With the New Year's holiday quickly approaching, everyone and their dog is making a list of resolutions. (Okay, maybe not the dogs.) We decided to buck the trend by creating a list of resolutions you certainly do not want to make – this year or any year!
Obviously, you will find a lot of “what not to do” in this list of terrible resolutions, but we’ve also included a bunch of “to do” kind of advice as well. Following the respective guidelines of things you should and should not do will help you—and your feet—have the fittest year you may have had in a long time.
Here are the 10 worst resolutions for 2018:
- Put on a solid fifty pounds so you’ll be well-insulated next winter. There is generally very little reason to insulate for our Austin winters – but we might give you a pass on part of that if you recently moved here from someplace like Death Valley. And even if that’s the case, putting on some extra weight is still not the right approach!
Unless you’re planning on playing on the Cowboys’ offensive line or have been tabbed to star in a new comic book movie, even committing to putting on too much muscle weight can still be a problem. Yes, there are benefits to having extra muscles on your frame—a tighter, slimmer physique and increased metabolism are a couple of them—but moderation is still the best approach.
One reason for this is the fact we all place a lot of force on our feet. When your foot lands as you take a step, the amount of physical force it sustains is greater than one-and-a-half times your bodyweight. Keep in mind that you take around 10,000 steps during an average day. Oh, and the amount of physical force is even more if you run (potentially as much as seven times your weight!).
While feet are designed to handle a certain amount of force loads, overburdening them with extra weight can cause or contribute to problems. This is especially true if you have common biomechanical issues like overpronation or supination (under-pronation, essentially).
Fortunately, most people make resolutions to lose weight – something their feet really appreciate!
- Run the Austin Marathon on February 18th (even though you haven’t been training). Whereas setting a resolution to run a marathon is actually quite noble, you simply cannot be ready to do this in only six weeks.
Experts recommend anywhere between 12-20 weeks (3-5 months) of proper training to get your body ready to tackle the 26.2 miles. Doing so prepares your body for the tremendous amount of physical strain and stress running a marathon can place on it.
We are citing “running a marathon” as a specific example, but this really applies to any kind of intense physical activity you may be considering for the new year. Everyone knows “exercise more” is a very common resolution. It’s only a smart one, however, if precautions are taken to reduce the risk of injury.
One precaution in particular you shouldn’t avoid is consulting with our office and your primary care physician if it’s been some time since your last regular workout program. Getting clearance—and tips!—from medical professionals goes a long way towards keeping you safe and healthy.
- Push through the pain. “No pain, no gain, bro!” Uh, sorry, bro, but what are you thinking?
No pain, no gain is a mindset that you should absolutely ditch if you have, as many people do, a resolution to exercise more in the new year. Where you can expect a certain degree of soreness the day after a workout, pain and especially a sharp pain is an indication of an existing problem. You can think of it like this: pain is your body's way of signaling that something is not right. Ignoring that can lead to even bigger problems.
- Take up smoking. We get it – everyone else is trying to quit so you’re going to go against the grain. Hey, rebellion can be cool (like when you say “we’re not going to put together a list of good resolutions” or, you know, whatever…).
What’s not cool, however, are the myriad problems you will develop as a result of this bad resolution.
Look, if you smoke, it’s always the right time to quit. The New Year’s holiday may give you a reason to label it as a resolution, but you don’t have to wait! (We’re not saying it’s easy, but quitting is simply one of the smartest moves you can make.)
- Spend more time online. If you were to take a quick glance at all these worst resolutions, this one might seem to be the “least worst” out of the bunch. A closer look, though, shows there’s more to the picture.
Sure, the internet can keep us connected to our friends and loved ones, along with providing us virtually all of the information in the world. At the same time, there are health considerations you should keep in mind.
Starting with the obvious, spending extended periods staring at a screen can be hard on your eyes. Further, time spent online is time taken away from essential health activities like exercising and sleeping.
One positive resolution you may want to consider making this year is to shut down your electronic devices earlier before you go to bed. Remember, sleep is necessary for your body to recharge and repair itself. This applies to your entire body, but is more important for your feet than you might think.
As we noted earlier, feet endure tremendous amounts of force throughout the day. This means the tissues in them can sustain a lot of physical strain and stress. Well, you need to get a good night’s sleep to repair any damage to those tissues. Spending less time online at night is a great starting point for improving both the quantity and quality of your sleep.
- Drink a Coke every day. Whereas one of the best resolutions you can make is to improve your dietary habits, committing to drinking a Coke everyday would be one of the worst.
Generally speaking, an occasional Coke isn’t terribly problematic. As with anything in life, the key in this equation is moderation. Unfortunately, one of the problems with our society is that moderation is not always practiced as it should be.
Such is the case with something often paired with Coke – fast food.
Eating a fast food meal every once in a while isn’t the worst thing in the world. The problem is, Americans go through the drive-thru way too often. When multiple meals during the course of the week come from fast food chains, the odds are high you’re consuming too much sodium, fat, and sugar.
- Live a stretch-free year. Aiming for a “stress-free” year is a noble (albeit, lofty) goal. Living a “stretch-free” year can contribute to serious problems.
If you would rather make a smart, healthy New Year's resolution, you should commit to stretching on a daily basis. You don't have to stretch for an unreasonable amount of time, simply 5 to 10 minutes a day of stretches for your lower legs and feet will go a long ways toward preventing plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.
- Wear high heels every day. As podiatrists, we know we are supposed to vehemently oppose any wearing of high heeled shoes. The truth of the matter, however, is that occasional usage isn’t that bad for you. The important word in that sentence is “occasional.”
If you reserve your pumps and stilettos for special occasions, like perhaps a holiday party or a night out on the town, you may have some soreness the next day. That said, one night in the month is not going to cause a bunion. And actually bunions aren't even caused by high heels. They can be exasperated by these kinds of shoes, but the shoes are not the root cause.
- Wear clothes straight out of the washer. So you want to cut back on electrical costs this year and plan on using the dryer less?
Okay, we know there probably isn't anyone seriously thinking about wearing only damp socks in 2018, but we are including this one to highlight the importance of keeping your feet clean and dry. Fungal infections, whether we are talking about athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, are more likely to occur when there is a wet, dark, and warm environment. Wearing damp footwear is one way to increase your risk of potential fungal contamination.
- Join a street gang. If you want to add a little excitement into your life, joining a street gang is not the way to go.
These are the 10 worst resolutions you will find pretty much anywhere. For better, healthier resolution suggestions contact our team here at Austin Foot & Ankle specialists. We have the experience and training you should expect from any doctor who is going to help you overcome medical issues in your lower limbs. Either call our office at (512) 328-8900 or connect with us online right now.