By now, we’ve all gotten the message that exercise is essential for cardiovascular and physical health and well being. But what about your feet, ankles, and lower legs? Are you including them in your fitness routine? Here are 10 tips from Craig Wexler, DPM for maximum podiatric fitness:
- Warm up by stretching. Flex your ankles and pull your toes toward you, then point your ankle and point your toes. Roll your ankles in both directions.
- Squeeze your toes. First spread them by interweaving your fingers and your toes, then remove your fingers and squeeze your toes together, curling them toward the sole of the foot.
- Stimulate the arch of your foot by “doming.” Squeeze your toes as if you were trying to pick up a rug underfoot, then release.
- Practice flexibility and neuromuscular coordination by trying to lift your big toe and/or pinky toe while leaving the other toes on the ground.
- Stretch the backs of the ankles and calves by standing a few feet away from a wall and placing the palms of the hand on it. Place one foot in front of the other and shift your weight from leg to leg.
- Improve balance by holding on to the counter or the back of a sturdy chair, then standing on tiptoes for a few seconds.
- Add some gentle yoga or Tai Chi to your exercise routine. These practices have been shown to improve balance and flexibility, helping to reduce your risk of foot and ankle injuries.
- Walk, walk, walk! Walking is the single best exercise for your feet, ankles, and lower legs. Each step puts your foot and ankle through a full range of motion. Further, walking can improve muscle tone, circulation, and mood.
- Create an instant foot massage by rolling a golf ball or tennis ball under the soles of the feet. This is especially effective if you have plantar fasciitis.
- If you have a few minutes to spare, conclude your exercise time with a foot soak. Epsom salts may ease tired muscles and provide extra comfort.
If you have any concerns about the fitness or health of your feet, ankles, or lower legs, it’s time to visit the podiatrist’s office. Call Wexler Foot Center at (973) 383-3115 or contact us to schedule a convenient appointment in our comfortable Newton, New Jersey office today.
Have you noticed that after spending time in the cold, your feet are hot, red, and itchy? You may be dealing with a case of chilblains, known in the medical world as pernio.
Simply put, chilblains are an abnormal dermatologic reaction to cold. Small blood vessels in the skin constrict when exposed to cold. If the skin is then warmed rapidly and the blood vessels do not respond quickly enough to compensate, there is leakage of blood into the soft tissue. This most often happens in the feet, although it can also occur in the hands, ears, or nose.
People with health issues that affect circulation, such as diabetes, are particularly at risk of chilblains. Some people experience chilblains every winter. Others deal with them only sporadically. They are more common in women, and there may be a hormonal factor in play, although doctors haven’t really pinpointed a cause.
The most obvious symptom of chilblains is a series of small itchy, red swellings on the skin. It’s easy to confuse this symptom with eczema or a rash; however, chilblains often become increasingly painful, swell, blister, and eventually dry out, leaving cracks or ulcers in the skin and exposing the foot to the risk of infection.
The best way to prevent chilblains is to stay warm. Stay home if you don’t have to venture outside on particularly cold days. Be sure to cover up and to wear layers. Wool socks and lined boots are particularly important. Keep slippers handy when you’re at home. These steps are especially important for older patients, people with limited mobility, and those with circulatory ailments including Raynaud’s disease.
Chilblains typically resolve on their own in a couple of weeks. Until they do, a bit of calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream should help make you comfortable. An over the counter analgesic such as acetaminophen can be useful as well. If they are particularly painful or if skin cracks or ulcerated wounds occur, you should see your foot doctor as soon as possible.
If you are concerned about chilblains or anything else related to the health of your feet and ankles, contact us online or call (973) 383-3115 to schedule an appointment with Craig Wexler, DPM in Wexler Foot Center’s comfortable and convenient Newton, New Jersey office today. Dr. Wexler will examine your feet, diagnose any issues, create an effective treatment plan, and provide comprehensive aftercare to help you feel better as quickly as possible.
It’s winter in New Jersey and that means cold and snow. Frostbite is a real risk, and one that you need to take steps to avoid.
What is Frostbite?
Brief exposure to moderately cold temperatures typically produces pain and irritation of the skin. Greater exposure may produce sensations of burning or numbness. Blistering and reversible damage to the skin is possible. When any body part is exposed to extreme cold, frostbite can occur. When that exposure is long enough or to temperatures cold enough for the water molecules within soft tissues to freeze and form ice crystals, cell death can occur. Tissue can freeze and damage can be permanent.
Because they are farthest away from the body’s core, it is hardest for the heart to supply sufficient blood to the toes, feet, hands, ears, and nose. This makes them particularly vulnerable to frostbite.
Symptoms of Frostbite
In the earliest stage of frostbite, your toes will begin to hurt. They will feel cold to the touch, and will probably look red. If you don’t warm them by stopping their exposure to cold at this point, they will become numb. At this point, while you may be uncomfortable, no permanent damage has occurred.
When your frostbite reaches the next stage, the redness will change and skin will take on a pale gray, yellow, or white appearance. Your toes will lose all sensation. Your skin may still be soft to the touch, but some ice crystals will probably have formed in the cells, and the situation is becoming dangerous.
If you remain in the cold, your frostbite will progress to its most severe stage and tissue well below the surface of the skin will be impacted. You may no longer feel pain or discomfort, as serious damage to your nerves has taken place. Your skin will feel cold and waxy and your muscles and joints will be functioning poorly, if at all, as tissue death is occurring.
Preventing and Treating Frostbite
The best way to prevent frostbite is by keeping your feet warm and dry when outside. Choose wool socks and insulated boots. Change your socks and shoes if they become damp or wet.
If you suspect that the initial stages of frostbite are occurring, get inside as soon as possible. Take off your socks and shoes and immerse your feet in warm (not hot!) water. Seek medical attention if you don’t feel better quickly.
If you have experienced frostbite, or if you have any other concerns about the health of your feet, a visit to the podiatrist is in order. Click here or call Wexler Foot Center at (973) 383-3115 to schedule a convenient appointment with Craig Wexler, DPM in our comfortable Newton office.
Clubfoot is a general term used to describe a range of unusual positions of the foot. Most types of clubfoot are congenital, meaning that they are present at birth. Clubfoot can happen in one foot or in both feet. In almost half of affected infants, both feet are involved. This condition is called talipes equinovarus by medical professionals.
What Causes Clubfoot?
The causes of clubfoot have not been firmly established, but heredity is believed to be the most significant factor. If someone in your family has clubfoot, your baby is at risk. Happily, clubfoot can be spotted on prenatal ultrasound tests so that new parents can be prepared to initiate treatment shortly after their baby’s birth. Early intervention is key. Clubfoot is painless for babies, but can cause significant problems as a child grows. However, with early treatment, most cases of clubfoot can be entirely corrected.
What Does Clubfoot Look Like?
Any or all of these characteristics may be present, and may be mild, moderate, or severe:
- The foot may be smaller than would be expected.
- The foot may point downward.
- The front of the foot may be rotated toward the other foot.
- The foot may turn in, and in extreme cases, the bottom of the foot can point up.
How is Clubfoot Treated?
The most common approach to treating clubfoot is called the Ponseti Method. With this method, stretching is used in combination with a cast. Your podiatrist will stretch your baby’s foot toward the correct position and then place a cast on it to hold it there. Every week or so, the doctor will remove the cast, stretch the foot further toward the correct position, and re-cast it. It can take several months to maneuver the foot fully into the correct position.
In a handful of cases, even after treatment, surgery is necessary.
If you are expecting a child with clubfoot, click here or call Wexler Foot Center at (973) 383-3115 today to schedule an appointment to see Dr. Craig Wexler in our comfortable and convenient Newton office. Dr. Wexler has decades of specialized training and experience working with patients of all ages. He is well-qualified to help you welcome your new addition and get your son or daughter on the road to a normal, active, healthy childhood and adult life.