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3 ways to relieve foot pain

by Dr. Suzanne Bober

Do you suffer with foot or heel pain that feels the worst first thing in the morning?  Does it affect your gait and limit your running?

You may be suffering from plantar fasciitis – a syndrome in which the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs from the heel along the arch of the foot becomes irritated and painful.  This strong tight tissue contributes to maintaining the normal arch of the foot. It is also one of the major transmitters of weight across the foot as you walk or run.

It is largely believed that this condition is due to repetitive trauma or microtrauma at the origin of the plantar fascia and is aggravated by the presence of a low arch, also known as overpronation, or a high arch known as oversupination.

Plantar fasciitis afflicts up to 10 per cent of the adult population over the course of a lifetime, and accounts for 15 per cent of all foot complaints requiring professional care.  It is common in people with a high body mass index, pregnant women and most commonly, runners.

If you think that you have plantar fasciitis, there are a number of things that you can do to help reduce the pain.

1. Wear supportive shoes

Firstly, make sure that you are wearing a good supportive shoe. As almost 70 per cent of the population overpronate when they stand, walk and run, it is important to ensure that you have adequate arch support in your shoe. It may be necessary to have your gait assessed properly in order to determine if overpronation or oversupination is occurring.

2. Try soft tissue massages

Secondly, using a golf ball on the soft tissue on the sole of the foot can help to release tension in the plantar fascia.  Sit with the golf ball directly under the foot, and slowly roll the ball on your sole using increasing pressure as you lean into it. Do this first thing in the morning before you take your first step, and this will help to reduce the pain.

3. Try these stretches

Thirdly, it is important to ensure good flexibility of the calf muscles to allow adequate mobility in the ankle joint. Lean into a wall while keeping your heel firmly on the ground and keep your knee straight. You should feel the pull behind your knee. It is important to keep your spine parallel with the wall to get the most benefit from the stretch.  To lengthen the deeper muscles of the leg do the same stretch but now bend your knee. You should feel the pull closer to your ankle now. Hold each stretch for 30 to 40 seconds and repeat three to five times on each leg.

These tips will help to reduce the strain on the plantar fascia by supporting the arch, loosening the tension along the sole of the foot, and improving the mobility of the ankle joint. If after using these tips you still have foot or heel pain, you may require custom orthotics and/or manual therapy techniques aimed at further reducing plantar fascia tension and improving joint mobility. Consult your health care provider if the symptoms persist beyond two weeks.

All inclusive vs. a la carte vacations: A lesson learned

by Nicole Duquette

Corona’s advertisers got it just right. My own personal Corona commercial was what I had in mind when taking off for my last vacation. Two big chairs, warm sun, cool ocean, and a white sand beach that’s deserted except for one waitress who is conveniently there whenever the beer is running low. But, that wasn’t exactly what I got. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about a sunny week on the beach, but the all-inclusive experience simply did not fulfill my ultimate vacation fantasy.

The biggest discrepancy between my mental image of the vacation, and the real thing was that the beach and pools were anything but deserted. We were met by an astounding 3,000 fellow hotel guests. My first thought upon being confronted with the mob of sun worshippers was, “We should have gone to Europe.” At least in Europe, if there’s a mob it’s a mob observing great historical monuments, and discovering rich cultures. But, European vacations (or any non-all-inclusive vacation for that matter) are not all that relaxing.

Á la carte vacations, ones where you control the entire itinerary and pay for everything are great adventures, but they can also be hectic. Racing to catch buses, trains, boats, and planes adds stress to what was supposed to be a stress-free vacation. Not to mention, navigating language barriers, waiting in line-ups that are bigger than the attractions themselves, and finding out your hotel is really a hostel can quickly cause blood pressures to rise. When nothing goes wrong á la carte vacations are dreams of wine, cheese, and riverside strolls come true, but when does nothing go wrong?

As great as á la carte vacations can be, this time around relaxation was my main goal, so an all-inclusive southern vacation was the obvious choice. Even though there were more party people than leisure seekers, we did find what we were looking for. After a walk around the entire resort, we discovered a second pool where the music was soothing rather than blaring, and the ratio of children to adults was significantly decreased. We parked ourselves there for most of the week, and let the tensions of home melt away.

By the end of the trip, I no longer regretted not planning an á la carte European vacation – we can always do that next time (I still think they are fun – busy, and fun). But, this time I still would have preferred a smaller, adults-only resort, so lesson learned: research the size and atmosphere of the resort, not just how many swim-up bars there are. Or, maybe next time I’ll just call Corona’s advertisers and ask where their private beach is.

Email etiquette: 5 things to consider when sending outgoing mail

by Heather Lochner

Out of curiosity, how many times have you received an email that has left you shaking your head in bewilderment? Wondering, “What the heck is she thinking?” Or to be less diplomatic: “Why is she being so rude?” It happens to me on a fairly regular basis. You see, I have this friend who has no clue how to properly converse on email.

Her lack of proper email etiquette usually happens when we have group emails. It starts off innocently enough. Someone sends out an email saying “Hey everyone, has been ages since we have seen one another. How about we get together for dinner? Here are some dates, and I think we should try such and such a place out.”

If not initiating the email, I am usually one of the first to respond. My email usually says, “Fabulous idea. Here are the times that work for me. Thanks for getting this going and I can’t wait to see everyone.” Others usually respond in the same vein.

And then my friend weighs in with an email saying something like, “Doesn’t work for me.”

And I sit there, reading her response wondering, What the heck do I do with that? Do we plan without her? Offer up some new dates? My first reaction is usually anger. I want to see a “Thanks,” or “Great Idea, but…” I want her to offer up a solution. Not leave us to guess what to do. After my frustration subsides, I move to “oh well,” and hope the rest of us continue planning. But I always wonder, why? Why are her responses so limited?

Until I realized, she really doesn’t know any better.

After much thought I have come up with the following five points to remember when emailing.

  1. Email has no tone. It is up to you to set up the feeling of the email.
  2. Using all capitals can come across as yelling, not enthusiasm.
  3. Re-read what you wrote and make sure it sounds okay and not insulting.
  4. When sending out an email to a large group of people, use the BCC function. Not everyone wants their email address publicized.
  5. Don’t use email to avoid a situation. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to go when expressing something personal.

I’ve found that following these simple tips makes my use of e-mail much more effective in both my personal and professional lives.

Make mealtime into fun time for your kids

by Deborah Lowther

As a parent, one of the most difficult times of the day is meal time. It’s when active and energetic kids are asked to sit still, use utensils, eat green vegetables, and try new foods.

For my family, I am a big believer in having our meals together at the table and creating a mealtime routine, but having three children in three years did not always make this an easy task. Night after night of being told to sit at the table, eat your carrots, don’t play with your food, drink your milk, and the favorite, “there will be no dessert if you don’t eat your dinner,” can turn our dinnertime into crying time.

So I decided to mix it up and add a whole bunch of fun.

I started a tradition a few years ago when I told the kids we will have special time when they are ALLOWED to play with their food. My husband thinks I’m crazy but the kids believe I am THE coolest mom ever when I tell them it’s “food fun time.”

When grocery shopping, they help me look for fun, playful ingredients and they get excited when they see the trays we use come out of the cupboard.  It’s a ‘special occasion’ kind of activity saved for rainy days or after a healthy meal. Yes, it’s messy, it’s kind of gross, the food involved is generally not very healthy, but it’s right at the top of our kids fun-list.

All you need is inexpensive large plastic trays: ones that have a nice tall edge work best to contain the fun.  We wash our hands really well and then get creative. A little chocolate pudding, mix in some vanilla pudding — with your hands of course — add some whip cream, and maybe top it off with some sprinkles. Jell-o is high on the fun chart for its colours and jiggly squishiness between their fingers. Anything goes. They love mixing it up and licking it off.

We’ve done ice cream with chocolate sauce, and I hand out straws to slurp up the melted finished product. We have even brought in a tray full of clean snow from outside. I give them some small cups to make little snow forts on their trays and some food colouring to turn it colours.  They play until it melts and then we go get more from outside.

I am hoping my healthy kids find ways to always enjoy food . . . they still have to sit still at the table and eat all their vegetables; but sometimes at dessert there is a whole lot of fun with food at our house!

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