Wednesday, Jul 8, 2020
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COVID-19 and the feet

COVID-19 is on the minds of everyone, everywhere every day. To date, there have not been specific feet symptoms reported with COVID-19. The best advice is that we all practice social or physical distance of three to six feet to prevent the spread of this disease. The feet are critical to ensuring you can follow these instructions and be safe during this pandemic.

Walking is a great way to comply with the social distancing order while you improve and maintain overall health. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, it’s easy and everyone can do it. It is recommended that we walk for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.

Walking in the fresh air and outdoor exercise are allowed – though it’s important to keep some distance about six feet between yourself and others. The coronavirus spreads between people in close contact through respiratory droplets. There is better airflow outside than in confined spaces. That air flow outside reduces the risk of one person transmitting the virus to another through droplets in the air. If you’re going out to walk, run, or just relax on the beach and you are not within six feet of another person, that is considered healthy and safe practice. With gyms and other sporting facilities closed now, more persons may be going out for a walk.

There are many health benefits to walking which improves your overall health. Walking strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. It reduces high blood pressure, promotes weight loss, prevents and controls type 2 diabetes. Walking improves digestion, metabolism and regulates bowel habits. Walking decreases the risk of breast and colon cancers, strengthens joints and bones, and builds muscles and improves flexibility, balance and co-ordination. It boosts your immune system and energy levels. It releases endorphins that make you feel good, improves self-esteem and relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety. Walking reduces stress especially when walking in nature, improves sleep and strengthens friendships and family relationships.

If you decide to go for a walk at this time, here are some things to keep in mind.

Get the right shoes. Purchase and maintain good walking shoes and replace them regularly. Have your feet measured every time you purchase new sneakers and try them on in the store to check the fit. Do not buy shoes that need a “break-in” period. Your sneakers should be comfortable immediately after you buy them. Choose good quality, lightweight walking sneakers with breathable upper materials, such as leather or nylon mesh. The heel counter – the part of the shoe that holds your heel – should be very firm. The front or forefoot area of the shoe where the toes are, should have adequate space, support and flexibility. The arch of the sneaker should be curved upward to conform to and fit the arch of your feet rather than being flat. Don’t forget the socks. Wear properly padded acrylic socks. Acrylic fibers draw away excessive perspiration better than cotton or wool.

Stretching is vital. Before beginning your exercise regimen, proper stretching is essential. Stretching exercises should take five to 10 minutes. Stretch each foot, ankle and Achilles tendon before and after you exercise. A series of warm-up exercises will help relieve any muscle stiffness or pulled muscles that may be caused by walking.

Ready, set, walk. Begin your exercise program slowly and increase as you go. Don’t walk too far or too fast in the beginning. To prevent injury, watch where you walk and avoid uneven walking surfaces or stepping on rocks as much as possible. Move at a steady pace, brisk enough to make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. Breathe more deeply as you go. Walk with your head erect, back straight, and abdomen flat. Keep your legs out front and your knees slightly bent. Swing your arms so that the forearms are parallel to the ground. If your feet hurt, stop walking. You need to see a podiatrist to determine the cause of the foot pain and have it treated before resuming your exercise program.

Safety is key. If you’re walking in the early morning or evening, be sure to wear clothing with reflective material and walk with a friend for safety – but remember the social distancing guidelines. If walking alone, tell someone the route you are walking and what time you are expected to return. If you are walking in the heat of the day or for long distances, take some water along to stay hydrated. Always cool down and stretch after a long, brisk walk.

By following these guidelines – you can walk, comply with the social distancing order, and improve your overall health. Get ready, get set, walk for the health of it.

• For more information email [email protected] or visit www.foothealth.org, apma.org or orthoinfo.aaos.org. To see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street telephone 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates on Albury Lane, telephone 394-5820. In Grand Bahama, call or visit Lucayan Medical Centre on East Sunrise Highway, telephone 373-7400 for an appointment.

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