Running & Foot/Ankle Pain

Running is excellent exercise, whether you run for pleasure, competition, or both. But a foot injury can take even the best runner down quickly if it’s not properly treated. If you are a runner, be aware of these common foot injuries and what you should do about them:

Stress Fractures

Runners often experience tiny cracks in the bones of the foot known as stress fractures. They can occur from repeated impact of your foot on pavement and also happen when you suddenly increase your activity or train especially hard. If you have pain with activity but not during rest, you may have a stress fracture. See your podiatrist for a proper diagnosis, as these often require an x-ray and adequate rest for healing.

Ankle Sprains

Ranging from mild to severe, you might sprain your ankle by “rolling” it or falling. You’ll typically notice some swelling and bruising. An ankle sprain should be rested and iced, and you may need to take anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen while it heals. Your podiatrist should evaluate the severity of the sprain. Repeated injury to the ankle can occur if the sprain isn’t properly treated and strengthened

Plantar Fasciitis

This is a result of inflammation and irritation of the tendon on the bottom of the foot. It often occurs when your calf muscles are too tight or your shoes don’t provide adequate support. Heel pain is the most common symptom, and it may hurt more in the morning and then subside after a few minutes. Heel pain that lasts more than a few days should be evaluated by your podiatrist

Achilles Tendinitis

The Achilles tendon runs from the heel to the calf. Although it’s strong, repeated strain from running (especially stopping and starting) and intense training can irritate and inflame the tendon. This results in heel pain with activity, as well as swelling and a feeling of warmth in the area. If you notice pain in the heel for more than a week, call your podiatrist to get it checked out.

Avoiding Running Injuries

Although some injuries can’t be avoided, there are some steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting hurt while running:

  • Invest in good running shoes. Go to a running or fitness store where the staff can help you choose the right pair. Replace them every 400-500 miles, or sooner if they hurt or show signs of wear.
  • Properly stretch before and after your runs. Be sure to stretch your feet, hamstrings, and calves.
  • Get strong. Strength training can help your muscles withstand the stress of running.
  • Don’t do too much, too soon. Gradually ramp up workouts and distances.

If you have foot pain, don’t try to “tough it out.” Contact the Family Foot & Ankle Clinic so you can get your feet healthy – and get back to running – as quickly as possible.

Best Bets for Outdoor Summer Fun in Austin

Fun outdoor activities are not in short supply in beautiful, sunny Austin. No matter what your age or activity level, you’re bound to find something that suits your fancy. Here are some great excuses to get off that couch and enjoy the great outdoors in the exciting Austin area:

Try Stand-Up Paddleboarding

If you’ve lived in Austin for any length of time, you’ve probably already visited Austin’s popular Lady Bird Lake in the heart of downtown. Whether kayaking, canoeing, swimming, or just relaxing, it’s a great place to enjoy the water. But something you may not have tried yet is stand-up paddleboarding, a relatively new activity. Just as it sounds, you’ll be standing up on your own paddleboard while you relax and take in the scenery. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner: lessons and board rentals are available from a variety of vendors.

Check out our post on how to stay safe while paddleboarding!

Hop On the Bike Trails

If your feet aren’t up for a day of standing on a board, you have plenty of other options. You can still get some fresh air and great exercise if you take advantage of the hundreds of miles of bike trails around Austin. You’ll get to see beautiful natural scenery, stop for a swim, or enjoy socializing with friends while you go. There are so many trails to choose from, you could take a new route every day. For a different workout, consider hiking as well – if your feet are feeling up for it.

Get Social While Cycling

Want some physical activity with real crowd appeal? Social cycling is a way to meet new people while enjoying a bike ride. Whether you’re only an occasional biker or a hard core bike racer, you’ll find an event that fits your needs. Free social rides are offered each week, and some include stops at local swimming holes or bars. To see what rides might work for you, visit the Social Cycling FaceBook page.

Choose Your Swimming Hole

Swimming is an outstanding choice for an exercise that is easy on the joints. And in the Austin area, there’s no shortage of beautiful pools to enjoy. The famous Barton Springs pool is a popular destination for good reason – this giant spring-fed pool is a refreshing destination year-round. For a change of scenery, try one of the dozens of swimming holes within just a few miles of the city.

Hang Out in TOMS’ Backyard

Where can you get some great coffee, shop for shoes, take a class, and relax in a charming backyard? All at TOMS, a store/community space that is a great place to meet up with friends and family alike. TOMS’ Austin location is their second flagship store and portions of their sales go to great charitable causes, too.

Summer Fun with Healthy Feet

If you have a foot problem, don’t let it hold you back from enjoying the many fun activities in Austin. Contact our Shoal Creek office and get help for your feet, so you can enjoy all that our great city has to offer!

When Should Bunions be Operated On?

Bunions are a very common foot problem. In fact, over 20 percent of all adults have them. A bunion happens when the big toe starts to lean toward the second toe, rather than straight ahead. This eventually results in the well-known bunion “bump” on the outside of the big toe.

Although they can cause pain and discomfort, not all bunions require surgery. Many can be effectively managed with the help of your podiatrist and proper home care.

Treating Bunions Without Surgery

If you’re not having extreme pain and are able to carry on with most of your activities, one of these options may work well for your bunion treatment:

  • Getting the proper shoes. Wearing high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box can rub against the bunion and make it worse. Choose comfortable, supportive shoes that are wide enough for your feet.
  • Cushions or pads. You may find relief if you use a special pad or cushion on the bunion to help avoid friction and irritation.
  • Changes in exercise. If certain activities such as running cause more pain, find alternatives that are easier on your feet. Swimming and biking are often good choices.
  • Ice and/or anti-inflammatory medications. Icing the area several times a day and using medications like ibuprofen can help when the pain is bothering you. This will bring down inflammation and make you more comfortable.
  • Orthotics. Your podiatrist may recommend a special insert for your shoe to help relieve bunion pain.
  • Foot exercises to avoid stiffness.
  • A foot splint you wear at night to help align the foot properly.

When Surgery is Needed

Bunion surgery may be considered if the options above aren’t working for you. People who are generally good candidates for surgery:

  • Have significant pain that interferes with daily life. For instance, you can’t walk more than a block without pain even with the correct shoes and padding.
  • Have a foot deformity that results in the big toe “crossing over” the second toe.
  • Have constant swelling in the bunion that doesn’t get better with ice and medications.
  • Can’t straighten or move their big toe.

About Bunion Surgery

As with any surgery, you should weigh the risks of surgery and the potential benefits. For people who cannot enjoy daily life due to bunion pain, surgery is often well worth the time needed. There are different techniques available to treat bunions, but the goal of any surgery should be to properly realign the toe and relieve pain. Your podiatrist can talk with you about which surgery might work for you, and what you can expect during and after the procedure.

Do you have a bump on the side of your big toe? Have you been told you have a bunion? Don’t ignore this problem, as it often gets worse without proper care. Contact our office to find out how we can help you get relief!

Heel Pain after Sleeping? 5 Possible Causes

It’s not how most of us want to start our day: you step out of bed and immediately notice heel pain. Although it’s uncomfortable, it’s not necessarily a serious problem. But, you need to find out the cause of the pain so it can be treated properly.

Possible Cause: Plantar Fasciitis

By far, the most common cause of morning heel pain is plantar fasciitis. This happens when the ligament on the bottom of your foot gets overstretched and inflamed. You feel the pain in your heel, where the ligament stretches over the bone.

What To Do:

  • Invest in shoes with proper support to keep your arch from overstretching.

  • Avoid high heels and flip flops, which can make the problem worse.

  • If the pain persists beyond your first few steps in the morning, try icing the area several times a day.

  • Avoid high-impact activities such as running and jumping until it feels better.

  • Stretch your calves and bottoms of your feet every day.

  • If it doesn’t get better within a few days, see your podiatrist.

Possible Cause: Overuse Injury

Your heel takes a lot of abuse. It bears the brunt of force when you’re walking, running, and exercising. If you’re on your feet a lot during the day, or if you’re overweight, this can cause your heel to hurt from the continuous pressure and stress.

What To Do:

  • Apply ice the area to bring down inflammation.

  • Examine your shoes. Do they have proper cushioning in the heel area? If not, invest in a good pair that’s supportive and shock absorbing. Throw out old, worn out shoes.

  • If you’ve recently increased your activity or started a new sport, consider a lower impact activity such as swimming or biking until it feels better.

  • See your podiatrist if the pain persists for more than a few days.

Possible Cause: Achilles tendinitis

Your Achilles tendon is a strong ligament that connects your heel bone and calf muscle. You use it every time you run, walk, and jump. If you overuse it and place too much stress on it, your heels may hurt. In particular, you may notice the pain the next morning after doing a strenuous activity.

What To Do:

  • Avoid activities that irritate the tendon. This includes sports with stopping and starting such as soccer and basketball. Also avoid jumping and uphill running until the pain is gone.

  • Warm up before exercising. Stretch your calves once your muscles are warmed up and after exercising.

  • Apply ice several times a day until it feels better.

  • Don’t try an extreme or sudden exercise program. Exercise should be gradually increased to give your muscles time to adjust.

Possible Cause: Arthritis

Arthritis is irritation and inflammation of the joints. Although there is no joint in your heel, arthritis pain can spread to your heel from nearby joints. It is also very common to experience arthritis pain in the morning. If you notice joint pain, swelling, redness, and pain with motion, arthritis may be to blame.

What To Do:

  • See your doctor. There are different types of arthritis, and you’ll need a proper diagnosis from your physician to effectively treat the condition.

  • Switch to low-impact exercises that are easy on the joints.

  • Work toward a healthy weight if you are overweight.

  • Try ice or heat. Some people find that icing the affected joint provides relief, while others enjoy a warm bath, shower, or heating pad.

  • Invest in quality footwear, and see your podiatrist if foot pain persists.

Don’t let heel pain sideline you. Contact our office to find out how you can get relief!