A recent blog post on this site discussed the relationship between obesity and foot health in adults, but what about children? How does their weight affect their growing feet?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Nearly one third of American children under 18 have a Body Mass Index (BMI) that classifies them as obese. This excess weight puts our next generation at risk of chronic health issues later in life, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and bone and joint conditions. Besides the physical concerns, obesity often negatively impacts self-esteem, leading to depression, anxiety, and isolation. Further, studies have shown that obese children more frequently experience issues related to the development of their bones and muscles than children of lower weights do. They experience more neck, back, hip, knee, ankle, and heel pain.
Numerous recent studies in the United States and Great Britain have examined the long-term effects on the feet of children who are overweight or obese. They all come to the same conclusion: obese children are at heightened risk of podiatric issues. Their feet are flatter, longer and wider than those of their non-obese peers. This compression and splaying stresses the bones, tendons and ligaments of the feet, ankles, and lower legs which then leads to tissue damage and pain.
When seeing obese and overweight children, podiatrists frequently find themselves diagnosing and treating flat feet. Because of the extra weight that the feet have to bear, arches can fall or not form properly in the first place.
Normal foot anatomy includes an upward curve in the middle of the foot, supported and stabilized by tendons and ligaments in the lower leg. This arch forms the foundation not only for the foot, but for the entire body. In the case of flat feet, also called fallen or collapsed arches, the sole of the foot comes dangerously close to touching the ground, potentially putting the joints out of alignment and creating an array of problems throughout the body. When an adult or child suffers from flat feet, extra weight can cause them to have flatter, wider, and longer feet, which straining muscles and tissues and eventually causing pain or injury.
Excess weight stresses not only muscles and tendons, but bones as well. Children who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for broken bones, medically referred to as fractures. When children are eating poorly and failing to exercise, bones can become brittle. The constant stress on the bones makes it more likely for them to crack or break over time.
The bones are further likely to be weakened because of the inactivity that causes, and is caused by, obesity. Counter-intuitively, sedentary, overweight children are more likely to experience a fracture than their more active peers.
If your child is suffering from foot, ankle, or leg pain due to being overweight, call Wexler Foot Center at (973) 383-3115 or click here today to schedule an appointment in our comfortable and convenient Newton office. Craig Wexler, DPM will work with you as your son or daughter returns to a healthy weight and more comfortable feet and ankles.
This is the perfect time of year to appreciate the last of fall’s beauty, enjoying the landscape with a hike. Hiking is a healthy activity, and good for your whole body, but can be rough on your feet.
Here are some tips from Craig Wexler, DPM to keep your feet and ankles safe on the trail:
Before You Head Out
Prep for your hike by trimming your toenails. Always use a clipper, rather than a scissors. Trim straight across and never round the corners, which can cause ingrown toenails.
Practice good hygiene. Always wash and dry your feet well before putting on your socks and hiking boots.
Wool socks will keep your feet dryer than cotton, minimizing your risk of many issues including nail fungus and blisters. Bring an extra pair along in case your feet get sweaty and your socks get damp.
If you hit the trail often, consider investing in a pair of quality boots made just for hiking. Break your new shoes in over a period of shorter walks, alternating new shoes with the old comfy pair. Never take a long hike in brand new hiking shoes. Replace your hiking boots after 500 miles or when they start to show signs of heavy wear and tear.
On the Trail
Stay alert. Scan the trail often for rocks and roots that could cause you to trip and fall, possibly causing sprains or fractures to your feet and ankles.
Be sure to keep moleskin and bandages in your first aid kit. Both are important in preventing and treating blisters. Be alert to hot spots, places where your shoes may be rubbing your feet and a blister may be forming. Prevent blisters by applying bandage to hot spots.
Pack plenty of water and food for your day in the outdoors. Choose foods high in protein and natural sugars, which will help blood sugar levels stay stable. Avoid caffeinated beverages and those containing sugar, both of which can lead to dehydration.
When you get home, wash and dry your feet once more, put on some comfy slippers and rest with your feet elevated for a little while. You’ve earned it!
Are you having any kind of problem related to your feet, ankles, or lower legs? With decades of experience, Dr. Craig Wexler can help. He will carefully examine your feet, accurately diagnose the source of your discomfort, work with you to create an individualized treatment plan using modern treatment methods, and provide thorough follow up to keep you feeling great. Call Wexler Foot Center at (973) 383-3115 or click here today to schedule an appointment in our comfortable and convenient Newton office.
Bromodosis, or smelly feet, is a common medical condition that can be embarrassing and unpleasant to deal with. There are 2 to 4 million glands on your body that excrete sweat, more than 250,000 of which are located in your feet. When that sweat accumulates, bacteria proliferate. On your feet, and in your socks and shoes, those bacteria feed off dead skin cells and cause foot odor.
There many steps you can take to keep your feet smelling fresh and clean. As with so much about maintaining podiatric health, the most important of these is good hygiene. Wash your feet with antibacterial soap daily and dry them well.
Craig Wexler, DPM also recommends the following:
- Regularly rotate your footwear – don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row.
- Use an antifungal or deodorant foot powder before you put your shoes on.
- Keep feet as dry as possible during the day. Change socks during the day if your feet feel damp.
- Spray your shoes with a disinfectant like Lysol before you put them away.
- Keep your toenails well-trimmed. Always trim straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.
Living with Bromodosis
Bromodosis is relatively easy to treat on your own. Here are two good tips from Craig Wexler, DPM concerning the selection and use of shoes and other footwear. They should help. If they don’t, it’s time to see the podiatrist.
Wash Your Exercise Shoes: The sweat that’s absorbed into your sneakers can lead to bacterial infestations and foot odor. Washing your running shoes in hot water every month or so can help rid your shoes of the smell, which can go a long way toward preventing and managing smelly feet. Whether you enjoy running, group fitness classes, or when you work out, your whole body sweats…including your feet! Not all athletic shoes can be washed but, if foot odor is an issue, consider choosing shoes that you can toss into the washer and dryer. Many brands offer washable styles.
Rotate Your Footwear: Don’t wear your favorite pair of shoes day in and day out. Rotating the shoes you wear is an essential key to preventing foot odor. Everyone should have more than one pair of shoes that they wear on a regular basis to give them a chance to air out and dry. Damp shoes are hospitable environments for the bacteria that causes both feet and shoes to smell. If you can, choose shoes made of new, breathable materials.
More than one third of Americans have a body mass index greater than 30, classifying them as clinically obese. Obesity is a risk for numerous chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an essential part of foot health. Not only do those excess pounds put you at risk of illness, they also increase pressure in your hips, knees and ankles and create potential problems for your feet. Over time, obesity stresses your legs and wears down your bones, tendons, and muscles. Maintaining a healthy weight is an essential part of foot health. Numerous studies have concluded that there is an incontrovertible link between high BMI and painful foot conditions including arthritis, tendonitis and heel pain. Studies also correlate obesity with increased risk for chronic illnesses that are known to have podiatric complications, including diabetes, gout, and peripheral arterial disease.
Every week, Craig Wexler, DPM provides a variety of services to patients whose weight is negatively affecting their foot health. For example, men and women who are very overweight or out of shape can find it hard to reach their feet, making it a challenge for them to trim their own toenails. Unfortunately, improper trimming can result in ingrown toenails or even in wounds to the feet caused by long nails. Very obese patients can also find it challenging to maintain proper podiatric hygiene, making them vulnerable to athlete’s foot and nail fungus.
Our legs and feet are built to handle only so much wear and tear, and excess weight puts undue stress on the muscles, joints, and tendons in the feet. Over time, this physically alters them. Further, excess weight wears down even the best shoes and they quickly become less supportive than expected. Fallen arches can occur. Excess weight can also trigger plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of the foot.
The best way to mitigate the negative effects of excess weight on your feet is to transition to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains while also increasing gentle exercise including walking, swimming, and yoga. Until then, shoes that properly support the foot – especially the arch and ankle – and allow for good circulation are particularly important for overweight patients. Sensible everyday shoes made of breathable fabric and with a wide, low heel and a comfortable toe box can help you stand and walk without pain, especially when used in combination with custom orthotics prescribed by your podiatrist.
Is excess weight making it harder than it used to be for you to stand, walk, or move without pain or discomfort? Craig Wexler, DPM can help. Call Wexler Foot Center at (973) 383-3115 today or click here to schedule an appointment in our comfortable and convenient Newton office. Dr. Craig Wexler will thoroughly and sensitively examine your feet and expertly diagnose any problems, then provide you with individualized treatment and any necessary follow up.