How to Stay Hydrated for Better Health

Water isn’t just a refreshing thirst-quencher. It’s essential to almost all bodily functions, from lubricating our joints to pumping blood to our heart. Staying hydrated is a key part of maintaining good health. That’s why the advice to “drink 8 glasses a day” has become a familiar mantra on morning talk shows and in magazines.

What is the meaning of “hydrated”? Being hydrated simply means that your body has enough fluids to function properly. According to the American Heart Association, the amount of water each person needs can vary. A quick way to tell if you’re drinking enough is to check the color of your urine. If it’s pale in color and clear, you are likely well-hydrated. If it’s dark-colored with amber or brown tones, you may be dehydrated.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is a potentially serious condition that can occur when you don’t consume enough fluids for your body’s needs. This can lead to health complications ranging from mild to life-threatening, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), heatstroke, heart problems, kidney failure, and blood clot complications. Since dehydration affects the health of your cells, it can also lower your body’s ability to ward off infections and heal from injury or illness.

Why dehydration is more likely to affect older adults

As you get older, it’s even more important to stay hydrated. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Nursing found that up to 40% of elderly people may be chronically underhydrated.

Seniors are more vulnerable to dehydration for a number of reasons:

  • Appetite and thirst tend to diminish with age. This means that even when your body is craving fluids, you might not be aware of it—and you may drink less than you need to stay healthy.
  • Older adults experience body composition changes over time that leave them with less water in their bodies to start with.
  • Seniors are more likely to take medications that increase dehydration risk.

Additionally—according to a recent study—older adults’ bodies don’t regulate temperature as efficiently as those of younger people.1 This means that during exercise or activity, seniors are more likely to become dehydrated through sweating.

Symptoms of dehydration

Even mild dehydration can cause an array of uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms. Understanding the warning signs can help you take action before the situation becomes severe.

Early dehydration symptoms include:

  • Dark-colored urine, urinating less frequently
  • Fatigue, or feeling weak
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps in arms or legs
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion, decreased cognitive function

The tiredness and lack of coordination that may result from dehydration can also lead to falls and injury. The best way to prevent dehydration is the simplest: drink more water throughout the day.

How much water do you need to stay hydrated?

As a general rule, you should take one-third of your body weight and drink that number of ounces in fluids. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink 50 ounces of water each day.

However, it’s best to talk to your doctor to determine how much water you should be drinking daily. They can review your medical history with you as well as any over-the-counter or prescription medications you’re currently taking. Certain medications cause the body to flush out more water. And some medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, also make people more prone to dehydration.

How to stay hydrated every day

There are simple steps you can take to get the water your body craves. Below are some ideas to get you started:

Choose foods with high water content. If you have trouble drinking fluids, try including water-rich foods with every meal. These include cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes and celery. Soups, broths and stews are also a good way to boost your fluid intake, especially in the colder weather. If you’re watching your sodium, be sure to opt for low-sodium versions.

Keep water with you, always. Having hydration at your fingertips can make it easier to get the right amount of fluids. Carry a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go, or keep a lightweight water pitcher and cup near your favorite chair at home.

Avoid or reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it prompts your body to remove fluids from your bloodstream. Limiting alcoholic beverages can help your body hang on to more of the water it needs to thrive.

Change it up. Pure, clean water is the best way to stay hydrated. But let’s face it—drinking plain water all day can get boring! Try jazzing up your H2O by adding slices of fresh lemon, apple, cucumber or berries. You may also choose to switch up water with other options such as low-sugar sports drinks or protein and nutritional shakes specifically designed for seniors. Coffee and tea can have a slight dehydrating effect, so they should not be counted toward your daily fluid intake.

Build hydration into your routine. Making it a point to drink water at certain times each day can help transform it into a healthy habit. For example, consume a glass of water when you wake up in the morning, after every meal, and before and after exercise or activity.

If you’re looking for additional tips on how to stay hydrated, ask your healthcare provider. Getting enough water each day is an easy yet vitally important way to stay healthy and active as an older adult.

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Get the Facts on Falls Prevention

Key Takeaways

  • With one in four Americans aged 65+ falling each year, NCOA provides facts, tools, and fall prevention strategies to help keep you safe.
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach over $101 billion by 2030.
  • Learn more about the Falls Free® Initiative and how this national effort has promoted effective falls prevention strategies for older adults.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

The Challenges of Falls

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
  • The older adult population is projected to increase by 55% by 2060, hence falls rates and health care spending are projected to rise.
  • Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations.
  • In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion.
  • Each year about $50 billion is spent on medical costs related to non-fatal fall injuries and $754 million is spent related to fatal falls.
  • The cost of treating falls is projected to increase to over $101 billion by 2030.The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.

National Council on Aging’s Role

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) leads the National Falls Prevention Resource Center, which supports awareness and educational efforts about falls and promotes evidence-based falls prevention programs and strategies across the nation. The purpose of the center is to:

  • Increase public awareness and educate consumers and professionals about the risks of falls and how to prevent falls.
  • Support and stimulate the implementation, dissemination, and sustainability of evidence-based falls prevention programs and strategies to reduce the incidence of falls among older adults and adults with disabilities.
  • Serve as the national clearinghouse of tools, best practices, and other information on falls and falls prevention.

The National Falls Prevention Resource Center leads the Falls Free® Initiative, a national effort to address the growing public health issue of falls, fall-related injuries and deaths. The initiative includes a coalition of over 70 national organizations charged with working toward the progress of one or more of the strategies in the National Action Plan. Members are engaged in disseminating proven falls prevention programs, advocating for funding, and educating older adults about how they can reduce their risk of falling. The initiative also includes a 43-member State Coalition on Falls Prevention Workgroup charged with collaboratively promoting effective strategies to address falls.

The Falls Free® Initiative’s work includes:

  • Falls Free® National Action Plan: In March 2005, NCOA released the landmark evidence-based Falls Free® National Action Plan to prevent falls and fall-related injuries in older adults. The plan was updated in 2015 and continues to serve as a roadmap and catalyst for action. The plan includes goals, strategies and action steps to increase physical mobility, reduce the impact of medications as a falls risk factor, and improve home and environmental safety. The plan also promotes the expansion and funding of falls risk screening, assessment, and evidence-based programs.
  • National Falls Prevention Awareness WeekEvery September on the first day of fall, the Falls Free® Initiative promotes National Falls Prevention Awareness Week. States are encouraged to host and promote falls prevention awareness and screening activities to draw attention to the problem and offer older adults practical solutions.

If You Are at Risk for Falls, You Need Us!

Physical therapy training includes assessment, exercise prescription, and progression, all with appropriate monitoring. All these skills can be utilized for older adults before injury happens.

For more information:  

This project was supported in part by grant number 90CR2001-01-00 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.

source: ncoa.org

Do You Know Your Movement Vital Signs?

Most people think of heart rate or blood pressure when they think of vital signs. It is common to use numbers to quantify health and risk of disease. The American Heart Association encourages people to “know their numbers” referring to blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight. However, research is now showing the importance of moving properly for health. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers you can use to quantify your movement health:

Walking Speed

Walking speed has been called the “sixth vital sign” in medical literature recently. It is easy to measure and takes into account strength, balance, coordination, confidence, cardiovascular fitness, tolerance to activity, and a whole host of other factors. It has also been shown to be predictive of future hospitalizations, functional decline, and overall mortality. Normal walking speed is considered to be 1.2 to 1.4 meters per second.


Push-ups are popular to build strength, but a recent study found that they can show us a lot about your heart too. Researchers found that men who could do 40 or more consecutive push-ups were at a 96% lower risk for cardiovascular disease than were men who could do less than 10. The push-up test was also more useful in predicting future cardiovascular disease than aerobic capacity measured on a treadmill.

Grip Strength

Hand grip strength has been shown to be strongly correlated with health. The stronger your hand grip is, the less likely you are to suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, COPD, and all types of cancer. In the study, muscle weakness was defined as grip strength <26 kg for men and <16 kg for women. Grip strength below these numbers was highly correlated with an increase in disease.

Standing From the Floor

If you can’t easily get down on the floor and back up your health might be in trouble, according to a study that looked at more than 2,000 people. The study asked people to go from standing to sitting on the floor and back up with as little support as needed. They found that if you need to use more than one hand to get up and down from the floor that you were 2 to 5 times more likely to die in the next 7 years than someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better, no hands at all.

Moving well is obviously important to overall health and longer life. These tests can give a snapshot of how you’re doing. If you’re having trouble with any of them, considering seeing a movement specialist – our physical therapists!

Bone Health: What You Should Know

Healthy bones can help you stay strong and active throughout your life. If good bone health is achieved during childhood and maintained, it can help to avoid bone loss and fracture later in life. For healthy bones, it is important to maintain a physically active lifestyle and eat a balanced diet with plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and perhaps other supplements as needed. Physical therapists can design a unique program for you to help keep your bones healthy.

Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that affects both men and women (mostly women), usually as they age. It is associated with low bone mass and thinning of the bone structure, making bones fragile and more likely to break.

Some people are more at risk for osteoporosis than others. Not all risk factors can be changed, but healthy habits and a proper exercise routine designed by your physical therapist can keep bones healthy and reduce risk. Risk factors* include:

  • Age: More common in older individuals
  • Sex: More common in women
  • Family History: Heredity
  • Race and Ethnicity: Affects all races. In the US, increased risk for Caucasian, Asian, or Latino
  • Weight: Low body weight (small and thin)
  • Diet, especially one low in calcium and vitamin D
  • History of broken bones
  • Menopause
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Certain medications, diseases, and other medical conditions

Physical therapists can help prevent osteoporosis and treat its effects by designing individualized exercise programs to benefit bone health, improve posture, and enhance core stability and balance. Most of these exercises are simple and can be done at home with no special equipment.

Fight Fracture with Fitness

Inactivity is a major risk factor for osteoporosis. The right exercises and good habits can keep bones strong and prevent or reverse the effects of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, is an important way to build and maintain healthy bones. Muscle-strengthening exercises have been found to stimulate bone growth and can help prevent and treat osteoporosis. These types of exercises are best if started early in life and done regularly. However, it is important to remember that you can begin exercising at any age and still reap great benefits.

Avoid exercises and daily activities which round the spine, such as sit-ups, crunches, bending down to tie your shoes, exercise machines that involve forward bending of the trunk, and movements and sports that round and twist the spine.

If you have osteoporosis, are at high risk for a fall or fracture, or have a medical condition, affecting your ability to exercise, do not begin an exercise program without first consulting your physician and a physical therapist.



Exercise for Arthritis: What You Should Know

Do you have stiff, achy, painful joints? You’re not alone.

An estimated 54 million adults are living with this chronic condition. It is called arthritis.

Arthritis steals movement. It sometimes keeps you from doing the things you love. But with a bit of effort, you can restore some movement and regain your ability to enjoy activities.

Regular exercise (physical activity) is one of the best ways to improve pain, stiffness, and range of motion, the common arthritis symptoms. It also can benefit your physical, mental, and social health. It even can prevent or improve many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and some cancers.

Many people with arthritis think exercise will be painful — probably because they’ve tried, and it was. But we know through research that people with arthritis can exercise without worsening their pain. Plus, regular physical activity can decrease arthritis pain and improve walking activities. The trick is doing the right exercises, in the right way, at the right time.

It isn’t easy. Arthritis is a complicated condition. Once arthritis moves into a joint, the muscles surrounding the joint become weakened. This leads to a ripple effect of joint pain and muscle weakness.

If you’ve tried to exercise and stopped because of pain, consider seeing a physical therapist. They can work with you to develop a safe and effective strengthening and conditioning program to help reduce your pain, not add to it. In the process, you also can improve your mobility and function. The bottom line:  exercise shouldn’t hurt if you have arthritis.

People with arthritis need to increase their exercise routines more gradually than those without it. A physical therapist will partner with you to develop a program for your specific ability and goals. Walking, cycling and swimming are great forms of cardiovascular exercise. Strength training and stretching are equally important. A physical therapist can teach you how to exercise with the correct form and posture. They also will help you exercise for the right amount of time and intensity.

If you have questions about how physical activity can help address your arthritis symptoms, our physical therapist can help. Call us today!


10 Exercises To Do In the Pool

Pool (aquatic) exercise provides many benefits, including an ideal environment to exercise throughout the year. The buoyancy of the water supports a portion of your body weight making it easier to move in the water and improve your flexibility. The water also provides resistance to movements, which helps to strengthen muscles.

Pool exercises can also improve agility, balance, and cardiovascular fitness. Many types of conditions greatly benefit from pool exercise, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, joint replacements, neurological, and balance conditions. The pool environment also reduces the risk of falls when compared to exercise on land.

Preparing for the Pool

Before starting any pool exercise program, always check with your physical therapist or physician to make sure pool exercises are right for you. Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands on care, patient education, and prescribed movement.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Water shoes will help to provide traction on the pool floor.
  • Water level can be waist or chest high.
  • Use a Styrofoam noodle or floatation belt/vest to keep you afloat in deeper water.
  • Slower movements in the water will provide less resistance than faster movements.
  • You can use webbed water gloves, Styrofoam weights, inflated balls, or kickboards for increased resistance.
  • Never push your body through pain during any exercise.
  • Although you will not notice that you sweat with pool exercises, it is still important to drink plenty of water.

10 Excellent Exercises for the Pool

1. Water walking or jogging: Start with forward and backward walking in chest or waist-high water. Walk about 10-20 steps forward, and then walk backward. Increase speed to make it more difficult. Also, increase intensity by jogging gently in place. Alternate jogging for 30 seconds with walking in place for 30 seconds. Continue for 5 minutes.

2. Forward and side lunges: Standing near a pool wall for support, if necessary, take an oversized lunge step in a forward direction. Do not let the forward knee advance past the toes. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. For a side lunge, face the pool wall and take an oversized step to the side. Keep toes facing forward. Repeat on the other side. Try 3 sets of 10 lunge steps. For variation, lunge walk in a forward or sideways direction instead of staying in place.

3. One leg balance: Stand on 1 leg while raising the other knee to hip level. Place a pool noodle under the raised leg, so the noodle forms a “U” with your foot in the center of the U. Hold as long as you can up to 30 seconds and switch legs. Try 1-2 sets of 5 on each leg.

4. Sidestepping Face the pool wall. Take sideways steps with your body and toes facing the wall. Take 10-20 steps in 1 direction and then return. Repeat twice in each direction.

5. Hip kickers at pool wall: Stand with the pool wall to one side of your body for support. Move 1 leg in a forward direction with the knee straight, like you are kicking. Return to start. Then move the same leg to the side, and return to the start position. Lastly, move that same leg behind you. Repeat 3 sets of 10 and switch the kicking leg.

6. Pool planks: Hold the noodle in front of you. Lean forward into a plank position. The noodle will be submerged under the water, and your elbows should be straight downward toward the pool floor. Your feet should still be on the pool floor. Hold as long as comfortable, 15-60 seconds depending on your core strength. Repeat 3-5 times.

7. Deep water bicycle: In deeper water, loop 1-2 noodles around the back of your body and rest your arms on top of the noodle for support in the water. Move your legs as if you are riding a bicycle. Continue for 3-5 minutes.

8. Arm raises: Using arm paddles or webbed gloves for added resistance, hold arms at your sides. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Raise and lower elbows and arms toward the water surface, while the elbows remain bent to 90 degrees. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

9. Push-ups: While standing in the pool by the poolside, place arms shoulder-width apart on pool edge. Press weight through your hands and raise your body up and halfway out of the water, keeping elbows slightly bent. Hold 3 seconds and slowly lower back into pool. (Easier variation: Wall push up on side of pool: place hands on edge of pool shoulder-width apart, bend elbows, and lean chest toward the pool wall.)

10. Standing knee lift: Stand against the pool wall with both feet on the floor. Lift 1 knee up like you are marching in place. While the knee is lifted even with your hip, straighten your knee. Continue to bend and straighten your knee 10 times, and then repeat on the other leg. Complete 3 sets of 10 on each leg. For more of a challenge, try this exercise without standing against the pool wall.



7 Exercises You Should Try if You Are Over 50

Aging past 50 years brings with it wisdom and perspective, but it can also mean a slow decline of physical abilities.

As we age, strength, balance, and coordination can deteriorate if they are not being challenged and practiced each day. Loss of these abilities can make it difficult or painful to perform your everyday activities.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, regular physical activity can benefit your physical, mental, and social health, and prevent or improve many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and some cancers. For substantial health benefits, adults (ages 18 through 64 years, with and without chronic health conditions and disabilities, who are able) should do at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, and strengthening exercises two days per week.

If you are over age 50, incorporating the following exercises into your daily physical activity routine can help you with strength, agility, and balance.

1. Sidewalking

Walking sideways “wakes up” the hip muscles on the sides of the pelvis, which are essential to support the knees, ankles, and spine. They also assist in keeping your balance when walking.

What to do: Several times per day, step 10 times to the right, followed by stepping 10 times to the left. Keep hands on a kitchen counter or long table while sidestepping, if support is needed. To make it more challenging, tie an exercise band around your thighs, just above the knees, to create resistance.

2. Shoulder blade squeezes

Middle-aged and older people often have forward-curved posture, usually as a result of simply not practicing proper upright posture. This posture can reduce how deeply we can inhale, and cause neck and back pain.

What to do: Several times per day, squeeze shoulder blades together and downward. Hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This exercise can help you stand up straighter and even breathe more deeply.

3. Abdominal drawing-in

Our abdominal muscles support the spine. With age, these muscles can become weaker unless they are being actively exercised. Weak abdominals can predispose people to back pain.

What to do: Several times per day, pull your belly button inward toward your spine. Hold for 5 seconds, without holding your breath. Repeat 10 times. As you get used to doing this, try doing it when you are walking, exercising, and during all other activities. It can protect your back from injury and pain.

4. Balancing

Good balance comes naturally to us when we are young, but over time we can become less skilled with balance. Good balance helps prevent falls and related injuries.

What to do: Several times per day, stand on both feet with your hands on a kitchen counter or a sturdy table. Slowly lift one foot, and try to balance on the other foot for 10-15 seconds. Then do the same thing on the other foot. Repeat 5 times on each foot.  If this is easy, try closing your eyes while standing on both feet. If that is easy, close your eyes while standing on one foot. Be sure to have someone standing close by to help you avoid falling.

5. Stand up and sit down

The strength and endurance of the hip and thigh muscles determine how well middle-aged and older adults can get around their homes and the community. If these muscles lose strength, standing and walking can become difficult.

What to do: Several times per day, sit in a sturdy chair with no armrests. Stand up and sit back down, rising and lowering in a controlled motion. Do this slowly 5 times. Then do it more quickly 5 times. You can use your hands to help you, if you need to, at first. Try to work toward not needing to use your hands. Over time, this exercise can help your leg muscles feel stronger.

6. Pelvic floor training

Pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that we sit on, at the very bottom of the torso) play an important role in incontinence (urine and bowel movement control), spine support, and sexual response. The pelvic floor muscles can lose strength with age, illness, weight gain, and sedentary lifestyle in both men and women, and with pregnancy in women.

What to do: Several times per day, squeeze the muscles in your pelvic floor area as if attempting to stop the flow of urine or hold back gas. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat up to 10 times. Do not tighten leg, hip, or abdominal muscles or hold your breath when you do this exercise.

7. Front and back stepping

Coordination and agility are important to athletes, but they are also essential for middle-aged and older adults. Loss of coordination and agility can occur with aging or inactivity and can lead to an increased risk of falls and related injuries.

What to do: One time or more per day, with your hands on the kitchen counter or a sturdy long table, cross the right leg in front of the left leg and step on the right foot. Carefully lift the left foot and step out to the left, then cross your right leg behind the left leg, and step on the right foot. Again, carefully lift the left foot and step out to the left. Repeat 2 more times. Then, carefully change directions, and do it to the right side. Start by crossing the left leg in front of the right leg. This exercise is a little more complex, so be sure to have someone standing close by to help you avoid falling.

If you are experiencing issues with your strength, balance, and coordination, speak with a physical therapist. Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed exercise.



Don’t Lose Your “Footprint”; Claim it.

Studies show that 75 percent of people experience foot problems at some point in their lives. These problems are common from children to seniors, from top athletes to people with sedentary lifestyles.

Loss of the “Footprint”: The human foot was originally designed to walk on natural, soft surfaces like earth and sand, instead we now spend most of the day on unnatural, hard, flat surfaces like pavements and floors. This loss of our “footprint” has resulted in a new modern variety of pain.

The normal lower limb has a 3-to 4-degree tibial varum (mild bow-legged) angle when approaching the ground. When the feet strike natural surfaces like earth and sand, these surfaces give way to accommodate the foot’s strike angle. However, when the feet strike hard, flat surfaces like pavements and floors, the feet flatten and pronate excessively upon contact. Excess pronation may cause:

  • Calcaneal eversion
  • Internal tibial rotation
  • Medial plantar displacement of the talus upon the calcaneus
  • Lowering and elongation of the arch structure
  • Excess weight bearing over the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint
  • Excess medial lower-limb strain
  • Excess lateral upper-limb compensation

Vasyli Orthotics

Claiming Back the “Footprint”: VASYLI orthotics realign the lower limb to its natural angle and may help relieve common biomechanical complaints. In combination with a physical therapy regimen, orthotics may help alleviate complaints due to:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Hallux abducto valgus (bunion)
  • Patellofemoral pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Tibial stress syndrome
  • Iliotibial band syndrome

No one footprint is the same. Establishing the relationship of nature versus common era functional surfaces helps our physical therapists to identify the key factor to successful orthotic prescription.


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Tackling Big Toe Pain

Your big toe is an important part of the body. It helps to keep our balance, bends with each step we take, gets jammed with any quick stops or twisting motion, and is under added stress when wearing high-heels.

With anything that takes a beating like the big toe, occasional pain is normal and could stem from a busy, activity-filled day, but constant pain could be the sign of an arthritic condition called hallux rigidus. Hallux refers to the big toe and rigidus means the toe is rigid and cannot move. If it’s in an earlier stage and movement is only slightly limited it’s called hallux limitus, but as the joint stiffens and worsens over time it can make it difficult for you to walk, stand for long periods of time or crouch down. Hallux rigidus can be hereditary, but often it is caused by repetitive stress from the workplace or some sports. Workers who are required to stoop a lot, golf and tennis players are more prone to developing hallux rigidus. It can also stem from an injury like a severely stubbed toe.

If you experience any big toe pain while standing for long periods, walking, squatting or bending over, it’s time to contact a foot and ankle surgeon for an examination. If caught early, it can be improved over time with conservative treatments such as shoe modifications, physical therapy, orthotics, medication or injection therapy. As the condition worsens if conservative treatment methods fail, surgery may be required.


Feet First: Six Tips To Maintain Healthy Feet and the Freedom To Move

Your feet are among your most important body parts. They get you where you want to go, help you stay healthy through physical activity, and provide freedom of movement. However, it’s easy to take your feet for granted — until you have an injury or problem.

Foot health is important for everyone. Most of us don’t think a lot about foot care, but it’s essential to prevent foot health issues to keep your whole body healthy. Foot health is even more vital for people with diabetes.

The following six tips can help you improve or maintain your foot health and the freedom to move.

1. Clean Your Feet Daily and Wear Clean, Dry Socks

Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water. Avoid using hot or cold water. Water that is too hot or too cold can damage your skin, especially in people with diabetes who have decreased skin sensation. Use a soft washcloth or sponge and gentle soap. Then, rinse thoroughly and dry your feet completely before donning socks and shoes.

When our feet sweat, moisture gets held against our skin by most socks. Socks that are bunched up or too tight around the ankles or calf also can cause irritation or problems. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons warns that having diabetes increases the risk of developing a wide range of foot problems. People with diabetes should consider special socks designed with extra cushioning and moisture-wicking fiber.

2. Inspect Your Feet Regularly

Check your feet for blisters, redness, small cuts, or cracked skin. If you can’t see the bottom of your feet, use a hand mirror with magnification. If you notice any problems, contact a doctor or physical therapist. Never ignore a problem with your feet. If you have diabetes, check your feet daily.

3. Cut Nails Carefully and Regularly

Keep your nails trimmed, but not too short. Nails that are cut too short can become ingrown and cause soreness or infection. It is best to cut nails straight across and then carefully file the edges. If you cannot cut your own nails, a podiatrist can assist. If you use a nail salon, make sure to tell them to be careful not to cut your toenails too short or injure your skin during filing.

4. Always Wear Well-Fitted Shoes

Shoes that don’t fit well may cause blisters that can lead to infection or other problems. Make sure you choose shoes that do not irritate your feet. Wear shoes that properly support your feet and ankles to ensure safety while walking.

A physical therapist can help ensure that your shoes fit properly for general wear or sports-specific activities and recommend shoes or shoe inserts (orthotics) for proper support.

5. Moisturize Your Feet at Night

Keep your skin soft and healthy by moisturizing every night. This can help prevent itching or cracking. Avoid putting lotion between your toes.

6. Keep your Blood Sugar Under Control

According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes can affect your feet. High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, resulting in loss of skin sensation. Reduced blood flow also can make it harder for your feet to heal from an injury or resist infection.

Regular physical activity and proper nutrition are keys to preventing type 2 diabetes and maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels. Whether you have diabetes or not, it is important to get the recommended amount of daily physical activity to prevent and manage many chronic conditions and diseases.

Our physical therapists are movement experts who help people with foot problems improve their quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. They also can help people with diabetes improve their strength, balance, and endurance, and maintain good skin health.