Ringing in the New Year holds different meanings for everyone. Some look forward to big parties, while others focus on new goals and plans for the upcoming year.
With every January 1st, New Year’s resolutions abound. Those of all ages plan for positive changes and renew commitments to stick to an active lifestyle. One of the most popular ways to do this is by taking up a new exercise or weight loss routine.
In a recent press release, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association President and Chief Executive Officer said, “Tough economic times and looming health care costs are making it more important than ever for people to proactively care for their own health.” He explains, “Ben Franklin’s old adage, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ couldn’t be more true today. And the easiest, most cost-effective way for people to care for their health is to get moving.”
There is research available that supports the sentiments of the health club industry. A study that was published in December 2008 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that exercise routines that include weight training can shield people from the problems associated with osteoporosis. Lifting weights as well as high-impact exercise activities like step aerobics and running cause the body to increase the amount of calcium laid down in the bones providing strength.
The problem is, when people increase their activity too quickly this can backfire. From the beginning of January through Valentine’s Day, there is a sharp rise in overuse injuries. Podiatry Offices all over see a marked increase in tendonitis, foot injuries, and stress fractures. This can be related to someone’s new exercise routine.
When it comes to preventing pain in the foot and ankle, foot doctors recommend a gradual increase in activity. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolution workout programs often start and end with a bang.
When someone hasn’t been exercising for a long period of time, but then takes up an exercise routine, the risks of stress related injuries to the foot and ankle are significant. Doctors who specialize in foot care recommend increasing activity slowly. This allows your body to adapt to the increase in workload and biomechanical stress.
Two of the most common overuse injuries that are seen the beginning of the year are stress fractures and heel pain related to plantar fasciitis. Stress fractures occur when the amount of stress applied to the bones in the ball of the foot increases rapidly. The bone actually develops tiny little cracks that are not even visible on x-ray until they been present for several weeks. Most people with stress fractures described swelling in the foot and an area that hurts when they are active. There is almost never any bruising.
If not treated appropriately, stress fractures can worsen. In many cases, the crack can become so big that bone actually breaks into two pieces. These fractures have to be treated or the bone can heal in the wrong position. Continual foot pain can result. In some cases, simply slowing down and decreasing the level of activity will allow healing or the stress fracture to take place. In some cases, a fracture walking boot is needed to protect it.
Another common overuse injury is plantar fasciitis. This is a form of heel pain. It is extremely common. About 40% of all visits to podiatrists in the United States are because of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a large ligament on the bottom of the foot that attaches the heel to the toes. When it becomes inflamed, it can be very painful. Those suffering from bone spurs or plantar fasciitis will usually describe a sharp pain in the bottom of the heel when the get up out of bed first thing in the morning.
Interestingly, this sort of heel pain isn’t typically painful while walking or when exercising. Fortunately, this can usually be treated without much difficulty. In most cases, people don’t even have to decrease their activity levels or slow down their exercise routines. Plantar fasciitis can usually be treated adequately with some stretching exercises, icing the area and using orthotic inserts to stabilize the foot. Only rarely is surgery necessary to repair the plantar fascia.
One good way to ensure that you don’t wreck your New Year’s resolution and develop these sorts of problems, is to be sensible and increase your activity slowly. For runners, you should only increase your total weekly mileage by about 10% each week. If you are taking up weight lifting, resistance training,or step aerobics, it is worth the money to hire a certified personal trainer for guidance. With expert advice at hand, you will be able to avoid many of the common mistakes that people make when they start a new exercise program.
The benefits of exercise are well documented and can significantly reduce stress, help you to live longer and greatly increase your quality of life. With a little dedication, a bit of common sense, and your newfound determination, your new year will be healthier, happier and more successful than ever.