Following a fitness program need not mean taking the strain of ‘no pain, no gain’. Swati Basu Das examines how to avoid hitting a raw nerve when undergoing daily exercise.
It is always essential to understand that fitness comes at a cost.
Jumping into a high-impact regime too quickly can be distressing, as well as disappointing. It also might not necessarily improve your quality of life.
Any form of physical activity, whether it consists of sports or regular exercises, is undoubtedly the key to good health.
But when we overlook the risk factors related to errors of techniques and training, injuries can play games on us.
An ‘overuse injury’ is a term often used by medical professionals and trainers. Overuse injuries not only recur among sprinters and marathon runners, but also afflict joggers and walkers and especially those who are no longer young.
This type of injury can also pose a challenge to our daily routines, as our feet are prone to frequent injuries and soreness if we follow a rigorous physical training programme as well as a high-heeled lifestyle.
We can often ignore minor aches and fail to take note of all the things that can keep our feet healthy and mobile.
But our feet can flicker with sudden discomfort, which can lead to a severe medical condition called metatarsalgia.
A medical term – metatarsalgia is derived from the word ‘metatarsal’ – which relates to the bones found between the toe and the tarsal bones.
These bones provide foot movement as they work with connective tissue, ligaments and tendons. When we are injured due to wrong and forced movement they can trigger acute foot pain.
Dr Rajagopal T.N, Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon at NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ghubra, says: “Metatarsalgia is a musculoskeletal problem contributing to forefoot pain symptoms.
“The pain can be in one or more metatarsal heads. Affecting the ball of the foot or the metatarsal bone that connects the toes to the ankles, the high level of traumatic forces to the feet leads to forefoot injuries not only among athletes but also to the rest of us. The severity of metatarsalgia varies depending on the intensity of the force applied on the forefoot.”
High-impact physical training, wearing high-heeled or poorly-fitting shoes, arthritis, age-related wear and tear of tissues and tendons and even being overweight can trigger metatarsal pain.
It is therefore vital to know the reasons behind the risk factors and how to avoid them.
Age is all in your mind. You are only as old as you feel, or so they say. But when it comes to your body, you must appreciate your limitations going by the number of years you have passed.
Dr Rajagopal T.N. says: “Overuse injury occurs especially with age. The tendons attached to the muscles and bones become stiffer and lose their elasticity. The body becomes less tolerant to high-level physical stress as the years stack up.”
It is therefore vital to modify and stick to a safe physical routine and address any muscle weaknesses.
We often like to stick to a weekend exercise plan rather than following a planned programme. Such a routine can put a strain on our body of we try to fit in all types of physical activities in one day.
Dr Rajagopal T.N. says: “Exercising for a long hour and going too fast will strain your muscles and lead to this type of overuse injury. A wrong technique during physical training can cause metatarsal pain.”
Appropriate footwear can deal with the pain and inflammation caused due to metatarsalgia. The doctor prescribes a silicone gel footpad for extra support and cushion. Shoes that are too tight or with high heels can cause pain. Avoid them under all circumstances.
• Don’t let overuse injury make you physically inactive. Increase your pace gradually and safely under expert supervision.
• Wear the right and comfortable footwear. Avoid high heels. Use a silicone gel footpads. They provide extra cushioning from your feet.
• Always consult a doctor before switching to a new workout. Know the details surrounding techniques, intensity, durations etc.
• Strength training of a major muscle group is vital. Combining weight training and cardio with swimming, cycling, jogging and walking helps to avoid overload on one muscle group and thus prevents overuse injury.
• It is crucial to avoid stress. Take a break from the activity that caused the damage until completely cured.