Tiara’s Tuesday Talk – by Sara Sheibley
Today is going to be a hash up. My mind can’t seem to settle on one specific topic so let’s get this party started. Mostly we are going to discuss how to try and prevent aches and pains and what to do to help if they happen.
As always, you should always consult a doctor (podiatrist, orthopedic, rheumatologist, primary care) before starting any exercise program. I know my doctor is excited because he tries to keep me active while balancing the side effects. So I think I’ll start with podiatry. They love to tell me what to do for my feet.
Good general foot care must be maintained if you plan to subject your feet to a walking regimen. Wear thick, absorbent socks (acrylic is preferable to cotton); dry feet well after bathing, paying special attention to the toes, and use powder before putting on shoes. Nails should be cut regularly, straight across the toe.
Podiatrists warn that self-treatment of corns and calluses with over-the-counter remedies before starting to walk can do more harm than good. Issues that cause discomfort such as bunions and hammertoes should be evaluated by a podiatric physician before you begin to walk for exercise.
If blisters develop, self-treatment by opening the blister with a sterilized needle and draining the fluid is acceptable. Do not remove the “roof” of the blister. Cover the treated blister with antibiotic ointment and a sterile dressing to guard against infection. They make mole skin and other bandages that can help blisters from slippage or where that shoe aggravates your foot just a bit. Also, you may want to consider orthotics if you don’t already have a custom made set. With neuropathy you have to be very careful to check for sores before and after walking.
Before you get going, a series of loosening-up exercises will help alleviate any muscle stiffness or pulled muscles that may be ahead of you. Consult your podiatrist or physical therapist for some specific ways to loosen up the heel cords (Achilles and calf) and thigh muscles (quadriceps in front and hamstrings in back). I know I have some particularly annoying Achilles issues as well as calf problems on the left side. Stretching and doing it correctly is very important to not strain these muscles.
Take five deep breaths for each slow stretch, and hold the stretched muscle firm without bouncing. After every walk, stretch again to improve circulation and decrease buildup of lactic acid, the chemical byproduct that causes muscles to ache. However, when you have certain issues (fibromyalgia, AS, neuropathy) you may have aches and pains anyway.
They make a wide variety of creams, ointments, lotions and soaks. I find that a lukewarm foot soak with some Epsom salts, can relieve some of the aches and also helps to dry up the blisters. Use a foot scrub at the end of the soak to gently remove dead skin, sweat and dirt. You want to be gentle, since you don’t want to irritate any hot spots.
Also, if you are training for a half marathon or marathon, or walking the million step challenge, you don’t want to remove too much callus as a little helps prevent blisters. There are so many different kinds of scrubs, but I prefer ones with natural fragrances or no fragrance rather than fake perfumes thanks to my allergies.
After your soak, use a foot moisturizer/energizer. These typically come in mint or eucalyptus. Don’t forget those achy calf muscles. Give them a good rub. If your knees are the issue or even your thighs, icy hot, bengay, blue emu cream, tiger balm, or even just plain old ice packs and heating pads (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, alternating) can help the muscles relax.
Blood and fluid tends to pool in your lower legs while up and about so if you have the time, try to get those lower extremities up. Lying down with your feet up after a long workout or a long day on your feet helps reduce the swelling. You should try to have good support under your knees when you put your feet up. Pillows work, as well as wedges and other specialized devices.
The best thing to do if you feel like you over did it though, is to just take a day off. Rest, recover and resume. Well I hope I didn’t bore you with my discussion today. Come back and see what I have in store for you next week!
Sara Sheibley is a wife and mother of four. Through out most of her life she has dealt with chronic illness. Born with small fiber axonal polyneuropathy, she had aches and pains early on but wasn’t diagnosed with AS until 2008. Since then she has had to champion her own cause after she developed hemalytic anemia from treatments. Although she suffers with more than just AS, she feels that this is her primary illness and wants to be active in helping the cause. Sara & her Tiara’s Tuesday Talk will discuss a myriad of topics from assistive devices to walking help when you have other illnesses to consider.