Walking for health and fitness

Finally, the weather seems to be picking up, and although the Easter holidays were a bit of a wash-out, we have two more Bank Holidays to look forward to in May, so fingers crossed we might be able to get out and about a bit more!

Everyone knows that walking is good for you, but it is hard to be motivated when it is pouring with rain or icy blasts are blowing from Siberia.  A lot has been made of the 10,000 steps target we should all apparently be aiming for – but as Dr Michael Mosley demonstrated in a recent BBC documentary, greater health benefits can be achieved by three 10 minute walks a day, as long as the pace is brisk enough.  See a summary of the documentary here

The Active 10 App is a great way to log your brisk walking minutes and help you reach a weekly target of 150 minutes activity, as recommended by the NHS

National Walking weekMay just so happens to be National Walking Month. This is organised by a charity called Living Streets and its aim is to get more people out of their cars and back to walking. Of course, walking more is not only better for your own health, but if you can walk instead of taking the car you are improving the health of your community.  Visit the Living Streets website for more information about events and local groups.

Although walking is good for you, it can be a struggle for some. If you experience discomfort when you walk, or have concerns about your balance, talk to one of our Podiatrists. We can advise on footwear, check that your feet are functioning properly and check for muscle imbalances. As Juliann described in her previous Pilates blog, our ability to dorsiflex the foot (bring the toes up towards the shin) diminishes with age as the muscles in front of our shins get weaker.  This results in us taking shorter strides, which in turn means the gluteal muscles (the ones in your bottom) get weaker, which prevents us from striding out, and so the vicious circle continues.

Simple exercises can bring tone back into the muscles which will making walking more efficient and effective. If you would like to receive an exercise programme, drop us a line at hello@courtyardfootcare.co.uk and details will be emailed to you.

Our March Newsletter is now out!

This month’s summary:

  • Find out why wellies are not great for your feet!
  • We have been shortlisted in the Kenilworth Worthies
  • If you have diabetes, Susan tells you how to identify foot problems at an early stage
  • Leigh talks to you about itchy, sore, split skin between the toes
  • Enter our Easter Competition
  • Read the lovely letter from Zoe’s Place Children’s Charity

Read the full newsletter here

Why should you be checking your feet regularly if you have diabetes?

Last month, we stressed how important it is for people with diabetes to check their feet on a regular basis so that any changes and / or problems can be identified early and complications avoided.

It is important to check the feet by looking at them as feeling in the feet may be diminished or lost (neuropathy). Consequently, you may not be aware if there is a problem.

When checking your feet, you should examine the whole foot; the sole, including the heel, in between the toes and the nails.

Often, I get asked “What should I be looking for?”

Check often and be particularly vigilant looking for:

  1. corns and calluses;
  2. broken skin e.g. cuts, blisters, ulcers and fissures or cracks in the skin;
  3. signs of infection such as inflammation (redness, swelling, presence of sepsis and heat) surrounding a break in the skin;
  4. foreign bodies;
  5. changes in shape;
  6. skin that looks discoloured.

It is also helpful to check shoes and slippers for foreign bodies, rough stitching and split linings.

If a problem is detected, do not delay, seek early treatment to prevent avoidable complications. Book a FREE Foot Health Check today with Courtyard Footcare.  Just call the clinic on 01926 865985 or Book Online.

Wellies are great at keeping your feet dry but they don’t do your feet many favours…

Many people will have dug out their wellies during the recent snowy weather, and with the ground being so wet now that the snow has melted, they are probably still being worn regularly. Whilst wellies are great at keeping your feet dry, they don’t do your feet many favours in other respects.

Firstly, most wellies offer virtually no support. If you are walking for a couple of miles in wellies, walking your dog for example, your feet are probably complaining by the end. Walking boots and trainers are much better at providing support, so if this is what your feet are used to walking in, the change to wellies can be hard-going.

It is worth looking inside your wellies to see if there is a removable lining. If you can remove this, it will give you a bit of space to fit something more supportive in the boot. We stock a range of full length insoles that will provide your hard-working feet with some much-needed support. Feel free to bring your wellies in with you to see if a pair of insoles can be accommodated.

The other issue with wellies is sweat! Being waterproof stops the wet getting in, but also prevents moisture inside the welly (sweat) from escaping. A thicker pair of socks that wick moisture away from the skin will help, but make sure you allow your wellies to dry out from the inside between outings. A warm, damp environment is just what fungus likes to grow in, so if you suffer from athlete’s foot, an antifungal spray squirted into your boots will kill any microbes living there which could re-infect you every time you put them on.

And of course, if you haven’t worn your wellies for a while, it is always good idea to give them a shake before you plunge your foot in, or you could find your toes wiggling in a mouse nest as Kate did recently!

Athletes foot is not just for athletes or sporty people!

Itchy, sore, split skin between the toes?

Most people would instantly recognise these symptoms as Athlete’s foot, or to give it its medical term – Tinea Pedis. This common condition, can affect anyone. It particularly affects less sporty people, including those with poorer circulation, as the condition of the skin in these people makes it less able to mount an immune response to opportunistic infection.

Diabetics and those on medication that affects the immune system are also more likely sufferers. The good news is that it is usually easy to treat with simple over the counter antifungal medication applied to the skin, footwear and hosiery for best results. However, not all presentations are like this…  Dry, scaly skin, around the borders and sole of the foot, occasionally with small pimples, is often another presentation of Athlete’s foot. This ‘moccasin’ presentation of the condition is often mistakenly considered by the sufferer to be dry skin, often due to the length of time it may have been present and the less recognisable presentation, which may not show signs of the infection between the toes. Unfortunately, this type of Athlete’s foot seldom improves, with the use of moisturisers and emollients, often leaving the sufferer confused and frustrated about the lack of improvement in their long term ‘dry’ skin.

To make matters worse, chronic Athlete’s foot is a leading cause of fungal nail infections, as the fungus responsible can eventually invade the nails. Fungal nail infections are notoriously difficult to cure, so identifying a skin infection that could lead to one is important.

So, have a close look at your dry skin. Have you considered that it could be Athlete’s foot? Often, as Podiatrists we can quickly identify this condition and get you on the path to a long term resolution.

Get in touch with Courtyard Footcare today to book your FREE Foot Health Check. Call us on 01926 865985 or Book Online

Our February 2018 Newsletter is out…

February 2018 was a record breaking month for Courtyard Footcare.  This month:

  • Find out why pilates is good for you and your feet!
  • Voting has now opened for the Kenilworth Worthies – please VOTE FOR US
  • Susan tells you about our record breaking achievements in January.
  • Leigh tells you how he helped a patient with a long-standing injury.
  • Check out our Mother’s Day Offer!

Read more

Improving your Balance and Muscle Mass through Pilates #LookAfterYourFeet

Guest blog by Julieann Parker of Pilates by Ju

I have been teaching Pilates for a few years now and one thing is certain: everyone is an individual and everyone has their own skeletal/muscular patterns which are unique to them. The body always surprises me and what works for one person may not work for another, which is why I love my job as it’s a continual challenge and I learn something new every day.

As a Pilates instructor I am not trained to diagnose, but I look at what is happening to the body. As humans, we all have a skeleton with muscles surrounding the bones which allow us to move and function. If one set of muscles is overworked, they become tight. The tight muscles shorten and will pull the body in that direction. The opposite set of muscles will lengthen and become weak. As a Pilates instructor I look for changes in the muscles and work out how we can balance the muscle groups to improve posture, build strength, motor fitness, restore range of motion and co-ordination.

The clients I see range from people who want to do a little exercise to those who are keen to exercise regularly, and some individuals who are in pain or have mobility issues. I also have pregnant ladies in my classes and athletes, particularly those who train in repetitive single plain movements like runners, cyclists and swimmers (although I have taught cricketers, ballerinas and a cross country skier!)

The feet have so many small and intricate muscles in them all doing the important role of keeping us upright and allowing us to move. Depending on how we stand and move will affect how we use our feet and this will determine which muscles get stronger and shorter and which muscles get longer and weaker. To keep mobile and active it is essential that we look after our feet.

As an ex-swimmer I used to spend hours in the pool pointing my toes as I kicked. This meant that my calves got very tight, the muscles at the front of my shins were very weak and I couldn’t pull my toes towards my knees particularly well (dorsiflexion). This was fine whilst I was swimming but caused me many problems when I decided to start competing in triathlons which also included cycling and running. I had lots of physio and it was frustrating not being able to do what I wanted to do. I finally discovered Pilates which showed me how to stretch the tight muscles, strengthen the weak ones and enabled me to regain the balance in my feet, legs and pelvis.

As we age we start to lose muscle mass at a rate of 4% per year after the age of 35. Specific areas of concern are the quadriceps (front of the thighs) and anterior tibialis (the front of shins). The weakening of these muscles, especially the anterior tibialis, means that we cannot pull the foot into dorsiflexion as well as we used to. This then has a direct impact on the length of stride when we walk because we cannot get the foot into the right position as the leg extends behind us. As our stride length shortens, our balance is affected. Unless we work the anterior tibialis, quadriceps and gluteal muscles the stride length will deteriorate.  But if we specifically work these muscles then current muscle strength can be maintained or improved.

Exercises that you can try at home to improve your muscle mass

  • Standing or sitting, pull the toes towards the knees in a tapping motion. Then pull the toes to the knees and hold for a few seconds. This will strengthen your anterior tibialis muscle.
  • Sitting, straighten your leg in front of you, bend at the knee and repeat. Standing, perform  small squats holding on to something if necessary. These exercises will strengthen your quadriceps.
  • Whilst doing the squats described above, concentrate on squeezing your bottom as you straighten up. Also try squeezing from the fold at the bottom of your bottom as you walk. This will strengthen the gluteal muscles in your bottom.

Find out more about the pilates classes offered by Julieann Parker OR if you have a foot problem then why not book a FREE FOOT HEALTH CHECK with Courtyard Footcare.

Do you always need to support low arches with insoles and orthotics? No and read why…

Fallen archesAs podiatrists, we often have clients present to us reporting that they have ‘flat feet’ or ‘fallen arches’.

‘Flat feet’ are often cited as an underlying factor in a whole host of problems, from back pain, to knee pain and even bunions.

So, do we always need to support our low arches with insoles and orthotics to prevent or relieve problems? Absolutely not!

It’s important to distinguish if this presentation is actually contributing to somebody’s problems or is a simple observation of the shape of their feet – in fact, a large proportion of the population have no visible, or a very low arch profile with no problems (myself included).

Something that is important however, is whether there is pain or discomfort when a person stands or walks.

In this case, the visible flattening of the arch may be indicative of a problem elsewhere. For example, excessive movement in the foot joints might be happening to make up for tightness in the ankle – in which case, it is the ankle that should be addressed.

In fact, shoe horning (pardon the pun!) arch supports under someone’s foot without this level of consideration can cause new or increased symptoms.

Remember, we are all different and just because something looks odd, it may not necessarily be.

However, we can often lend a hand in helping to identify the true underlying cause of pain originating from foot or gait problems and formulate a plan to help you get over it – be that, insoles, exercises or just footwear advice.

If you suffering with foot pain then book a consultation with a podiatrist today. Call us on 01926 865985 or you can now Book Online.

Foot Mobilisation Techniques – Our First Case Study!

Foot Mobilisation TechniquesSusan and I talked a lot about our Foot Mobilisation Techniques (FMT) course last September – a 3 day course with the Australian FMT Master, Ted Jedynak. We have slowly integrated the techniques into our treatments, where applicable, and have had some great results!

I’d like to share the story of one person who has felt the benefits of having his feet mobilised on a regular basis.

Mr H, a sprightly 87 year old gentleman, had complained for some time that his feet felt stiff and ‘dead’. When he got into bed they also hurt for a short time before they settled down. He seemed an ideal candidate to try my new techniques on and I demonstrated the moves at the end of his usual appointment.

At his next appointment, Mr H told me that his feet had felt great after the mobilisation, but only for a short time. We decided to try a course of weekly treatments over 6 weeks. The process takes 6 weeks as that is how long it takes the soft tissues (tendons, ligaments and joint capsules) to renew themselves – there is no point making the joints more flexible if the old tissues are pulling the joints back into their old positions.

We now have just one more session to go. Mr H has diligently followed the very simple exercises that I have given him to do, twice daily for 5-10 minutes. After 3 weeks he could feel a significant difference and after 5 weeks he is able to wiggle his toes, flex his ankles and has lost the ‘dead’ feeling. His feet are much more comfortable when he gets into bed and he has also noticed that he feels more confident when driving as he is able to move his clutch foot more easily and is getting better feedback from the foot. Needless to say, he is delighted!

We can help you too!

If you would like to get your feet ‘switched back on’, to keep you active and less prone to falling, or are just fed up with feet that feel tired and achy, why not book a session to try for yourself? I have opened up some extra hours on a Monday morning, specifically for FMT, but other days and times can be accommodated. Sessions are £23 each, or a course of 6 is £126 when paid in advance. Do call us on 01926 865985 if you would like further information.

Happy New Year from the Team at Courtyard Footcare

Welcome to our January 2018 news update. This month:

  • Are you fed up with your tired and achy feet? Then read on.
  • Diabetic Footcare – knowing when your risk changes.
  • Do you experience pain or discomfort in your feet when you walk talk? Fin out how we can help
  • Are you chilblains getting you down? Our blog explains how you can help yourself.
  • View our January Product offer.
  • See how much we raised in 2017 for Zoe’s Place Children’s Charity

Read more