SOME days it might seem as if the weight of the world were on your shoulders: on others, it may feel a lot closer to your feet. Let’s face it.
Your legs do a lot of work. They walk you about 5 km a day – around the house, in the office, on the streets, at work, at play.
So do you ever set off to work with a spring in your step and return home as though you’re got a couple of tree trunks down from your knees?
Do you bogey all night and wake up to aching feet and calves?
Because the feet must support the weight of the entire body, the misery brought on by aching feet is notoriously difficult to ignore. Or as an old expression states, when your feet hurt, everything hurts.
Heavy tired legs are not usually a sign of serious ill health, but they are unpleasant. The swelling and dragging feeling is caused by sluggish circulation and a part of the price we pay for being among the tiny handful of creatures that put themselves up the evolutionary ladder by standing on their hind legs.
Humans adopted the posture about 100 million years ago in order to in order to increase their field of vision and become better hunters. This has helped us to survive and prosper but it created a problem. How to get the blood all the way from the central pump – the heart – to our now far away toes and back again. Nature solves the problem with an ingenious system of pumps and valves. Blood is transported to our legs via thick muscular blood vessels called arteries. This leaves the heart under considerable pressure, but by the time the blood reaches your toes it is reduced to a trickle. Once the blood has delivered its oxygen to cells in your legs feet, it drains into the veins to return, via the lungs, to your heart.
Leg veins are of two distinct types. There are big deep ones buried in the calf muscles and smaller ones nearer the surface. These on the surface have a sheath of muscles and smaller ones nearer the surface. Those on the surface have a sheath of muscle in their walls, allowing them to contract and expand, so as to control heat loss from the skin’s surface.
The muscles which surround leg veins create the pumping action needed to push blood back to the heart. Every time you take a step the muscles contract, thus squeezing the blood vessels and forcing the blood up. This squeeze-and-suck effect also draws blood from the surface veins into the deeper veins. At the same time a system of one way valves in the veins stops returning blood from sinking back towards the feet.
The system is very clever but it can easily become inefficient. Some people appear to have fewer valves than others in their leg veins, while many have inherited a tendency for valves to become damaged or worn.
Women are more likely than men to suffer from heavy tired legs because the female hormones estrogen and progesterone relax the muscle tissue in the walls of the surface veins. That’s why many women find that the Pill aggravates matters and pregnant women invariably get swollen feet, partly because of the hormonal effect and partly because the foetus may press on the veins in the pelvis and restricts flow of blood back to the heart.
One of the most common causes of aching legs is unaccustomed overuse. Ill faming shoes, or pointy toes and impractical heels can also be culprits. Each day,
the feet arc subjected to a staggering amount of pressure. This force often exceeds the body’s weight when people walk, and it may be three to 4 times its weight when they run. When each step is added up, the feet endure loads equivalent to several hundred tons in a single day.
Aching legs are so common that they are just accepted as “one of those things you have to suffer.” But it’s worth visiting the doctor to check them out, especially if your pain increases during the day or you have trouble walking when you wake up.
Could you have?
Arterial disease in heavy smokers and with age the arteries tend to fur up, thus slowing down the blood supply and depriving muscles of oxygen. When this happens in the leg arteries it causes severe pain knows as claudicating in the calf during exertion. The victim limps and stops, and the pain is relieved by rest.
Medication can help. But claudicating in time starve the lower leg of oxygen and in very severe cases the limb may need amputation.
Arthritis Pain and stiffness occurs when the cartilage that cushions joints deteriorates. In your legs, the knee and base of the big toe are vulnerable. It can be caused by your weight and excessive repetitive stress due to endurance type sports or occupation. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory help. So can some sort of heat treatment or ice bags. Chrondroitin sulfate and glucosamine (rejoin) is reputed to provide vital nutrients to relieve cartilage damage and guard against further degeneration.
Occasional steroid injections on the knee bring relief. The knee joints can also be replaced by artificial ones that last for ten to 15 years.
Blisters Often from on heels or soles rubbed by ill-fitting shoes. Petroleum jelly on the top and bottom of the vulnerable parts cuts friction and makes your feet less liable to blistering. Clean blistered skin and apply a dry sterile gauze pad, until the: fluid reabsorbs itself. If a blister breaks wash with an antiseptic, soap and keep it covered with a dry sterile pad. If a broken blister demonstrates redness or pus, see your doctor.
Choose the right shoe
The wrong shoe can damage not just your feet, but your pelvis, knees, and spine. Right doesn’t mean:; frumpy, so opt for day time shoes with a three; centimeter (or less) heed with enough room to wiggle your toes (upto a centimeter in front of your big toe), and fastening either by lace or buckle. Alternating shoes and heel height will protect your feet and work wonders for your calf muscles.
High heels for a party are all right, but wear Patties during the day and till you get there. Sports shoes can offer support but they do make your feet sweat which can encourage fungal infections. Try not to wear them for more than a few hours. Canvas shoes let the feet breathe, but don’t offer serious support.
Redness, loss of feeling, corns indicates that your feet are being pressurized. So kick off your shoes and go barefoot as often as possible. When buying walking shoes, look for quality in to these features:
Toe box: Helps prevent calluses on the tops and sides of your toes. Look for a rounded, roomy toe compartment. Exterior: Provides comfort and durability. Look for full-grain leather of other breathable materials.
Interior: Offers comfort and protection. Look for padded heels collar to reduce chafing, padded tongue and ankle to protect the front of your foot, and a smooth, absorbent lining. Check for removable insoles that you can air out or replace.
Heel counter: Stabilizes your foot through its roll forward. Keeps it from rolling from side to side. For more support look for a heel counter that extends all around the side of the shoe towards the arch.
Rocker shape: Provides flexibility and proper heel strike. Look for a natural heel-to-toe curve. Heel should be slightly beveled.
Insole: Also called a sock liner. It adds a measure of cushioning and support.