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Physical therapists seeing increase in foot ailments amid pandemic

Virus Outbreak Canada Olympic Training
Posted at 6:02 AM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 08:15:22-05

Physical therapists at Mayo Clinic say they’re seeing an increase in patients complaining of foot ailments and pain amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re getting [this] interesting spectrum of too much and not enough” activity, Mayo physical therapist Sara Goetzinger told ABC15. “The foot and ankle require a little bit of practice just like anything else.”

Goetzinger attributes the spike to recent life changes and adjustments that can include working from home, exercising outdoors instead of at a gym, wearing different shoes, or “going barefoot” more often. Too much change, too quickly, can lead to issues, she said.

“The foot was built to load, it’s a spring-type system,” she said, “So if we’re applying new loads or different loads, or a different surface, it’s going to be a change and sometimes if our bodies aren’t ready for that we have to adapt.”

Of the issues they’re seeing, the most common is plantar fasciitis, “which can present itself in a couple different ways,” she said. “Whether it’s just those first few steps in the morning that are very painful on the inside of the heel and into the arch … that’s a pretty notorious diagnosis that, if you’ve never had it, you at least know what it is.”

So what can you do?

Whether you’re dealing with foot pain or not, Goetzinger recommends simple exercises and stretches throughout the day. They include balancing on each foot for 30 seconds, “ballerina-style” calf raises, and what she refers to as “big toe yoga” — moving only the big toe upward and downward, out and in. She recommends doing those exercises barefoot, if possible, but said they are still beneficial even with your shoes on.

If you’re dealing with sharp pain in your feet for several weeks, she recommends making an appointment with a doctor or physical therapist. Due to the pandemic, many are holding appointments — and can work with you — virtually.

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