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Tiles can be a pain in the foot

Published Oct. 14, 1990|Updated Oct. 17, 2005

Question: I am 71 and my wife is 68 years old. We moved into a new condo one year ago. The floors in the kitchen and several other rooms, where we spend 85 percent of our daily lives, are covered in an imported, glazed, ceramic tile. We usually walk around the house barefoot and, after about six months, we both noticed that our feet hurt and burn. Is there anything about ceramic tile floors that could have caused our feet to hurt or burn? Answer: There is a good chance that this is the problem. Ceramic tiles are beautiful, easy to clean, and they will last forever. But walking barefoot on them is tough going _ the tiles have no "give," and some brands can be slippery, particularly when wet.

Here is what could be happening. Each time your foot hits the floor, it must absorb one to two times your body weight, depending on how fast you are moving. Normally, your feet and body joints, together with your shoes and the surface on which you are walking, act as a series of shock absorbers that keep you from being jolted apart.

However, if you don't wear shoes and the surface is as hard as glass, you absorb all the shock. As a result, your feet _ your ankles and knees too _ can take a real beating, causing the type of discomfort you are experiencing. Also, if the tile is slick, your foot may be fighting to secure some traction while it is absorbing the weight, making the problem even worse.

What to do? One solution is to sell the condo to a couple of spring chickens whose young bodies can better take the punishment. Then buy a place with wood floors _ the kind that are laid on floor joists, not directly on concrete. This type of floor provides the best cushioning and fine traction.

On the more practical side, try the following. Don't go around barefoot. Wear good athletic or walking shoes or sandals. Sandals with cork soles, such as Birkenstocks, may be the best. If this doesn't work, or you just want to continue the joy of going without shoes, you could cover the tile with a good carpet and carpet pad.

Sex and heart attack

Question: I recently had a heart attack. I am now in a cardiac rehabilitation program and doing fine. I would like to know if my age (I am 66 years old), combined with my heart attack, is going to put an end to my sex life.

Answer: If you were sexually active before the heart attack, in a relatively short time, you should be your old self again. And for two good reasons.

First of all, with age, women do not ordinarily lose their physical capacity for orgasm, nor men their capacity for erection and ejaculation, according to the National Institute of Aging. Moreover, a pattern of regular lovemaking helps preserve sexual ability. Of course, as part of the normal aging process, there may be some slowing of the sexual response, especially in men.

Second, serious diseases, like yours, rarely mark the end of one's sex life. On the contrary, as your physical conditioning improves, your doctor will probably encourage it. Many cardiologists believe that sexual activity may decrease the risk of a future attack. Dr. Chris Papadopoulos, an internationally known cardiologist and author of Sexual Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease, says lovemaking can have a positive impact on your psychological well-being, your confidence in recovery, your emotional relationships and your overall quality of life. He also points out that one of the most common myths is that intercourse will bring on a heart attack or sudden death.

Write with questions to Dr. Patrick J. Bird, Dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. 32611.


The Health & Fitness pages are coordinated by Jim Melvin. Comments may be addressed to: Jim Melvin, St. Petersburg Times, Floridian, P.O. Box 419, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33731-0419.


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