The Relationship between Flips Flops and Arthritis

Arthritis or osteoarthritis is a joint disease that can occur anywhere in our body. Although it is more commonly found in people who are older, it still can happen in younger people. Arthritis will happen in people who bear a lot of weight on their joint. In Singapore where the weather is always hot and rainy, flip flops are the ideal choice of footwear for many due to the comfort and convenience. However, some people suggest that flip flips and arthritis have a relationship. So what exactly is this relationship? Let’s explore further in this article.

If you look closely at your feet, you will realise that our foot lands differently when we wear flip flops compared to a pair of shoes. Shorter steps are made when wearing flip flops and the heel strike amount is significantly reduced. When we wear normal shoes, our toes are flexed in an upwards direction. However with flip flops, the toes are flexing downwards instead in order to keep the flip flops on our foot. This incorrect flexing motion can cause the body mechanics to be affected due to wear and tear of the cartilage, causing pain and discomfort.

However, there are differing views on this! A medical study performed by Rush University discovered that flip flops help to reduce the amount of stresses experienced by the knee as compared with a pair of supportive and well cushioned shoes. A pair of supportive footwear works by providing maximum support to the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the foot and aim at maximising comfort. However, it pays little attention to the biomechanical effect on the foot. Shoes have a significantly higher load on the knee as compared to flip flops and this increased load is found to be a cause of arthritis. That aside, walking barefoot was found to be the least demanding action for the knee. Walking barefoot causes the foot to flex naturally without any external help and allows a natural stride as compared to artificial ones caused by wearing shoes or flip flops.

Despite flip flops appearing to be better at reducing arthritis on the surface, it does not mean that you should rush out and buy a pair to walk around daily. While flip flops are better for the knee, it is not best for the foot. Flip flops are badly cushioned and can cause foot injuries and problems.

5 Ways to Reduce and Relieve Ankle Pain

Our ankle joint is a complex structure involving bones, tendons and ligaments that helps to provide a wide range of motion including inversion, eversion, extension and flexion. These motions are responsible in providing stability and locomotion for the body. Our ankle bears the full weight of our body and any forces that are acting on it are of significance. Daily actions such as walking, running and jumping will have a huge impact.  As a result, ankle pain is a common complaint experienced by many. What are some ways to reduce and relieve ankle pain?

Stop wearing flats

Flats are simple and comfortable shoes for all ladies out there. However, flats provide virtually no form of support for the ankle. People with ankle pain complaints suffer from pronation which is the inward rolling of the foot towards the arch. A pair of flats does not have anything to prevent pronation and does not help at all. In fact, it can worsen the situation.

Gel inserts

Although flats are comfortable, they provide no form of support for the foot. Instead, you should consider using gel inserts if you really need to wear your flats. Gel inserts provide a firm yet responsive cushioning for your foot and helps to prevent pronation. It also helps to absorb shocks and relieves stresses acting on the soft tissues.

Walking on flat surfaces

Flat surfaces are the best for our ankles. They allow proper heel striking by our foot and provide a firm surface to land on. However, we do not have the luxury of flat surfaces wherever we go. There are always uneven and bumpy surfaces which must be avoided when possible. These uneven surfaces increase the risk of injuries.

Using ice packs

During an ankle injury, blood from surrounding areas gushes towards the injured part. Using an ice pack can help to constrict these blood vessels and reduce swelling to a great extent. Always remember to place a piece of cloth over your skin before putting on the ice pack to prevent frost bite.

Massage

Massages help to increase blood flow and circulation and are beneficial for patients with injured ankles. Due to the increased circulation of healthy and clean blood, growth repair cells are rapidly being transported to the injured region, aiding recovery.

Ankle pain is a common complaint and it can cause a lot of discomfort and inconvenience. By following the 5 ways mentioned above, you can be sure of reducing and relieving ankle pain.

Taking Care of Sports Injuries: Leg Fractures

Beneath our skin is the human skeletal system comprising of 206 bones working in tandem with soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage to perform critical bodily functions such as movements and regulations. Making up the skeleton are bones and these bones can be fractured when a large enough external force is acted against it. Leg fractures are the condition whereby either the femur, fibula or tibia bones in the leg are broken. There are many possible causes for leg fractures and the main culprit is often overuse injury.  In this article, we will be discussing about how best to care for sports injuries such as leg fractures.

Splint

Splint is often the first treatment administered to patients with leg fractures. Many people mistaken splint as casts and it is important to be able to differentiate. Splints do not surround the entire fractured bone and is often only padded on one or two sides to provide protection and support. Splint helps to restrict unwanted movements which could further aggravate the fracture and due to its “open” nature, it allows swelling to happen. Doctors will usually apply a splint to the patient for a few days until the swelling has subsided and will then follow on with a immobilisation cast.

Casts

After the swelling has subsided, a cast can then be used. Casts are large, hard bandages made of plaster or lightweight fibreglass which completely immobilise the bone to accelerate healing. The internal padding is made up of comfortable cotton lining which helps to absorb perspiration.

Elevating the leg

Whenever possible, the patient should always try to elevate the injured leg to a position above the heart. This helps to reduce swelling and drain the fluids down and away. Elevating the leg also reduces pain and accelerates the healing process.

Keeping away from water

Utmost care should be taken to keep away from water during this period if it is made of plaster. Water will disintegrate the plaster and render it useless. The water can also react with the plaster and cause rashes to form on the skin.

Using walking aids

Before the bone has completely healed, you should not bear weight on it to prevent further injuries and hinder the recovery process. When you are moving around, you should always use a walking aid such as a crutch to assist you.

Leg fractures are troublesome injuries that have a significant impact on your daily life. However, with the proper care and treatment, recovery time should not take too long and you will not be far off the track.

4 Habits to Help Reduce Risk of Orthopaedic Conditions

In sunny Singapore, we tend to engage in sporting activities throughout the year. As the amount of sports activities increases, the risk of orthopaedic injuries will increase likewise. Studies have concluded that 80% of orthopaedic conditions involved the upper extremities such as the arm, shoulders and elbows whereas 20% of them involved the lower extremities such as the knee and ankle. Injuries will prevent us from continuing to be involved in our favourite activity for a period of time and this can be frustrating. What are some good habits to help you reduce the risk of orthopaedic injuries? What are some precautions you should take?

Warming up

Our body is not in the most ideal state for action most of the time. If you do a sudden sprint, you can expect to pull your hamstring and cause pain and discomfort. Therefore, proper warming up is crucial to reduce the risk of injuries. You need to prepare your body for an intense activity but doing an action that is less intensive for a few minutes to allow your body to adapt. Warming up provides heat to the body which will help to loosen up the tissues in your body such as the ligaments and tendons.

Wearing protective gears

Contact sports often require the usage of protective gears to protect you. For example, soccer requires the compulsory usage of shin guards. Although shin guards can hinder running movements and cause discomfort to players, they are useful in preventing injuries to the shin. Also, rugby players wear uniform with padding at the shoulder region to prevent injuries when they are tackled down. While players are better off without these protective gears, they know that they cannot do without them.

Knowing when to stop

Knowing when to stop is the difficult thing for most athletes out there. There is only a thin line between stupidity and bravery. Some players think that they can finish the game despite being injured via the usage of pain relieving sprays. However, the exact extent of injury is unknown and it could be a serious one which will cause more serious complications if further aggravated.

Cooling down

Cooling down sessions help to decrease the heart rate in a controlled manner and relax the muscles. Exercising causes the body’s temperature to be increased and a proper cool down session will revert back to the normal body temperature down and prevent the building up of lactic acid which will cause muscle soreness.

Knowing when to stop is probably the most difficult yet important decision you should make. Observe the 4 habits mentioned above and you will definitely have your risk of injuries significantly decreased.

Knee Popping Explained

Knee popping and associated pain is an extremely common problem experienced by many and there are many possible causes for it. The only distinguishable way between various factors is the presence of pain that comes along with it. Painless popping is often insignificant whereas painful popping is an indication of something serious underlying. Let’s attempt to solve some mysteries of knee popping.

Usually, knee popping is because the knee cap is loose. This can result from injury or ageing related wear and tear issues. Weak quadriceps muscles can also contribute to this knee popping phenomenon as it is inadequate to support the expansion and contraction motion of the knee.

Bubbles

Painless popping is usually due to the presence of bubbles in the joints. Bubbles are formed when there is a difference in pressure at the joint, allowing for the spontaneous formation of tiny air bubbles. When movements are attempted, the bubbles will be burst and thus emitting a popping sound. This is going to be a closed cycle since bubbles will continue to form due to the pressure difference. The scientific term for it is called cavitation and this is harmless.

Ligaments stretching

We have soft tissues located throughout our joints and movements will cause these tendons and ligaments to stretch slightly. Since they are elastic, they will return back to their original shape after the load is released and this will produce a popping sound, similar to the analogy of a rubber band stretching. This does not cause any soft tissue damage and is harmless.

Mechanical popping

Mechanical popping is due to the presence of an existing injury, commonly a loose cartilage. As the loose cartilage is free to move about in the joint, it will cause a flapping movement when the leg is moving, causing a popping sound. Since it is due to injury, medical attention will need to be sought to repair the loose cartilage.

Arthritis

Arthritis is effectively wear and tear and it causes the cartilage to get thinner and thinner. As the cartilage gets thinner and friction occurs during movement, both surfaces will rub against each other, resulting in a popping sound. It can also be quite painful for some patients to bear.

Since there are different contributions to knee popping, it is difficult to pin point exactly to the exact cause of it. Painless knee popping will not affect your daily lifestyle but painful ones will and can lead to degradation in the quality of lifestyle you can enjoy.

Stiff Neck – An Underlying Spine Disorder?

Stiff neck causes pain and discomfort when attempting to move your neck. It is often due to injury to the soft tissues and ligaments at the neck region. It is usually accompanied by pain and soreness in the neck, shoulder and arm. Symptoms can last for quite a fair bit of time and it can be relieved using medication or a warm compress. For cases whereby the symptoms go away in a couple of days, there isn’t much of an underlying issue. Stiff neck can occur when you wake up after having slept in an awkward position for a long time. Sometimes, stiff neck can be an indication of an underlying spinal disorder.

We must first know the basic anatomy of our neck. Our neck is divided into 2 regions namely the anterior and posterior. There is a part of our spine that moves through our neck and that is the cervical spine which is effectively made up of 7 vertebrae. Any slight problems in our spine can ultimately lead to neck pain since they are interlinked. There are 2 common spinal disorders which are Cervical Herniated Disc and Neck Arthritis.

Cervical herniated disc is one of the leading causes for neck pain and indicates an injury to the cervical spine. Pain in the neck is caused by the disc pinching onto the cervical nerve, causing pain to flow down the nerve pathway down to the neck. Some patients may also experience numbness at the neck region.

Another common cause is due to cervical osteoarthritis which is a degenerative joint disease or otherwise known as neck arthritis. Cervical osteoarthritis are characterised by the presence of bone spurs which may impinge onto a nerve. When impingement happens, the pain will radiate down the nerve onto the neck region, creating in neck pain similar to the cervical herniated disc.

It can also be due to cervical spondylosis which is another degenerative disease that is increased by previous injuries. Cervical spondylosis can result in neck pain and stiffness and is due to the wear and tear of the cartilage and bones of the cervical vertebrae.

There are many causes for stiff neck and it could indicate an underlying spinal disorder due to the mechanism for both neck arthritis and cervical herniated disc. The best way would be to seek a doctor immediately if you frequently encounter a stiff neck.

Does Cracking Knuckles Give You Arthritis?

Cracking knuckles is a bad habit most males have. It seems to give them a sense of security and power. So what really causes that cracking sound? Well, our knuckles are covered by the synovial capsule which is filled with synovial fluid. There are also gases that are dissolved in the fluid such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. When the knuckle is cracked, the synovial capsule is stretched and the internal pressure is lowered, creating a bubble which eventually bursts, creating that popping sound. This is also the reason why you are unable to crack your knuckles continuously due to the need for the gases and bubbles to form. However, many people are extremely concerned with relationship between cracking knuckles and arthritis. There are 2 major types of arthritis namely the inflammatory and degenerative types. For inflammatory arthritis, it is largely due to autoimmunity. Degenerative arthritis is those associated with wear and tear and has a closer similarity with cracking of knuckles. Let’s try to clarify those doubts in this article.

Cracking fingers seem to relieve stresses and provide a pleasurable feeling similar to Thai Massages where various joints in your body are cracked by the masseuse. Well, cracking knuckles does not increase the chances of getting arthritis. Various studies have not only conducted experiments on people who crack their knuckles, they also investigated people who frequently crack every few minutes. However, the results concluded that there was no difference in the rates of osteoarthritis with the cracking of knuckles. Not only that, no visible deformation was caused to the fingers due to prolonged cracking. Some research also found out that subjects who crack their fingers frequently have strong fingers compared to the control group. While cracking of knuckles may not seem to cause arthritis, they may lead to other complications. Researchers found out that habitual knuckle crackers are more likely to suffer from hand swelling and loss of strength. Constant cracking will keep stretching the finger ligaments, causing damages to the fingers.  In short, they concluded that knuckle cracking results in functional hand impairment.

While knuckle cracking does not have a directly related to arthritis, it can lead to future problems such as swelling and loss of strength. Arthritis is after all more common in the elderly due to ageing. There are also no benefits to cracking your fingers. Instead, the cons outweigh the pros by a large extent. Try to cut down this bad habit of yours today!

3 Ankle Strengthening Exercises

Did you know that each person walks an average of 9000 steps per day? And the total distance covered by a person in his lifetime is sufficient to cover the Earth a whopping 4 times? Not only has the foot need to bear our body weight, it also has to lift it off the ground when we are walking. This places tremendous stresses on the ankles as well as the surrounding ligaments and tendons. With such a high use rate, problems can easily arise if it is not well taken care off. Imagine your ankle to be a car engine – you need preventive maintained after a certain mileage. However, you cannot give your ankle an off day as that will result in lots of inconvenience so the best alternative is to perform ankle strengthening exercises which can help to better support the ankle.

Ankle strengthening exercises are simple and can be performed easily almost everywhere without the need for big and bulky equipments.

Resistance band assisted flexion

The resistance band assisted flexion is a simple and convenient exercise that does not take up much space and time. You will need a resistance band which can be easily purchased from most sports shops. Place the resistance band over the top of your foot and curl the toes in. Slowly flex your leg outwards and you will be able to feel a slight pull at the ankle. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 20s.

Achilles stretches

The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in our body and it passes through the ankle. Therefore, it makes sense to strengthen this tendon which is responsible for absorbing the weight of our body. Sit down in an upright position and using a towel, wrap it around the toes. Slowly pull the towel towards you and you should be able to feel a stretch in the ankle. Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 20s.

Toe raises

Toe raises can be performed almost anywhere, even when you are on your way to work or school. Stand on the edge of a flight of stairs and slowly raise your toe. Standing on the edge causes your body to shift the entire weight to the toes and help to strengthen your ankles. It can also help to promote a sense of balance in your body. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 20 times for 3 sets.

Without such a high usage, it is not shocking to know that ankle injuries are common. However, the inconvenience and discomfort of ankle injuries are too serious to ignore. Simple ankle strengthening exercises are simple and convenient and a little can go a long way.

Top 3 Most Knee Damaging Activities

Living an active lifestyle is great and the health benefits associated are undisputable. Exercising regularly is important to strengthen our muscles and better support our joints. Weak joints will increase the chances of misalignment for the bones, ligaments and tendons. However, it may also cause problems for your knee. Our knee has to bear the brunt of our body weight and activities such as running and jumping will cause a lot of compressive stresses on the knee and wearing out the cartilage. Although our knee is designed to take all these things thrown at it, it will give way eventually. There are some activities that are especially damaging towards the knee and let’s explore them further.

Activities are classified into 2 different groups, namely low-impact and high-impact. Low impact exercises as the name suggests does not cause much problems for the knee. They include yoga, swimming, cycling and walking. These activities ensure that the knee is properly supported even though it’s being used extensively. Another group is the high-impact group which includes jumping, running and weightlifting.

Jumping

Jumping is a high-impact activity that places tremendous stresses on the knee whenever you land. Your body weight is amplified through jumping and landing awkwardly places even more stresses, leading to a weight of roughly twice your original weight. Activities that require jumping as core such as basketball should be avoided by people with bad knees.

Running

Running is another high impact activity that is bad for knees. However, running methods and surfaces can be changed to allow a lesser impact on the knees. For example, striking the floor with your mid-foot is less damaging compared to a heel strike. Also, there is a push towards barefoot running which supposedly reduces injuries. The running surface can be changed to a softer one such as natural grass or stadium tracks. The soft surface can help to cushion and absorb some of the impact.

Weightlifting

Weightlifting requires flexing of the knee joint and your knees not only have to bear your body weight, it now has to take both your body weight and the free weight into consideration. This places an absurd amount of stress on your knee and this is further intensified when you attempt to bend and stand up.  Not only does your knee get damaged, the surrounding tissues such as the tendons and ligaments can easily tear.

Knowing what are the activities that causes huge stresses on your knee is important so that you can make an informed decision on what to do and what not to do. You need a functional knee every day and you do not wish to be inconvenienced by a knee injury that you can easily avoid.

 

4 Most Common Injuries Incurred in Soccer

Soccer is a high impact sport that is rather safe due to the protective equipment mandated during play. However, injuries still do occur to players and some of them can take up to a year to recover. Soccer is a fast paced game that requires frequent change of directions, sudden stops and twisting actions. Incorrect placement of the feet can cause ligaments to tear when attempting to change direction. Let’s discuss about the most common injuries incurred in soccer.

Muscular strains

Muscular strains are due to the over pulling of a certain muscle or the over contraction of a stiff muscle when it has not fully warmed up. Warm ups and cool downs are extremely important tools to help prepare your muscles for the things that are about to come. Muscle groups that are frequently utilised are the most prone to strains. These include the thigh muscles, quadriceps muscles and hamstring muscles.

Muscular sprains

Muscular sprains on the other hand involve injuries relating to connective tissues such as the ligament. The role of the ligament is to provide stability to the lower body. As mentioned above, soccer requires frequently change of direction and sudden stops. If the playing surface is poor, the risk of injuries is significantly raised. A sudden change in direction with one of the foot firmly planted in the ground will result in a ligament tear, possibly accompanied by injuries to the meniscus as well. Proper warm up prior to the game can help to reduce the risk slightly but this is not significant.

Head injuries

Soccer is an all rounded game that involves the use of various parts of the body, including the head. Although not allowed, some players still tend to raise their foot high while challenging for the ball. If you are using your head to head the ball and a high foot with metal studs is coming towards you, chances are that you will be at the suffering end! Another scenario would be an attempt on goal with a header, only to be thwarted by the goalkeeper’s punch, resulting in head injuries. Minor ones would be some laceration while serious ones can lead to a possible concussion.

Fractures

The part of the body used most in the game is the lower body and thus, the risks of fractures are higher with these body parts. Challenging for the ball and a strong desire to win can lead to undesired effects. Remember in 2002 where David Beckham almost missed the World Cup due to a metatarsal fracture?

Soccer is a high impact game that is on the same level as basketball and rugby but with a much lower injury risk due to the strict rules. However, this does not mean that you have a low chance of injury as the saying goes, the ball is round. Winning is important but not at the expense of yourself.