Barry Francis picked out this article in the press (Mail on Sunday on 19th June 2011) talked about the value of foot exercises in maintaining healthy feet. A number of exercises were illustrated and described. Some of these were aimed at exercising the small muscles that work solely within the feet (the intrinsic muscles). These were to stretch and strengthen muscles that come from the leg into the foot (extrinsic muscles). The concept of exercises is of course an extremely important one in all aspects of health, particularly in the foot. It
reacts as it interacts with the ground and they have to accommodate themselves with changing terrain and contours, particularly when barefoot. This is probably the key – the foot must be allowed to operate barefoot some of the time in order that this characteristic
of adaptability is not lost. For those patients who are wearing orthotics which maintain or encourage better foot posture, then the concept of exercise running alongside the wearing of these devices, is extremely important. At the Fyfield Clinic we certainly prescribe a range of these exercises and on occasion will refer patients to specialized physiotherapy services for assistance. For children in particular who wear orthotics or insoles it is important that they should be allowed to run and walk barefoot some of the time.
We would certainly suggest that whilst on holiday, unless it is a walking one, orthotics should be left behind and the child should be allowed to run free on a beach or other natural surface. It is also interesting to note that in a study a few years back carried out in the US, it was found that prolonged wearing of thick soled type shoes in the elderly, that is trainers, reduced the sensitivity or the “balance” of the feet which can lead to falling and
instability. It was recommended that senior citizens should therefore consider wearing a plimsole type shoe rather than a trainer which allows a greater “contact” with the ground. It is of course accepted that this study was carried out in Florida where the climate is conducive to the wearing of such footwear on a regular basis. Information on exercises, orthoses, or on how falling might be avoided due to these factors, can be obtained from us at the Fyfield Clinic.
Until the next time Barry Francis “The Foot Surgeon” at The Fyfield Clinic, Enfield and Harley Street.