Dr. Berg's Foot Facts

Posts for tag: balance

By Rion A. Berg, DPM
November 01, 2011
Tags: seattle   balance   fall prevention   falls   falling   parent   grandparent  

“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

We’ve probably all seen the commercial for LifeCall. An elderly woman has fallen, no phone is nearby, and she can’t get up to call for help. Isn’t that everyone’s worst nightmare for their parents or grandparents?

People of any age can fall incidentally. But when patients tell me that walking feels as though they’re balancing on a fallen log, or that they can’t feel their feet, (due to neuropathy)... if  they have to touch or hold on to the wall or furniture while walking, it’s time to put some preventative measures in place.

Falls and fall related injuries are the leading cause of accidental deaths in older people, and 3 in10 seniors fall each year! Nearly half of the seniors who fall reduce their activity after a fall. Now, who wants that to happen?  If your loved one has been through a balance program before and is still falling, (or afraid of falling), there is more that can be done.

The Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City now offers the Back In Balance Fall Prevention Program. Back In Balance is a comprehensive program where a prescription custom-made, ankle-foot orthotic is designed to fit easily into the patient’s shoes. It is a long-term solution that can be used in combination with a fall prevention strength training program such as physical and occupational therapy, environmental changes in the home and a review of current medications. The ankle-foot orthotic is covered by most insurance companies.

Our first patient in the Back In Balance program reports that he now walks without feeling like he will fall and appreciates how easy the device is to put on and take off. Visit our homepage at www.bergdpm.com to see photos of the ankle-foot orthotic and learn more about it.

Remember, serious falls can happen inside or out, on level or uneven ground, wet or dry sidewalk. Here in Seattle we have all of that and more on any given day, especially in the winter! If you or someone you love has fallen in the past or is at risk for falls, call our office for an evaluation to see if the ankle –foot orthotic can help prevent a fall.

Rion A. Berg, DPM
Podiatrist and Board Certified Foot and Ankle Surgeon
Lake City Professional Center 
2611 NE 125th, Ste 130 

The Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City is Conveniently Located in Northeast Seattle:

  • 15 minutes from Downtown Seattle
  • 10 minutes from Shoreline, Kenmore, Juanita, Sandpoint, Meadowbrook, Wedgewood, Maple Leaf, Broadview, Greenwood, Northgate, and  Pinehurst
  • 5 minutes from the 130th Street Exit on I-5
  • Bus routes 41 and 243 stop close to our office
  • Parking is free
By Rion A. Berg, DPM
September 29, 2011

Some of you may have noticed that more often than not, a treatment option in podiatry involves the physical therapy modality of stretching. The reason for this is simple: when a muscle is allowed to tighten up, it changes the function of that muscle and alters how the body deals with the motions and forces of everyday life. The reasons that muscles tighten up are many, including overuse, underuse, and abnormal use (such as when you walk a certain way to avoid pain). A tight muscle acts as a shortened muscle, and in the case of the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) in the lower leg, a tight muscle can cause major deforming forces on the both the structure and function of the foot.

The calf muscles (made up of 3 parts: 2 heads of the gastrocnemius muscle and 1 soleus muscle; see picture) originate on the back of your thigh, with the gastrocnemius just above the back of your knee and the soleus just below the back of the knee. They then travel down the back of your lower leg, where all three parts join together as your Achilles tendon to insert into the back of your heel.  If the calf muscles are tight (and therefore shortened), they pull on your heel bone and cause your foot to function in abnormal ways with each step you take. This is why stretching your leg muscles is important as both a prevention and treatment of many types of lower extremity injuries.  

You should try to stretch your leg muscles every day, including calf muscles (both gastrocnemius and soleus), hamstrings (back of thigh), and quadriceps (front of thigh).

Today we will discuss one easy calf muscle stretch you can do at home with just a few free minutes. This set of stretches is called a “Wall Stretch.” Start by putting your hands flat on a wall and step one foot back about one large step (this will be the leg you are stretching). Keep this back leg straight, your toes pointed forward and try to keep your heels and toes flat on the floor. You can then lean forward and bend the front leg as you feel the back leg’s gastrocnemius muscle stretch.

Make sure you are not stretching to the point of pain! Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then relax. Switch legs until each leg is stretched 3 times for 30 seconds each time. The stretch for the soleus muscle is very similar, except this time you will keep the front leg bent AND the back leg bent, while then leaning forward and feeling a slightly deeper stretch.  Switch legs back and forth until each leg again is stretched 3 times for 30 seconds each time.

Make sure you that you never cause pain by stretching and that you maintain your balance at all times. Daily stretching, as well as daily exercise, will go a long way in promoting a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle, as well as one good pair of happy feet.  

Rion A. Berg, DPM
Podiatrist and Board Certified Foot Surgeon

Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City
2611 NE 125th St., Ste. 130
Seattle, WA 98125

Our office is located in Lake City within 10 minutes of Shoreline, Kenmore, Juanita, Sandpoint, Meadowbrook, Wedgewood, Maple Leaf, Broadview, Greenwood, Northgate, and Pinehurst. Parking is free.