In this week’s installment of Ask the Expert, Dr. Mark Drakos, Orthopedic Surgeon, answers foot and ankle related questions in honor of Foot Health Awareness Month.
Q1. Is it common for people to have painful feet?
Yes, it is very common. Many people suffer heel pain at some point during their lives. This is usually related to muscle and tendon tightness and can be alleviated by stretching.
Q2. How can someone prevent bunions?
One of the ways in which you can prevent bunions is to not wear high heeled pointed toe shoes. There is a genetic predisposition to bunions, so very often, you can look at your relative’s feet and see your future. However, bunions are 10 times more common in women and this is related to shoe wear.
Q3. Is there a difference between an orthotic and a shoe insert?
There is no difference between an orthotic and a shoe insert as they mean the same thing. They can be custom made of prefabricated and bought off the shelf.
Q4. What can be done to relieve plantar fasciitis pain?
Stretching can help relieve plantar fasciitis pain. A few stretching techniques include:
- Wall Stretch: Calf and plantar fascia stretching in the relatively pain free range can be helpful to decrease stiffness and pain. To stretch calf, the affected limb stays behind with your knee straight and heel flat on the floor. Gently lean forward until a stretch is felt in the lower leg. Hold for 20 seconds and then repeat 3 times.
- Towel Stretch: To stretch calf, the affected limb stays straight. Pull towel over the tips of the toes. A stretch is felt in the lower leg. Hold for 20 seconds, and then repeat 3 times.
- Frozen Water Bottle Stretch: Put a frozen water bottle on the floor. Roll the bottle between the ball and heel of your foot 20 times. Repeat 3 times. This can also be done with a golf ball or tennis ball.
Q5. Are high-tops or low-cut athletic shoes best for ankle protection?
High tops are more protective against ankle sprains than low topped sneakers. However, one can wear low topped sneakers and an ankle brace such as an ASO brace and have similar protection against ankle sprains.
Dr. Mark Drakos is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in disorders of the foot and ankle as well as sports-related injuries. He did his undergraduate work in biomedical engineering at Harvard University and received his medical degree from SUNY Stony Brook. Dr. Drakos is the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and presentations involving orthopedics. He has directly provided care for high school, collegiate, professional, and Olympic athletes.