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Your Hardwood Floors May Be Killing Your Feet

“My feet are killing me” is a common phrase we hear from patients suffering from foot and heel pain. Your hardwood floors may not actually be killing you, but they are likely irritating your feet. The days of green shag carpet—which offered shock absorption and comfort for our feet—have been replaced by stiff surfaces like hardwoods, laminates, and tile that cause more wear and tear on our feet. So if you find yourself missing the days of green shag carpet, you are not alone. Your feet miss it too!

Where do you find long stretches of concrete sidewalks, tile floors, or hardwood floors occurring naturally? The answer is nowhere. Humans have been wearing variations of shoes for thousands of years, but the increase in foot and heel pain may be related to more recent decorative changes.

As we’ve moved from shag carpets to laminates, hardwood, and tile floors, our feet have paid the price. More and more people have begun suffering from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissues at the bottom of the foot and a leading cause of foot pain. This can lead to pain in the arches or heels of the foot, which worsens when the foot pronates or flattens on hard surfaces. The pain can be severe and debilitating.

So what is the solution?

In the short-term, you can ice your foot and wear shoes with arch support at all times. The ice will decrease pain and inflammation. The support will minimize the pull on the plantar fascia and decrease the irritation to the heel.

 In the long-term, once the pain is manageable, consider walking barefoot on soft natural surfaces such as sand more often, improving your balance, and adding specific exercises to stretch the fascia and strengthen the muscles of the foot. Click Here To See A Video of Each Excercise

Is going barefoot better?:

Many people believe going barefoot or wearing barefoot shoes is the solution to foot pain. Walking barefoot allows muscles that might not activate in regular shoes to engage. The problem though is that the natural terrain has changed. We no longer walk on sand, grass, or dirt but on concrete, tile, and hardwood floors. These surfaces lead to a lack of natural shock absorption and frequently to an over-flattening (pronation) of the foot.

You can purchase barefoot shoes to help increase shock absorption, however, use caution when standing on hard (unnatural) surfaces for long periods of time. You may end up sore!

Noninvasive treatments to consider:

Did you know that chiropractors can do adjustments on feet? There are 26 bones in the foot, and just like the spine, the mobility of these joints can become restricted. When it comes to the cause of plantar fasciitis, studies have shown that “Reduced ankle dorsiflexion appears to be the most important risk factor.” [1] This means that reduced ankle movement is an underlying cause of the pain. Improved joint mobility can minimize pain and eliminate dysfunction.

Patients have had great success with therapeutic foot taping, custom orthotics, and of course, chiropractic adjustments. Over-the-counter insoles can be beneficial, however, custom orthotics do tailor to each foot’s unique arch.

The good news though is that nonsurgical management of plantar fasciitis is successful in about 90 percent of patients. [3] So there is hope—even if you dearly love your hardwood floors!”

 As with most conditions, conservative treatment works best at the start of foot and heel pain. See a professional sooner rather than later if you are struggling with foot and heel pain.

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When to see a podiatrist:

If your pain is not manageable with conservative care, such as home care or chiropractic care, you should see a podiatrist. Cortisone injections may be an option to decrease the acute pain, but as with any procedure, there can be serious complications, such as fascial rupture and atrophy. [3]

References:

1. Riddle DL, Pulisic M, Pidcoe P, Johnson RE. Risk factors for plantar fasciitis: a matched case-control study. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2003;85-A:872–7. [PubMed]

2. Neufeld SK, Cerrato R. Plantar fasciitis: evaluation and treatment. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2008;16(6):338–346. [PubMed]

3. Tatli, Yusuf Ziya, and Sameer Kapasi. “The Real Risks of Steroid Injection for Plantar Fasciitis, with a Review of Conservative Therapies.” Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine 2.1 (2009): 3–9. PMC. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.

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