Is it possible to prevent foot pain?
To prevent injuries and pain, the following issues should be addressed before starting an exercise routine. Are you in good health? A general physical exam by a physician will help to evaluate your cardiovascular function, the possibility of disease, or any other general medical problems that you may have. Before beginning activities, diseases such as gout, diabetes, certain types of arthritis, and neuropathies should be treated.
Physicians with sports medicine, physical medicine, podiatric, or orthopedic backgrounds may also help you choose an appropriate activity. After choosing the sport or activity that you wish to participate in, proper preparation will help minimize the initial aches and pains of that activity. Proper technique in any activity will help you to properly and safely perform your chosen activity and avoid injury. Good coaching can help you develop good biomechanics that can prevent foot pain.
Shoes and socks appropriate to your activity will also be a deterrent to foot pain. Properly fitting shoes and proper foot hygiene can prevent blisters, ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, bunions, stress fractures, metatarsalgia, Morton's neuroma, mallet toes, and plantar fasciitis. Poorly fitting footwear can make poor biomechanics worse, and properly fitting footwear can help to minimize the effect of bad biomechanics.
A plan for a gradual return to play should be started once the pain is reduced and muscle strength and flexibility are restored. Returning to participation and prevention of foot pain are governed by the same factors as preparing for participation. Foot pain can be caused by doing too much of a particular activity too fast. Ignoring pain can also lead to further problems with the foot. Different types of foot pain can be seen at different times of the season. Typically, blisters, shin splints, Charley horse (muscle spasms/cramps), and arch injuries occur at the beginning of the sports season.
Stress-related problems are related to the workloads. If the body is not prepared for an increase of workload that is typical early in the season and with "weekend warriors," acute shin splints and tendonitis are very common, in addition to increased muscle soreness. Stress fracture can result from sudden increase in workload.
After foot pain has been successfully treated, an optimal workout program begins with a physical exam by a physician, followed by a gradual, consistent workout plan. A good example of this type of program is a running program that starts with a good warm-up, such as walking five to 10 minutes, then alternating sets of jogging and walking. An example of such a program would be 20 sets of jogging for two minutes, then walking one minute, with jogging time increased until you can run continuously for 40 minutes. Good surfaces and proper equipment used in your workout will lower the risk of foot pain.
Components of a good exercise program should include core strengthening, muscle strengthening, and stretching specific to the goals of the workout program or the sport.
If pain is encountered when working out, try decreasing the intensity or duration of the workout. If the pain persists, then you should immediately stop and seek medical advice to discover the source of the pain. Pushing through pain often results in injury.