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Footwear tips to prevent circulation issues and nerve compression

09/11/2018 by Pivotal Motion
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Footwear tips to prevent circulation issues and nerve compression

Have you ever had the feeling of your foot falling asleep or noticed burning pain on the top of your foot? It is usually followed by a few minutes of pins and needles, and a tingling sensation as blood enters the foot again. The cause of these funny feelings is compression of the nerves and blood vessels entering the foot. In most cases the tightness is caused by the laces being done up too tight or the width of the shoe being too small. This stops the brain from communicating with the foot via nerve signals. It also prevents the foot from receiving fresh oxygenated blood – which is required for normal function of the foot. Blood flow is usually restored within seconds once the shoe is taken off, however, the nerves take longer to readjust, which explains the few minutes of tingling you feel afterwards. Although sitting incorrectly usually causes this sensation, there are many other causes, and it can happen more frequently than we think.

Caution should be taken when ‘wearing-in’ new shoes. It may take time for parts of the shoe to conform to your foot and therefore may compress blood vessels or nerves in your foot. This comes back to ensuring you have a good fit in the shoe store. As a general rule, never purchase new shoes and expect them to stretch or loosen up over time. It’s important to go for a run or a long walk before purchasing a new pair of shoes because your feet swell up when you’re on your feet for longer periods of time. If you go to the shoe store after running or walking for a period of time you’re more likely to get a better actual fit of the shoe. With a few exceptions, most shoes will only conform slightly to your foot, so ensure that the fit is snug and comfortable enough to wear them out of the store. If you have been on your feet all day then this shoe fit should be perfect. If you are sitting between two sizes, it is easier to choose the bigger size, then, using a few simple tricks, tighten the shoe where necessary to fit your foot. One of these tricks is the lace-locking technique, which locks the heel in place to prevent slipping out of the shoe. Socks should also fit comfortably when first trying them on, and do not require time to stretch or wear-in. With exception to therapeutic compression garments, socks should never cause pitting of the skin after the sock is removed.

Long-term circulation and sensation issues are a somewhat separate matter and usually occur in populations with significant systemic disease. For example, Diabetes can cause a reduction in blood flow and a reduction in nerve conduction resulting in numbness in the feet and reduced tissue quality. Diabetics are encouraged to get regular checks on their feet to ensure there is no neurovascular damage or claudication of the blood vessels.

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