Why it’s important to look after your feet during the colder months
The winter months can play havoc with your feet, but taking care of your feet and wearing supportive insoles can help alleviate the pain
Many people find winter to be a miserable time of year. The days are short, the weather is wet and cold, and colds and illnesses are rife. But did you know, in addition to these maladies, winter can also be a difficult time for your feet?
One of the most common winter foot complaints is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a web-like ligament that connects the heel to the front of the foot, providing support for your foot arch and acting as a shock absorber. When this ligament is damaged it causes stiffness or pain in the heel of the foot.
There are a number of reasons why plantar fasciitis and other foot pain is more prevalent during the winter months.
The colder temperatures we experience during the winter is one of the key causes of foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, heel pain and arch pain. In the colder weather, joint tissues can shrink, causing them to pull on nerve endings, which can lead to pain and discomfort in the feet and legs. Low temperatures can also interfere with your circulation, and many people find themselves suffering from conditions such as chilblains and Raynaud’s Phenomenon – both of which can be painful.
Believe it or not, those flimsy flip flops you wore all through the summer can also be responsible for your foot pain. They may have been comfortable at the time but you were just storing up problems for the winter months. Shoes with little or no arch support put additional strain on your tendons and muscles whenever you walk in them. In these circumstances, your plantar fasciitis can become stretched, torn and inflamed.
While some people are out practicing winter sports, others are using the short days and unpleasant weather as an excuse to go into hibernation mode. This, added to the traditional Christmas overindulgence, means that many of us find ourselves several pounds heavier by the time spring arrives – and this can have an adverse effect on your feet. The extra weight puts added pressure on your heel arches, which can irritate your plantar fascia and ultimately lead to heel pain.
Looking after your feet
Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimise the risk of foot pain. Most importantly, you need to choose winter footwear that is well-fitting and supportive. The most effective footwear for heel pain should come with plantar fasciitis insoles that offer extra support and cushioning for your heel arches – helping to take the pressure off your tendons. However, avoid standard, one-size-fits-all insoles – the best insoles for plantar fasciitis have customisable metatarsal supports that can be adjusted to suit your specific needs.
In addition to wearing the right footwear, staying off your feet and practicing daily foot and leg stretches will also help to keep your feet healthy and minimise the pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
By choosing the right footwear and treating your feet with care and respect, you can help your feet to remain pain-free throughout the winter and beyond.