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Foot for thought

Bharat Savur | Updated on: Aug 04, 2011

LF05FITNESS

Care for your feet and watch out for signs of fatigue.

Our feet are forced into hard labour. They bear our entire body-weight during our waking hours. And we aren't easy on them with our excess weight, inappropriate footwear or all-night dancing.

Ah, but they're a precious pair and do deserve attention. So, if they're already throbbing in the evening, sit down and take notice. Get into these five do-able practices:

After you are back home from work, sit on your favourite chair with feet elevated for 20 minutes. Flex your toes to further improve blood circulation.

Freshen feet by soaking them in warm water with salt and vinegar for 15 minutes. This banishes the throb. Rinse, dry and rub a lime over the entire sole.

Before sleeping, massage them with Kailash Jeevan cream. With your fingers, gently bend toes back and front. Slide thumb hard from heel to toe for enormous relief.

For your daily walk, wear lightweight, thick-heeled shoes one size bigger to give your feet space. After the walk, sit on a chair, remove shoes, stretch your legs straight out and circle ankles and feet 10 times in each direction to banish stiffness.

Lose weight to go easy on them. Besides, it's nice to be able to view your feet while standing without your stomach obstructing the view!

Talk to your doc: Please consult the doctor if the pain increases, or if putting on your shoes makes your feet cringe, or if you are unable to walk on getting out of bed first thing in the morning.

Likewise, inform the doctor if there's a painful burning sensation in the feet. It could be insufficient blood circulation, a pinched nerve, anaemia, a thyroid condition or diabetes.

Hairline fracture: Worsening pain may indicate a stress fracture. A stress fracture is a hairline surface bone-crack caused by hitting your feet repetitively for months while running. When you run, the force with which your feet pound the ground equals three times your body weight. And this force vibrates through your feet, up your legs, to your pelvis, and you end up with a pretty bad ache all through your lower body.

That's why it's important to adopt this axiom: Don't run to lose weight, lose weight to run. Until then, swim or cycle and eat low-fat foods.

The press test: The doctor carries out a simple press test for diagnosis. A stress fracture hurts when you press on the area from above and below. On the other hand, a torn tendon or ligament usually hurts only when you press on one side.

Best to rest: You're normally prescribed rest for the feet. Ah yes, no running, no walking, no jumping jacks for four to six weeks. That's how long it takes to heal. A cast isn't necessary, but you can opt for an elastic band on the spot.

Upper-body exercises: To maintain your fitness level, you can do upper body exercises while sitting or lying down.

Sitting moves:

Shrug your shoulders smoothly up and down — 20 times.

Keeping legs apart, lean from waist to left side while stretching your right arm over your head. Do this 20 times. Repeat on the right side.

Lean your back against the bedpost or wall, legs stretched straight out in front. Extend arms until parallel to legs. Bring back arms to chest. Repeat extending and bringing back arms 20 times.

Lying down moves:

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on bed, place hands behind neck. Raise your shoulders, making your abdominal muscles flex. Return to lying down position. Repeat crunches 30 times.

Lie on your back, keep arms straight on either side. Now, keeping elbows straight, raise arms up to describe an arc, until they are above your head without touching the bed. Do this three times. Return to starting position. Repeat 30 times.

Relax with your eyes closed and breathe in through your nostrils to a count of 10 while extending your stomach outward; exhale to 10 through mouth while drawing your stomach inward. Imagine the breath flowing through your entire body, right down to your feet and healing them. Breathe this way until the mind goes into a virtual trance.

Note: When the mind is in utter stillness, creative ideas tiptoe in… Take it positively as a time to be reflective, not reflexive.

Interestingly, there are people who've run half their lifetime without any problem. And there are people who've run for only two months and found themselves being diagnosed with a ‘stress fracture'. But, please don't put off exercising. Opt for safe, low-impact exercises (cycling/swimming) when you're back in the swing.

Boost your bone-strength by:

Eating calcium-rich foods such as low-fat milk, cheese, paneer , yoghurt, moong , bengal gram, soyabean, fenugreek.

Spending half hour in the morning sun to absorb vitamin D.

This vitamin helps the intestines absorb calcium more effectively. Tip: If you're on a calcium supplement, ensure it contains vitamin D3 too.

Busying yourself in enhancing your health and fitness makes you sleep deeply knowing that you're on the right path. And sleep, like time, is a great healer.

The writer is co-author of the book ‘Fitness for Life'.

Published on August 04, 2011
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