Thursday, July 29

How confinement has affected our feet


The coronavirus pandemic has created a new work environment for many people, whose home has become their job. And, although with the relaxation of the measures imposed by the government to mitigate the spread of the virus, many workers have been able to return to their usual place of work, others remain at home.

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The benefits are various, such as family and work integration, reduced fatigue and improved productivity. However, some new problems have appeared that, in many cases, can go unnoticed.

Sedentary lifestyle, the other side of the pandemic

According to a comprehensive review, the diffusion of physical and organizational boundaries between work and home can negatively affect a person’s physical (and mental) health due to very long hours (the time spent at work has increased by approximately an hour and a half at home, according to a study), lack of delimitation between the personal and professional sphere and more sedentary lifestyle.

Not having to leave the house, even if we have to connect to make videoconferences, has modified our daily routines. And this has resulted in a new way of dressing and shoes. Our feet have become another of the victims of sedentary lifestyle: we move less and, furthermore, we do it poorly.

Something that podiatrists have noticed. “The increase in consultations with post-confinement foot problems that we have seen has been very striking”, admits Javier Pascual Huerta, podiatrist, Doctor from the Complutense University of Madrid and director of the Spanish Journal of Podiatry, published by the General Council of Official Colleges of Podiatrists.

Foot problems due to lack of movement

With teleworking and confinement, the Spanish have walked less. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is advisable to maintain good health is to perform close to 10,000 steps a day, which would be equivalent to a walk of an hour and a half approximately or go a few seven kilometers.

With teleworking, this figure has decreased by 7,000 steps on average, which is 49% less than the previous year.

In addition to revealing less physical activity, the data shows that we have done it wrong and that we have adopted bad habits when it comes to being at home.

In November 2020, the Official Podiatry College of the Community of Madrid (COPOMA) warned since, as a result of confinement and limited mobility, podiatry clinics were treating a multitude of pathologies in diabetic people. This group of patients is especially vulnerable because they have foot sores in the form of ulcers.

These patients require specific delivery systems in the form of special insoles, splints or boots. “During confinement we have seen how they have reduced their use or have not used them while being at home”, admits Javier Pascual, who states that “many of these patients worsened their wounds much more severely, even in some cases they ended up with infections or leg amputations “, in very extreme situations.

The effects of sport after a period of inactivity have also been seen. “The feet were not prepared to withstand such a strong and constant load to which it was subjected during the first weeks after confinement,” acknowledges the expert.

This led to injuries in the form of “metatarsal overuse pain, plantar fasciitis and stress fractures of the metatarsal bones and Achilles tendon injuries in runners.”

What can we do to take care of our feet at home

Podiatrists advise never to forget the health of our feet, not even when we are at home. Keeping them in shape is easy by following these simple tips:

  • Do not abuse footwear at home because it does not offer protection and cushioning in the area of ​​the sole of the foot. “We believe that the pain in the heel during confinement may be related to the lack of cushioning that the footwear has when going home because it is not prepared to spend a lot of time on its feet,” says Pascual. This footwear is only indicated as transitional footwear at home: going to bed, waking up, etc.
  • Avoid flip flops or open slippers because we force our feet and possible anomalies may appear. It is recommended, according to COPOMA, to wear shoes as we do on a daily basis to prevent the feet from losing their habit. Otherwise, it is possible that when we return to normal we will suffer some kind of problem.
  • Stay active: we can perform exercises that help us strengthen our feet, such as going up and down stairs (we can use a small stool if we do not have stairs). Experts also advise squatting, standing on tiptoe and bending your legs up and down with your back straight. Going limp will also help us to strengthen legs and feet.
  • Take an adequate diet: the consumption of water and products such as cinnamon, cayenne or pepper, as well as vitamin E, K and C promote favorable circulation. However, we must reduce the consumption of red meat, alcohol, tobacco or caffeine.

Is it good to go barefoot at home?

Pascual Huerta affirms that the important thing is keep a balance. Going barefoot is beneficial because it helps us improve the flexibility and strength of the muscles and ligaments of the foot. But we must “do it in a controlled way and for short periods of time.” Going barefoot on hard surfaces for a long time can cause the appearance of alterations in the foot such as pain in the heel, metatarsal and tendon injuries, among others.

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