Preventing and treating common foot conditions

Add foot problems to the long list of conditions that being overweight can cause or exacerbate, says Foot Care Basics: Preventing and treating common foot conditions, a newly updated report from Harvard Medical School.

Each time you take a step, you put about one and a half times your weight on your foot. If you run or play tennis, three to four times your weight lands on each foot whenever it hits the ground. Every pound you gain in weight adds to the pounding on your feet.

Excess weight can contribute to the misery of heel pain (particularly plantar fasciitis) and arthritis, among other foot problems. When too much pressure or strain is placed on the plantar fascia—the ligament-like structure that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot—it may become inflamed. The inflammation usually causes a sharp pain at the heel.

If you are overweight or obese, you're likely to leave your foot doctor's office not only with pain medication and instructions for stretching exercises, but also with some advice on losing weight.

Of course, foot problems develop for many reasons. All told, more than three out of four Americans will suffer some kind of foot ailment in their lifetimes. And there are more than 300 types of foot problems that can develop, according to Foot Care Basics .

Foot Care Basics was edited by Christopher P. Chiodo, M.D., Instructor in Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Orthopedic Surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and James P. Ioli, D.P.M., Instructor in Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Podiatry at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Also covered in this report:

  • How to choose a sensible shoe
  • Exercises to stretch and strengthen feet
  • How to find help when a problem develops
  • Common problems with arches, heels, toes, skin, and toenails
  • Treating foot pain

Foot Care Basics: Preventing and treating common foot conditions is available for $16 from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School. Order it online at http://www.health.harvard.edu/FCB or by calling 1-877–649–9457 (toll free).

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