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5 Simple Exercises for Bunions

A bunion (also known as hallux valgus) is a deformity of the big toe where the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint is misaligned. With this deformity, the muscles surrounding the big toe are at an imbalance. In particular, the muscle that pulls the big toe towards the lesser toes is at a mechanical advantage, pulling the big toe closer to the one beside it. This is muscle is called the Adductor Hallucis. To counteract this muscle, we have to strengthen the opposing muscle: the Abductor Hallucis.

The following exercises and stretches focus on the smaller muscles of the foot, which is essential in managing bunions and the pain associated with them.

Toe curls and spreads

Curling toes down and spreading toes upwards

Do this exercise sitting with your foot several inches off the floor. Curl the toes down as if you want to grab something with the toes. Hold that position for 10 seconds and release. Then bring your heel to the ground, lift your foot slightly and spread your toes as far apart as possible. Hold that position for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times on each foot.

Towel grip and pull

Curled toes pulling towel towards foot

Place a towel on the ground and put your foot on top of the towel. Then use your toes to scrunch the towel towards you. Do this for 1-2 minutes on each foot.

Toe stretches

Hand gently pushing toes downward

Use your fingers to press your big toe down and hold that stretch for 30 seconds. Then position your toe in the opposite direction and use your fingers to help reach the end range of motion. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times on each foot.

Toe resistance exercises

Use your fingers or your other big toe to create resistance so that the small muscles within the foot are isolated and activated. Place your finger on top of the big toe and while applying a small amount of pressure downwards, move your toe in the opposite direction. Hold this for 10 seconds. Then bring your finger under the toe and apply a bit of pressure pushing the toe upwards. While doing this, push your toe downwards and hold for 10 seconds. Finally, bring your finger to the side of your big toe pushing it towards the second toe. While applying this pressure, move your big toe away from the lesser toes. Hold this for 10 seconds. Do this entire exercise 5 times on each foot.

Toe circles

Do this sitting on a chair. Bring your foot on the knee and use your hand to grip your big toe and run it through circular motions. This keeps the joint mobile.

At first, these exercises may seem unnatural and difficult to do, but with time and consistency, you will get the hang of it!

For more information on bunions, click here!

For more inquiries and hopes to speak to a Licensed Chiropodist, book an appointment at Feet First Clinic.

We are open six days a week!

Lest We Forget: Remembering our Veterans’ Hard Work

Remembrance Day is a memorial day to remember the end of World War I and to commemorate all those who served during the war.

During WWI soldiers were subjected to horrible conditions in trenches and on the battlefield. On average, each soldier would spend 8 days in the front line and 4 days in the reserve. However, when a soldier was injured, another had to take their place and they could possibly spend around 30 days in the front line trenches.

Trenches were dug around 10ft deep and 6ft wide and in the spring and fall they would fill up with rain up to a soldier’s waist.  During the harsh winter months, trenches did not provide a lot of shelter or warmth. Blankets and clothing were said to freeze, food became frozen and inedible and the frozen mud walls became hard as stone. Soldiers suffered from frostbite and exposure leading to amputations. Once the snow and mud started to thaw, it only escalated the muddy and wet conditions in the trenches similar to those in the warmer months. Along with thick mud and flooding, trenches were also infested with rodents and insects.

Prolonged exposure to moisture and unsanitary conditions lead to “trench foot”, which causes open sores, blisters, fungal nail and skin infection and eventually amputation due to gangrene.

In the early stages of war, the standard footwear of the British Army were known as “Ammunition boots” which were unlined ankle boots made out of tanned cowhide with an iron plate half sole that was fixed to the heel. They were designed to be durable but not comfortable nor waterproof.

Over the course of the war, due to the increasing number of British casualties caused by trench foot, trenches were constructed with better drainage and more importantly soldiers received improved waterproof footwear called the “Perishing boot”.

These boots were designed as an American combat boot and were made out of heavier leather, they had a thicker sole and several more hobnails and treatments to improve waterproofing.

The Perishing boot was also dubbed “Little Tanks” as the soldiers found the construction heavy and bulky but incidents of trench foot dramatically decreased.

Diabetic Foot Care

Diabetic foot care and foot exams are extremely important for individuals who have just been recently diagnosed, those who have been living with diabetes for several years or at risk individuals.

Individuals living with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing infections and peripheral vascular disease.

What to expect:

For your first visit be sure to come prepared with a list of medication you are currently taking, bring a pair of your widely used footwear, and be sure to discuss any foot/knee/hip issues you may be experiencing.

The Chiropodist will do a full diabetic foot assessment and treatment which includes nail and callus care.

Diabetic Foot Assessment:

A diabetic foot assessment is a step by step approach to testing your vascular system, sensory system, motor system, skin system and footwear. It is highly recommended to have an annual assessment for most individuals living with diabetes. However, certain higher risk individuals need to be monitored more closely.

  • Vascular Assessment: an assessment to test your blood supply to your feet. Blood supply can become limited to the feet and extremities with long standing diabetes, uncontrolled diabetes and old age. The assessment includes taking pulses, measuring the blood flow back to the skin, gradual cooling of the lower limb to the feet and assessing the skin and nails for any vascular changes.
  • Sensory Assessment: an assessment to test your feeling in your feet. Often with long standing or uncontrolled diabetes, the small and large nerves in your feet can be affected and eventually stop working. The assessment includes testing different locations on your feet with your eyes closed, vibration test, light touch test, and soft pinch test.
  • Motor Assessment: an assessment to test your most important joints for walking. If your gait is impaired, pressures will not be distributed properly which may cause the build up of calluses, corns or even diabetic pressure ulcers.
  • Skin Assessment: an assessment of your skin and nails to check for corns, calluses, ingrown nails, warts, dry or cracked heels, diabetic ulcers or fungal infections to name a few. Since healing is impaired alongside diabetes, it is very important to treat any infections immediately.
  • Footwear Assessment: an assessment to make sure your shoes are being properly worn and they are not causing any calluses or sores to develop.

Diabetic Foot Treatment:

A diabetic foot treatment is a safe medical pedicure which includes nail and skin care. It is very important to avoid nail salons and spas as they do not use clean sterilized instruments nor do they have the medical knowledge necessary to provide diabetic foot treatment. Diabetic nail care includes trimming your nails safely and properly, cleaning out the corners from each nail and thinning out thick/rough nails. Skin treatment includes taking down any hard calluses or corns in a safe manner to a proper depth and even distribution. If any pressure points were noted in the footwear or skin assessment, these pressure points are addressed and often your footwear will receive a makeover to help your feet feel better.

Taking care of your feet is an important aspect of overall diabetic care and that includes having a Licensed chiropodist to be a part of your diabetic health team.

Foam Rolling 101: Why And How To Do It

Foam rolling is one of the easiest ways to keep your legs at their best.

Foam rolling is a self-therapy method used to eliminate general fascia restrictions. Think of foam rolling as your own personal massage therapist.

What is foam rolling?

Foam rolling involves using a foam roller as a method of release. By using your own body weight, the method is simple, effective and low-cost. Foam rolling is a great injury prevention method and can leave your muscles feeling refreshed afterwards.

Some people who foam roll do it as a warm-up to exercise, as it gets the muscles firing and activated. For example, some runners foam roll before activity to ensure their muscles aren’t cold when heading out the door.

Alternatively, foam rolling can be done after exercise, to break up the fascia, and knots that develop in the muscles.

What type of foam roller to buy

There are a number of different types of foam rollers on the market, from simple to premium.

Foam Rolling

Basic foam rollers can be found at most sporting goods stores for approximately $30.

Depending on your needs, a basic foam roller may do just fine. On the other end of the spectrum are more premium options, including Hyperice and Trigger point. These products are meant more for deep tissue massages and have additional features like vibration. Typically, the foundation of these rollers are made of stiff plastic with a foam outer layer, so they will last longer than a purely foam product. As their cores are also plastic, they also have a lot less ‘give.’

Foam rollers also come in various sizes. You can find travel sizes so they fit in your luggage if you’re a frequent traveller, Or, there are standard versions which cover a greater surface area of your leg and are often less painful because weight is dispersed more evenly across where you’re rolling. Fortunately, because they’re largely inexpensive, owning more than one won’t break the bank.

It should be noted that there are alternative ways to roll, including using tennis or lacrosse balls. The smaller the object, the more precise you can be with targeting trouble spots, or ‘trigger points.’

Foam Rolling

According to the American Council on Exercise, foam rolling  “focuses on reducing pain or the discomfort that comes from the myofascial tissue—the tough, but thin membranes that cover and surround your muscles.”

How to do it

Foam rolling can be tricky at first, but you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. Using your body weight, position the foam roller about two-thirds to the bottom of your body, or to wherever on your legs you want to target. Then, roll slowly and gently back and forth and pause on particularly tight spots.

You can reduce the pressure by bearing more weight on your upper body, or when you’re on your side, by having your torso on the ground. There should be some discomfort, but don’t go as far as feeling intense pain.

You’ll want to avoid bones, and focus on the muscles, specifically trigger points. These refer to specific knots that form in the muscles, that will benefit from being rolled out, which increases blood flow to the area.

Typically, anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes is appropriate for an area before moving on. In total, spend 10-15 minutes rolling various parts of your legs, even if they’re not particularly sore. Remember, sore muscles in one spot may mean the problem is actually somewhere else, so distribute the rolling appropriately.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling doesn’t just have to be on your legs either. You can do your back, hips, arms, shoulders, and whatever else is sore.

Benefits

There are a number of benefits to foam rolling, both as an injury treatment, as well as for injury prevention. Best of all, it’s one of the most affordable methods of self-treatment needing little more than a $30-40 product, that lasts quite a few years too.

According to the American Council on Exercise, foam rolling has been shown to help the following conditions: 

  • IT band syndrome
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee)
  • Shin splints
  • Lower-back pain
  • Infrapatellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee)
  • Blood flow, overall soreness
  • Joint range of motion

If pain continues to persist, and foam rolling doesn’t seem to be helping, your injury may be more serious.

For all of your foot treatment needs, schedule an appointment, or contact Feet First Clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).

Fashion Forward Shoes That Are Also Good For Your Feet

There is a common misconception that healthy shoes are ugly shoes.

This is not the case! There are actually a number of different companies that design and make shoes with the foot’s anatomy, activity and overall health in mind all while keeping up with latest fashion trends. Most of them are also made with a removable foot bed for easy accommodation of a custom foot orthotic.

Custom foot orthotics are custom-made insoles prescribed and dispensed by a health care practitioner, made from raw materials and can be moved from one shoe to another. It is a functional device that works to support, stabilize, correct foot and gait anomalies. If a Licensed Chiropodist has recommended orthotics for you, it is important to wear the devices on a daily basis to reduce stress on your feet and the lower extremities.

Brands that are Orthopaedic Footwears:

Clarks

Clarks has a great selection of footwear for both men and women. Probably the most fashion forward of the list, the sleek, simple designs are what attracts most of their customers. Most shoes are also made with a removable foot bed, come in half sizes, and varying widths.

Naot

Naot is most well known for their signature footbeds made from cork, latex and suede. The latex layer adds softness and padding while the cork provides flexibility, durability, and shock absorption. These two materials are then wrapped in suede, which provides additional comfort and absorbs excess moisture. Finally, the footbed is designed with arch support, a deep heel cup, an elevated centre, and hallux support to help support and better align your foot.

Mephisto

Mephisto offers a wide selection of sandals, casual walking shoes, dress shoes, and winter boots. Their footwear includes their innovative soft-air technology in the soles for excellent shock absorption, cushioning, and better air circulation for healthier foot climates. With their removeable footbeds, these shoes are perfect for orthotics while guaranteeing tireless and easy walking for hours on end.

Ara

Ara is a German shoe company that claims to offer the comfort of a running shoe in a ballerina slipper and women’s pumps. This family owned business makes shoes with a High Soft feature that combines a super soft upper material and a flexible, soft padded outsole for ultimate comfort.

All the shoes mentioned above, and more are available at Feet First Clinic. We are open six days a week!

Cracked toenails

Cracked toenails can really be a bother. They get caught on socks, pants, and bed sheets, and depending on the severity of the crack, they can be downright painful. Although in most cases patience and simple nail care will tend to the issue, there are times when further treatment may be required. It really all depends on the reason why the toenail has cracked or split in the first place.

image of a cracked big toenail

Causes of A Cracked Toenail

Trauma

Trauma is a broad term that includes an injury which may result in a bruise and undetected, repetitive micro trauma from daily activities. Sport activity, an accidental fall, dropping a heavy object on the foot, ill-fitting footwear, and frequent use of high heels can all cause trauma to the toenails.

Environment

Frequent exposure to wet or cold environments can make the nail weak and vulnerable to cracking.

Nail polish

Frequent use of nail polish and strong solvents such as nail polish remover can cause the nail to split.

Fungal infections

Harmful microorganisms can infect a weakened nail and cause the nail to change. If your toenail looks yellow, white, brown, cracked, crumbly, and/or thickened, you may have a fungal nail. To protect yourself from fungus, avoid injury to the nail, wearing wet or damp shoes or socks, unsanitary pedicures, and always wear shoes in public gyms or showers.

Systemic issues

Toenails can crack because of an underlying systemic disease including but not limited to rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, anemia, psoriasis, eczema, and peripheral vascular disease. Bad habits such as smoking increase the risk of developing conditions that cause poor circulation, especially to the extremities of the body.

Nutritional deficiencies

Your nails need nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein to grow healthy and strong. Iron deficiencies as well as vitamin B deficiencies are common causes of split nails.

Age

Finally, age is another factor that can cause the nail the become brittle and more vulnerable to crack.

As mentioned previously, treatment depends on the cause. If the cause is a systemic issue, the systemic disease must be addressed and treated. If the cause is a vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about vitamin supplements and possible dietary changes.

For local treatment of the nail itself and management of potential infections, visit a Licensed Chiropodist or foot specialist who will address the concern directly.

Chiropodists are primary health care professionals who are able to prescribe medications, administer local injections, and perform soft tissue surgeries, including nail surgeries. Although rare, a nail surgery may be indicated for a damaged nail depending on the severity of the deformity.

Leading up to your appointment with a foot specialist, you can prevent further damage to the nail by protecting the area with either a bandage, a toe sleeve, or toe cap, and keeping the nail trimmed, filed, and clean.

Book an appointment today!

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Feet Covered Up

Walking around barefoot is not the wisest decision. The main reason to keep your feet covered up is that it lowers your chances of catching an embarrassing condition. When you expose your bare soles to a germ covered floor, you can accidentally pick up a virus or fungus.

Athlete’s Foot

Skipping your shoes and walking barefoot can lead to athlete’s foot — it can even happen in the comfort of your own home. The foot fungus is contagious. When a family member or roommate has an irritating infection, you are likely to contract it too. A person with this specific fungal infection will contaminate the floor whenever they walk over it barefoot.

Exposing your feet to the contaminated area raises your risk of infection. If you’ve never suffered from the foot fungus before, here are some common symptoms of athlete’s foot that you should recognize:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Dry, cracking skin
  • Rash
  • Odour

Toenail Fungus

You can catch toenail fungus from a surface that’s been contaminated by someone with the infection. You can also get an infected toe if you have athlete’s foot. The foot fungus spreads from the soles and up into your toenails, turning them thick, brittle and yellow. You can click here to find out what causes toenail fungus other than contaminated floor surfaces and wandering athlete’s foot. Knowing the risks can help you avoid an uncomfortable infection.

Plantar Warts

If you walk around barefoot, you can also contract the human papillomavirus (HPV) through your sole and develop a plantar wart. It is a small rough growth that looks like a callus or corn. Since the plantar wart is on the bottom of your foot, it can feel tender or painful when you stand, walk or put pressure on it in any other way.

What Should You Do?

Start by breaking the bad habit of walking around barefoot. You can wear waterproof shower shoes in public spaces like gym locker rooms, swimming pool decks and saunas to protect your feet. Surfaces that are warm and moist present a higher risk of contamination.

Buy some pairs of indoor slippers for the home and place them by your main entrance. This way, you can effectively cover up your bare feet and avoid tracking outside dirt on your clean floors.

Here are some other simple tips to avoid infection:

  • Wash your feet every day
  • Moisturize your feet if your skin is dry
  • Cover up cuts or wounds on your feet with bandages

If you happen to contract any of these infections, you should make an appointment with one of our licensed chiropodists. We have the best foot solutions in Toronto — we can do everything from nail fungus treatment to plantar wart excision. When over-the-counter medications and home remedies don’t do the trick, experts can give you effective treatment options.

As an additional perk, slippers and shower shoes protect your bare feet from any objects lying on the floor. You’ll appreciate the protective barrier when you step over something sharp like a shard of glass, something hard like a discarded toy piece, or something disgusting like a cat’s hairball.

 

Trick or Treat: How to Prepare for Halloween

Are you prepared for Trick or Treating this year? Halloween is fast approaching and with the unpredictable October weather you want to be ready for anything.

Footwear & Socks

You will be spending a few hours walking around outside so the most important preparation is good footwear. Ideal footwear for Trick or Treating should be waterproof or water resistant. Avoid putting your kids in mesh running shoes as they can get too wet while running through grass or leaves. Your kids should also be wearing warm socks made out of Merino wool or Bamboo for extra moisture wicking properties. While your kids are busy running from one house to the next, you will be mostly standing. To prevent tired and achy legs, consider wearing compression stockings. Sigvaris Merino Wool Compression stockings are a great outdoor compression stocking that keeps you thermoregulated.

Be seen

The most important Halloween safety rule to follow is to be properly seen. Most Halloween costumes are too dark for the night time Trick or Treating. Consider putting your kids in brightly colored or white costumes or adding a splash of colour to their costume with reflective padding/stickers. Another great idea is for kids and adults to wear glow sticks, bracelets or headbands.

Foot Spray

After a long night of walking and running around in the wet or damp weather, it is recommended to sanitize all footwear. Bacteria and fungus thrive in warm moist environments created by excessive moisture with sweaty feet in wet or damp shoes. Gehwol Foot and Shoe deodorant helps to kill odour causing bacteria and eliminate fungal spores in shoes. It is recommended to remove the insole or orthotic inside the shoe, spray the Gehwol Foot and Shoe deodorant inside and let it dry overnight.

Sore Feet? 

You have been at work all day and now you have to take your kids out Trick or Treating so get your feet ready with some extra support. If you have tired and sore feet at the end of the day, consider wearing orthotics to help align your feet in the most efficient position.

Custom foot orthotics are recommended for people who experience sore feet, heel pain, ankle pain or have too much movement/drifting in their joints (like a bunion or hammer toes) Superfeet are the best non-prescription and non-custom insole you can buy. Superfeet have a harder plastic shell which offer general arch support and are the most widely used insole for athletes.

superfeet insoles

Another great device to help your feet feel better is the Bunion Aligner.

The Bunion Aligner helps to correctly position your big toe while strengthening your muscles and ligaments around the joint.

BUNION ALIGNER POSTS
Bunion Aligner

Many individuals who wear the bunion aligner have found less pain around the bunion area, a wider gap between the first and second toe and less pain in the balls of their feet.

Call Feet First Clinic to book an appointment for a biomechanical assessment and gait analysis to find out if orthotics or bunion aligners are right for your feet.

How to Manage Foot Calluses

Calluses are thickened and hardened layers of skin that develop as a result of pressure or friction. It is the skin’s way of protecting itself from these external forces. Calluses may appear yellow, white, or grey in hue and can be accompanied by dry scaling skin and even fissures.

Because our feet take on a lot of stress (i.e. supporting our body weight and taking us wherever we need to go) calluses are commonly seen on the feet, particularly at the heels and balls of feet. Ill-fitting footwear can also cause calluses to form on the sides or the tops of toes. While calluses are generally harmless, when left untreated for a prolonged period of time, they can become very uncomfortable to walk on. Not only that, but calluses also reduce the skin’s elasticity and moisture, making it more likely to crack under shear forces.

Whats the difference between a callus and a corn?

The major difference between a callus and a corn is that a callus will cover a diffuse area on the skin and usually have a relatively equal thickness, whereas a corn occurs in a localized area and contains a deep centre of hardened tissue. This deep centre is called a nucleus and it goes so deep that it presses into the underlying layers of tissue causing pain.

Corns usually form at the site of a bony protrusion and thus are commonly seen on the tops of, at the tips of, or in between the lesser digits of the foot.

How to take care of your calluses and corns

You can help manage these thickened and hardened areas of skin by:

  • Moisturizing daily with a urea based emollient (e.g. Dermal Therapy)
  • Using a foot file or pumice stone to exfoliate the dead skin away
  • Wearing proper footwear with a wide and deep toe box is highly recommended

When to seek medical attention for calluses and corns

Book an appointment to see a Licensed Chiropodist for your calluses and/or corns if you notice any of the following:

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Brown or red pigmentation within the callus
  • Leakage of fluid/pus
  • Swelling and redness in the surrounding skin

Calluses and corns can build up so much that it cuts off the blood supply to the skin underneath it, causing the skin to break down.

This may result in an ulcer or wound which can become infected.

A Licensed Chiropodist will be able to remove all calluses and corns on the foot by sharp debridement. If necessary, he or she may also offload pressures from these pressure points via means of various foot supplies such as foot pads, toe wedges, or toe props, and even custom foot orthotics.

Book an appointment with a Chiropodist at Feet First Clinic today!

When You Need to Get a New Pair of Shoes

Everything has an expiration date, including your shoes. Keeping your old and worn-down footwear in your closet can take a toll on your feet later on. It’s time to take a look at your shoes to see if they’re worthy of staying or if they should be thrown out.

Wear and Tear

You know that it’s time for a new pair of shoes when your favourite pair is looking worse for wear. Small problems like chewed-up laces and slipping insoles can be easily replaced. But, you should consider throwing out the pair when you spot one or more of these red flags:

  • The tread has been smoothed over from friction and repetitive impact.
  • There are creases in the mid-sole and heel.
  • The heel cup is fraying or completely split so that it rubs against your skin.
  • There are rips in the toe box and on the sides.

Essentially, if your shoes look and feel nothing like they did when you first bought them, you need to get some upgrades as soon as possible.

High Mileage

You need to track how much distance you’ve covered in your athletic shoes so that you can tell when they need to be put away for good. The logic behind this is simple: the further you go with your shoes, the faster they wear out. If you’re only using a pair to go on short walks around the neighbourhood every weekend, you won’t need to get an upgrade for a long time.

Ideally, you should get a new pair of running shoes after running or walking 500 kilometres in them. Avid runners and joggers can meet this goal in a matter of months, especially when they’re training for 5Ks, half-marathons, marathons and other ambitious races.

Pain and Discomfort

An old pair of athletic shoes can be the catalyst behind a long list of problems. When they aren’t offering proper arch support and shock absorption, they’re going to punish your feet, your knees, your legs and other connecting muscles and joints. For instance, if you suffer from Iliotibial band syndrome or a stubborn case of plantar fasciitis, you need to take a look at the shoes you’re exercising in.

You can visit some of the best chiropodists in Toronto to diagnose your painful condition and get treatment fast.

What Should You Do About It?

If you’ve noticed these warning signs, you need to get appropriate replacements for your bad shoes. One out of the three warning signs is too many.

You should check out our on-site shoe store for upgrades that are guaranteed to offer superior arch support and shock absorption during high-impact activities and long-distance runs. Our experts will make sure to measure your feet and recommend shoe styles so that you find the perfect match.

Book an appointment with a chiropodist to deal with problems like plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee and hammer toe. They will provide effective treatment options, including custom orthotic inserts and foot care recommendations. So, if your shoes took a toll on your body, you can find upgrades and start your physical recovery at Feet First Clinic.

You wouldn’t keep a shirt that has frayed seams and holes in the fabric. You wouldn’t keep a pair of pants that were painfully tight and left angry red marks on your skin. Don’t treat your running shoes any different. Get rid of them when they wear out.