“I’ve been feeling pain in my heels the past couple of weeks, despite just being at home most of the time. I’m just working-from-home (WFH) and doing household chores.. why?” This is a common complaint we have been hearing in clinics recently.
In a recent article published by CNA Lifestyle, Orthopaedic Surgeons in Singapore saw at least a 10% increase in the number of people experiencing foot pain and podiatric concerns since 2020, during the season of Covid-19 Circuit Breaker and WFH arrangements. How can that be so?
Why do I get foot pain when I’m at home more often?
As the population transits into WFH arrangements, people are spending more time on their feet barefooted as compared to wearing shoes in their daily activities when they leave their homes. A pair of shoes typically helps to provide cushioning and support for the feet during ambulating activities. As such, it is understandable that more foot ailments will arise when people spend more time on their bare feet walking on hard floors at home.
If you have been living in Singapore, you would have also noticed more people getting out of their homes for exercises, be it for health reasons or to keep that sanity of mind while battling cabin fever. While it is reported that the vertical pressures through the foot during walking may not exceed 120% of the body weight, it is known that the impact forces going through either one foot while running may reach anywhere between 275% to 400% of the body weight. One can only imagine how much more impact your feet must endure when jumping barefooted on the hard ground when you do your HIIT exercises at home. Ouch!
In the US, Podiatrists have also noticed a 3 to 4 times increase in people reporting of broken bones in their toes. As people spend more time walking around barefooted at home, incidences of people stubbing their toes onto furniture by accident become more frequent.
Some common foot pain conditions while staying at home
One of the most common conditions affecting our feet is Plantar Fasciitis, where people experience pain at the bottom of their heels. The pain typically comes during the first few steps when you get out of bed or when you get out of your chair, and it may get worse with increased amounts of walking and standing.
Without supportive shoes, tendons and muscles around the foot arch area may fatigue and result in overuse or inflammation. One such common condition is called Posterior Tibialis Tendon Dysfunction. Typically, the pain worsens with more walking, and you may notice some swelling in the arches. In more serious cases, you may experience pain in this area when you attempt to go on tip-toes.
Callus (Hard skin)
Certain parts of the feet may experience more pressure when moving around barefooted at home and result in the development of Callus and Corns. The hard skin, otherwise known as Hyperkeratosis, may cause pain when it grows too thick. Common areas that may develop Hyperkeratosis include your heels, ball of the feet and the toes.
When nails are not trimmed appropriately, small nail spikes trapped in the skinfolds may cause inflammations and infections, resulting in ingrown toenail wounds. There may be pain, swelling and redness in your toe, and sometimes pus and blood may be noticed as well. An ingrown nail may also occur when you accidentally stub your toe.
What can you do to protect your feet?
- Check your feet daily
It will be helpful to take a look at your feet daily to ensure there are no cuts or injuries. If there are any issues, it is best to resolve the matter early before it turns into something serious and painful.
- Wear footwear at home
Wearing a pair of cushioning slippers at home can provide some comfort if you experience pain in your feet. Even if you stub your toe onto some furniture, having a footwear over your foot can help cushion some of that impact. For certain feet conditions, you may need specialised indoor footwear for better support and pressure distribution. If you’re concerned, always speak to a Podiatrist to find out what is best suited for your feet.
- Do some exercises
To help relieve some of the aches and discomforts in your feet, performing some simple lower limb exercises can help relieve these ailments. Such exercises may include doing calf stretches and tip-toe exercises.
- Basic foot care
Always keep your feet well moisturised with a good moisturiser. You may file away the hard skin on your feet with a pumice stone or an emery board when it becomes thick. In addition, always trim and keep your nails short and do not leave any sharp nail edges at the sides to prevent an ingrown toenail.
Looking after your feet is important and if there are any concerns, you can always speak to a Podiatrist to find out more!