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How do marble and granite floors affect foot health in winter?
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How do marble and granite floors affect foot health in winter?

If someone predisposed to pain continues to walk barefoot on marble or granite floors, their existing foot aches can worsen, say experts

Being heat resistant, marble and granite remain cooler than the surrounding air

In winter, as the mercury dips, whatever surface we touch or step on feels cold — even freezing cold at times. Floors made of marble or granite come under this category. These hard and unyielding surfaces, made of natural stones, are heat resistant. Such cold surfaces could magnify winter aches and pains, say experts. 

How do cold marble floors affect your feet?

Being heat resistant, marble and granite remain cooler than the surrounding air. The temperature drop in winter makes this more evident. So, if one is walking barefoot, they could have muscle spasms in the areas that come in contact with cold floors. Dr Rohit Lamba, HOD and senior consultant, department of bone, joint replacement and orthopedics, Sanar International Hospital, Gurgaon, Haryana, explains, “When we step on the marble, there is heat transfer from our feet to the marble floor.”

Dr Abhishek Kini, foot and ankle specialist at Foot Ark, Mumbai, adds, “In the foot, which has multiple joints, [hence joints come in contact with the surfaces], this spasm can cause pain or lead to a flare-up of arthritic pain.” 

When you walk barefoot on granite or marble for extended periods, it starts to affect your feet. “The blood supply gets restricted because the body tries to remain at the same temperature,” explains Dr Darshan Angadi, consultant orthopedic surgeon, Altius Hospitals, Bengaluru. “So, it sends less blood to the parts of the body exposed to cold. This protective phenomenon is called peripheral vasoconstriction.”

In people who already have some symptoms of arthritis, flat foot or foot alignment issues, peripheral vasoconstriction leads to the build-up of metabolites and free radicals, which trigger inflammation and increase existing pain. Those with foot arthritis are likely to experience aggravated symptoms when it is chilly, and walking on cold surfaces could make it worse. Other conditions such as neuropathy (peripheral neuropathy due to diabetes) can also worsen.

Further, different conditions affect different parts of the foot. Cold surfaces build constant pressure on the forefoot, which leads to pain and discomfort. It can also lead to Morton’s neuroma (thickening of the tissue around a nerve leading to the foot). People with bunions or conditions like plantar fasciitis are also prone to pain. “If you continue walking on marble floors barefoot, the cold can aggravate pain and inflammation,” cautions Dr Angadi.

Ways to protect feet and maintain foot health

One can reduce the impact of cold floors on their feet by using carpets or footwear. Experts also advise being self-aware and erring on the side of caution, especially if someone is prone to foot swelling or pain. It all boils down to understanding whether your foot alignment is normal and if you are at risk when walking on surfaces that have the potential to aggravate your pain. 

Here are some measures to alleviate foot pain caused by walking barefoot on cold marble floors:

Pull up your socks: Dress in layers and stay warm to ease the shock of cold weather on the body. And don’t forget the feet — keep them protected by wearing woolen socks.

Exercise: “Build up muscle and bone strength through exercise. This reduces pressure on the joints, making them less prone to injury,” reminds Dr Lamba. One can also include eccentric stretching exercises to improve the circulation of the feet. 

Temperature control: Maintaining the ambient temperature is crucial. You can use room heaters to keep the room comfortable and improve peripheral circulation.

Wear protective footwear: The choice of footwear directly impacts your foot alignment. Dr Angadi advises choosing appropriate footwear depending on foot alignment. “But selecting the right footwear can go a long way in maintaining foot health,” he says. Besides, keeping the plantar foot skin well moisturized to prevent damage to the feet.

Takeaways

  • Being heat resistant, marble or granite surfaces remain cooler than the surrounding air.
  • When someone walks on such surfaces, their body heat is transferred to the floor through the feet.
  • People with existing health conditions need to protect their feet from cold surfaces like granite and marble by taking preventive measures. Failing this, their foot pain could worsen over winter.

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