Relieve Hip, Knee & Back Pain Through Your Feet

As most of us know, many of our lower body aches and pains can be managed by evaluating our feet. When your feet aren’t happy, your entire lower body can be thrown for a loop. While regular stretching and exercise are obviously important for maintaining a healthy back, hips and knees, there are some great foot exercises you can do to support the rest of your lower body. Regular foot exercises will ensure your feet stay fit and happy, and help to maintain proper blood flow in your feet.

I have compiled a list of simple exercises that can be done in the comfort of your home to help support lower body health:

Toe Presses: This is like a warm up for your feet. It gets the blood pumping and helps to relax the muscles, allowing them to progress into the other exercises. It’s a great way to relieve tension in your feet. Stand flat on your feet with your knees slightly bent. Grip the floor with your toes and hold for 3 seconds and then release. Do 3 sets of 10 reps at a time throughout the day.

Ankle Circles: Strong ankles are an important part of a healthy lower body. To perform ankle circles, Lie down flat on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Lift one leg and stretch it above your body. Rotate the ankle clockwise for 10 seconds, then counter-clockwise for another 10 seconds. Repeat this with the other leg as well. Do 2 sets of 10 seconds on each leg daily for best results.

flexion

Active Flexion: Flex your foot as high as it will go, hold for a few seconds, then point your toes as far as they will go and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 2 sets of twenty reps on each foot every day to keep ankles mobile. If your ankles are sore or swollen, you can do this gentle stretch with your ankles iced and elevated if necessary.

side-to-side

Side To Side: Flex your foot and begin to rotate your ankle side to side. Begin with rotating your foot so the sole first faces outward, then inward. Another option for this exercise is to move your ankles gently in a circular motion.

wall-stretch

The Wall Stretch: Stand facing a wall with both feet together. Place your hands at shoulder height and width on the wall in front of you. Take a step forward with your right foot so that it is now only a few inches from the wall. Shift your weight onto your right leg and bend at the knee. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your upper body slowly toward the wall until you feel a good stretch happening along the calf muscles of your left leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Return to your original position with both feet together. Repeat the stretch, this time putting your left leg forward. Do this exercise three times on each foot.

DISCLAIMER:  THE INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE IS NOT PROVIDED BY MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS AND IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.  THE INFORMATION ON THIS SITE IS NOT MEANT TO SUBSTITUTE CONSULTING WITH YOUR PODIATRIST, DOCTOR OR OTHER HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL. THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON OR THROUGH THIS SITE IS IN NO WAY INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, INFLUENCE TREATMENT OR CURE ANY FOOT OR OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS NOR IS IT A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE SERVICES OR ADVICE OF A PODIATRIST, PHYSICIAN, OR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.  YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT A PHYSICIAN LICENSED IN YOUR STATE IN ALL MATTERS RELATING TO YOUR HEALTH.

Treat Depression Naturally

It is very important to make a distinction between situational depression, which is a normal reaction to events around us, and clinical depression, which is triggered from within and is not related to external situations. Situational depression is quite common and normally follows stressful situations or losses. Rather than suppress these feelings, it is best to work through these periods with help from psychotherapists or counselors. Clinical depression is a medical diagnosis and often requires other forms of depression treatment.

Treatment 

  • Exercise. Exercise is proven to be one of the best natural ways to reduce depression. Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of a daily workout for improving emotional health and boosting self confidence. Ideally, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week to help keep the blues at bay.
  • Daily Meditation. Focusing within yourself and making time to care for yourself daily is very important. You can buy books and do a self-guided meditation, or choose a guided meditation. You can find some great guided meditations for free on YouTube. Taking time to center yourself and clear your head daily can help significantly in reducing depression and/or anxiety.
  • Check your meds. This is a a great tip from Dr. Andrew Weil…Make sure you are not taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications that contribute to depression. Avoid all antihistamines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills and narcotics if you have any tendency toward depression. You should also be cautious about the use of recreational drugs, notably alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, downers, marijuana and ecstasy. These substances may provide a temporary sense of relief, but are likely to intensify depression to dangerous levels if used regularly.
  • Eliminate Caffeine. Regular coffee and caffeine consumption can interfere with your moods. For a natural alternative to coffee, consider Dandy Blend or Teecino.
  • Acupuncture. This treatment can be effective in reducing anxiety or depression without medication.

Nutrition and Supplements  (as recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, MD)

  • B vitamins. The B vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B6, can be helpful in mild depression, and you should know that B vitamins can increase the efficacy of prescription anti-depressants.
  • St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort is an herbal remedy that has long been used in Europe as a treatment for mood disorders. Standardized extracts have shown an effectiveness equaling Prozac in the treatment of mild to moderate forms of the disease. It should not be taken with anti-retroviral medications, birth control pills, or antidepressant medications, especially SSRIs like Prozac or Celexa. Try 300mg of an extract standardized to 0.3 percent hypericin, three times a day. It’s full effect will be felt in about eight weeks.
  • SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine). Has the advantage of working more quickly than St John’s wort. Use only the butanedisulfonate form in enteric-coated tablets, or in capsules. Try 400-1,600 mg a day on an empty stomach.
  • Fish oil. Recent preliminary studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be helpful in maintaining a healthy mind. I think that reasonable doses of fish-oil supplements (1,000 – 2,000 mg per day) might be useful in addressing mild depression. Fish oil is an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential fatty acid found in nerve and brain tissue.
  • In addition, follow a well-balanced diet and include an antioxidant multi-vitamin/mineral supplement to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs for all the essential nutrients.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Stiff Ankles Might be Keeping you from Working Out to your Full Potential

By Rachel Song

The ankle is an often overlooked ligament that is actually crucial in utilizing the full strength of your legs, hips, and glutes and maintaining a healthy posture & gait.  Stiff ankles inhibit full fitness potential by restricting your movements and may even cause pain in the heels, calves, shins, knees, hips, and lower back as surrounding muscles compensate for the lack of mobility in your ankles.

Before you scramble to start ankle stretches & exercises, take a moment to assess yourself and make sure there’s an issue to address.

Here are 3 ways to test your ankles:

  • Perform a basic squat, feet hip width apart with a neutral spine. You should be able to get your thighs parallel to the floor without lifting your heels.
  • Stand up straight with your feet together. Lift the balls of your feet from the ground without moving the rest of your body.

shutterstock_363957989

  • Get into the hip flexor stretch stance with one knee on the ground, the other knee up with the foot directly below it, upper body held straight up above the hips (see above image). You will be testing the ankle of the foot in front of your  body.  Face a wall with your knee at a distance about 5 inches from it.  The closer you can get your knee to the wall without lifting your heel, the better your ankle mobility.  Ideally, you should be able to touch your knee to the wall without lifting your heel.

If any of the above tasks are difficult, you may want to include the exercises below in your daily fitness routine to increase your ankle mobility:

  • Massage calf and foot muscles: Using a hard, round ball, roll the bottom of your foot from side to side and top to bottom several times, applying firm but not painful pressure. Do the same for your calves using a foam roller or similar item like a rolling pin. This exercise will help relax connective tissues that may be playing a role in your tight ankles.

shutterstock_182863328

  • Heel raises: Stand with your forefoot slightly lifted (about 2 inches) on any workable object. Bend your knees while keeping your upper body straight with a neutral spine and heels completely on the ground.  Stand up straight. Repeat for about 5 minutes a day.
  • Half-kneeling ankle flex: Get into the same hip flexor stretch position from the ankle assessment exercise above. Stretch your ankle by pushing your knee forward, getting it past your toes if possible. Stay in position for 1-2 seconds before returning to the starting pose. Remember to keep your upper body straight with a neutral spine. Repeat motion 10-15 times.

In conjunction with these exercises, it’s important to wear proper footwear when exercising.  Correct support & cushioning can make a huge difference in your posture and stability, allowing you to prolong the health of your joints and muscles for lasting fitness & health!

Exercise…Finding the Time!

As the weather gets colder, many of us find it harder and harder to get up early, get moving and fit in our exercise during the day. When it’s freezing cold outside, the last thing most of us feel like doing is getting up and going for a jog! The thing is, exercise doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are easy ways to fit exercise into your daily lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you incorporate some exercise into your day and help avoid the cold weather bulge!

  • Bike, walk or run to work (if work is within reasonable distance from home)
  • Go to bed one hour earlier and wake up one hour earlier. Sometimes this shift in schedule can help us feel more rested and eager to exercise in the morning.
  • Workout on your lunch hour. You can find a gym nearby or even just go for a walk on your lunch hour.
  • Sit on a stability ball instead of a chair when you’re at your desk. You can also fit in some curls, crunches or tricep dips using your chair.
  • Exercise while watching TV. Dumbbells, squats and lunges are easy exercises that won’t interfere with your viewing but can help to add some activity to your day.
  • Get your family involved! If you have young children, jog with them in the stroller. If you have older children, have them join you for a brisk walk. Go for a hike or a job with your significant other – or go on a “date” to the gym.
  • Always take the stairs – take two steps at a time to really up the workout for your backside!
  • Combine your cardio and weight training – do your dumbbell reps while walking on the treadmill.
  • Be active when you’re waiting in lines – jumping jacks, squats and lunges are great when you’re just standing around waiting.

The cold weather months don’t have to mean sitting around, stuffing yourself with junk food and cuddling under the blankets. Find ways to keep yourself active to boost your mood, your immunity, your sex drive and your mental clarity.

The Importance of Exercise…We all Know We Should….Here is Why

There’s no denying exercise does a body good. It’s not just about looking good; exercise has some important benefits to your health that can keep you looking and feeling young and vibrant. It’s your own personal fountain of youth! Regular activity strengthens your muscles and improves your heart and lung function; it can also reduce your risk of many major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and add years to your life expectancy. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits.

The following are some of the many benefits exercise has for your health:

  1. Reduce asthma symptoms. Upper-body and breathing exercises can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma.
  1. Lower your risk for cancer. Exercise helps move waste quickly through the gut, lowers insulin levels and helps regulate hormone levels, which may help reduce the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer.
  1. Prevent heart attacks. Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
  2. The fountain of youth. Brisk walking or cycling can boost the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Improving your aerobic capacity can add years to your life. It has been said that aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults. BREATHE!
  1. Regulate blood sugar. Exercise helps to control weight and increase the cells’ sensitivity to insulin which helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level. Even brisk walking can significantly cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So get out and get moving!
  2. Reduce infections. Workouts can increase the capacity of immune cells which can temporarily boost the immune system. Have you ever noticed that people who exercise regularly typically tend to get sick less than those who don’t?
  1. Reduce stress. Regular aerobic exercise reduces stress hormones. For some, it can even help relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. It’s a natural mood booster and a great outlet for relieving stress! Bad day at work? Take it out on the punching bag!
  2. Live a longer, more vibrant life. Studies have shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent for men and women. It’s no surprise that when your body is active and healthy, you live a longer, more enjoyable life!