It's easy to forget but impossible to
overstate the importance of healthy
feet. Whether we are walking, running
or simply standing upright,
the feet play a critical role in
movement and gait. Consequently, they
take quite a battering on an everyday
basis. Even if you haven't recently run
a marathon -- and your knees and
feet are constantly reminding you of
the fact -- there's still a lot you need to
do to help them recover from daily
stresses and prevent future injuries.
Know your footprint
The first step towards foot health is
analysing the structure of your feet.
A normal foot is neither too flat nor
over-arched. Heath Matthews, senior
sports physiotherapist at
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani
Sports Medicine Centre, explains
how you can understand the physiology
of your foot.
"Put a little water on a surface,
walk through it and then walk on
a dry surface," he says. "The middle
third of your footprint indicates
the arch of your foot." If
the middle third is very broad,
it probably means you have a
flat foot and need to support
your feet in order to prevent
impact on your ankles,
knees and back.
"If the footprint is too narrow, then
you may have a very high arch," says
Matthews. "You need to provide extra
cushioning for such feet because they
don't absorb shock very well." If the
imprint is as broad as three or four of
your toes, your feet are normal.
Invest in good footwear
Since feet bear the brunt of the impact
when we're exercising, it's only fair that
they are adequately prepared. Don't
cut corners while choosing footwear;
the right pair is a wise investment.
"Make sure that your shoe is not very
stiff," says Madhuri Ruia, nutritionist
and proprietor of Integym in Colaba.
"At the same time, the sole shouldn't
be too flexible either. The right shoe is
one that can take on the body's action
Your feet are a good indicator of your
overall strength and balance. "If the
soles on both feet are not wearing out
symmetrically, it may mean that one
side of your body is stronger than the
other," says Ruia. While orthotic support
such as insoles (for flat feet) and
cushioning (for over-arched feet)
may help to improve your gait, you
can improve your balance -- and
your foot health -- with the right
"Ultimately, foot care is part of your
body balance," says Matthews. "Make
sure your workout has the right combination
of cardio, weight training and
stretching." Ensure that you start each
workout with a warm-up so that there
is adequate blood flow to your legs.
Initially, running on the treadmill
might mean additional impact, but you
can improve your cardio performance
with weight training. "Weight training
helps to build muscle tissue and preserve
your ligaments, which in turn
allows you to run better," says Ruia.
Truth about supplements
A diet that is rich in calcium and magnesium
promotes bone health, which
in turn means better care for your feet.
"For vegetarians, nachni (or ragi) is the
richest source of calcium," says consulting
dietitian Jyoti Lalwani.
Milk and milk products are rich in
calcium and soya beans are a powerhouse
of proteins, calcium and iron. In
order to get your daily dose of magnesium,
include whole grains and sprouts
in your diet.
Apart from these nutrients, you need
to have adequate protein in your diet.
"You develop cracks on the feet because
of low protein," says Lalwani. Egg
whites, chicken and fish are the richest
sources of protein for non-vegetarians.
Green peas have a higher quotient
of protein than other vegetables. Apart
from this, vegetarians also need to
include whole pulses and sprouts in
An often-ignored nutrient that is critical
for bone health is vitamin D.
"Vitamin D3 helps the body absorb calcium
better," says Lalwani. The body
synthesises this nutrient from vitamin
D in the presence of sunlight, so it's
important that you spend a little time
basking in early morning sunlight.
Paining heels can be the symptom
of a problem in the foot or a
deeper malaise in the body:
1. Inflammation of the plantar fascia,
muscle tissue that extends along the
soles to the heel bone, can cause pain.
2. Physiological factors (such as high
BMI) can also cause the condition.
3. Arthritis and diabetes can cause heel
pain and loss of sensation in the sole.
4. If you feel a sharp pain when you stand in
the morning, you could have tiny calcified
outgrowths on the heel bone.
To fix the pain
If the pain is caused by inflammation, then
icing the region and contrast baths help fix
it. Make sure you wear proper footwear.