pin Our Location 2481 Bloor St. W, Toronto 416.769.3338(FEET)

clock Open Saturdays Mon-Fri 10am-7pm Sat 10am-4pm calendar Book Appointment

See A Licensed Chiropodist

416-769-FEET(3338)

Frequently Asked Questions About Custom Made Orthotics

Have you been experiencing foot pain that just doesn’t seem to go away? Perhaps your pain is worse with your first steps in the morning or your initial steps after rest. Or maybe your feet are sore after standing all day at work. If this sounds like you, your feet may be suffering from faulty gait patterns or structural deformities that may benefit from custom foot orthotics.

Continue reading to find out everything there is to know about orthotics as we address the internet’s most asked questions regarding this medical device.

What are orthotics?

A line of different orthotics on a wooden surface

A custom foot orthotic is a device derived from a three-dimensional representation of a person’s foot and also made of suitable materials with regard to the individual’s condition. It is made specifically to address structural or functional foot conditions that lead to faulty foot mechanics and abnormal gait patterns by providing support, stability, and balance. It is a removable device that can be transferred between shoes.

A licensed chiropodist or podiatrist is the health care practitioner to see for a pair of custom foot orthotics. The appointment will include a full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis to determine a diagnosis and therefore, the cause of your symptoms. The foot specialist will also take a 3-dimensional mould of your feet using plaster of paris or a laser scanner.

A custom-made insole works to realign the foot to eventually relieve your pain. This takes time and does not happen immediately. In fact, it can take several months for your pain to completely subside, but you should feel a gradual decrease within the first month or so.

How do I know I need them?

Woman rubbing her foot in pain

Your signs and symptoms are good clues. Pain at the heel, arch, ball of the foot, top of the foot, shin, ankle, knee, hip, low back, poor foot posture (ie flat feet), gait anomalies, and foot fatigue, are all valid reasons to have your feet checked by a professional. A foot orthotic is recommended when muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones are not in an optimal functional position and are the cause of pain, discomfort, and fatigue.

If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, it is best to consult with a foot care specialist. A chiropodist or podiatrist will be able to tell you whether or not he or she recommends custom foot orthotics for your particular care.

What is an orthotic shoe?

An orthopedic shoe is designed with certain characteristics that make them different from everyday footwear. For instance, the shoe may have a firm heel counter, deep toe box, shock absorbing sole, stable sole, increased torsional stability, built in arch support, and come in a variety of widths to accommodate a wider foot. Orthopedics shoes work to support the foot’s structure and mechanics by reducing abnormal foot function, accommodating foot deformities, and enhancing the effectiveness of orthotic insoles.

Just as in the case of custom foot orthotics, a prescription for orthopedic footwear requires an appointment with a licensed chiropodist or podiatrist. The prescription will be based on a review of medical history, a full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis, and consideration of occupational, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

In addition, only certain manufacturers make acceptable true orthopedic shoes. Some brands of orthopedic footwear include Aetrex, Apex, Anodyne, Portofino, Asics. Though they have a stigma of being unappealing, you can find fashionable orthopedic shoes from most of these brands.

How long do and how often do I have to wear orthotic insoles?

Feet on a pair of orthotics

If your orthotics were prescribed to you because of some sort of pain, whether at your feet, knees, hip, or low back, you should be wearing them on a day to day basis until your pain subsides, that is if you experience pain daily. It is even recommended to wear them indoors. However, once the pain subsides, it is important to work on strengthening your feet as well as addressing any tightness in the lower limb and back to help manage your condition. Doing this will reduce the need for orthotics, although for the most part, they will still be needed to a certain degree.

Initially, when orthotics are prescribed and dispensed, they should be gradually incorporated into your daily regime as they are working to realign the foot to eventually relieve your pain. It is important to adhere to the break in schedule advised by your chiropodist to help your body slowly adjust to the new device. Most practitioners will recommend wearing the insoles for one hour the first day, two hours the next, three hours the third day and so on.

On average, it takes approximately a month to become fully accustomed to a new pair of custom orthotic insoles and feel comfortable wearing them all day long.

How do I know if my orthotics are working?

The easiest way to know if your orthotics are working is an alleviation of your symptoms.

What are the risks of using/wearing orthotics?

If made and prescribed correctly, orthotics will benefit you, not harm you. When worn for the first time, they may feel uncomfortable, like you are walking on a hard ball with most of the pressure felt at the arches, but this is normal. If you adhere to the break in schedule, your body will ease into the new foot posture in a relatively short period of time.

How expensive is it?

You will need to book a consultation with a foot specialist for a full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis before being prescribed and dispensed custom orthotics. At the end of this appointment, your foot specialist will determine if your particular condition and concerns can be managed and corrected by the devices. The price for custom foot orthotics differs between clinics, averaging approximately $500 per pair. The consultation fee is usually around $85-120.

If you have extended health benefits, you may have coverage for these kinds of devices as well as the consultation. Finally, you can always talk to your foot specialist about less expensive alternatives, such as over-the-counter insoles like Superfeet.

If you have foot concerns that you think may require custom foot orthotics, book an appointment with one of our licensed chiropodists at Feet First Clinic. We are located in Downtown Toronto at Jane and Bloor.

Call today!

Corns: What Are They?

Callus or Corn?

 Hyperkeratosis is a thickening of the skin and can form on areas, usually over boney areas that are prone to repetitive pressure or friction. Callus, however, is a type of hyperkeratotic lesion that occurs over a larger area and is generally not painful. Callus is generally uniform in thickness and common areas include around the nail, the ball of the foot and the back of the heel.

blog-20200203-corns-02

Corn is the common term for heloma durum, a well demarcated hyperkeratotic lesion that occurs in a localized spot with a central core that pushes deeper into the skin and can cause pain and inflammation.

The term corn is derived from the name of the epidermal outer layer, the stratum corneum.  The stratum corneum can be thickened with constant abnormal pressure causing either helomas (“corns”) or callus.

Corns, or helomas, as referred to by chiropodists and podiatrists, are well demarcated lesions with a central keratin core, which can appear more yellow or translucent in appearance.  They usually have surrounding callus.

Hard vs Soft Corns

blog-20200203-corns-03

Hard corns or heloma durum are, as the name implies, hard hyperkeratotic lesions that are well circumscribed and have a central core.  They are usually found on the tops of toes or on the ball of the foot.
Soft corns are found between toes and with excess moisture, become a macerated lesion that can be painful.  They are most commonly between the 4th and 5th toes. They are caused when the toes are moving against each other, either through toe deformity or an ill-fitting shoe, or both.
Both types are not serious health concerns and can be conservatively managed through sharp reduction from your foot specialist as well as proper padding or insoles and properly fitted footwear. Other factors including smoking and moisture control can also be considered.

Will it go Away?

Corns, also known as Heloma durum, “go away” with physical treatment.  A foot specialist can remove corns via sharp blade.  However, true removal and prevention involves diagnosing the cause of corn development.

Why do I have it?

blog-20200203-corns-01

The main cause of heloma durum, otherwise known as corns, is abnormal mechanical stresses, which can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic risks include boney prominences, poor healing of old injuries, or faulty biomechanics including rigid joints and hammertoes.  Extrinsic causes include ill fitting footwear, improper footwear to the foot type (e.g. high heels), or high level of activity (e.g. stair climbing, martial arts.)

What are the Risks?

Risks include systemic disease like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, or neurovascular disorders like cerebral palsy or Charcot-marie-tooth disease. Family history of foot deformity like hammertoes or bunions can predispose a person to callus and corns. Smoking can also increase formation of corns as vascularity to the feet is decreased.

Corns can be dangerous if left untreated.  Specifically, heloma durum pushes against the dermis layer of skin and can create an ulcer if left untreated.  This is especially risky for persons with immune disorders or diabetes.

While corns are not cancerous, there may be some lesions that look like corns that can be or become malignant, and is best to contact your physician or book an appointment with us for an assessment.

Corns generally do not spread.  If you find corns are increasing in number it’s best to come in for an assessment, as they may be a different lesion that can mimic corns, like warts.

A question to ask is how long have you noticed the lesion?Corns are usually long standing and gradually developing.  Warts are usually new and generally on one foot.

Corns can have different types.  The common corn type, heloma durum, is treated with sharp reduction.  A blade is used to remove the core keratin plug.  Since this plug has no blood vessels or nerve endings, reduction should be little to no pain.

For more aggressive or painful corns, like neurovascular heloma, they may be treated with topical treatments  or with topical anesthetic before sharp reduction.

Can I Treat it at Home?

Due to the localized nature of corns, it is not recommended to self remove heloma durum. Foot specialists are highly trained to safely and evenly reduce callus and corns.

There are low acid concentrated solutions that are over the counter that can soften the keratin plug of corns. The topical is applied to the central core of the corn and when the core is soft enough, it can be easily removed.

Proper diagnosis of any foot lesions is vital to treatment.  Physicians or specialists will be better trained to evaluate any foot lesions.  Foot specialists can also provide treatment.

Shoes with deeper and wider toe boxes and soft insoles may reduce pressures that can develop corns.  Look for shoes with laces as they can prevent excess movement of the foot inside the shoe.

Dry skin may reduce elasticity to the skin which can increase corn and callus formation.

Any foot condition that cause abnormal mechanical stresses or foot deformity may increase risk of developing corns.  For example, hammertoe deformity may increase pressures at the ball of the foot and at the tip of the toe, which can lead to callus or corn formation.  Excess perspiration can cause corns that are between the toes to absorb more moisture leading to painful soft corns (heloma molle).

What Happens After?

Following corn removal, there may be a small depression where the keratin plug once was.  Treating the cause is most important to completely prevent reformation of corns. The area will look flat without pain for many months.

Corns may return if mechanical stresses exist, and thus can return dependent on intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Treating the cause is the best way to prevent formation of corns.  A foot assessment is the recommended route to determine the cause of corns.  For example, if corns are caused by external pressures, the pressure source should be identified and removed.  If the cause is more intrinsic, e.g. foot deformity, then offloading devices can be made to prevent corn formation.

3 Signs That Your Running Shoes Don’t Fit

It’s common knowledge that you stop growing after you reach a certain age. This would lead one to believe that their footwear will fit forever. Sadly, this is wishful thinking. Over time, your shoes are prone to stretching and shrinking.

As an example, if you wear the same pair of shoes every time you work out, they will gradually lose their shape and eventually feel looser. Additionally, people in hot climates have reported that their shoes are shrinking from over-exposure to the sun.

At Feet First Clinic, we know that wearing ill-fitting footwear can lead to severe consequences — for those that aren’t familiar with us, we’re a team of experienced foot specialists that offer specialized foot care services and products.

If you need to book an appointment with the best chiropodist in Toronto, you should get in contact with one of our fantastic team members.

Before you throw on your running shoes, make sure you keep an eye out for the following signs:

You Can’t Slide Your Shoes Off Easily

Woman sliding off shoe

In some sports, like hockey, players are encouraged to tie their laces as tightly as possible. Tightly tied skates can prevent issues like rolled and sprained ankles.

However, this isn’t necessarily the case with running shoes. If your footwear is the ideal size, you should be able to slide them on and off without undoing the laces.

If you can’t do this, you’re either tightening your laces too much or wearing ill-fitting footwear. Thankfully, you don’t have to throw out your favourite pairs of shoes; we offer reliable shoe stretching services that can help you get the optimal fit

Your Toes Touch the Inside of Your Sneaker

Toes touching the top of tiny shoes

Are your feet swollen and sore after a long day of work? This may be because your toes are touching the inside layer of your sneakers.

If your toes rub against the inside of your sneakers, you can potentially bruise your nails or get a hammer toe.

To ensure that your shoes aren’t too tight, you need to make sure that there’s at least a thumb’s worth of space between your toes and the inside layer of your sneakers.

Your Heel Moves Around While Walking

Kids wearing high heels that are too big

Whether you’re walking around the block or through a snowy trail, the last thing you want is heel pain.

Unfortunately, if you wear footwear that’s too loose, you’re in for a lot of pain and discomfort. If your shoes are too loose, your heel has more room to move around and rub up against your footwear. This causes additional friction, which can be extremely uncomfortable.

Does this happen to you? The simplest way is to deal with this issue is by tying your shoelaces correctly.

If you want to go the extra mile, feel free to try insoles for extra cushioning — this will minimize the amount of wiggle room in your footwear and keep your heel snuggly in place.

You should never rely on over-the-counter insoles. These items are nowhere near as comfortable or effective as our customized orthotic insoles.

Before you slide on the shoes that you’ve had for far too long, you should take a look for the signs mentioned above. This will ensure that you don’t harm your feet in the (not so distant) future.

At-Home Diabetic Foot Care

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body is unable to either sufficiently produce or properly use insulin.  Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to help cells absorb sugar from the bloodstream and use it as an energy source.

When insulin is not adequately produced or properly used, it can result in elevated levels of blood sugar, called hyperglycemia.  Hyperglycemia can cause deterioration of the body’s blood vessels, nerves and organs, most commonly the kidneys, eyes, and heart.  Elevated blood sugars can leave a person more susceptible to slow healing wounds and infection, most commonly seen in the feet.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the insulin producing cells of the pancreas are attacked, resulting in an insulin dependent body.  It is also known as juvenile diabetes and is usually diagnosed in persons under 40, most commonly children. People that are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes require an external source of insulin daily.

Type 2 diabetes is an acquired disease where the body does not produce enough insulin or does not properly use the insulin produced.  It is most diagnosed in persons who are overweight or inactive physically, in individuals over 40 years old, but is now seen more in children and those under 40.

Type 2 diabetes can either be insulin or non insulin dependent based on the severity and chronicity of disease.

As of 2008-09, 2.4 million Canadians were living with diabetes.  It is estimated that 90-95% of Canadians diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes and 5-10% have Type 1.

How Does Diabetes Develop?

blog-20200203-at-home-diabetic-footcare-02
Healthy Diabetes Diet

Diabetes development can be multi-factorial.  There are many risk factors of type 2 diabetes, including inactive lifestyle, poor diet, family history, smoking, advanced age, or certain ethnicity.

Risk factors of Type 1 diabetes are currently not well understood, though there may be a genetic disposition or an environmental trigger that may initiate the autoimmune response.

Diabetes is normally diagnosed as either Type 1, or Type 2 and you cannot have both types of diabetes concurrently.

Hyperglycemia can be gradually increasing before onset of diabetes, and symptoms may go undetected.  Diagnosis is usually made with a plasma glucose test. Hyperglycemic symptoms include; frequent urination, increased thirst, unexplained weight loss. Other symptoms can include blurred vision, fatigue, and nausea.  Since these symptoms can be associated with other disorders or disease, diagnosis of diabetes may be delayed.  It is best to control modifiable risk factors that may lead to diabetes: staying physically active, eating a healthy diet and eliminating smoking.

Why is Taking Care of my Feet Important?

blog-20200203-at-home-diabetic-footcare-01
At-home Diabetic Foot Care

Since diabetes can affect the blood vessels and nerves, the feet, situated the furthest from our nerve and vessel centre, are commonly affected in persons with long standing diabetes.

As other diabetes related complications can arise, the feet can become more affected and more difficult to manage.  Complications include deteriorating eyesight, and decreased flexibility.

Decreased nerve function can reduce sensation in the feet, meaning small cuts and callus that may normally cause pain in a person without diabetes will go undetected.  It is important to look at the feet regularly and immediately treat any developing callus or dryness to avoid foot wounds.

Decreased healing ability means infection may be a cause for concern in persons with diabetes.  The feet generally see more sharp instruments than other areas including nail clippers, and files or blades to remove callus and corns and therefore are at higher risk for small cuts.

Taking care of feet in persons with diabetes are very simple and should become habit.  The skin should be kept hydrated and elastic with use of cream and water consumption.  All nails should be trimmed and filed to avoid any sharp corners.  Avoid applying devices or items that are too hot or too cold directly to the skin.

Inspect the feet daily.  If the feet are difficult to see, a mirror can be used.  A friend or family member is the most helpful.  The person should be looking for any of the following: increased redness, swelling, blood, foreign objects, callus, corns, dry skin, or deformity (bunion, hammertoe).  If any signs are seen, visit a physician or book an appointment with one of our foot specialists.

A foot specialist is recommended for regular assessments every 6 months. If there are any concerns with the feet, regular foot care every month or 2 may be indicated.

Who Needs to Worry About Diabetes?

blog-20200203-at-home-diabetic-footcare-03

As of 2008, over 200 000 Canadians are diagnosed with diabetes every year.  The increasing age of baby boomers and increased life span are contributing factors to the increase in diabetes diagnoses.  The people most likely to be affected by diabetes are those in certain ethnic groups (first nations, African, Caribbean, south Asian and Hispanic), age groups (over 40), and higher weight groups.

In 2017, approximately 2.3 million Canadians (7.3% aged 12 and over) have been diagnosed with diabetes.

What Problems does Diabetes Cause for my Feet?

Diabetes can affect the feet in so many different ways: the skin becomes drier, the muscles start to change where foot deformities can develop, and the nerves are affected where sensation is reduced.  Detection of problems can become difficult and due to decreased healing time and increased rates of infection; problems can progress rapidly.

Serious cases include undetected wounds, subsequent infection and possible amputation.  Undetected wounds can paint a picture of uncontrolled diabetes, where multiple vital systems can be affected (kidneys, vessels, nervous)

At every age group, mortality rates are two times those in persons with diabetes than those without.

So, What Products Can I Use?

For persons with diabetes, it is important to avoid products with acid as an ingredient.  Creams with mild acid solution can irritate the skin and cause small wounds.

Sharp objects such as nail clippers and foot files may be used in persons with controlled diabetes and with prior instruction from a professional.  Feel free to use a daily cream and emollient to hydrate the skin.

Be careful using product between the toes, as that area can accumulate too much moisture which can breakdown the skin.  Foot soaks can dehydrate the skin, please consult with your doctor or foot specialist before engaging in foot soaks.

Persons with diabetes may require shoes that are healthier for their sensitive feet. Shoes with soft foot beds that can reduce friction and increase shock absorption are ideal.  Avoid shoes that have rigid seams or stiff out-soles.

When wearing shoes, keep an eye out for any red marks on the skin, these are ones to discard or avoid as they can one day leave a wound or laceration.

Will it Get Worse?

Persons with diabetes may feel their feet are too hot or too cold and try to use hot or cold packs to alleviate the discomfort.  Due to decreased sensation, these hot/cold packs can cause hot or cold burns on the skin.

Be sure to protect the skin with a towel prior to using these types of warming/cooling packs, and test first on the hands as sensation is usually not as diminished in the hands. Never use hot water or hot packs – make sure the temperature is lukewarm.

If you have dry skin, make sure to moisturize; do not use harmful files or electric devices to remove callus or dry skin.  Contact your chiropodist as you may be prescribed a cream. Inspect the feet daily, checking for cuts, callus or redness and swelling.

Where Can I Get Help? Who Can I Ask?

blog-20200203-at-home-diabetic-footcare-04

A licensed chiropodist is trained to treat feet, especially in those with diabetes.  They can prescribe special creams, and carefully and safely reduce nail problems and callus.  They can help reduce pressures by recommending orthopedic shoes or prescribing custom made orthotics.

They can improve mobility by offering specific exercises and stretches to keep you moving. And they are primary care practitioners who can monitor and inspect your feet for any new concerns.

Persons with diabetes should have a foot specialist examine their feet at least every 6 months.  If you have callus or nail problems, a visit to the chiropodist can be a more routine visit at around 2 months.  Regular examinations and visits can prevent foot complications that can occur with diabetes.  Consult your doctor who can refer a foot specialist in your area or call our clinic today!

5 Standing Stretches For Your Legs

Stretching is not just reserved for athletes and gym-goers.

The practice of keeping our muscles limber and flexible can benefit us all, especially when done consistently. But we all have busy schedules. So, to accommodate, we’ve rounded up standing stretches for your legs that you can do any time, anywhere.

According to Harvard Medical School, “stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints.” In fact, without it, Harvard Medical School notes, “the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.”

For those who sit all day, the importance of stretching becomes even greater. And because so many jobs now are performed digitally, a large percent of the population spends much of their workday sitting down, in front of a computer. With these long hours in sedentary positions, our muscles can become used to one position, making them increasingly inelastic.

To fight back, one can incorporate standing stretches into their routines, whether it’s to begin the day or an addition to their gym routine.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you need to spend 30 minutes each day stretching. Even 10-20 minutes two or three times a week helps. The key is to stay consistent. Although you may not see immediate effects, the compound interest of the habit will result in significant gains over time.

A few things to consider before beginning a new stretch routine:

  • Don’t bounce. Hold a stretch evenly, as bouncing or rocking back and forth can cause injury as you may stretch the muscle beyond its physiological limit.
  • Consider a light warmup. Warm muscles are better than cold muscles. Even a short five-minute walk is enough to loosen the muscles.
  • Don’t stretch through pain. If you experience pain when stretching, stop. You’re likely damaging the muscle more than helping it.

Now, let’s get into five stretches that are designed to be done anywhere.

Standing Hamstring and Calf Stretch

This stretch targets two muscle groups at the same time. Stand about a foot away and place both of your hands on a wall. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Then, take a step back with one foot, keeping that leg straight. Push down with your heel so your entire foot maintains contact with the ground.

Maintain for 30-60 seconds and switch sides. Repeat 2-3 times.

You feel should feel a stretch in your calves; if not, lean forward slightly. By keeping your back leg straight, you should also feel a stretch through your hamstring.

Standing Hamstring Stretch (One Leg)

Standing Stretches For Your Legs

Another stretch to target your hamstrings. While standing up straight, lift one leg and rest it on a shoebox, or another item around the same height. While keeping both of your legs straight, reach up towards the ceiling, and begin to lean slightly forward. As you do, you should feel a stretch in your hamstring. Maintain for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on both sides.

For this stretch, it’s important to keep your back straight and to avoid hunching over and putting undue stress on your neck.

Standing Stretches For Your Legs

Standing Pigeon

Cross your ankle over your opposite leg, just above the knee, and squat down. You can extend your arms out for balance, or be up against a wall for additional stability. Look straight ahead and avoid straining your neck. Hold for 30-60 seconds, and repeat 2-3 times with equal recovery time in between sets.

This stretch works your hips, glutes, and lower back.

For even more stretches, visit our blog on activities that will help you build up strong, healthy feet.

For more information on how to prevent foot injuries and foot conditions, book an appointment today at Feet First Clinic.

Getting Your Feet Vacation-Ready

Anyone who lives in the city of Toronto is familiar with cold, winter weather.

All of the slush, ice and snow can put a damper on your mood, especially if you suffer from phycological conditions like seasonal affective disorder (often shortened to SAD).

To combat their winter blues, several Torontonians will pack their suitcases and take a trip to a tropical country.

However, if you’re going somewhere exotic, there’s one essential thing that you need to do beforehand: get your feet vacation-ready.

If you don’t take the time to beautify your feet, you might feel less comfortable walking around in sandals or flip-flops. Instead of wearing closed-toed shoes to the beach, you should use the list of practical tips that our team at Feet First Clinic has put together.

Our team is made up of a group of experienced and knowledgeable foot specialists in Toronto — we provide high-quality foot care services and products, like customized orthotic inserts.

Continue reading to learn how you can beautify your feet before your next tropical vacation.

Exfoliate and Moisturize

Woman exfoliating her foot with a pumice

Do you want your feet to look youthful and attractive?

The first thing you need to do is exfoliate and moisturize them.

To exfoliate your feet, you’ll want to find a pumice stone or foot scrubber. You can use these tools to remove dry, dead skin from your feet.

Once you’ve removed all of the excess skin from your feet, it’s time to moisturize them. Moisturizing your feet will keep them feeling soft and touchable for your entire vacation.

You should try to avoid getting moisturizer in between your toes — this can encourage fungi to grow. If you have a case of toe fungus, you should book an appointment with a licensed chiropodist in Toronto before you depart on your trip.

Tend to Your Nails

Woman receiving laser treatment on her feet for the treatment of a mild fungal infection in the toenails

When you’re on a tropical vacation, looking down at cracked toenails can ruin your mood and make you want to hide your feet in the sand!

Damaged toenails can also lead to several different types of foot fungus.

These fungi can affect the appearance of your nails and make them:

  • Brittle
  • Discoloured
  • Have an unpleasant odour

Additionally, if you have an untreated ingrown toenail, you need to make an appointment with us before you go. If left untreated for too long, ingrown toenails can result in harmful (and avoidable) conditions like bone infections and even ulcers!

Thankfully, if you contact one of our foot specialists before you go, we can remove your ingrown toenail in no time.

Paint Your Nails

Woman painting her toenails

Once you’ve dealt with any nail-related conditions, you’re free to paint your nails! This is something both men and women can do (a coat of clear nail polish goes a long way, guys).

Not only will this make your feet look better, but it can also give you an enormous confidence boost!

Whether you’re crossing a single border or an entire ocean, you need to make sure that your feet are vacation-ready before you go.

Running on a Treadmill Doesn’t Have to Hurt

Running is a simple and satisfying way to stay in shape. It gives you a physical and mental rush that you can’t obtain through any other activity.

During the frigid winter months, many runners in Toronto can’t stand the idea of subjecting themselves to the cold outdoor temperatures.

That’s why several runners trade in their favourite trails for treadmills during the winter; these fantastic pieces of equipment are ideal for people that want to run for an extended period without going outside.

However, some runners find that their bodies (particularly their feet) hurt after running on a treadmill. Instead of living with this pain, you should use the list of tips and tricks that our team at Feet First Clinic has put together.

If you’re not familiar with our work, we’re a team of experienced chiropodists that offer a wide variety of foot pain treatment services and products.

Continue reading to learn how you can reduce the amount of physical pain you feel while running on your treadmill.

Don’t Over-Use Your Body

If you work a full-time job, you probably don’t have as much time to run as you’d like. Because of this, you most likely try to get as much out of each run as possible.

Although you may think this is a good thing, it’s counterproductive.

If you put too much strain on your body, you may end up developing ankle tendonitis (also referred to as peroneal tendonitis). Tendonitis can affect several other body parts including your:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Shoulders

The symptoms of tendonitis can range from minor swelling to severe pain. If you don’t take care of your tendonitis, it can potentially grow into a chronic condition (which means that you’ll have to deal with it for a lengthier period).

If you have tendonitis or want to learn more about how you can prevent it, then you need to book an appointment with the best Toronto foot clinic.

Analyze Your Gait 

The way that you walk or run has a significant impact on your body. If you don’t move correctly, you can end up slowly damaging your body over time. This will make it more challenging to walk or run in the future.

If you want to make sure that you’re walking and running on your treadmill correctly, you should book a video gait analysis appoint at our Toronto foot care clinic.

For those that don’t know, gait is the scientific term for how a person walks. Your gait can be affected by numerous things, including:

  • Genetic makeup
  • Previous/current health conditions
  • Physical abnormalities
  • Foot, leg or pelvic injuries

By getting your gait analyzed, we’ll be able to recommend the ideal foot care treatments for you. If necessary, we can also design and produce customized orthotic insoles during the same appointment.

High-quality orthotic insoles can make running on a treadmill less painful and more productive.

Before you step on another treadmill, make sure that you keep the tips mentioned above in mind.

Important Facts You Need to Learn About Gout

Gout is an inflammatory disorder caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid crystallizes in the form of urate crystals in the joints of hands, feet and elbows. Gout affects roughly 3 million Canadians each year.

Illustration of foot with close up of build up of uric acid in joint of the big toe

Causes

Gout is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic issues. Most commonly, environmental triggers include diet with foods that have high levels of purines which then break down into uric acid. Foods that can lead to high levels of urate are red meats, seafood, refined or processed carbohydrates, sugary drinks and alcohol such as beer and hard liquor.

Gout was often called the “disease of kings” as only wealthy people would be afflicted due to their rich diet and excessive drinking. The most famous king to be afflicted with chronic gout was King Henry VIII. Genetic factors such as hyperuricemia can impact the frequency of gout attacks.

Hyperuricemia occurs when your body does not filter urate properly from the bloodstream, either from the kidneys or the gut. Another common issue is if your body doesn’t break down sugars properly, this can affect how urate is stored. The risk of gout increases with age, particularly in women. The role of estrogen helps to regulate urate in the body so after menopause, urate levels in women increases drastically. Certain medications may also lead to hyperuricemia, such as diuretics and cyclosporine.

Finally, conditions linked with hyperuricemia are high blood pressure, kidney disease, thyroid disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.

Symptoms

While your body is producing high levels of uric acid this stage is called Asymptomatic gout as there are no signs or symptoms. The next stage is Acute intermittent gout and it starts off with a painful swelling in the joint often in the middle of the night. Most people wake up with the feeling their joints or foot is on fire. Gout most commonly affects the joint of the big toe because urate crystals deposit at the furthest joint in your body – gravity also plays a role. However, gout can affect any joint, the ankle and elbow are also commonly affected joints. The pain and swelling of the joints is likely to be severe for the first 4-12 hours and then a lingering pain or discomfort can last for weeks. The affected joints are also noticeably different with a red, swollen, tender and warm appearance. As gout progresses and is left untreated, the range of motion of the joint is also limited due to the swelling and deposits of hard urate crystals lumps called Tophi which damage and affect the joint structure and the surrounding skin.

Gout vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can have similar symptoms as gout but the causes are different. RA is an autoimmune inflammatory condition where your own body attacks healthy synovial cells inside your joints. This attack causes inflammation, pain and swelling and most often attacks the hands, wrists, ankles and knees.

Tests

Gout can be diagnosed clinically with the appearance of a red, hot and swollen joint but as well as the timeframe. Your family doctor will also check for urate crystals by running tests on the fluid from your joint, blood work and possibly order an x-ray.

Treatment

Depending on the stage of gout, your family doctor will prescribe medication to either help with the pain and swelling or to prevent further attacks. Medication to help relieve pain and swelling are NSAIDS, specifically Indomethacin, colchicine and possibly corticosteroids. These drugs are often prescribed for acute gout attacks.

For chronic gout, medications to help prevent further attacks are allopurinol and probenecid. Along with medication your family doctor will advise you to make some lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol intake, losing weight and quitting smoking.

After a gout attack, it is advised to visit a chiropodist to assess the range of motion at the affected joint and see if your gait has been altered and affected.

Things You Need To Know About Flat Feet

Feet come in all shapes and sizes. If you have a very low arch or no arch at all when you stand, you have what is called a flat foot, also known as pes planus in the medical world. But you’re not alone! About 30% of the population live with this postural deformity.

Flat feet can be caused by a number of different reasons including, excessive pronation (the motion of your foot rolling in towards its arches when walking), having a naturally flexible or hypermobile foot, damage by trauma, damage by disease, and genetics. People with flat feet often complain of fatigue, arch strain, calf cramps, shin splints, heel pain, and pain at the balls of their feet. Although flat feet are usually permanent, there are ways to treat the symptoms and manage the condition to prevent future problems.

Treatment for Flat Feet

Custom foot orthotics

Foot above custom orthotics

If you have flat feet, talk to your chiropodist about custom foot orthotics and if you may be a good candidate for them.

Custom foot orthotics help to position your foot in a more optimal alignment, allowing for better support, stability, and balance between the muscles that contribute to its dynamic movements. They can be made to control pronation in the foot and reduce stress, while maintaining proper mobility in the foot. They are removable insoles made custom to your foot and your foot’s needs.

Orthopedic Footwear

Feet in orthopaedic footwear from Birkenstocks

Wearing better footwear can also help to manage your flat feet. Depending on the severity of your flat foot, you may benefit from an orthopedic shoe, which is designed with certain characteristics that make them different from everyday footwear.

For instance, the shoe may have a firm heel counter, increased torsional stability, built in arch support, and come in a variety of widths to accommodate a wider foot. Orthopedic shoes work to support the foot’s structure and mechanics by improving mobility and stability, as well as providing a comfortable fit.

Physical Therapy

Woman with physical therapist using resistance band

With a flat foot, muscle balance is disturbed due to excessive pronation and a low arch profile.

The tendons that run along the arch become stretched and weakened while the opposing muscles on the outside of the foot become shortened and tight. This usually worsens over time. Physical therapy such as foot and ankle exercises can help to strengthen and stretch targeted muscle groups. See our blog post on Daily Feet Exercises for more information on exercises you can try to keep your feet strong and healthy.

Taping is another mode of physical therapy that may be used to help manage your symptoms associated with flat feet. It involves placing strips of athletic tape on your body in specific directions to help control pronation and support your joints, muscles, and tendons.

If you or a loved one has flat feet, book an appointment with one of our Licensed Chiropodists for a one on one consultation.

Call Feet First Clinic today!

At home Sprained Ankle & Foot Exercises

With the New Year many flock to the gyms or get their resolutions ready. Why not take 10 minutes out of your day to start taking care of your feet as well.

It has been proven that foot exercises help increase mobility, prevent injury, increase circulation and resolve many foot issues.

Here are some exercises you can do at home:

Heel raise and toe curls

Toe raises and curls

Start in a seated position barefoot, raise your legs on your toes and hold for 10 seconds. With your toes weight bearing, curl your toes as if you are gripping the floor and repeat 5-10 times, holding for 10 seconds.

Toe splay and crunch

Toe splay

In a seated position barefoot, balance your feet on your heels and spay your toes for 10 seconds and then grip, like creating a fist with your toes. Repeat 5-10 times on each foot.

Scrunching towel on floor with toes

Towel pick up

Barefoot again, throw a towel on the ground and start gripping and releasing the towel with your toes until it is bunched up underneath your feet. Next, use your toes to straighten the towel. Repeat 5-10 times.

sand-walking

Sand walking

Find a carpeted area in your house and walk around barefoot trying to grip the floor with every step and feel the surface throughout your whole foot. Be mindful of gripping the ground and pushing off with force at your big toe. If you don’t have any carpet around your house, then walk around barefoot but try to make as little sound as possible when walking. Silent walking allows your foot to grip the ground with full force and transfers energy through every step (same as sand walking).

Ankle rolling

Ankle rolling

This can be done at a desk, while watching tv or before bed. Raise your legs so your feet are not touching the ground and roll your ankles 10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise. This exercise helps promote circulation and prevent limitation at the ankle ligaments and muscles of the foot.

Ankle spellingAnkle spelling

With your leg raised and your foot pointed, spell out your full name with one leg and then the next. The movement should be centred around your ankle. Again, this helps improve flexibility and circulation at the ankle.

Calf stretch by dropping and lifting heel on the edge of stairsCalf stretches

Stretching out your calves is a very important exercise as it helps loosen up your posterior compartment of your leg which is also attached to the bottom of your foot. These exercises include using a rubber band around the bottom of your foot and keeping your leg straight while pulling on the band. Another exercise is standing at the edge of stairs and dropping your heels.

Heel raisesHeel raises

While barefoot, stand flat on the ground and raise your heels so you are standing on the tips of your toes. Drop your heels and repeat this exercise 5-10 times and hold the last one for 10 seconds. You can work your way up to doing single heel raises – standing on one leg and raising your heels.

Alternate toe raisesToe raises

This is the ultimate toe-yoga move, often times called the Sun-salutation for your toes. With your bare feet firmly planted on the ground, raise just your big toe up (giving thumbs up) and keep your lesser toes firmly planted on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds. Then reverse, keeping your big toe firmly planted on the ground, and raise your lesser toes. Don’t worry if you can’t get this right away, sometimes it takes a little practice or even using your hands to help.