This week is Women’s Health Week and today’s focus is physical activity. We know how important physical activity is for maintaining muscle strength, co-ordination and balance. Physical activity has also been shown to help reduce the risk of chronic disease and decrease the loss of bone mass in women over the age 20.
Getting into regular physical activity is recommended but there are some important tips to remember before you start!
You may be eager to start your exercise regime and over-do it at the start. Soft tissue that is not used to tolerating increased loads may start to become painful. Tendinitis/ tendinopathy affecting the foot and ankle are common overuse injuries that we see in our patient population who have just started an exercise regime. Your exercise program needs to be graded so that your body and tissue can adapt to the increased load. Mild muscle soreness in the 2-4 following days post exercise is generally OK but pain is not.
Check your footwear! We commonly see patients wearing the wrong type of footwear or footwear that is worn out. Training shoes should have a firm heel counter, firm midsole with a cushioned rubber outer sole. They only last approximately 600-800km of use. If they have been sitting in your cupboard for a few years, it’s ideal to replace them as the rubber components dry out and disintegrate. Even if your shoes ‘look ok’, the internal components still start to break down.
Do a light warm up before beginning your exercise. Its best not to do static stretching before exercising. Static stretching can not only inhibit that muscle groups strength for the next 30 minutes but can also compress tendons contributing to tendinitis/ tendinopathy. It’s better to do a light active warm up focusing on joint mobility rather than passive stretch holds. Static stretching has been shown not to reduce injury rates.
You should check with your GP before beginning an intense exercise regime particularly if you are overweight, have a chronic health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, have high blood pressure or heart/lung/neurological disorders.
If you experience any pain that does not resolve or sustain an injury to your foot/ ankle then a podiatrist can diagnose, treat and manage your injury. They are also qualified to assist you with footwear choice and starting a lower limb strengthening regime prior to you starting exercise.