*note: no money was exchanged and this article is simply for triathlete education.
Self Foot Massage Tips
Daily foot massage if an integral part of optimal foot function. Like all muscles, the small muscles of the foot create adhesions, trigger points and knots that need to be massaged or released. One of the best self foot massage techniques I recommend to my patients is standing on golf balls. To properly release the plantar foot muscles, place one golf ball under each foot. Stand on the golf balls with body weight evenly distributed between the feet. Try to relax into the golf balls as opposed to stiffen the plantar fascia and muscles. Hold in the same spot for at least one minute before shifting the golf ball to a new spot. I recommend this golf massage every morning and in the evening.
When to seek a Podiatrist’s help?
Although most causes of foot pain in the athlete can be associated with overuse or excessive training – there are the occasional situations in which an athlete should seek a Podiatrist’s help. When initially feeling pain in the foot, I always advise athletes to initiate the class RICE treatment – this would include Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Pulling back on the training is important to allow the tissue injury or inflammation to resolve. Ice is a great to reduce inflammation and swelling. In addition, I do advise starting anti-inflammatory medication – whether it is oral or topical. I have many patients who do not like to take medication and fight me on taking the anti-inflammatory medication – but it can make a significant difference especially in the first couple days of injury. I always explain that the pain the athlete is experiencing is closely related ot the degree of inflammation – so if we can bring the inflammation down, their pain will follow. If the pain persists for more than a week, there is any history of acute trauma, there is any associated tingling or numbness, you cannot bear any weight on your foot or there is any associated infection– I would seek medical attention.
What should I be concerned about in a bike shoe fit?
What makes cycling shoes unique from say running shoes is the stiff-sole and toe box. This means that an improper fit can place excess pressure on the digits and sides of the foot. Excess pressure or friction can lead to callous, corn and blister formation – as well as uneccessary pain. For any athlete with digit contractures or a longer second toe, in addition to proper shoe fit, padding and/or mole skin can be used to protect areas of excess pressure.
Foot Recovery Exercises
Some of my favorite recovery exercises revolve around maintaining adequate foot mobility and foot stability. For proper foot mobility, an athlete wants to focus on both the small and larger muscles of the foot and ankle. To mobilize the small plantar muscles of the foot, I recommend the golf ball massage (described above). To maintain mobility of the larger muscles, I recommend myofascial or trigger point release. When compared to stretching, myofascial release techniques more effectively increase the viscosity of fascial tissue and release any knots or adhesions that may be restricting muscle fiber mobility.
To maintain foot stability one of my favorite exercises is called the short foot. Short foot exercise strengthens the small muscles of the foot that maintain the arch and help absorb ground reaction forces. In addition to short foot, integrating balance exercises barefoot are a great way to strengthen both the hip and ankle stabilizers. I recommend 20 minutes of barefoot balance exercises three times a week for maintaining proper foot strength.
Dr. Emily Splichal is a Podiatrist, Human Movement Specialist and
national fitness expert recognized by stiletto-lovers as "Dr. Legs" from her posture and balance fitness workouts Catwalk Confidence® and Stiletto Recovery®. Dr. Emily Splichal attended undergraduate school at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN and graduate school at A.T. Still University earning a Master’s in Human Movement. She went on to graduate with a DPM from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Her post-graduate training included podiatric medicine and surgical training at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan as well as Mt Vernon Hospital and Sound Shore Medical Center in Westchester County, NY. Dr. Emily Splichal is extensively trained in lower extremity biomechanics, sports medicine and movement dysfunction. With over 11 years in the fitness industry, Dr. Emily Splichal has dedicated her medical career towards studying postural alignment and human movement as it relates to foot posture and foot strength. Dr Emily Splichal has appeared as a stiletto foot expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, The Doctors, Dr. Steve Show, CW11 and has been featured in Glamour, Seventeen, Women's Day, and Elle Magazine. Dr. Emily Splichal has demonstrated how barefoot balance training works to improve posture and enables the ability to walk with strength and confidence. Dr. Emily Splichals workout Catwalk Confidence® was voted by TimeOut NY as Best Workout in 2010.