TEACHING FEET – I’ve always wanted to write this article
I had the best years of my life in school. I got on well with the Principal, my teachers, other staff and the school students. I have a clear memory of Year 6, my teacher, “Miss Payne” (I won’t name names, but did you see what I did there?) hobbled into class one day and she didn’t look happy, she was definitely in pain. Miss Payne was often on her feet chasing after us kids and was very proactive in her teaching, often pacing the room while we had our heads down doing our English work, but that day she was ‘chair-ridden’. The whole class knew she wasn’t well but she was very discreet in explaining why. She was asked again by one of my classmates (this was the tenth time) and she finally gave in. Miss Payne told us kids that she had pain in her heels, with the right more than the left, and the heard response was, ‘oh no’. For the rest of that day and the week we made sure not to upset Miss Payne, we didn’t want her to take away our time in the computer room!
Since then, I’ve become a Podiatrist and I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve consulted with many teachers in my career and the majority suffer from the same pain that my dear Miss Payne suffered from. I write this article to promote the need for continued Foot Health and maintenance.
Teachers from all gender groups can suffer from foot pain; it’s a blend of causes including:
• Poor foot posture
• Poor footwear
• Poor surface
• Poor muscle strength and flexibility
• Repeated daily!
The two most common foot complaints I get when consulting with school teachers is heel pain and ball of foot pain.
Plantar Fasciitis aka “Heel pain” is defined as a condition where the foot’s natural arch support, a rubbery band type tissue called the plantar fascia has been inflammed, overstretched or damaged. Clients have described their heel pain as:
• burning in heel, arch and whole foot
• sharp pain anywhere in heel (primarily in the inside of the heel)
• stiffness and pain when getting out of bed in the morning
• pain during an initial walking movement after a period of inactivity
• pain walking barefoot
• causing their lower back pain
Ball-of-foot pain also known as Forefoot pain or ‘metatarsalgia’ is common foot complaint presenting in my clinic. This pain can be due to nerve compression, arthritis, muscle tightness and/or callus buildup which can be aggravated by poor footwear and long periods of standing.
Unfortunately, taking a tropical holiday to Fiji won’t resolve the problem! Neither does medication or cortisone injections. The treatment plan is simple. Both heel and forefoot pain is relieved by targeting each of the blended causes I mentioned above. I like to picture each of my clients as prestige vehicles which require routine wheel alignments and servicing to ensure the ‘engine’ runs smoothly. Hence my treatment program always involves foot posture ‘wheel-alignment’ and muscle conditioning.
Foot posture can be aligned using certain footwear and the use of orthotics which are foot posture correctors. It is vital to correct poor foot posture to alleviate excessive incorrectly placed foot postures.
Muscle conditioning involves locating constricted and weak muscles via a Biomechanics assessment and then determining which muscles need to be strengthened and the other needing to be stretched.
Feet are often mistreated, taken for granted and forgotten. The poor buggers are crammed into tight shoes, locked up in socks and held imprisoned for 6-8 hours/day, five days a week OR MORE! If you’re suffering from foot discomfort and pain, don’t delay! Seek help from your local Podiatrist!
My mission is to promote and educate as many people as I can about the importance of foot health and the need to maintain constantly to ensure they last your whole life!
“Health isn’t about your disease, it’s about YOU”
Dr. Grant Duong
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