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Are Those Aches in Your Legs Shin Splints?

Few lower leg injuries are as common as shin splints. In fact, between 30-70% of runners get injured each year, and about 35% of those injuries are attributed to shin splints.

Shin splints can be pesky injury as they can creep up fast, and often. Anyone that participates in high-impact sports like running, soccer, basketball, and the like are susceptible. Let’s get into shin splints 101 before outlining treatment and preventative measures.

What are shin splints?

Shin splints is a term generally used for any sort of lower limb pain associated with the tibia, the large bone in the front of your leg. Medial tibial stress syndrome is the proper term for the condition. It refers to stress on your shinbone and the connective tissues that attach muscles to your bones.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you might notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg. At first, the pain might stop when you stop exercising.

Pain and severity varies. A stress reaction is irritation of the tibia while a stress fracture is a crack in the bone. If you ignore the early signs of shin splints, a reaction can turn into a fracture over time.

Causes of shin splints

There is rarely one single cause of shin splints. Rather, there may be a few factors that come into play including the following:

Overuse

No truer words have been said than “too much, too soon” to describe the onset of shin splints. Typically, runners experience shin splints when they ramp up either their intensity, or volume, too quickly. This is especially the case when coming back from injury as your body re-adjusts to the impact of running, and needs time to acclimate to the load running puts on the body.

Flat feet

People with flat feet may experience ongoing difficulties with shin splits. This is the case because those with flat feet have a collapsed arch during their normal gait. As such, your ankle rolls inward more so than it should, also known as overpronation – as your arch does not act as a governor.

Runners and walkers with flat feet may benefit from orthotics to artificially support their arch, and to prevent flat feet-induced injuries and conditions. Additionally, physical therapy including the taping of your arch may benefit you when struggling with flat feet and shin splints. See our blog post on Daily Feet Exercises for more information on exercises you can try to keep your feet strong and healthy.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this battle. About 30% of the population lives with flat feet.

Improper footwear

If you suffer from shin splints, the source could be your shoes. It may not even be your specific running footwear either. In fact, the shoes you wear when you’re not running could actually be the problem. Determining the right shoe for you, whether that’s an off-the-shelf running shoe, or the addition of orthotics comes down to a number of factors including weight, foot type, mileage, and much more. To learn more about proper running footwear, check out this handy resource, or visit us Feet First Clinic to speak with a professional.

Treatment

Although shin splints are common and can creep up quickly on you, fortunately, there are a number of treatment options that can have you feeling better quite quickly. Fortunately, shin splints can be managed and treated quite effectively.

Reduce load

First, reduce the activity which is causing the pain. Why? Shin splints is a repetitive injury and the condition is a stress reaction in the shin bone.

If that’s running, consider replacing that form of training with another, low-impact exercise like cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, or using the elliptical. Depending on the severity of shin splints, you may still be able to run. And oftentimes, complete rest may not even be the best form of treatment. Rather, a reduction, and physical therapy while maintaining some forms of exercise, may be the best defense.

Icing

As shin splints are caused by the body not being able to repair itself fast enough, icing can help reduce inflammation caused by the repetitive nature of running. Additionally, icing the area can provide pain relief. Fill a paper cup with water and freeze it. Then apply it to your shin bone for 5-10 minutes.

You can also supplement icing with anti-inflammatory to reduce pain and inflammation.

Prevention

Proper footwear

Prevention begins with proper footwear. Depending on whether you overpronate or supinate, you’ll need to find a pair of shoes that’s right for your body. This can be said for both your running footwear, as well as personal footwear. If you find yourself wearing flat-soled feet often casually, consider replacing them with more supportive shoes that support your arch, and put less pressure on your lower limbs.

We also know that there is a breakdown of running mechanics when wearing worn-out shoes. Replacing your footwear every 500 kilometres or so is beneficial.

Foot exercises

One of the most common exercises is the toe curl. Place a towel on the ground, and while keeping your heel on the floor, bring the towel towards you with your toes. Pretend you’re using your feet like your hands to bring the towel closer to your body.

Another exercise is the heel drop. With one foot on a step or a ledge, and the other heel raised up, lower the heel and raise it again until it’s parallel to the ground. Keep your leg straight. Repeat 10-15 times per leg, and you should feel the muscles in your calf and ankle.

Finally, you can foam roll your calves, and gently massage along the tibia to break up some of the scar tissue. This can be done both before exercise, as returning from shin splints can often be easier when doing a proper warmup, or after exercise. In general, tight calves and Achilles tendons can exacerbate shin splints, so stretching them out can be a source of relief, both in the short-term and long-term.

Training plan

When it comes to runners, many of us always want to do more. But, sometimes our aerobic fitness is ahead of where our bodies are at. It’s important to listen to your body and recognize the early signs of shin splints: dull pain along the inside of your tibia and aches after runs. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Running through pain is never a good idea, and shin splints rarely go away on their own.

Instead, if you feel as though you want to ramp up the intensity or volume of your training, consider following the 10% rule. In essence, the 10% rule recommends increasing your weekly mileage by no more than 10% per week. So if you run 30 kilometres per week, aim to reduce your weekly mileage by no more than 3-4 kilometres. If you’re at 50 kilometres, ramp up your weekly mileage by about 5-6 kilometres.

Surface

Surface also matters. Harder surfaces like asphalt and concrete have a greater impact on your body while running on grass and trails softens the load. Opt for softer surfaces if you experience shin pain, and incorporate them within your routes as you return to running.

If you continue to experience shin splints, and are seeking professional help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

You do not need a referral to become a patient at our Toronto Foot Clinic.

Schedule an appointment by using the appointment request form below or contact the clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).

Morning Foot Exercises To Start Your Day Pain-Free

Waking up in the morning can be hard enough. Stiff and sore joints can make it even more difficult to get out of bed. Literally.

Although one might think that sore joints and muscles come only with ageing, that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, old age alone does not cause morning joint stiffness. Rather, morning stiffness is typically an indication of wore joints, muscle tightness, or inflammation from arthritis, according to Harvard Medical School.

Worn joints are not just for the elderly. Younger people can wear down their joints, specifically the intermediary cartilage, through normal wear and tear.

As Harvard Medical School points out, there are a few reasons why your joints feel sore in the morning:

  • As your joints get older, the spongy cushion of cartilage begins to dry out and stiffen;
  • The joint lining produces less synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint;
  • Weak muscles and stiff tendons tighten during sleep;
  • Osteoarthritis, which can be caused by wear and tear, and rheumatoid arthritis both can trigger morning stiffness;
  • Too much – or too little – exercise.

To combat the problem, and to ensure your aches and pains don’t last more than 10-15 minutes in the morning, you can incorporate foot exercises into your morning routine. This will help warm up your muscles and increase blood flow. Movement helps lubricate joints, so by starting your day off with some simple exercises and stretches, you can combat the late-day tightness and soreness.

Start slow. When you wake up, begin by wiggling your toes and working your way up your legs to activate the muscles. Then, you can incorporate the following morning foot exercises to start the day off right.

Towel stretch

While still in bed, sit up and with your legs straight out in front of you, bring your toes towards your body, and then away. Use a towel to keep your foot stretched while your toes are towards you, and use the towel as a source of resistance when pointing your toes away from your body. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times. Then, switch sides.

This activates the Achilles tendon, your hamstrings, as well as the plantar fascia.

Alternatively, you can skip using the towel and stretch your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia in the same way as you would with a towel.

Sitting stretch

While sitting on the edge of the bed, cross one leg over the other and stretch out your toes. Grasp them and stretch them upwards, and then down. You can do this for 20-30 seconds, and repeat 3-5 times before switching.

There is also additional benefit from increased flexibility in your toes through these stretches. Targeting your toes can be particularly beneficial for people with bone spurs and hallux rigidus who have little to no flexibility in their big toe.

Or, if you have trouble with your bunion, these five simple exercises may benefit you for the entire day let alone in the morning.

Rolling

Types of Foam Rolling

One great way to activate your feet in the morning is to use a foam roller or tennis ball.

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.

Specifically, foam rolling targets pain and discomfort that comes from the myofascial tissue—the tough, but thin membranes that cover and surround your muscles.

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 also roll with a tennis ball in a much easier way. While sitting on the edge of your bed, place a tennis ball (or lacrosse ball) under your foot and slowly roll the ball in various directions. Keep moderate pressure on the ball so you feel some massaging of your plantar, heel, and ball of your foot.

Read more about the techniques and 101 in our foam rolling 101 post.

Four-way ankle resistance band exercises

You can do this exercise sitting down, or standing up!

The sitting version involves wrapping one end of the resistance band around your foot, and holding the non-looped end with your hand. Pull to create some tension, and plant your heel into the ground. Then, move your foot outwards, inwards, away, and towards you while fighting the tension. Do this 5-10 times each way, and then move on to the other foot.

The standing version is more of a complete warm-up for many of the muscle groups in your legs. Wrap a resistance band around your knees and bend down into a quarter-squat. Then move side-to-side in a slow, smooth motion and repeat 5-10 times. Then, instead of moving side-to-side, move forward diagonally, and then to the side, and then backwards diagonally. You should be moving in an “X” shape. This morning foot exercise particularly activates your hips.

Remember, for all of these morning foot exercises, focus on slow, smooth movements as your body begins to wake up in the morning. The goal is to activate the muscles and to build strength through resistance. Never try to stretch through pain, or strengthen your way out of an injury.

If you have chronic aches and pains and want to see a Toronto foot specialist, book your appointment below or by calling us 416.769.3338(FEET).

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.

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.

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.

Things to do Before New Year

With only a few days before the New Year, here are some helpful tips to start off the New Year right. 

Declutter

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The key to decluttering is to start off small and simple!

Label 4 boxes:

  • Donations
  • Keep
  • Re-locate or
  • Garbage

Take 5 minutes a day and pick one room in the house to gather items for each box. By the end of the week, you should have enough items to donate, reorganize or throw out.

Donating clothing and shoes is always a first step for decluttering. If you are unsure how often you wear certain clothing, then start off by hanging all of your clothes in one direction and when you wear them and put them back, hang them in the opposite direction. By the end of the week, keep all of your clothes that you wear often in one part of your closet and sort through the ones that are facing the “unworn” direction. If you give away an item each day then by the end of the year you have given away 365 items.

Donate Shoes

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Organizations such as Soles4Souls are helping underprivileged people with proper footwear. Without shoes, people are exposed to the elements and can be infected with infectious diseases, parasites and are more likely to experience trauma to their lower limb. Also, children are also expected to wear uniforms and have proper footwear for schools.

Finally, wearing footwear restores a lot of dignity for many underprivileged people living in harsh conditions. Soles4Souls accepts new and gently-worn shoes to help individuals start and sustain small businesses so they may feed and support their families.

Feet First Clinic has partnered with Soles4Souls for many years so you can drop off any new or gently used shoes to our clinic.

Two-Ten Foundation is a Non-Profit foundation is dedicated to assisting members of the Canadian footwear industry with shoe drives, fundraisers and special events. This organization assists Canadians in need by helping to fit them with proper footwear for their jobs, lifestyles or education.

Exercise

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Exercise is important for not only overall physical health but also for mental health. After all of those Holiday calories, it is important to get back into your workout routine or start the new year right by exercising right.

Cardiovascular health is important for maintaining your heart strength and circulation. Common cardio exercises are brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing and cross-country skiing. If you add 30 minutes of brisk walking a day, you can burn about 150 calories a day. The calorie count is amplified with more rigorous exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight and diet will help prevent or limit foot issues such as

Enjoy the holidays but be sure to get back into a healthy and active lifestyle with the New Year!

Check your old running shoes for any excessive wear pattern or better yet start off the New Year with a new pair of ASICS or Saucony from Feet First Clinic.

Also, if you are experiencing any foot issues which are preventing you from walking or running properly, visit Feet First Clinic and see one of our Chiropodists to get you feeling your best.

Different Stages of a Bunion

A bunion, medically known as hallux valgus, is characteristic of an angular bony protrusion that forms at the site of the large joint that connects your big toe to your foot.

This joint, called the first metatarsophalangeal joint (or MTP joint for short)is a critical junction of bones, tendons, and ligaments that bear much of our weight when we’re on our feet. With this deformity, the big toe slowly and gradually turns towards the lesser toes as the joint deviates from proper alignment.

This foot deformity occurs in about 10-30% of the population, affecting twice as many females than males. Bunions are caused by wearing poor-fitting shoes, faulty foot mechanics, muscle imbalances, lax ligaments, inflammatory arthritic conditions, and genetics.

Bunions can be asymptomatic, although some people may experience pain, redness, and swelling at the joint, especially with tight footwear and extended periods of standing or walking. Symptoms tend to subside with rest.

Unfortunately, a bunion is a progressive deformity and is irreversible without surgical intervention. This means they will slowly get worse over time. They are categorized in stages to determine the severity of the deformity.

Without treatment, there is a greater risk a bunion will progress from one stage to the next.

Stages of Bunions

4 stages of bunion deformities

Stage 1

Visually, a bunion at this stage is considered mild. There may be a small “bump” at the side of the 1st MTP joint and the big toe will be slightly turned towards the second toe, although not touching it.

Stage 2

Big toe further deviates from the MTP joint. At this stage, the 1st toe may be touching the 2nd toe beside it.

Stage 3

The bony protrusion at the base of the big toe is significant because at this stage, the base of the 1st toe has developed a bone spur. The 1st toe also starts to rotate on its axis away from the mid-line of the body.

Stage 4

The 1st MTP joint has dislocated and the 1st toe will under ride or override the 2nd toe. At this stage, the 2nd toe will also present with a hammer toe deformity.

Although the only way to reverse a bunion is by surgery, it is recommended if symptoms are not manageable by conservative measures and if function is severely compromised.

Conservative bunion management includes custom foot orthotics, splints, bunions guards, toe separators, and foot exercises.

Conservative treatments help to slow down the progression of a bunion as well as manage pain.

Talk to your Chiropodist about the stage of your bunions and which conservative treatment options would be best for you!

How to Reduce Physical Pain This Holiday Season

Even though the holiday season is filled with cheer, there is no denying that these celebrations can put a strain on your body. All of the standing, driving and running around can cause you to feel aches and pains, especially in your feet and lower back. Continue reading to learn more about how you can stay a step ahead of your aches and pains during this busy time of year.

Visit Feet First Clinic

At Feet First Clinic, we can provide you with incomparable care. We offer comprehensive foot care services and high-quality products, many of which can be customized to meet your unique needs. Drop by the store or book an appointment with one of our chiropodists today.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Your Feet

Due to all of the cooking, entertaining and travelling that comes with the holidays, many people spend a lot of time on their feet. Although this may not seem like a huge issue to some people, standing for a long period of time can take a physical toll.

Recent studies have shown that standing for 2 or more hours at a time can cause physical discomfort and impacts your mental productivity. Additionally, walking for a long period can be quite painful, especially if you suffer from foot conditions like plantar fasciitis or bunions.

If you know that you’re going to be spending a lot of time on your feet, be sure to get a pair of orthopedic shoes before the holidays arrive. These will give your feet plenty of cushioning and support. There are lots of stylish options available, so you can look fashionable and feel comfortable at the same time.

If you don’t want to change your shoes, you should purchase a pair of custom orthotic inserts. Here are just some of the benefits of custom orthotics that you will appreciate:

  • Reducing bodily pain
  • Alleviating strain
  • Minimizing fatigue
  • Increasing shock absorption in high-pressure areas

Look for Opportunities to Carpool

If you’ve been invited to any holiday parties, then you will most likely end up doing some driving. Although it is harmless when done for a short amount of time, driving for extended periods can have a negative impact on your body.

If you’re exposed to a large amount of whole-body vibrations (like the ones that are produced from a vehicle) you have an increased chance of suffering from lower back pain or sciatica. Additionally, if you lean too far forward while you drive, you can end up straining the muscles in your back.

Whether you’re already dealing with soreness in your lower back or want to prevent it from happening in the first place, you should try to carpool and split up the driving. This will minimize the amount of time that you’ll be sitting behind the wheel.

The holidays only come once a year, so don’t let your physical aches and pains get the best of you. If you want to enjoy the entire holiday season, be sure to use these tried-and-true tips. We guarantee that your feet and lower back will thank you.

Daily Feet Exercises

Did you know each foot is made up of 26 bones and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments? These structures help with support, balance, and mobility during all your daily activities, so it is important to keep them healthy.

Follow these simple foot and ankle exercises to stretch, strengthen, and even prevent pain and injuries to your feet:

Calf stretches

To perform calf stretches, position yourself with two hands against a wall and start with the left foot forward towards the wall while the right is a few steps behind. The important thing to remember is to keep the right heel firmly planted on the ground. Keep the right leg straight and while bending the left knee, push your body towards the wall. You should feel a stretch at the back of your right calf. To isolate another calf muscle, follow the same instructions described above while bending the right knee slightly. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.

Toe spreads

Sit on a chair and have both feet planted on the ground. Then spread your toes apart and hold that position for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Marble pick up

Sit on a chair and place two bowls in front of your feet; one should contain at least 10 marbles while the other is empty. Using your toes, pick up a marble one by one and place it in the empty bowl. Repeat on the other foot. If you don’t have marbles, place your foot on top of a towel on the ground and scrunch the towel towards you using your toes. Repeat this 10 times on each foot.

Towel stretches

For this exercise, you will need a towel or a resistance band. Sit on the ground and have both legs extended in front of you, feet together. Place the towel under your toes or the balls of both feet and pull slightly until you feel a stretch at your calves and at bottoms of your feet. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times.

Four-way ankle resistance band exercises

For these exercises, you will need a resistance band. Sit on the ground with the left leg laid flat and knee extended in front of you while the right knee is bent. Then create a loop at the end of the resistance band and place your left foot in that loop making sure the band wraps around the ball of your foot. Hold the non-looped end of the resistance band and pull towards your body creating some tension in the band. Then push your foot forward as far as you can as if you are pushing down on a gas pedal (toes facing away from the body) and then bring the foot back to starting position. When you bring the foot back, do this slowly and in a controlled motion.

Next, hold the non-looped end of the resistance band with your right hand and pull to create tension. Then move your left foot out so that the sole of your foot faces away from the right foot. Again, bring the foot back to starting position in a slow and controlled manner.

Repeat the same process above; hold the non-looped end of the resistance band with your left hand and pull to create tension. Now move your left foot in the opposite direction so that the sole of the foot is facing your right foot. Again, bring the foot back to starting position in a slow and controlled manner.

Finally, to do the next exercise, find a heavy chair, sofa, or table that you can tie the non-looped end of the resistance band to create tension. Instead of pushing down on a gas pedal, bring the foot back towards the body as far as you can and then bring the foot slowly back to starting position.

Repeat each step 10 times. Repeat this entire exercise on the right foot.