A recent study by The University of Sydney showed that online searches for “home-based exercises” and “high-intensity workout” were at an all-time high in Australia post the Covid 19 pandemic. A quick Google trend search confirms the same. Interestingly, Google trend analysis also shows this – almost every summer, when the interest for exercise peaks, there is a concomitant spike in the search for “podiatrist Sydney”!!
Be it jogging, HIIT, swimming or a sweaty session at the gym, exercising is good for your physical and mental health. However, since exercise involves the repeated performance of a specific movement, it can result in some foot problems. Be wary of the following troubles:
If you run regularly on hard surfaces, you may suffer from heel pain. It can occur due to poor biomechanics or muscle weakness, or both. It can be treated effectively with ESWT shockwave therapy, muscle stretches and biomechanical correction measures that include taping and exercises.
Regular jogging or jumping exposes you to the risk of Achilles Tendinopathy– (inflammation or micro-tears of the Achilles tendon). Some of the risk factors are:
- running uphill/downhill,
- walking on your toes/wearing heels for too long, and
- changing your training surface abruptly from grass to concrete.
Treatment begins with RICE or Rest, Ice, compression and elevation. Later phases need podiatric treatment. It consists of regaining full motion, followed by restoring muscle strength, and then finally normalising foot mechanics.
This tongue twister of a condition affects the meta-tarsal (these are the long bones in your feet that connect the ankle to your toes) bones. It commonly manifests itself as intense pain in the ball of the foot. This happens due to a lack of support in the metatarsals because of a fracture or stress. Change of footwear can bring relief. Podiatrists can prescribe appropriate shoes, along with anti-inflammatory medication to ease the pain.
Papillomas (or warts)
If you are someone who prefers swimming as an exercise, then you could be at risk of contracting warts. A wart is essentially a viral infection. You could contract it if your wet/damaged skin came in contact with rough surfaces, such as at swimming pools. Warts are normally removed with a Salicylic Acid treatment that could last for three months. Licensed practitioners may even offer SWIFT therapy. It involves eliminating the virus with a quick, precise burst of microwave energy. As the name suggests, this is a faster way to treat warts.
Tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot, this fungal infection can be contracted from damp surfaces and locker room floors. Symptoms include itchy red patches/blisters and scaly skin between your toes. This can be treated with antifungal medication. However, it is a good idea to incorporate hygienic practices into your routine, such as wearing sweat-absorbing socks, using thongs or other footwear in the locker rooms and washing your hands and feet regularly.
If the fungus affects your nail, it is called onychomycosis. If you sweat heavily or have a history of athlete’s foot, you may be at higher risk of having nail fungus. In itself, it is a painless condition. But it may look unsightly. A podiatrist in Sydney said that many patients visit him for Cold Laser treatment for their fungus-infected toenails.
So, this summer, when you go for a run or decide to head for a swim, keep these tips in mind to minimise health risks to your happy feet.