The Secret Service’s Secret Foot Pain
Posted by Jenn F. on Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
There is perhaps no agency more glamorous, more shrouded in mystery than the Secret Service. They protect the most powerful people on earth and they do it with clandestine professionalism. Glorified and unveiled in television shows and movies, the staunch and serious men and women of the President’s real life personal guard aren’t sharing gems of pearly military wisdom with the public. Instead, us regular people can only watch and wonder as the suits in their stylish sunglasses with those cool ear wire thingys run beside POTUS’ motorcade during the inauguration. But there’s one thing we do know about this incredibly important job: it’s hard work. They’re scouting locations, watching for snipers, monitoring big events, and evaluating every suspicious looking character everywhere they go. Have you ever seen a secret service person sitting down? I haven’t. And, while they may be superhuman in some ways (i.e. quick draw, battle readiness, and an encyclopedic knowledge of mission codes) in other ways they’re just like us. For example, I’m pretty sure they have regular human feet.
As we all know, regular human feet get injured, especially when they’re subjected to daily non-stop activity in high-pressure situations (read: without relaxing sit breaks). And this high-impact, high-pressure activity level starts with basic training, at Rowley Training Center in Washington D.C. This is where agents are taught and groomed for service, and where many suffer their first foot injuries on the job.
Both training and active duty require a lot of running—to get in shape and to trail moving vehicles in the field. For this reason, agents are susceptible to common overuse running injuries like calcaneal stress fractures (an overuse fracture of the heel bone), Achilles tendon bursitis (inflammation of the bursa at the attachment of the Achilles tendon), extensor tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons on the top of the foot), sesamoditis (inflammation of the bones in the ball of the foot), metatarsal stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, bunions, ingrown toenails, and morton’s neuroma (irritation of the interdigital nerve, usually between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals).
Of course, for a Secret Service agent, foot pain is more than an annoyance. It can be a dangerous distraction from potential threats. For this reason (and because the Secret Service has excellent federal health insurance) agents with pain should visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine as soon as pain begins. Here are some additional tips for preventing injury in the first place.
- Start training gradually to build up stamina and strength. Often injuries are the result of an unprepared foot facing new extreme challenges. If your muscles aren’t strong, your calves are tight, and your body is easily fatigued, you’re at high risk. Start before job training begins, exercising at your own pace, increasing duration and speed a little at a time.
- Say it with me now: wear solid, supportive shoes!
- Train on a forgiving surface, like a track or a treadmill, rather than on cement. The added cushioning will protect your foot bones from stress fractures.
- If you have pain, implement RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
- If you still have pain after some RICE therapy, take some time away from training. It’s always important to give your body time to heal.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.