Happy Feet

| August 01, 2005

Truckers are susceptible to several common foot ailments.

We’ve all heard that the eyes are the window to the soul, but who knew that the feet are the mirrors of your health?

The average person probably wouldn’t, but foot doctors, aka podiatrists, know that foot ailments can signify much greater medical conditions like diabetes, arthritis and nerve or circulatory disorders.

Since three out of four Americans experience serious foot issues in their lifetimes, it is important to know about potential problems and treatments to ensure that your tootsies don’t prevent you from driving. With one-fourth of the body’s bones and the weight of a whole body on them, the feet have a lot of potential problems.

Because of the work they do, truckers can be susceptible to foot problems. It is essential to recognize them, if possible, before they become a problem that affects your ability to work.

Heel trouble
According to podiatrist Dr. Robert Hope, heel pain is possibly the most common problem among drivers because they prop their feet on their heels for hours at a time. The pressure applied to the heel can cause plantar fasciitis, which is the inflammation or stretching of the plantar fascia, a broad band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom surface of the foot from the heel through the midfoot to the forefoot. It is usually caused by a biomechanical problem like over-pronation from flat feet, but the inactivity of driving can contribute to the problem. Often, the pain will be most intense in the morning or after long trips from inactivity because movement helps warm up the muscles and ligaments in the foot.

“The long periods of rest behind the wheel make the feet stiff and hurt even worse when they get up,” says Hope.

Weight is another factor in heel pain. Because of the inactive lifestyle of driving, a lot of drivers can be overweight, which can add even more stress on the feet. “Extra weight can increase the pain of everything from an ingrown toenail to a bunion,” says Hope.

Being overweight and having stiff feet can be a painful combination when a driver gets out of his truck. Drivers tend to jump down out of their trucks, further irritating any heel pain.

To treat heel pain, you must absorb the impact, provide cushioning and elevate the heel to transfer the pressure. Because a driver cannot prop one foot up while driving with the other, other devices such as a heel cup, a visco heel cradle or an orthotic designed to absorb shock and sheer forces should be used to treat the pain. You can find these devices at online retailers like www.insole.com, but consider getting these orthotics through your podiatrist to ensure that you are getting the appropriate treatment.

Proper footwear selection can also impact foot comfort. Shoes with a firm heel counter, adequate arch support and moderate heel height are ideal to avoid heel pain.

Tough as nails
Toenail fungus is a major problem for more than just truck drivers. Approximately 5 percent of people have toenail problems within a given year, but half of all Americans will have a toenail fungus by the age of 70, according to this site.

Toenail fungus infections occur when microscopic fungi enter the nail through a small cut and thrive in the warm, moist environment created by socks and shoes. You can identify a toenail infection by symptoms such as swelling, yellowing, thickening or crumbling of the nail, streaks or spots on the nail, or even the complete loss of the nail. Toenail color can vary from yellow or brown to white.

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