Healthy Bones, Joints & Muscles
1 AnswerAn infant or toddler's foot has an enviable amount of fat padding underneath it, partly to protect bones that are still forming. Indeed, the bones in a baby's foot are initially composed of cartilage, the same flexible substance that lines joints and is found in ears and noses. Some of the bones do not completely form until the late teens. As children grow and begin to walk, they develop an arch, and their feet strengthen. Feet are generally strong, supple, and problem-free through the third decade of life. This is why so many people in their 20s are able to dance the night away or run a 10-mile race without physical consequences or regrets.
1 AnswerEach step you take involves the components of the foot working together in precisely timed harmony. When you stand still, your weight is evenly distributed along your foot, and the plantar fascia is partially relaxed. As you walk, your heel touches the ground first, absorbing the impact of your weight. As the rest of your foot reaches the ground, your weight shifts forward to the ball of your foot and your toes. Meanwhile, your arch partially flattens and the plantar fascia is stretched. Then, your weight shifts again as you begin to rise on your toes and the ball of your foot -- with the Achilles' tendon lifting your ankle -- and your body is propelled over that foot, with the weight passing onto the other foot.
This gait cycle describes the mechanics of the way you walk. It starts when one heel strikes the ground and ends a few seconds later when that same heel hits the ground again. Foot care specialists often analyze a patient's gait cycle to look for structural and functional problems. For instance, if your arch flattens too much when you walk, your foot may be turning too far inward. This may be a sign of (or may cause) one of several foot disorders.
1 AnswerIn addition to its underlying bone structure, each foot has more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The muscles move the bones, the tendons attach the muscles to the bones, and the ligaments connect the bones and help stabilize joints. Two soft-tissue structures are worth noting, since they have such vital functions.
A ligament-like structure called the plantar fascia runs from your heel to the ball of your foot. It is one of the strongest connective tissues in the body, but it is prone to - stretching, tearing, and degeneration at its attachment site in the heel.
The Achilles' tendon, which runs up the back of your foot, is the major connection between your foot and the muscles in your calf. This tendon enables you to lift your heel up so that your weight shifts to your toes -- an essential function in walking and running. When injured, it can cause terrible pain and disability.
1 AnswerChristopher Chiodo, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answeredYour foot consists of three main components: the forefoot (the toes and ball of your foot), the midfoot (the arch), and the hindfoot (the heel region). The underlying bone structure is intricate and complex. For example, in each foot, your five toes contain 14 bones (two in your big toe and three each in the other four) called phalanges. Five longer bones, known collectively as the metatarsals, lead to the toes. Hidden under the base of the big toe are bones called sesamoids, which work like pulleys, enhancing the function of muscles and tendons and increasing the strength of the big toe.
The midfoot consists of five bones (three cuneiforms, the cuboid, and the navicular), which are short and broad and fit tightly together. Your hindfoot contains the largest bones in the foot, including the heel bone, or calcaneus, and the talus, located between the heel bone and the two bones of the lower leg.
1 AnswerFor the most part, foot problems are annoying, painful, and sometimes disabling, but they are rarely life-threatening. The most frequent foot problems include blisters, bunions, corns, and ingrown toenails. At times, however, untreated foot problems can have life-altering consequences, especially for the many Americans with diabetes. About 15% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer, and each year up to a quarter of those foot ulcers lead to complications that require amputating a toe or foot.
1 AnswerRealAge answered
Think of bone as a savings account; your kids are making deposits and withdrawals of bone tissue. During childhood and adolescence, more bone is deposited than withdrawn as the skeleton grows in both size and density. A diet rich in calcium keeps withdrawals, or bone loss, to a minimum by providing minerals that buffer the acids produced by other portions of the diet, such as protein. Kids with the highest peak bone mass after adolescence have the greatest protective advantage in terms of future bone health. Optimizing bone health early in life is crucial in preventing future fractures and osteoporosis.
If your child isn’t drinking milk or eating any other high calcium foods, such as yogurt, cheese, or calcium-fortified orange juice, a multivitamin with vitamin D and calcium supplement is essential.
From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.
Find out more about this book:Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children
1 AnswerAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answeredThere's no doubt about it: joints can be noisy.
As a general rule, if there is no pain and the joint is working well, there is little reason for concern.
Many people regularly crack their knuckles. Others can make their wrists or knees click on demand. The source of these sounds is often uncertain.
In the case of cracking knuckles, gas bubbles in the joint burst when the joint space is expanded a bit, such as by stretching a finger back.
In other cases, the noises seem to come from a tendon rubbing over a bony bump. These are generally considered harmless. There's good evidence that cracking knuckles does not cause arthritis or other joint problems. (This is true as long as the action used to crack the knuckle is not extreme. It's rare, but joint dislocations have been reported.)
There are times when noises coming from joints are a concern. A popping or cracking sound during an injury may mean a torn ligament or fractured bone. A clunking or grinding noise coming from the joint of a person with significant arthritis may be a sign of severe joint damage. But these cases usually come with severe pain, instability or not being able to use the joint.
While we don't always know where the noises come from, it seems clear that if there are no other symptoms, most joint noises can safely be ignored.
Find out more about this book:Harvard Medical School Arthritis: Keeping your joints healthy
1 AnswerKat Barefield, MS, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
Protein is key to muscle strength. This salad composed of grilled shrimp over three kinds of healthy greens has plenty of it -- 45 grams. It’s practically carb-free too, so if cutting carbohydrates is part of your healthy eating plan, it’s a near-perfect recipe.
Radicchio Salad with Lemon-Herb Grilled Shrimp
- Serves 4
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1½ tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 head radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
- 3 cups mixed baby greens
- 2 cups bite-size pieces frisée or curly endive
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Place in a resealable plastic bag with the shrimp. Shake gently to coat shrimp with the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Mix together vinegar, tarragon and shallot in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before using.)
To cook the shrimp, heat a grill or grill pan on high. Remove shrimp from marinade, shake off excess and grill until opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Combine grilled shrimp with radicchio, baby greens and frisée in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and divide among four plates.
1 AnswerMaoshing Ni, Gerontology, answeredAs we age, our joints begin to manifest the wear and tear we have put them through over the years. I recommend you take up tai chi as a regular daily activity; it is a moderate but very energizing exercise. Tai chi comes in many forms, and a daily practice of 30 minutes can help retain the flexibility of the joints, lubricate them, and help strengthen the muscles and tendons surrounding the joints. There are also many herbal and acupuncture remedies in the traditional Chinese Materia Medica (Chinese herbal database), which can be adjunct to support your joints. I suggest consulting a licensed acupuncturist/herbalist to obtain a specific prescription.