COVID-19 caused lifestyle changes that had various effects on our bodies— what were once happy feet may not be quite so happy any longer. Many people have found themselves struggling with foot complications for the first time, while others saw their various foot problems worsen. This phenomenon — known as “pandemic foot” — has become increasingly reported by podiatrists across the country.
Below, we’ll discuss what can cause pandemic foot, and what you can do to get your feet on the road to recovery.
Causes of Pandemic Foot
There are three main causes of pandemic foot:
1. Sedentary Lifestyle
The pandemic caused many people to transition from going into the office to working from the comfort (and safety) of their homes. For some, this translated to more time sitting and less time staying active. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that 42% of adults gained more weight than intended during the first year of the pandemic alone.
With extra weight and less mobility, the muscles and tendons in the feet can weaken and become tense, making you more susceptible to inflammation and injury. Prolonged inactivity can lead to atrophy, and potentially, an increased chance of a stress fracture in your foot. What’s more, injuries can take longer to heal and you’ll need to undergo more treatment options to increase flexibility and stability in your feet and ankles.
Many people grew restless during the pandemic and decided to up their exercise game. While exercise has many benefits, doing too much too soon can be detrimental to your health. Foot and ankle sprains are possible when your ligaments are pushed to their limits without proper stretching or rest.
3. Improper Shoes
Since most people don’t wear their shoes inside, they may have switched to wearing socks or slippers. These alternatives to proper footwear can cause undue stress and increased pressure on your feet. Going barefoot for long periods on hard surfaces, such as wood floors, can be just as rough on your feet.
How To Relieve Pandemic Foot Pain
Fear not! There are several ways you can get your feet dancing again:
Follow the 80/20 Rule
When we’re at home, it’s easy to leave the shoes behind in the dust. However, your feet can get back in shape with the proper support. Wearing shoes 80% of the time that you are on your feet can:
- Relieve pressure on joints in your feet and ankles.
- Provide cushioning for your heels and arches.
- Protect your toes from injury due to falls and accidents.
Don’t Forget the Inserts
In this case, flip-flops are not considered proper footwear because they offer little arch and heel support. Sturdy shoes that have inserts can keep your feet supported and protected inside and outside of your home. If you are a bit shoe-shy inside your home, you may want to consider well-fitting house slippers that have arch support and material that covers the back of the heel— bonus points if these slippers allow for inserts.
Stretch Like You Mean It
Pandemic foot pain means weaker and tighter muscles. You can begin strengthening and loosening your feet with gentle stretch exercises:
- Point and flex your feet.
- Rotate your ankles in circles.
- Roll your feet and toes over a rubber ball.
- Try toe curls and toe splays.
- Stretch the backs of your calves.
See Your Podiatrist
If your foot and ankle pain isn’t properly treated, it can lead to further injury. An experienced podiatrist can examine your foot and come up with a treatment plan that works for you. Since symptoms of pandemic foot can vary, it’s a good idea to get your feet checked— especially if your last visit was pre-pandemic. Your podiatrist can suggest better footwear, personalized exercises, and more so that your feet are happy once again.
Kick Pandemic Foot to the Curb
With multiple locations in Southwest Florida, Foot & Ankle Group is here to answer all of your pandemic foot questions. If you think you have a foot or ankle condition, come on in and find a solution with us. We are here to help.
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