Mark Beatty, Physiotherapist
We are all trying to adjust to new day to day routines in light of the COVID–19 pandemic facing Canada. Whether you are self-isolating with health concerns, working from home, or looking after family members your usual activity patterns have likely changed considerably.
Most of us are going to find our activity level is down overall, with many of our social sporting activities and gym facilities now unavailable to us. If you have been nursing a nagging overuse injury as an athlete or runner the rest may be welcome to allow for recovery for those injuries. What about those people that were dealing with a nagging foot injury before the COVID–19 restrictions ramped up who have not seen things improve with rest? What if the symptoms have even seemed to get worse?
At times we may forget just how much time we spend on our feet when we are in our homes. Having feet that seem to hurt more when you are less active may be related to simple practices. As a Manitoban I was raised that it was good manners to remove my footwear the moment I walk into my house or anyone else’s. This is of course to not track in dirt indoors.
We have to remember that were all brought up in a society that wears shoes for most of their waking hours, and that over years our feet have become used to that support and cushion. For the time being, it appears that much of our daily activity will take place indoors which will require us all to change some habits. Wearing shoes in the house for purposeful activities like meal preparation, house cleaning, and of course for exercise may be helpful to support your feet and reduce your pain.
Whether you suffer with pain in the heel like plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis, or with pain in the balls of your feet like metatarsalgia putting on a stable running shoe can feel really good. Most of the time they give you a lift in the heel, some cushion, and some biomechanical support. If you find that your feet “need to breathe” consider sandals with some arch support and warm socks as an option to a softer slipper in the house.
In addition to wearing supportive footwear, some basic exercises to loosen up your feet and calf muscles in the morning might alleviate that stiffness you feel when you are stepping onto the floor for the first time or walking down the stairs to start your day. I would suggest spending a couple of minutes in the morning before you get out of bed to pump your feet up and down and make some small circles, along with using a towel stretch to pull up on the front of your foot to lightly stretch your calf as a way of easing your feet into the day.
Remember that it is still important for all of us to get some regular exercise while we are doing our part to protect our communities from the spread of COVID–19. This could be as simple as a daily walk. Stay tuned for some further simple exercise suggestions that might good options for you and your family as we all weather this crisis.