A Step Ahead - Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists Blog

When it comes to arthritis of the feet, it can be very painful, and difficult to get around without being in discomfort. Since the foot is responsible for supporting the entire weight of the body, it is involved with natural wear and tear, and highly susceptible to arthritis. You may have been prescribed medications for flare-ups and pain management, or even special bracing to help minimize the joint motion. However, did you know one thing that is important for people with arthritis is regular, proper exercise? While this does not sound ideal for a foot in pain, the appropriate amount of exercise is actually vital for your overall health, even with arthritis.

Benefits of Exercising with Arthritis

Arthritis can stiffen joints and make it painful to move. However, there are numerous reasons why exercising with arthritis can help improve the symptoms you may be experiencing.

  • Exercise reduces joint stiffness and pain – When people do not exercise as often as they should, the supporting muscles of the joint eventually weaken, and make it difficult for the joints to move. Exercising will help maintain the muscle strength and eventually help relieve the pain felt when trying to move the joints.
  • Exercise can improve balance and stability – Arthritis can cause imbalance and lack of stability due to the pain often experienced when putting pressure on the affected joints; this leads to decrease in muscle strength. When this happens, people tend to place weight on areas of their feet that are not normally done when standing. Since the body weight is not properly distributed on the foot, it leads to improper balance, and ultimately leads to an increase in fall risk. Exercising increases the strength of the foot and ankle muscles and contributes to improved balance and stability, thereby minimizing your risk of fall injuries.
  • Exercising promotes your mental well-being – In patients without arthritis, exercising is often a means of relieving stress. This does not have to change if you are experiencing arthritis. Exercise can greatly reduce anxiety, stress, restlessness, and can put patients in a better mood.

Types of Exercises

While exercising has numerous health benefits, there are also ideal ways to exercise, especially when people have arthritis. The number one cause of injury to the foot and ankle when exercising is overuse or doing too much, too soon, and too fast. The following are examples of basic exercises to perform with arthritis:

  • Joint Stretches – performing simple and gentle stretching of your foot and ankle is a great way to help increase the range of motion and relieving stiff joints. This can help increase your joint mobility and help minimize pain when performing daily tasks.
  • Cardio – high-impact cardio exercising has great health benefits. However, high-impact exercising such as running or high-impact sports can increase the risk of further joint destruction and should not be the primary exercise performed. Therefore, low-impact cardio exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, or yoga can provide pain relief by increasing joint mobility and overall exercise tolerance.

If you have concerns about your foot arthritis and want to get a handle on it, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with  Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We will explain all your treatment and exercise options to available to you to help improve your foot health and properly handle your foot arthritis.

Arizona is known for having intensely hot days in the summer and people look for ways to cool down. Most often, they choose to head out to their local swimming pool to spend quality relaxing time with the family and enjoy their summer days. This can be a great idea for you and your family’s health due to the many positive health benefits swimming brings, including foot health. However, there are also several health concerns to be aware about and prevent.

Health Benefits of Swimming

Moving about and being active is one of the best things a person can do to for their body. However, it is understandable that sometimes being on your feet all day and walking from place to place can lead to unbearable foot and leg pain; this makes it difficult to engage in many activities. Going for a swim is a great alternative due to many health benefits it employs, especially if it is difficult to participate in other activities. The following are some of the health benefits to swimming:

  • Relieving foot and leg aches – when compared to hiking or running, people place much less weight on their feet when casually swimming in water. This can provide pain relief to the foot and leg and help minimize inflammation.
  • Improving blood circulation – being active promotes blood circulation and can sometimes be difficult. However, swimming promotes blood circulation by the working of your muscles as you tread through the water, efficiently providing blood flow back to your heart. This is very beneficial in individuals with reduced circulation, such as people with diabetes, or heart disease.


Health Concerns of Swimming

While swimming has its health benefits, there are also a few things to watch out for when deciding to go for a relaxing swim or are an avid, athletic swimmer. The following are some concerns and guides on how to take care of them:

  • Excessive moisture in the skin – when people are in the water too long, excessive moisture (especially between the toes) occurs, and can lead to cracking and peeling of the skin; this makes it easy for bacterial and fungal infections to occur. To help minimize this, make sure to take breaks from the water if you spend larges amount of time there, and carefully dry your feet each time you get out.
  • Muscle cramps and tendonitis – while this is not as much of a concern in casual swimming, it can occur in individuals who swim athletically, or competitively. Individuals who swim athletically often complain of cramps in their feet due to excessing pointing of their toes as they swim laps. Tendonitis can also occur due to the amount of kicking done as they swim. To help minimize this, proper stretching of the Achilles tendon, toes, and relaxation of the feet before actively engaging in swimming should be performed. Also, drinking water before and after swimming will help minimize cramps; being in water for long periods of time does not provide the hydration need compared to when you are drinking water.


If you have concerns about your foot health this summer, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We will explain all your treatment options to available to you to help improve your foot health this upcoming summer.

By Gary N. Friedlander DPM, FACFAS and Jay C. Larson DPM
August 06, 2018
Category: Foot Problems

It can be distressing when the legs and feet swell. Swelling can occur in both the arms and the legs and be caused by numerous factors. This swelling is often a result of excessive fluid buildup, inflammation, or damaged joints and tissues. When this occurs in the arms and the legs, it is generally known as peripheral edema or lymphedema if it is caused by damage to the lymphatic system.

Causes of Edema

The swelling can be common after injuries and often goes away over time. However, edema that does not resolve can be an indication of more serious conditions, such as heart, kidney, or lymphatic disorders. The following are several causes for peripheral edema:

  • Lymphatic damage – this is known as lymphedema and generally occurs after cancer treatments or damage during a surgical procedure. Unfortunately, there is no cure for lymphedema due to damaged vessels, and inability to properly drain the fluid.
  • Trauma or injury – This is a very common occurrence due an inflammatory response, especially after spraining an ankle, or after having surgery for bunions and hammertoes.
  • Infections – This is commonly seen in cellulitis infections caused by staph or another bacterium.
  • Insufficient Veins or venous blood clots – When veins have damaged valves, poor drainage back to the heart can result in fluid leaking into the tissues, and cause swelling. You may see varicosed veins on the legs before seeing swelling. If your leg is swollen, painful, and you are having difficulty breathing, this is a medical emergency, and you should see a doctor right away.
  • Medications – there are numerous types of medications that can cause swelling in the legs and arms. These include, but are not limited to: diabetes medications, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure and heart disease, some anti-depressants, hormones in replacement therapy, and steroidal medications.
  • Heart Disease/Congestive Heart Failure – If an individual has coronary artery disease, history of heart attacks, or high blood pressure, edema can occur because of decreased heart function.
  • Diabetes – Individuals with diabetes often have edema because of the high blood sugar levels, combined with medications they might be taking for it, as well as blood pressure.
  • Kidney Disease – If the kidneys are not functioning properly, they can cause proteins to be lost from the body. Proteins help draw in fluid from the tissues and prevent edema from occurring.


Treatments for Peripheral and Lymphedema

Depending on the cause of the edema, it can be treated, or even cured. For most cases, the swelling is not permanent, and can be alleviated. Elevating the feet is one of the best starting treatments since this will help use gravity to pull fluid away from the legs. Compression socks are another great way to help relieve edema and work by applying pressure to the leg and squeezing the fluid back into the lymph vessels for recirculation. Your doctor may also temporarily prescribe diuretic medications to help the body relieve excess fluid.

Peripheral edema can be stressful, painful to deal with, and be an indicator of additional underlying health problem. If you have concerns about your swelling, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We will explain all your treatment options to available to you to help improve your health, function, and overall quality of life.

With how much walking we do, our footwear undergoes wear-and-tear, especially running shoes. All footwear has a limited lifespan and will eventually need to be replaced. When shoes are beginning to wear down, their stability begins to fade, and makes feet susceptible to various injuries. Knowing exactly when to replace shoes can be difficult and as well as knowing what signs to look for on shoes that are wearing down. The following are signs you should consider replacing your current shoes:


  • They no longer fit comfortably: Feet can change sizes, especially when people undergo weight loss or gain, (i.e. dietary or pregnancy) and will need properly fitted shoes to accommodate the changes. People who have suffered foot recent injuries (such as sprains) can have swelling and may need to temporarily have larger shoes to help accommodate swelling if it is not healing


  • Worn down shoe treads: When the tread begins to wear down, they lose traction, and increase the chance of falling, and increase the risk of suffering other foot and ankle injuries. Treads often wear down at the heel and ball of the foot more so than other areas of the shoe due to increased application of weight in these areas.


  • The shoes become unstable: To test whether your shoes are unstable, bend your shoes at the ball of the foot, twist the shoe (the more it twists, the less stable the shoe has become), and check the firmness of the shoe’s heel counter where your heel sits. Each of these helps test the shank rigidity of the shoe and new shoes should be purchased if the shoes have increased flexing and twisting.


  • How many pairs of shoes you own: Having more than one pair of shoes that you can rotate will help prolong the lifespan of your shoes and prevent rapid wear-and-tear. If you are constantly wear one pair of shoes, the shoes will wear down faster, and need to be replaced. This is important, especially if they are running shoes, or shoes you wear to work every day.


When You Should See a Podiatrist

If you are experiencing foot pain and it is not relieved by new footwear, then it is important to see your podiatrist to identify the cause of your foot pain. Your podiatrist can also help you select shoes appropriately fitted for you and minimize the risk of injuries later.

If you are currently experiencing foot pain, it could be caused by worn out shoes, and need to be replaced. If you have recently replaced your shoes and are still experiencing foot pain, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, and have all your treatment options presented to you to ensure you maintain healthy feet.

Children’s feet are very delicate and require special attention. As your child grows, the leg undergoes many changes in length, and position to help them walk properly. Therefore, parents should begin learning about these changes, and how abnormal changes can occur, especially in the feet. These abnormal changes can become larger problems later in life and affect your child’s walking ability. There are several tips for parents follow to help take care of their child’s feet and ensure they stay healthy:

  • Essential Nutrition: Ensuring your child is receiving essential nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and protein is crucial to healthy development of your child. These nutrients will help with bone and muscle development, and to avoid nutrient-deficient conditions (i.e. Rickets).


  • Buy Properly Fitted Shoes: When buying shoes, it is vital that your child’s shoes are not too tight or too loose, as this can cause foot pain, and other issues. Shoes that are too tight can distort the position of your child’s toes, and cause pain. Having distorted toes can also cause changes in your child’s walking pattern and have an impact on muscle development in the leg. It is also important to buy shoes that appropriate for your child’s activities (basketball shoes for playing basketball, boots for hiking, etc.)


  • Proper Foot Hygiene: It is important to make sure your child’s feet are properly cleansed daily and that they are not excessively moist. You can prevent infections from growth of bacterial and fungal organisms in your child’s feet by keeping the feet clean, dry, and lightly moisturized.


When to see a Podiatrist

If your child is walking awkwardly or is not walking at all (withdrawal from activities), it could be due to pain caused by an underlying foot, or leg condition. Your child should see a podiatrist to determine the cause and prevent further injuries.

If you notice irregularities with your child’s feet and have concerns, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, and have all your treatment options presented to you and ensure you and your child maintain healthy feet.

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