“Q-thlete” noun /kju θ.liːt/ SINGLISH informal. Meaning. a person who is proficient in the sport of queueing up for any reason possible or in extreme cases, even when there is none.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming upon us and that means one thing – Shopping sprees. While many have migrated to online shopping, brick and mortar retailers are coming out in full force, offering massive discounts for shoppers who show up in person. On the night before the sales begin, lines begin forming outside these stores, with hordes of Singaporeans participating in the unofficial national sport of “queueing up.”
However, all this standing and walking comes at a cost. These activities can cause heel pain or aggravate existing foot disorders such as bunions or plantar fasciitis.
Fret not, Q-thletes! There are ways to prevent and resolve many of the aches and pains caused by your time spent shopping.
How does standing for long periods affect your body?
Standing for prolonged periods puts constant weight and pressure on the hips, knees, ankles and feet. When standing in line, movement is typically limited. The lack of movement and additional pressure can combine to reduce the lubrication and cushioning between these joints, causing pain and limiting movement. Some may also experience back pain or other aches, particularly if their shoes are poorly fitting or lack support.
To help reduce discomfort, you can perform simple exercises such as standing calf raises, abdominal flexes or stretches to keep your joints and muscles supple even while waiting in line for the best deals.
I’m in pain! What could be the cause?
“Some of the most common conditions I see in clinic are bunions, plantar fasciitis, ingrown toenails and flat feet, all of which are common disorders amongst those living in Singapore.” explains Podiatrist Benedict Khoo.
“Many of these conditions are caused by our lifestyles or choice of footwear while others are simply inherited from our parents. As a ‘Q-thlete’ myself, I make sure to choose comfortable and supportive shoes if I know I will be standing for long periods of time that day. For the occasions where I expect to be seated most of the time, I may choose a pair of dress shoes that look good but may not offer as much comfort.”
When we spend long periods of time on our feet, our plantar fascia, which is the ligament that supports the arch of the foot, supports much of the weight of our body. Regardless of whether we are standing, walking or running, the stress accumulated causes microtears in the plantar fascia, which can result in severe pain for the sufferer.
Bunions are bony protrusions located at the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. It is caused by the shifting of the big toe joint towards the second toe, causing the joint to move outwards increasingly over time. While narrow shoes or high heels can contribute to the development of bunions, the biggest cause for their development is genetic inheritance. For this condition, it is extremely important to address it before it develops to the point where only surgery is a suitable option for treatment.
For those who have already developed bunions, metatarsalgia is something to be wary of. Typically presenting as a sharp pain in the forefoot or ball of the foot, painful conditions like this can cause unconscious gait adjustments as sufferers try to minimise the discomfort. These adjustments can lead to the development of other conditions as your body attempts to distribute the adjusted stress patterns, thus placing increased stress on certain other joints or muscles.
While many people in Singapore identify themselves as suffering from flat feet, this is not a clinical diagnosis on its own. Having a flat foot will make you pre-disposed to a large variety of conditions including but not limited to Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) and tarsal tunnel syndrome. As the feet are the bedrock on which our body is built, even small issues can have potential effects on other parts of the body such as the knees, ankles and back.
Should I wait to see if it gets better?
Some of the conditions mentioned here have the potential for self-recovery. However, in most cases, this recovery is limited as the underlying factors that caused the condition to develop still exist. This means that the injury is likely to return when these factors are once more aggravated. In other cases, the injury fails to heal as the damage has resulted in permanent change to the musculoskeletal structure of the body. Conditions that have caused permanent injury or conditions that have lasted for over three months are typically considered chronic.
Chronic injuries require clinical intervention for significant improvement to occur. Neglecting these conditions can result in further deterioration, leaving surgical intervention as the only possible solution to resolve your pain. Going under the knife can pose further issues such as complications from surgery or a long downtime due to the rehabilitative process. By addressing these conditions before they worsen, patients can save themselves much time and pain.
What treatments are available?
Depending on the condition, treatments such as SIS or focused and radial shockwave can induce pain relief as well as promote healing. These methods are primarily focused on boosting the body’s natural healing processes and can target specific locations within the body.
Customised Foot Orthotics are used to supplement the treatment of many lower limb conditions such as heel pain, tarsal tunnel and flat foot. As prescription medical devices that can only be prescribed by qualified podiatrists, these insoles are customised for each individual and help correct underlying problems and provide proper support.
Combining these treatments with custom orthotics provides a long-term solution as the specialised treatments alleviates the discomfort caused by the various painful conditions while the orthotics help to prevent the recurrence by addressing the underlying musculoskeletal abnormalities responsible for these conditions, leaving you pain- and worry-free for your next shopping marathon!
Benedict is a Singaporean Podiatrist who specialises in treating sports injuries as well as other types of common painful disorders arising from walking or running gait biomechanics. He graduated with honours in Podiatric Medicine from the Queensland University of Technology, Australia.