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)

What Is ‘Heel Whip’?

Have you ever completed a run and noticed dirt on the insides of your ankles? You may be experiencing heel whip.

Often times, you may not notice a few clips of your calf or ankle with your opposite foot as you run. It’s quite common and can begin after a period of exercise when your muscles fatigue. It’s not a widely-discussed topic, and it sounds more like a skateboard move than anything. But ask any runner and they likely know the feeling of heel whip.

Isolated, it’s not an issue. But, if it’s repetitive, whip may be a sign of a greater underlying problem.

Let’s get into what it actually is, why it happens, and what you can do to fix it.

What Is Heel Whip?

Heel whip is when your heel whips outwards (lateral), or inwards (medial) while you run. The most common form of heel whip is medial, which means your heel moves inwards and brushes your opposite leg. As a result, you may experience irritation, or even cuts, on the inner portion of your leg, whether it’s the ankle or calf. For the most part, heel whip is subtle and happens only a few times throughout the course of a run.

However, depending on the severity and repetitiveness, an excessive heel whip can be cause for concern. The treads of your shoes can also have an impact. If you’re wearing aggressive trail shoes with large rubber lugs, you may have more irritation.

Heel Whip
Aggressive lugs on your shoes can scrape your inner legs if you heel whip.

If you hear a runner say they kick their feet inward or outward when running, they’re referring to heel whip.

Based on a 2015 study to investigate the prevalence and characteristics of recreational runners with medial and lateral heel whips, half of the study’s participants were observed to heel whip. In that same study, there were twice as many medial (inward) heel whips as there were lateral, showing the prevalence of an inward whip.

Unfortunately, not all runners have access to a gait analysis, which is the best way to determine the severity of the issue. But, signs like scuffed calves and ankles are some clues to suggest you may be heel whipping.

Heel Whip
Inner legs scuffed with dirt from heel whip.

Video Gait Analysis

If you experience heel whip and want to have a professional analyze your gait, we offer 3D video in order to further analyze gait. Video gait analysis involves being recorded while walking or running on a treadmill. The video software allows us to slow and stop and zoom in on specific areas during your gait in order to educate you about your foot type and gait pattern. Following the biomechanical assessment and gait analysis, you may be recommended certain devices, shoes and/or exercises to assist with obtaining your optimal biomechanics.

Speaking about gait analysis, Dr. Andrew Miner appropriately told the National Post, “The runner who wins is the one whose form deteriorates the least.” This sentiment is particularly true for heel whip since it can occur during the latter stages of a run when the body is fatigued.

Because of its repeated nature, a minor issue in one’s form can manifest itself to become a significant problem over time. Thus, finding the root of the problem is essential, and video gait analysis may provide a glimpse.

Why Does It Happen?

Whip is not necessarily the issue, but rather the result of an underlying foot condition or muscle imbalance that should be addressed.

Heel whip does not necessarily result in injury. However, repeated movement with muscle imbalances may put you at greater risk if they go unaddressed.

Not running in proper shoes may also cause you to compensate which may lead to heel whip. Being properly fitted is a crucial step in choosing the right shoe as is determining the type of shoe you need.

In fact, any number of underlying issues could contribute to heel whip including:

  • Hallux limitus
  • Weak tib anterior and extensor toe muscles
  • Foot Baller’s ankle
  • Limited/impaired hip extension
  • Weak glutes (which minimizes hip extension range)
  • Sway back
  • Short quadriceps
  • Excessive flip flop use
  • Excessive pronation
  • Impaired foot tripod mechanics

How To Fix Heel Whip

With so many different possibilities of where the underlying condition may lie, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact fix that will work for you.

Foam Roll

In general, mobility issues often stem from the hips. For example, if you sit at work for extended hours, hip tightness would be no surprise. This is where foam rolling can come in. Spend 10-15 minutes a few days a week foam rolling your lower body. You may not see immediate effects, but the habit of foam rolling will be one that pays off greatly in the long run.

For further reading, read our complete guide on foam rolling 101.

Strengthen

Another fix can be lower body strength via a resistance band. With a band wrapped around your ankles and your legs in a quarter squat position, walk side to side in what is known as lateral band walks. Perform 10-15 lateral walks, and repeat 2-3 times with a break in between. With the band in the same position, you can also do step-ups to target your glutes.

Read about a complete list of daily foot exercises.

Shoes

Getting fitted with the proper shoes – like footwear with a rocker sole for example – can also provide relief for heel whip. For more on the different types of shoes, and how to determine your foot type, check out the three primary types of running shoes.

For all of your shoe needs, we offer many leading brands at the clinic.

To better identify the cause of your foot pain or discomfort and get immediate care, visit us at our Toronto foot clinic. Book an appointment that works best with your schedule through our contact page.

You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic.

Cold or Warm Therapy: What’s Better For Your Feet?

What’s hotter right now? Warm or cold therapy.

Each of the two methods have their places in treating foot pain and conditions, although the two serve different purposes. By cold therapy, we mean applying something cold – an ice pack, for example – to an area. Similarly, using warm therapy means applying heat to an area through a towel or a hot tub.

Generally, cold therapy should be used for acute injuries and foot pain as ice constricts blood vessels and swelling. Heat has the opposite effect. Applying heat to an area increases blood flow and relaxes the muscles and encourages an extended range of motion. As such, muscle soreness or tightness may benefit from warmth, rather than cold therapy.

Cold therapy

Person holding gel ice pack to ankle

Cold therapy works best on acute injuries and intense foot pain. Why? Because cold therapy helps restrict blood flow to the area, thus reducing swelling which can aid in normal mobility and joint motion. Additionally, cold therapy numbs sensory fibres which reduces the immediate pain and offers you relief. Finally, restricting blood flow to the area means reduced blood loss after an acute injury, such as a twisted ankle.

Apply cold therapy by doing one of the following:

As a general rule of thumb, you should never apply heat or cold directly to the skin. Instead, use a towel or an intermediary to protect your skin. For example, freezing a water bottle and using that on your feet is better than applying ice directly to your skin.

Use ice packs for 5-10 minutes, or however long you see fit depending on feel. Other methods, like a cold shower, can be used for more minor pain, and can be shorter.

Let’s use a case example to illustrate how cold therapy can help keep your feet feeling their best. Many people are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, which is characterized by inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. This often causes intense pain, especially early in the morning when muscles are tense. The inflammation may be the result of overuse – as is the case with runners – or because your overweight, or over-stretched the area causing micro-tears in the tissue.

As a form of treatment, you can use a frozen water bottle as a form of cold therapy for plantar fasciitis. Icing the area this way reduces pain because it numbs the area, and helps in recovery because ice reduces swelling. However, icing can be part of a greater treatment plan known as RICE – recovery, icing, compression, and elevation.

Those who suffer from metatarsalgia, which refers to any pain found in the ball of the foot, where the metatarsals of the foot lie, may also benefit from cold therapy for the same reasons. Interestingly, both warm and cold therapy

Warm therapy

Woman with legs in hot tub

Warm therapy is best for chronic injuries characterized by soreness, tension, and dull pain. Why? Heat therapy improves blood circulation, as it expands blood vessels. Heat therapy also relaxes muscle fibres, increasing mobility. That’s why, for example, when you do hot yoga, you may feel more flexible than a regular session.

Additionally, warm therapy encourages the healing of damaged tissue as blood vessels of the muscles to dilate, which increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.

So, heat therapy is particularly useful for people suffering from arthritis, muscle stiffness and soreness, and chronic aches and pain.

A variety of methods encompass warm therapy including:

  • Hot tub/bath
  • Hot towel
  • Sauna

Heat therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among athletes. Author Alex Hutchinson has written extensively about the benefits of both heat and cold therapy for Outside. In one research-backed article, Hutchinson notes that “eight weeks of hot-tubbing produces really profound changes in markers of cardiovascular health like blood pressure and artery stiffness, perhaps due to increased blood flow when you’re hot.”

Warm + cold therapy together

There is also a warm-cold method that has been popularized in recent years, although evidence of its effectiveness is relatively unknown. According to the University of Michigan Medicine Department, alternating between warm and cold therapy creates a kind of pump. “Heat causes blood vessels to get bigger and cold causes them to get smaller,” they write. “Alternating between heat and cold means the blood vessels alternate between bigger and smaller. This change in blood movement could help reduce inflammation and swelling, and that could improve range of motion in the joint.”

To alternate between warm and cold, you can try contrast baths. This is how to do it:

  • Submerge your limb in a bucket of ice-cold water (as cold as can be tolerated) for about two minutes.
  • The limb is then moved into a second bucket filled with lukewarm (not hot) water, around (40°C), for 30 seconds.

Beyond basic, do-it-at-home treatment, if you continue to experience pain in your feet, book an appointment to see a licensed chiropodist. You can book an appointment below or by calling us at 416.769.3338(FEET).

How To Protect Your Feet This Winter

Winter can be the time of year when your feet are hit hardest. Dry skin, wet shoes, frostbite, sweaty feet: all foot issues and conditions that seem synonymous with winter.

As temperatures drop and we head into cold(er) conditions, you’ll want to know how to protect your feet this winter.

Below, we break down some of the most important areas in this winter foot guide.

Keep Your Feet Warm

This tip is no surprise. Frigid temperatures mean a frostbite factor.

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Your toes are particularly susceptible to frostbite, which begins when your skin becomes cold and red, then numb, then hard and pale.

The numbness stage can be of particular concern, because you may not know the severity of the frostbite. The injury starts out as frostnip, followed by superficial frostbite, and then deep frostbite, the most severe of the three stages.

To prevent frostbite from occurring, taking the following precautions:

  • Wear moisture-wicking socks that fit correctly, and have insulation
  • Change out wet socks as soon as possible
  • Watch for signs of frostbite like red skin, or numbness
  • Keep moving: encourage blood flow to the area

For more on frostbite prevention, and to ensure your feet are warm this winter, check out our complete winter foot guide.

Dry Your Shoes To Protect Your Feet This Winter

Do yourself a favour and ensure your shoes are dry before each use.

Not only will it extend the life of your shoes, you’ll be less prone to the foot conditions that come with wet feet. Plus, wearing wet shoes for extended periods of time can permanently alter the sizing of the shoe, making them bigger than intended.

If your shoes do become wet, remove the insoles and leave them in a well-ventilated area. Keeping your shoes in your bag, closet, or in dark, moist areas will mean a longer drying time. There are also heated shoe racks that quicken the drying process; they can be a great investment if you consistently find your shoes don’t have adequate time between use.

Keep Your Feet (Not Skin) Dry

Did you know that sweat glands are more concentrated on your feet than in any other part of the body? On a given day, thanks to the roughly 250,000 sweat glands, your feet can produce up to one cup of sweat. No wonder moisture can linger.

Even in the winter, your feet sweat. To keep your feet dry, invest in moisture-wicking socks. In essence, these type of socks absorb and bring moisture away from your feet. For a complete list of recommendations, check out our list of best socks for your feet that won’t break the bank.

Socks are only part of the equation in the battle against winter elements. Your primary source of defence is your footwear. And not all shoes are designed for winter. Avoid breathable shoes as they won’t be able to protect your feet from the wind. Plus, slush, ice and snow can more easily penetrate your shoe’s outer material and waterlog your socks.

For a full list of brands we carry in-store for your footwear needs, read about the products we offer.

Soften Your Skin

Winter is prime time for dry skin, which occurs when your feet aren’t retaining enough moisture.

According to Harvard Medical School, winter poses a special problem because humidity is low both outdoors and indoors, and the water content of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) tends to reflect the level of humidity around it. Further, dry skin becomes much more common with age.

By moisturizing your skin, you can help prevent calluses, blisters, and cracked heels. Skin moisturizers – mixed with other preventative measures like reducing the temperature of the water you bathe in, reducing showers to once daily, and use a humidifier in the winter – is a good start. You can use petroleum jelly or mainstream brands.

Fend Off Feisty Fungus

With harsh winter elements comes added exposure to moisture.

Certain fungi thrive in dark, moist places, making your feet a prime area. You could be at an increased risk of:

As we’ve previously written, dermatophyte fungi thrive in dark, moist areas and feed on keratin – a primary component of the epidermis (the outer layer of human skin). This means that our feet, which spend most of the day bound up in socks and shoes, present an ideal environment for the proliferation of a fungal infection. Consequently, one in 10 people have athlete’s foot.

In order to help prevent these types of foot conditions and protect your feet this winter, swap out wet socks for dry ones – remember that fungi thrive in moist areas – and wear winter-tough boots – like Sorels – when possible in the winter. Other common preventative measures include trimming your toenails, thoroughly drying your feet, and wearing shoes when in common areas like the gym.

For proper winter footwear and socks, visit our Toronto Foot Clinic on Monday-Friday between 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Get Your Feet Measured This Winter

There are a slew of problems that arise from ill-fitting shoes. For example, black toenails, pinched-nerve pain, bunions, blisters, corns and calluses can all of a result of shoes that are either too big or too small.

Addressing problems with your feet is essential for your entire body. In fact, the health of your feet can directly affect your posture.

In fact, eight out of 10 people have ill-fitting shoes. At Feet First Clinic, we offer every customer a comprehensive footwear assessment free of charge to ensure that you invest in the healthiest footwear for your unique feet.

Our footwear specialists and chiropodists will help match your foot shape, structure, and alignment to specific shoes and footwear features that answer to your corrective, supportive, or accommodative needs.

If you’re in Toronto, come on in and visit us for an in-person assessment.

Here’s a complete guide to picking the correct footwear to better protect your feet this winter.

Visit a Professional

Feet First Clinic has some of the best chiropodists in Toronto — we specialize in foot care treatments and products like custom made orthotics, orthopedic footwear, accessories and much more.

Read about what you can expect from your first visit to Feet First Clinic.

Best Gifts for Your Feet

For how reliant we are on our feet, they’re often neglected. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Why not treat yourself, or someone else, with gifts for your feet?

You can treat your feet right with the proper care, whether that’s through investing in quality footwear, preventative measures, or just overall good habits. For Christmas, as well as for any other time of year when you’re gifting, consider these gifts for your feet.

Body Glide

One of the keys to healthy feet is acting on and taking certain preventative measures to reduce problems in the first place. One such example is the use of Body Glide, which can help reduce the chance of blisters. The two core reasons for why you might experience blisters are friction and moisture.

Most blisters on your feet are friction blisters, which result from socks or shoes excessively rubbing against the skin of your feet. The bubbles that form are natural cushions that your body produces in order to create a protective barrier between the irritated area of skin and friction-causing object.

Body Glide repels water and moisture, as well as provides a lubricant for your skin to reduce friction.

By applying Body Glide to your feet, you can keep blisters at bay.

Saucony Ride ISO 2

The Ride ISO 2 is Saucony’s most plush and cushioned running shoe making it ideal for running on asphalt and concrete sidewalks. That’s a reality for us Canadians in the wintertime as softer surfaces are hard to come by.

To protect your feet from common injuries, it’s vital to choose a running shoe that’s right for your body and gait. The Ride ISO 2 is great for runners who underpronate (known as supination). This is because the brunt of the impact is borne by the outer edge of your shoe. So, the Ride ISO 2 has lots of foam underfoot to reduce impact. In turn, that means less soreness in your knees, shins, and feet.

Asics Gel-Kayano 26

The Asics Gel-Kayano 26 is the brand’s most supportive and responsive. The Gel-Kayano 26 is a stability shoe so it’s best for overpronators and those who require significant support.

With adjusted heel geometry and cushioning sculpted at an incline, the Gel-Kayano 26 puts less stress on your feet when you pronate. Asics says that its midsole technology combines two different density materials to reduce the risk of flat feet and bunions.

For a complete lineup of Asics and Saucony running shoes, come visit the clinic to get your shoes properly fitted.

Blister Medical Kit

For those in your circle who consistently get blisters, consider gifting them a kit to combat the problem. Most blister medical kits contain moleskins, alcohol pads and antiseptic wipes to treat the area and provide protection from further chafing while the blister heals.

To avoid additional friction that may further aggravate the inflamed area, use an adhesive bandage or blister pad, which is available at our Toronto foot clinic. Read more about how to properly treat blisters.

Sorel Men’s Caribou Men’s Boot

Winter is upon us and conditions in Canada can be brutal between December-February. With snow accumulating, temperatures dropping, and conditions being volatile, it’s essential to have footwear fit for the season, and for your feet. The Sorel Men’s Caribou Boot is best for heavy snow and features a waterproof upper, keeping moisture away from your feet and reducing the risk of foot problems.

The boot also features a removable liner so you can wash and reduce the build-up of sweat and bacteria over time. The Caribou Boot is rated to a bone-chilling -40 C.

In order to pick the correct footwear this winter, read our tips on how to find the pair that’s right for you.

Sorel Joan of Arctic NEXT Women’s Boot

While men have the Sorel Caribou Boot, women can turn to the Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Women’s Boot. The Joan of Arctic Next Boot is great for heavy rain, light snow, and heavy snow as it’s made for the harsh Canadian winters.

One of the worst feelings is having water-logged boots, especially when your feet get wet and temperatures drop. Fortunately, with a microfleece lining and sealed waterproof seams, your feet will stay dry and healthy this winter with these boots.

Visit our clinic for a full lineup of Sorel products and ensure you choose boots with the proper fit by trying them on in-person with the help of one of our professionals.

Darn Tough Vertex 1/4 Ultra-Light socks

Socks are absolutely crucial for the health of your feet. It’s important to find the right pair to reduce the risk of blisters, odour, and other foot problems.

Darn Tough are some of the longest-lasting and most durable socks on the market. The ¼ Ultra-Light socks are an ideal length to cover any exposed areas during the winter between your shoes and your pants if you exercise outdoors. Best of all, these socks are tough enough for winters and because of its mix of merino wool, nylon and lycra, they’re cool enough to wear in the summer too.

For more on socks that won’t break the bank, check out a complete rundown of some options from an earlier blog post.

Roll Recovery R8 Roller

The Roll Recovery R8 Roller puts what you thought of traditional massage rollers to the side with its unique design.

The deep tissue massage tool is a handheld device that you can use to roll out your muscles. Best of all, there’s no having to get onto the ground like with a traditional foam roller. Traditionally, people have had to use their own force – using bodyweight – to foam roll their muscles. With the Roll Recovery R8 Roller, the force is built into the product itself. With the R8 Roller, you roll out your muscles by placing the devices onto your legs (the pressure will automatically be applied) and moving back and forth over hot spots or trouble areas. This can be done while lying down, sitting, or even standing.

Foam rolling is particularly vital in reducing foot problems. You can address soreness and tightness in areas that may ultimately lead to lower leg problems. Generally, foam rolling can be beneficial because it improves blood flow, reduces inflammation and breaks up muscle adhesions.

For more information, and for a selection of these products and other gifts for your feet, book an appointment at Feet First Clinic or stop by in-person.

We’re open six days a week and you do not need a referral to visit the clinic.

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).

Shoes With Zero Drop, High Drop, And Everything In Between

What’s the deal with a shoe’s drop?

Drop is the height of a shoe’s heel minus the height of a shoe’s toe. If they’re the same, it’s zero. If there’s a difference, the shoe has at least some drop. This measurement is in millimetres, so even if there is a difference, we’re not talking about anything major. However, when you’re running and landing on the ground over and over, a small difference can have a big effect.

The point of a shoe’s drop is to reduce stress on certain parts of your body. By artificially keeping your foot in a certain position, a shoe’s drop can reduce pressure on the Achilles and calves.

Drop shouldn’t be the only consideration when choosing shoes, because it’s just one metric. For example, two shoes with a 4 mm can feel completely different. The amount of cushioning, firmness, structure of the shoe, as well as the intended purpose all play factors.

That said, this guide will help you choose shoes within the same category of drop. Within each range, we provide a few examples of shoes that fall within the given category.

Zero drop

Zero drop refers to no difference between the heel and toe height on your shoes. However, note that there can be varying degrees of heights depending on the shoe, like cushioned or minimal, for example, the offset refers to the height of the heel minus the height of the toe.

Zero drop running shoes mimic how your foot sits on the ground, as naturally, it lies flat. These types of shoes are best for those who forefoot or midfoot strike. By strike, we mean the first point of contact with the ground when landing.

In theory, zero-drop running shoes promote shorter strides, and a more efficient running economy since you’ll be running like you’re barefoot. They allow the foot to operate more naturally, and can prevent overstriding because there’s no artificial support in place like higher-drop shoes.

Note that zero drop running shoes are arguably the most difficult shoes to transition into because of their scarcity in the market. Traditionally, most people wear shoes with at least some drop. Any inefficiencies in your stride will be exacerbated with zero drop running shoes, so only use them if you’re comfortable going with a more natural, less structured shoe.

The most popular brands that manufacture zero drop running shoes include Altra, Topo and Merrell. Altra is by far the most well-known zero drop running shoe brand and the Escalante and Torin are two of their top sellers. Although they’re known among trail runners and ultrarunners, they make road running shoes too.

Low drop (1 to 4 mm)

Low drop running shoes are quite similar to zero drop running shoes as they still provide a relatively natural feel, with a bit more structure.

With low drop running shoes, there’s a slight difference in stack heights. The heel is between 1-4 mm higher than the toe, providing a slight forward momentum. Low drop running shoes are great for midfoot strikers because the drop is usually small enough to encourage a natural stride, with just a bit more cushioning around the heel.

The 1-4 mm drop range is the bread and butter of many brands, including Hoka One One, Saucony, and Asics. You’ll find that many workout and racing shoes are in this range as well.

Medium drop (5 – 8 mm)

Medium drop running shoes are like low drop running shoes. This category would fall in the middle of the spectrum. Unlike low drop shoes, medium drop are better suited for heel strikers and those who want to alleviate stress to their Achilles and calf muscles.

High drop (9+ mm)

Shoes with high drop typically fall under the stability category of running shoes. Generally, if you have inefficiencies in your stride, or are an overpronator, shoes with higher drop have more corrective features to limit the damage running does to your body. High drop shoes are also ideal for those with notoriously tight calves, and for heel strikers.

Alternatively, high drop shoes – a greater amount of cushioning in the heel than the toe – are shoes with a lot of padding underfoot. Like we mentioned, highly-cushioned shoes with significant drop are ideal for heel strikers. This is because with extra padding at the heel, the shoe won’t break down as quickly. So, you’ll have support where you need it for longer.

Check out a wide variety of shoes that we carry in-person at Feet First Clinic. Stop by Monday-Friday between 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. or make an appointment today.

Top Saucony & Asics Shoes To Run In Right Now

As an avid runner and a writer who focuses on gear reviews, I’ve tested just about every type of running shoe on the market.

Since 2015, I’ve worn and tested more than 60 pairs of running shoes from all of the major brands. Overall, I’ve run in more than 150 different pairs of shoes in my lifetime. Two brands that consistently stand out for their value and quality are Saucony and Asics, both of which Feet First Clinic carry in-store.

While you’re here in person, ask us about great orthopedic shoes available to help combat foot problems.

Finding the right shoe is so essential, both for exercise and for your everyday life. Having a quality pair of running shoes can help prevent injury, and can reduce the strain you put on your legs.

With so many brands and various products offered by each, there is an overwhelming number of options. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to have decision anxiety. Not knowing where to start can be a significant hurdle when deciding what pair of shoes you should buy.

Fortunately, there are easy methods to find the right shoe.

In the clinic, for one, we employ 3D video in order to further analyze gait. Video gait analysis involves being recorded while walking on a treadmill. The video software allows us to slow and stop and zoom in on specific areas during your gait. This is done in order to educate you about your foot type and gait pattern. Following the biomechanical assessment and gait analysis, we may recommend certain devices, shoes and/or exercises to assist with obtaining your optimal biomechanics.

Beyond gait analysis, we can help you choose the right pair of shoes based on your desired outcomes.

We offer every customer a comprehensive footwear assessment free of charge to ensure that you invest in the healthiest footwear for your unique feet. Our footwear specialists and chiropodists will help match your foot shape, structure, and alignment to specific shoes and footwear features that answer to your corrective, supportive, or accommodative needs.

To offer a glimpse into two of the top running shoe brands we carry in-store, these are some of our favourite Saucony and Asics shoes on the market right now.

Top running shoes from Saucony and Asics

Saucony Kinvara 10 (men’s / women’s)

I’ve written extensively about the Kinvara including the Saucony Kinvara 8 and Saucony Kinvara 9. In my opinion, the Saucony Kinvara 10 is the best all-around shoe on the market. It’s neutral-cushioned, meaning it’s great for people who don’t overpronate or supinate. The Kinvara 10 is also light, and offers enough cushioning to help ward off many common foot injuries.

Because of the structure of the shoe, the Kinvara 10 feels more natural than most leading competitors. This is mostly due to the shoe’s drop at just 4 mm, which means the heel is 4 mm higher than the toe. Because the drop (difference between heel and toe heights) of your foot is naturally zero, a lower drop feels like less shoe. However, it puts more strain on your calves and Achilles versus shoes with a higher drop.

The cushioning of the Kinvara 10 has a very marshmallow-like feel, and the landing pad covers quite a lot of surface area. The shoe is spacious and very affordable, retailing for less than $150.

Saucony Ride ISO 2 (men’s / women’s)

If the Saucony Kinvara 10 is like a spring mattress, the Saucony Ride ISO 2 is memory foam. With more cushioning and structure, the Ride ISO 2 is more rigid than the Kinvara 10 but otherwise similar in many ways.

The Ride ISO 2 is ideal for running on asphalt and concrete sidewalks as it has lots of cushioning underfoot. The inner material of the shoe is quite a bit thicker than the Kinvara 10 making it feel extra soft and comfortable from the get-go. The Ride ISO 2 has a drop of 8 mm which means there’s support for your Achilles and calves.

Because of the shoe’s large amount of cushioning, the Saucony Ride ISO 2 is great for runners who underpronate (known as supination). This is because the brunt of the impact is borne by the outer edge of your shoe. So, the Ride ISO 2 has lots of foam underfoot to reduce impact. In turn, that means less soreness in your knees, shins, and feet.

Saucony Guide ISO 2 (men’s / women’s)

The Saucony Guide ISO 2 is the ideal shoe for runners who overpronate, meaning the brunt of the impact is borne by the inner part of your foot. Known to be stiffer than neutral-cushioned shoes, the Guide ISO 2 falls under the stability shoe category. Stability shoes focus more on rigidness and structure because they’re meant to correct imperfections in your stride.

The standout feature of stability footwear is medial support along the inner edge of the shoe. This portion of hard plastic is long-lasting and tougher than regular foam cushioning and is designed to withstand the additional impact that overpronators apply to their arch area. The shoe also has a stiffer plate which requires the load put on your ankles by overpronation.

Asics Dynaflyte 4 (men’s / women’s)

The Asics DynaFlyte 4 is one of Asics’ newest lines of footwear. Though relatively young for a line of footwear, the DynaFlyte 4 sports an excellent upper giving it a comfortable feel. The DynaFlyte 4 is lightweight and has reflective panels to ensure you’re seen at nighttime.

The DynaFlyte 4 stands out in this list because it’s the most fashionable shoe among the bunch. Though you should never choose a functional shoe based on its looks, having various colourways never hurts.

Also, if you’re looking for a comfortable shoe, the DynaFlyte 4 has a fantastic sock liner. The material is super soft and feels great against the feet. If you have a regular or high arch and enjoy neutral cushioned shoes, the DynaFlyte 4 is a solid option.

Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 (men’s / women’s)

The Gel-Nimbus 21 is similar to the Saucony Ride ISO 2. Both are packed full of cushioning and they’re meant to go the distance, no matter how long your runs are. Though on the heavier side for a shoe, you gain additional support thanks to its extra cushioning so it’s a fair tradeoff.

With a 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, the Gel-Nimbus won’t feel as natural as shoes with a lower drop. If you’re prone to Achilles problems, the Gel-Nimbus may be what you’re looking for to stay injury-free.

With the Gel-Nimbus 21, you’re getting a shoe that lasts hundreds of kilometres thanks to the midsole technology. A heel plug and lining around the cushioning means that running won’t wear down the shoe as quickly. That means a shoe that lasts longer.

Asics Gel-Kayano 26 (men’s / women’s)

The Asics Gel-Kayano 26 is the most supportive and responsive shoe on this list. The Gel-Kayano 26 (meaning it’s the 26th iteration of the shoe) is a stability shoe. So, it’s best for overpronators and those who require significant support.

The Gel-Kayano 26 can be considered a sibling to the Asics Gel-Nimbus 21. Both are training shoes for long-distance running. Both will last you quite a while too. Where the Gel-Kayano 26 sets itself apart is the fact that it boasts comfort and structure.

With adjusted heel geometry and cushioning sculpted at an incline, the Gel-Kayano 26 puts less stress on your feet when you pronate. Asics says that its midsole technology combines two different density materials to reduce the risk of flat feet and bunions.

Stop by Feet First Clinic to browse our collection of top running shoes and brands you love.

All You Need To Know About Bone Spurs

A bone spur is an abnormal bone growth.

Bone spurs, also referred to as osteophyte, can occur throughout the body, and along bone edges. Common sites include the spine, neck, and in the foot, specifically in the heel and toes (as pictured in this blog post).

What is a bone spur?

Osteophyte is bony outgrowth at the intersection of your bones. Osteophyte occurs because of damaged joints and develops when the body tries to heal itself from injury. A bone spur can be visible in the form of a hard bump. In other cases, it may not be apparent at all that you have a bone spur.

What can cause a bone spur?

Osteophyte forms when the body tries to repair itself, so there are underlying causes to how and why a bone spur forms.

Osteoarthritis is a leading cause. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when the cartilage between your bones begins to wear down. Because joint cartilage cannot be repaired, the problem often gets worse if not treated or addressed correctly.

In response, your body forms extra bone to stabilize the damaged joint. One can develop osteoarthritis, and thus a bone spur, because of overuse – running, ballet, and any other sport that puts enormous pressure on your feet – as well as an acute injury, obesity or being overweight, and wearing tight shoes. Overuse can result in osteophyte because of ligament damage and your body attempts to fortify itself by building calcium deposits.

Symptoms

Symptoms of osteophyte include pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, grating sensations, swelling, and seeing bony projection itself.

You may experience loss of flexibility as your joints lose their full range of motion, as well as swelling due to the damaged tissue being inflamed. You may also hear and feel grating due to the bones rubbing together.

Bone Spur
A bone spur on the top of the big toe.

These symptoms are particularly prevalent in athletes who participate in high-impact sports. Those who run, or do gymnastics and ballet are particularly prone, as are older people. Symptoms may get worse over time if not addressed. Plus, you may experience any combination of these symptoms.

Typically, if you have a heel spur, you will notice a bony projection on the underside of the foot. Meanwhile, if you have a bone spur in your metatarsal or toe, there may be a protrusion on the top of your foot. If the growth is serious enough, you may need new shoes to accommodate the growth.

Treatment

Treatment isn’t always necessary, since a bone spur may not cause you any pain or reduce your quality of life.

If you experience pain, visit a professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. It should be noted that you cannot remove the bone spur without surgery. But, if you fix the problem at its root, and take certain precautionary steps, bone spurs won’t necessarily be painful, and surgery won’t be necessary. In any case, surgery is a short-term solution as a bone spur can re-develop.

Certain treatments include weight loss, changing shoes, hot and cold therapy to reduce inflammation, and anti-inflammatories.

If you do require surgery, the course of action is to either remove the bone spur entirely or to fuse the bones together. Recovery time can vary, and as always, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Prevention of bone spurs

To prevent bone spurs, in essence, you want to reduce your risk of osteoarthritis. Common preventions include:

  • Orthotics, which can help support your feet if you have high or low arches.
  • Avoid wearing shoes tight in the toe and heel region, and find footwear that best suits your foot type by visiting a specialist. Our foot clinic is open six days a week and offers a large selection of supportive and cushioning footwear.
  • Follow the RICE method – rest, ice, compression, and elevation – after intense exercise to allow your body and feet to recover.
  • Visit a doctor if you notice early signs of a bone spur, or osteoarthritis.

Visit us at 2481 Bloor St. W, Toronto or call us at 416.769.3338(FEET) to book an appointment for your foot care needs and treatment.

6 Common Trail Running Injuries

Trail running? More like extreme running.

Trail runners run for hours on end pushing their body to the limit. They endure brutal terrain, harsh conditions, and they put their feet through the wringer.

When running at such extremes, it’s no wonder that injuries are common.

Below are six of the most common trail running injuries, and what you can do to prevent and treat each of the pains. These injuries are not exclusively for trail runners, but are common because of the nature of the sport leaving the average runner more susceptible to these ailments.

Metatarsalgia

Metatarsal pain is discomfort in the small bones within the ball of your foot. Metatarsalgia can start off as a small bruise, and slight discomfort, but can quickly escalate into a serious injury like a metatarsal fracture.v

Fortunately, most trail running shoes these days are built with a rock plate, a rigid piece of plastic within the midsole. The rock plate offers protection against sharp edges on the trail and is essential when running on more technical terrain when facing rocks, roots, and uneven surfaces.

Alternative forms of prevention and treatment include using a metatarsal pad, icing the affected area, and self-massage. When in doubt, and you’re not sure whether the injury is serious, take an extra day or two off of running as a precautionary measure and cross-train in the pool or on the bike instead.

Achilles tendonitis

Trail running consists of a lot of ups and downs.

The undulating terrain is a lot different than say, road running. Constantly climbing and descending can add pressure on parts of your body like your Achilles tendon. When climbing or descending, stress is disproportionally allocated to your lower legs compared to running on flat land.

Achilles tendinitis can be a sharp or dull pain in your Achilles heel and can extend into your lower calf. Because the Achilles is such an essential part of your running economy, addressing the symptoms early is important to prevent the tendinitis to be long-lasting.

When trail running, make sure to ease your way into it, and do not increase mileage too quickly. Doing a proper warm-up with calf raises and some stabilizing exercises can help prevent tendinitis and eliminates the period at the beginning of a run when you’re running on stiff legs. Cold muscles don’t fire properly, and they can lead to overcompensation, with that domino effect reaching your Achilles heel.

Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain is one of the most common trail running injuries. Because of the rugged terrain and unexpected obstacles that many trails present, all it takes is one wrong step to roll an ankle. When you sprain an ankle, you essentially over-stretch the ligaments or tear them in more serious cases, beyond their maximum. Immediate signs include swelling, often around the top, or lateral side, of your foot, pain, and tenderness.

To lessen the lasting impacts of an ankle sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. protocol which includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This reduces swelling, and the pain to subside. In some cases, and if the sprain isn’t serious, you can have your ankle wrapped for support and continue running, although you’ll be more susceptible to re-spraining it if you come back too quickly.

It’s always good to do a proper warmup before trail running, and you can help prevent ankle sprains by working on mobility. Other ways of avoiding ankle sprains include planning your route ahead of time to account for mud and trail conditions, taking routes within your ability, and allowing adequate space between you and other runners as to not block your eyesight.

If you still experience pain after extended rest, or the pain is extreme immediately, contact a healthcare professional to rule out more serious injuries like a tear or rupture.

Blisters

Thanks to being out on the trains for hours on end, blisters are another common trail running foot injury. And it’s not only the duration of activity but also the crazy fact that in some cases the run involves crossing through – not around – small bodies of water, like Ajax, Ont.’s Seaton Soaker trail race.

Blisters can start small, like a hotspot somewhere on your foot, and get progressively worse if you don’t address the chafing. Investing in proper running socks, and using some sort of anti-chafe cream like vaseline can help prevent blisters in the first place. If you feel one in the early stages, cover it with a band-aid or better yet, use medical paper tape.

Trail Running Injuries

In fact, as published in a recent study, it’s reported “that inexpensive paper tape, the kind available at most drugstores, when applied to blister-prone areas prior to exercise, successfully reduced the incidence of foot blisters in those areas. The tape commonly known as surgical tape is used for wound treatment. It is only mildly adhesive — an advantage because it doesn’t tear the blisters if they do occur.” Sometimes the simplest measure can be the most effective.

ITB Syndrome

Iliotibial band (IT) syndrome is one of the most frustrating and common trail running injuries.

ITB syndrome can be described as an overuse injury of the connective tissues that are located on the outer thigh and knee.

Thanks to the repeated climbs and descents of trail running, your IT band is exposed to more impact. Additionally, the IT band is stressed the most at certain flexion angles, like when ascending, while your knees and IT band take additional stress when descending.

A warm-up with clamshells and stretching out your hip flexors pre-run can help with the pain and tightness. What you want to do here is activate and work the hip abductors, as muscle imbalances and weakness can be the source of the problem.

You don’t necessarily need complete rest from running, but you will need pain management and mileage reduction, if necessary. Investing in a proper foam roller and routinely working the band will help alleviate pain. Plus, stretching our your hip flexors can help release your IT band.

Plantar Fasciitis

This pesky injury arises when you experience pain and inflammation within the tissue on the underside of your feet that connect your heel and toes. The pain can be anywhere from your heel to the ball of your feet and can be sharp or dull.

We recently wrote more about plantar fasciitis, remedies, and prevention methods on our blog, which you can read here.

Are you still experiencing any of these common trail running injuries? Book an appointment with us at Feet First Clinic online or by calling us at 416.769.3338(FEET).

3 Exercises To Help Prevent Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be a real pain in the foot.

This pesky injury arises when you experience pain and inflammation within the tissue on the underside of your foot. The pain can be anywhere from your heel to the ball of your foot and can be sharp or dull.

Typically, overuse, old footwear, and weak supporting muscles can contribute to the problem. To cope with overuse, you can rest, and ice. To combat foot pain because of collapsed arches from old footwear, simply replace your shoes. Or, alternatively, you may benefit from orthotics. For the third, there are a number of exercises you can do to help prevent future issues arising from your plantar.

But, when injured, strengthening exercises don’t do much good. That’s for after the pain subsides. Below, we get into what you can do to eliminate the pain in the first place, and what exercises you should incorporate into your routine going forward to stay injury-free.

Eliminating initial pain

As we previously wrote, to deal with the ligament directly, take off your shoes and socks so that you’re barefoot. Sit down on a chair, loop a tea towel under the arch of one of your feet. Push outward with the foot while pulling back with the towel for gentle resistance. Do this several times with each foot.

You should also stretch out your hip flexors because they can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Strained hips create a domino effect on the limbs, changing your gait, tightening your calf muscles and overworking the plantar fascia. Many yoga routines incorporate stretches that work out the hip flexors like the pigeon pose or the bound angle pose.

Additionally, you can use a golf ball, or frozen water bottle to roll out the bottom of your foot. A frozen water bottle works in the same way as a golf ball would in massaging, but with the additional benefit of reducing inflammation.

Next, and once you’re no longer feeling plantar discomfort, you can start with the following exercises to build strength so you can avoid the injury in the future: calf raises, foot doming and towel pickups.

Calf raises

When experiencing plantar fasciitis, or any injury for that matter, it’s important to find the root of the problem. Don’t just address the point of pain itself. Since weakness in certain areas of the body results in a domino effect elsewhere, strengthening the supporting muscles in your legs is crucial. To help strengthen your arch, you can work on your heel and calf muscles through calf raises, which are essentially heel lifts.

Stand at the edge of a step, and push up through your toes and with your calf to raise your heel off the ground. Slowly bring your heel back to the ground and repeat. Start with three sets of 8-10 repetitions and build up accordingly.

Foot doming

Doming is also known as the short foot maneuver. What you want to achieve here is the cupping of your foot (to form a dome), where your arch is off the ground. Imagine scrunching your feet – effectively making your foot ‘shorter’ – and releasing. Don’t be frustrated if this exercise is hard at first; it is. As weird as it may feel, focus on the movement one stage at a time. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it.

You can also make the exercise easier by using a towel and trying to grab it with your feet and pulling it towards you. This allows your foot to actually grip something. You won’t notice a big difference right away. The goal here is to improve muscle endurance so they don’t become overloaded when exercising.

Towel pickups

As alluded to above, a towel can be an underrated strengthening tool. In this case, and while in a sitting position, keep your heel on the ground while picking up a towel off of the ground using only your toes. Drop down, release and repeat. Aim to do two to three sets of 10-15 repetitions to start before increasing the number. If you get comfortable with the load, use additional weight to increase resistance.

Are you still experiencing foot pain? Book an appointment with us at Feet First Clinic online or by calling us at 416.769.3338(FEET).