Health­ier feet are a sum­mer must.

How to pre­vent plan­tar fasci­itis and other com­mon con­di­tions.

Metro USA (New York) - - Front Page - ME­GAN JOHN­SON @MetroNewYork let­ters@metro.us

Spend­ing all day on her feet takes a toll on Rachele Po­jed­nic. But the Fly­wheel in­struc­tor has a sim­ple tool to com­bat foot pain: a small, dense, bouncy ball she bought for 25 cents from a gro­cery store vend­ing ma­chine.

“I place the ball un­der the part of my foot where I feel the pain, ap­ply­ing a bit of my weight. Then I close my eyes, be still and breathe,” says Po­jed­nic. “This is ac­tu­ally a great over­all restora­tive tool be­cause the re­lease in your feet can lead to re­lax­ation in other parts of your body as well.”

But it’s not just ath­letes who run and bike hun­dreds of miles that de­velop chronic foot pain. “My feet hurt” is one of the most com­mon com­plaints at the end of a long day, whether it’s from un­com­fort­able shoes or con­stant pound­ing on your feet while work­ing out. Dr. Su­san Wexler says the most com­mon is­sues pa­tients come to her with are in­grown toe­nails, warts, foot in­fec­tions and plan­tar fasci­itis, bet­ter known as heel pain caused by stress on the tis­sues that run from the heel to the base of the foot.

“The best thing they can do is wear an arch sup­port and good-qual­ity sneak­ers,” says the po­di­a­trist. Beyond daily stretches and ex­er­cises you can im­ple­ment to al­le­vi­ate symp­toms, “the best long-term treat­ment for plan­tar fasci­itis — the gold stan­dard — is cus­tom-made arch-sup­port or­thotics.”

With so many com­plaints about foot pain th­ese days, footwear com­pa­nies are be­com­ing even more savvy when it comes to keep­ing com­fort in mind while de­sign­ing their prod­ucts. Sally Mur­phy, se­nior direc­tor of Women’s De­sign at shoe­maker Rock­port, says that the sum­mer is a par­tic­u­larly bad sea­son for foot pain be­cause peo­ple tend to wear flat­ter, less sup­port­ive footwear.

“We sug­gest wear­ing a shoe or san­dal that has an anatomic footbed with a molded-heel seat, which of­fers sup­port,” says Mur­phy. “We also sug­gest a sole that is firm and of­fers sig­nif­i­cant sta­bil­ity and sup­port.”

The “re­cov­ery footwear” in­dus­try is tak­ing foot health a step fur­ther. Shoes by Oo­fos use spe­cial­ized foam to ab­sorb and dis­perse im­pact 37 per­cent more than tra­di­tional footwear. By cradling the foot’s arch, its shoes and san­dals re­lieve pres­sure on the an­kles, knees, hips and lower back.

“When you look at the main an­kle-joint sur­face, the area is ex­tremely small as well — roughly 1 inch — sig­nif­i­cantly smaller than your body size,” says Dan Dyrek, a spokesman for Oo­fos.

“This sets up most peo­ple for the com­mon risk of foot in­juries due to over­load.”

ISTOCK

The re­cov­ery footwear in­dus­try has so­lu­tions for com­mon foot ail­ments.

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