If you’re a Bostonian, don’t check the calendar or the air temperature to see if summer has arrived. Look down! When the masses of co-eds turn in their Uggs for flip-flops, you know the seasons have changed.
With the change in temperature and wardrobe, all of the tightly-packed feet from winter get a chance to be free from their shoe and boot constraints. What happens next is the blame game. Flip-flops kill my feet! Wedge sandals destroy me! Why do heels hate me?
The truth is, for the average, neutral foot, shoes aren’t to blame at all. Our feet become deconditioned from wearing supportive shoes all winter and fall. Imagine if you wore a neck brace all winter, then took it off suddenly. No doubt your head would feel really heavy! Shoes are built to support the arches, ligaments, and joints of our feet and ankles when we walk. Wearing flip-flops without support built into the sole is a shock to the tender and weak muscles that stabilize our bare feet. Now, the disclaimer here of course, is that some people legitimately have structural issues at their feet and ankles. These people require consistent support from a shoe or shoe insert. How do you know if your foot pain is related to a structural issue or just resulting from deconditioned legs, ankles, and feet? A physical therapist can assess your structure and movement patterns from your pelvis to your big toe, and diagnose the origin of your pain.
If you know that your foot pain develops like clock-work every spring, and disappears within a few weeks you might just have “weak feet”. Easy ways to strengthen your feet is to incorporate balance work into your regular exercise routine. Squats? Do them on a flat-top BOSU ball. Step-ups? Do them on a weight bench, and march your opposite knee high to your chest instead of tapping the bench. Lunges? Reverse them and lunge backwards. Deadlifts? Do them one-legged with lighter weight; reach across your body for an added challenge.
Let a PT assess your foot, ankle, and whole lower chain to identify the source of your foot pain. Contact Joint Ventures physical therapist Jessica Douglas for more information. To schedule an evaluation or a free injury screen, call 617-536-1161 and a Joint Ventures receptionist will be happy to assist you.