What Quarantine Is Doing to Your Feet
Aug 31, 2020 Kyle Beswick
With so much attention focused on protecting yourself from infection and mental health woes during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be overlooking one part of your body as you shelter at home—your feet.
So much time is being spent indoors that many people don't wear shoes for extended periods during quarantine. This may feel like you're giving your feet a rest from constricting work shoes and the daily bustle of pre-COVID-19 days, but according to Cedars-Sinai podiatrists Dr. Mark Weissman and Dr. Tamer Younan, going barefoot around the house is leading to soreness and, in many cases, injury.
"Walking around barefoot, with socks or house slippers can put you at increased risk for foot problems, including plantar fasciitis, tendinitis and metatarsalgia."
Shoes in the house
"Walking around barefoot, with socks or house slippers can put you at increased risk for foot problems, including plantar fasciitis, tendinitis and metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot)," says Dr. Weissman.
Not wearing shoes puts increased stress on the ligaments, tendons and around the ball of the foot, which need support and cushioning.
"Without proper shoes and arch support," says Dr. Weissman, "people are more likely to strain their arch, leading to plantar fasciitis. People with flat feet put more stress on the inside of their foot and ankle, leading to tendinitis."
"Same goes for people with high arches," says Dr. Younan. "They are prone to various foot conditions because there's extra pressure on the ball of the foot and the heel that is usually alleviated with shoe support."
Also, simply navigating your house and apartment is proving dangerous without foot support.
"I've seen a lot of fractures lately from patients stubbing their toes against furniture and corners," says Dr. Younan.
The effects of home exercise
Another result of sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic is that gyms and recreational sports have closed temporarily, leading most people to work out in their living room and go for runs and walks around the neighborhood.
"We're seeing more people working out at home and not wearing shoes, which is not always a good idea," says Dr. Younan. "Imagine doing high-impact exercises at the gym without shoes! That's what people are doing at home."
Exercising barefoot is leading to foot strains and ankle sprains—and overuse injuries.
"Make sure you change up your exercise routine to minimize overuse injuries. In addition to walking and running, try cycling, stairs and yoga," says Dr. Weissman.
Otherwise, Dr. Weissman says, you may be even more confined to your own home.
"Sometimes we need to immobilize the foot with a walking boot or an ankle brace," he says. "You may also have to make lifestyle changes, such as limiting exercise for a while, and that's not what people want to hear during this pandemic."
Embrace the house shoe
Though many of us were taught that shoes bring dirt into the home, wearing supportive footwear indoors may be the solution to quarantine foot.
"If you are prone to some of the foot conditions I mentioned, and especially if you're experiencing foot pain, then I would recommend wearing shoes in the house," says Dr. Younan. "I usually recommend a pair of 'house shoes,' such as sandals with a good amount of support, which are easy to slip on and take off—as opposed to a traditional closed-toe sneaker."