How to Protect Your Feet from a High-Impact Life
Gravity, body weight, and impacts from walking, running, and jumping make a forceful combination. In fact, your feet have to absorb a much greater force from activity than you probably realize!
When you take a step, walking at a comfortable pace, your feet absorb an impact force up to one and half times your own body weight each time they strike the ground. If you’re running, you can increase that to three or four times your body weight. Jumping and gymnastic tumbling? Try ten times—or more!
All those forces can add up in a hurry. Over time, they can wear down your feet and legs, causing soreness, swelling, pain, and injury. Want to avoid that fate? Try these tips:
- Make sure your shoes and socks are appropriate for your activity. You want your shoes to properly support your arch and cushion your heels, among other things. The right shoes not only reduce the overall impact force, but also help you spread that force more evenly across your entire foot to avoid over-taxing any one particular joint, muscle, or area.
- If the right shoes alone aren’t enough—perhaps because you have some structural inefficiencies in your feet—a cushioned insole or custom orthotic may be necessary as well. We’re happy to help you find the right product.
- Vary your athletic activities over the course of the week so that your feet get regular breaks from high-impact exercise. This is called “cross-training.” Instead of running or playing basketball every day (high-impact activities), do these things a couple of times per week and spend your other days on activities like swimming, weight training, yoga, or riding a bicycle (low-impact activities).
- Make sure you take the time to stretch, warm up, and cool down, and don’t ignore your feet when you do! Calf stretches, plantar fascia, even toe strengthening exercises help your feet and legs respond better to impact forces.
- Keep your body weight within an appropriate range for your height and build. Each pound you lose around your midsection could mean 3-10 pounds of force taken off your feet with each and every step or landing during exercise.
Remember, impact forces on their own aren’t a bad thing—without them, your body couldn’t move nearly as efficiently and powerfully, and you couldn’t do all of the things you love to do! That said, understanding and managing impact forces can help you stay fitter, healthier, and more active over the long term.
At the Kansas Foot Center, we not only offer biomechanical assessments and treatments to help you manage impact forces (like orthotics), but also state-of-the-art relief options for sports-related pain, including shockwave therapy and MLS laser therapy. We are Wichita’s go-to experts for lower limb sports injuries, so if you’re hurting, give us a call today at (866) 222-5177.