!

To return to our high school science, another law of physics we learnt was Newton’s third law, ”For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

As bizarre as this sounds, as you place your body weight onto the ground through your foot, there is an opposite and equal force from the ground pushing into the foot; we call this ‘ground reaction force’. Ground reaction force loads the foot from below, while your body is loading the foot from above.

If the force occurs on structures that are not able to withstand them and for a prolonged period of time, the risk of injury is significantly increased. If an injury does occur and the excessive forces are not reduced or removed a chronic pain or only partial healing will result. When the healing tissues are exposed to the excessive forces and become reinjured, a cycle of healing and reinjury occurs where the body never returns to the state it was prior to the injury.

May the force be with you!

The effect of force on your body is why rest and gradual and paced return into activity is so important. You need time to allow the injured tissues to adapt to the stresses and be able to withstand them.

Excessive forces can be reduced, managed and redirected.  Your muscle flexibility and strength, your joint mobility, footwear choice and orthotics may all play a part.

At Total Care Podiatry we have specialist equipment and expertise in musculoskeletal podiatry and physiotherapy to analyse, diagnose and address the excessive forces your body is trying to cope with. Our holistic approach will help you through your rehabilitation and reduce your risk of further injury in the future.

Book online or Call Total Care Podiatry on 5223 1531.

1. Blake and Denton 1985, Donatelli et al 1988,Mororas & Hodge 1993, and many more.

2. “Influence of a custom foot orthotic intervention on lower extremity dynamics in healthy runners”, Christopher McLean, Irene MaClay Davis, Joseph Hamill 2006

 


 

WARNING: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist.

Keep playing the sports you love

Chances are, if you’ve been playing sport since you were a child, you’d love to keep it up. If you’re worried about injury or fitness you need good preparation, and that includes knowing how much your feet and legs are really up for it.

How does your body handle it?

Did you know, your amazing body compensates for all the structural misalignments, (knock knees, bowing of lower legs, legs that turn in or out, leg length differences, etc) using the mobility in your joints and the flexibility and strength found in your muscles? This process allows us to do some amazing activities from contact sports like martial arts and rugby, through to gymnastics and ballet.

Through this, your body adapts, often resulting in stress being placed where it shouldn’t be. Add to that, your type of work, the sport you play, injuries you may have had when you were younger, your age, weight and overall health all place a fair bit of strain on your body.

This can place you at risk, where a niggling ache in the background may predispose you to a big injury later on. The good news is we can help you keep going AND perform better!

Help your body do more.

You can reduce your risk of injury by improving your body’s ability to compensate. This might mean improving the flexibility and strength of particular muscle groups or improving the range of motion of your joints.

Maybe it’s because your feet are not working as well as they should or your runners or boots are not the best choice for your particular structure and function. Maybe a taping technique, that we can show you how to do, will really reduce the risk of injury or re injury.

Your level of compensation, and your risk of injury, can be assessed at Total Care Podiatry. This is the first step to helping your body cope with whatever sport you want to do.

If an injury does occur to your feet, ankles or knees, it’s important to get the best treatment option quickly, before your body starts adapting itself around the injury. That’s because your feet, ankles and knees are working with every step you take. To avoid pain your body will change your posture and the way you walk, affecting more areas than the original injury site.

You don’t have to be watching from the sidelines!

At Total Care Podiatry we look at your whole body when assessing your feet, ankles, knees, hips or back. We integrate musculoskeletal podiatry with in house physiotherapy to help you enjoy all your activities, including your chosen sport.

There are many treatment options, so don’t put up with pain, hoping it will go away by itself.

Book online or Call Total Care Podiatry on 5223 1531 so we can help you get moving again.

WARNING: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist.