You've signed up for the gym membership. You've bought new workout clothes and shoes. You've made a promise to yourself to stick to your New Year's resolution to exercise and lose weight. You hit the gym, you work out hard for a week, then you wake up one morning and pain is shooting through your heel.
Exercise now hurts so much that you stay home on the couch watching the new season of American Idol.
Soon after the last gulp of New Year's champagne, foot and ankle surgeons see the annual influx of patients with foot pain caused by exercise. Doctors interviewed by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) say the most common problems are heel pain, pinched nerves and sore Achilles tendons. They shared tips for preventing and treating these conditions.
Most heel pain cases are caused by plantar fasciitis. Foot and ankle surgeons recommend athletic shoes that support the arch and cushion the heel. Buy shoes designed for the sport. Over-the-counter orthotics may help some people.
To treat heel pain, first trying icing the bottom of the foot before bed.
Performing stretching exercises two to three times a day can also help. Sit on the floor barefoot with the knees straight. Hook a towel around the toes of the foot. Pull back on the towel, count to 10, then relax. Repeat several times.
Have your feet measured before you buy athletic shoes. Foot and ankle surgeons say many people wear shoes that are a half-size too tight. Exercising in tight shoes can cause a neuroma, or a pinched nerve. Patients with this condition say they feel pain in the ball of their foot and tingling in their third and fourth toes.
Achilles tendon pain
Instead of going from couch potato to a high intensity workout, doctors recommend easing into a new exercise routine. Try to alternate a hard workout one day with an easy workout the next.
New Year's exercisers who ignore this advice risk Achilles tendonitis. The back of the foot becomes tender and painful.
When Achilles tendon pain occurs, foot and ankle surgeons recommend first using RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).
Consult a physician or trainer before starting a new exercise routine.
Foot pain doesn't have to sabotage New Year's resolutions to exercise. Listen to your body. If pain in the foot or ankle lasts five to seven days in a row, see a foot and ankle surgeon. They'll be expecting you.
For more information on foot and ankle pain, visit http://FootPhysicians.com.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons is a professional society of more than 6,000 foot and ankle surgeons. Founded in 1942, the College's mission is to promote research and provide continuing education for the foot and ankle surgical specialty, and to educate the general public on foot health and conditions of the foot and ankle through its consumer Web site, http://FootPhysicians.com.