Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cycling and Your Feet

Since the bicycle's first invention in the early 1900's, it has been a favorite form of recreation and sport in the U.S. More than 100 million Americans enjoy bicycling, either for recreation or, increasingly, for commuting to work each day. While a great workout for most of the body, feet play a vital role in cycling. They are responsible for the transfer of energy from the body to the pedals, which makes the bicycle move.
Keeping the alignment between the hips, knees, and feet is the most efficient way to operate a bicycle. Lack of proper body alignment and overactivity are responsible for the most common foot problems related to biking: Achilles tendonitis, sesamoiditis, shin splints, and foot numbness or pain.
For the casual or recreational cyclist, a typical athletic shoe used for running, walking, or cross-training is perfectly fine for biking. Just be sure that the sole is firm and not worn down so that it grips the pedal to avoid slipping.
For more serious cyclists, next to bicycles themselves, proper shoes are the most important piece of cycling equipment. In general, cycling shoes should have a stiff sole and fit snugly around the bridge of the foot and heel. The more stable and less movement inside the shoe, the more power can be transferred through the entire foot to the pedal. Also look for shoes with ventilated uppers to keep feet more comfortable. Closure systems vary, including lacing, buckles, straps, and Velcro- or some combination. You can choose whichever feel most comfortable to you. However, be careful that any loose ends (from straps or laces) and buckles don't hang over, as they pose a safety hazard if you elect to use toe clips.
The type of biking you do can impact your choice of shoes as well. For road cycling and racing, shoes that have stiff soles,a narrow fit, and snug fit are best. For mountain biking, the shoes also need a decent tread for better grip and a more rugged sole.
Many serious cyclists use some form of toe clip system. These allow the rider to transfer power from the body to the pedal in both the up and down motions of the leg. Simple toe clips have metal or plastic clips that attach to any type of shoe with strapping. However, they are not as efficient as energy transfers because they allow the foot to bend. Additionally, hanging straps can pose a danger. Clipless systems use metal or plastic cleats in the sole of a shoe that attach to binding on the pedal. These are a good choice for road or cycling, but they do take some adjusting to initially. Also, the cleats make the shoes unwearable for walking. Clips are generally not advised for mountain biking since the foot comes off the pedal frequently.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown, CT
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

What Shoe Should I Wear With This Sport?

Shoes, shoes, and more shoes. There seems to be a shoe designed for every sport out there. But there's a method to the madness. Sport-specific shoes really can change your game. See the tips below to learn why the shoe you choose could make or break your day on the court or field.
Basketball- Whether you're making the perfect pass or finishing off the high-flying dunk, basketball shoes have several features that will help you prevent injury.
  • A thick, stiff sole gives support while running and landing from jumps.
  • High ankle construction supports the ankle during quick changes in direction. A basketball shoe should have the strongest support on either side of the ankle.
Racquetball/Tennis- On the surface, court shoes for tennis and racquetball may look like any other athletic sneaker, but it's what's on the inside that makes the difference.

  • A court shoe supports both sides of the foot because of all the quick lateral movements and weight shifts in court sports.
  • It provides a flexible sole for fast changes of direction. 
  • It has less shock absorption than a running or basketball shoe.
Running- The running shoe is perhaps the most personal and intricate of all athletic shoes. Every runner has different needs and there are a multitude of choices out there.
  • A running shoe must provide maximum shock absorption to help runners avoid ailments such as shin splints and knee pain.
  • The shoe should control the way your heel strikes the ground, so the rest of your foot can fall correctly.
  • Know your foot type (high, medium, low arch) so you can get the shoe with the right support for your foot. 
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown CT
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints is a term used to describe pain and swelling in the front of the lower legs. The pain usually appears after and is exaggerated by repetitive activities such as running or walking. Contributing causes are flat feet, calf tightness, improper training techniques, worn out or improper shoes/sneakers, as well as running or walking on uneven surfaces. The inflammation in the shin results from the repeated pull of a muscle in the leg from the shin bone (tibia).
This condition usually occurs bilaterally (in both legs) and can be alleviated by rest, use of nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, icing, a change in training habits, stretching exercises, and properly fitted shoes. A foot and ankle surgeon can treat the condition, recommend proper shoe gear, and evaluate whether orthotics are needed. If not treated, shin splints may eventually result in a stress fracture of the shin bone.
Here are some stretching exercises for shin splints:
*Stand facing a wall with a wide stance and the injured leg stretched behind. The other leg is in a semi-lunge. The heel is down and the knee is straight on the back leg as they lean forwards, using the wall for balance. A gentle stretch should be felt in the back of the lower leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
*Stand on a step, making sure there is something to hold on to (a wall or banister, etc). The toes should be positioned right on the edge of the step, with the heel over the edge. The heel is slowly lowered, keeping the knee straight, until a stretch can be felt. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
*Stand facing a wall with the foot of the calf to be stretched at the back. The knee of the back leg should be bent towards the wall, keeping the heel on the floor. A stretch should be felt in the lower part of the back of the calf. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
*Kneel down and sit on your heels. Gently push down on the heels to stretch the front of the leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. This stretch can be increased by stretching one leg at a time and gently pulling the knee up.
*Stand with your toes of one foot on the floor on the outside of your other foot. Bend the weight-bearing leg to push your other ankle towards the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown, CT
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ryan Howard and His Achilles Tendon

After his Achilles tendon rupture last October, Ryan Howard was on track to rejoin the Philadelphia Phillies this May but a serious infection near the healing tendon required surgery, putting off the first baseman's return for a while longer.
The Phillies told Howard to rest and he has not been seen at the team's complex. There is no estimate as to when he will return to practice.
"We immobilized him," Amaro said, "just because our main priority is to get the infection out of there." Amaro added that Howard is taking a strong dose of antibiotics to remove the infection, which can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days to leave his body.
An Achilles tendon rupture like Howard had is serious business.
A tendon is a band of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. The Achilles tendon runs down the back of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Also called the "heel cord," the Achilles tendon facilitates walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground.
An Achilles tendon rupture is a complete or partial tear that occurs when the tendon is stretched beyond its capacity. Forceful jumping or pivoting, or sudden accelerations of running, can overstretch the tendon and cause the tear. An injury to the tendon can also result from falling or tripping.
Achilles tendon ruptures are most often seen in "weekend warriors"- typically middle-aged people participating in sports in their spare time. Less commonly, illness or medication, such as steroids (hmm...) or certain antibiotics, may weaken the tendon and contribute to ruptures.
A person with a ruptured Achilles tendon may experience one or more of the following:
  • Sudden pain (which feels like a kick or a stab) in the back of the calf or ankle- often subsiding into a dull ache.
  • A popping or snapping sensation. 
  • Swelling on the back of the leg between the heel and the calf.
  • Difficulty walking (especially uphill or upstairs) and difficulty rising up on the toes. 
These symptoms require prompt medical attention to prevent further damage. Until the patient is able to see a doctor, the R.I.C.E. method should be used (Rest, ice, compression, and elevation).
In diagnosing an Achilles tendon rupture, the foot and ankle surgeon will ask questions about how and when the injury occurred and whether the patient has previously injured the tendon or experienced similar symptoms. The surgeon will examine the foot and ankle, feeling for a defect in the tendon that suggests a tear. Range of motion and muscle strength will be evaluated and compared to the uninjured foot and ankle. If the Achilles tendon is ruptured, the patient will have less strength in pushing down (as on a gas pedal) and will have difficulty rising on the toes.
The diagnosis of an Achilles tendon rupture is typically straightforward and can be made through this type of examination. In some cases however, the surgeon may order a MRI or other advanced imaging tests.
Treatment options for an Achilles tendon rupture include surgical and nonsurgical approaches. The decision of whether to proceed with surgery or nonsurgical treatment is based on the severity of the rupture and the patient's health status and activity level.
Nonsurgical treatment, which is generally associated with a higher rate of re-rupture, is selected for minor ruptures, less active patients, and those with medical conditions that prevent them from undergoing surgery. Nonsurgical treatment requires the use of a cast, walking boot, or brace to restrict motion and allow the torn tendon to heal.
Surgery offers important potential benefits. Besides decreasing the likelihood of re-rupturing the Achilles tendon, surgery often increases the patient's push-off strength and improves muscle function and movement of the ankle.
Various surgical techniques are available to repair the rupture. The surgeon will select the best procedure suited to the patient.
Following surgery, the foot and ankle are initially immobilized in a cast or walking boot. The surgeon will determine when the patient can begin weight-bearing.
Complications such as incision-healing difficulties, re-rupture of the tendon or nerve pain can arise after surgery.
Whether an Achilles tendon rupture has been treated surgically or nonsurgically, physical therapy is an important component of the healing process. Physical therapy involves exercises that strengthen the muscles and improve the range of motion of the foot and ankle.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown CT
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

How to Pick Out Running Sneakers

If you're a runner, you know how important it is to pick out the sneaker that fits you the best. Not only will you spend a lot of time in them, they will help you run strong.
"When you have the right sneaker, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and other issues can be avoided," says Dr. Craig M. Kaufman, DPM.
When going shopping for the best sneaker, consider the shape of your feet. Different sneakers are better for different types of feet. The three main foot types are flat, neutral, and high arches. If you have flat feet, you tend to have fallen arches, making them flexible and prone to overpronation, an inward rolling motion. The best type of foot to have are those that are in the middle, neutral feet, the most biomechanically sound. High arched feet are the opposite of flat feet. The arches are defined and the feet are rigid, which leads to supination, or being on the edges of the feet. 
Sneaker companies have developed models to fit runners of all foot types and strides. When selecting sneakers, fit your foot type with the right shoe category. Flat footed runners will need a higher stability shoe, as they help you from overpronating. Neutral runners can run in many different types of sneakers, but will need a moderate stability shoe. High arched runners should look for a cushioned shoe with midsole padding providing flexibility. 
Make sure you try on several pairs. Remember that you will need to go up a half size from your street shoes, allowing for wiggle room in the toebox. The heel should be snug and secure so that you avoid unnecessary slipping. 
You will know when you've found the best sneaker for you. Your shoe should act as a part of your foot, working with your foot shape and biomechanics. 
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown, CT
Visit our website, friend and like our page on Facebook, and follow our tweets on Twitter
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