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5 Foot Care Tips Everyone Needs to Know About

Let’s face it, feet are probably the most neglected part of the human body. Think about it. When is the last time you checked the bottoms of your feet or in between the toes? Do you pay attention and tend to the aches and pains in your feet? Feet work hard every day to support your body and take you wherever you need to go, all while being cooped up in socks and shoes (hopefully comfortable ones at the least) for most the day. Stresses on your feet are more so if your job requires you to be on your feet, you’re a busy parent looking after an active child, you’re an athlete, or exercise is part of your daily regime. Making sure your feet get the care and love they deserve will not only leave your feet feeling better, but it will keep them healthy, keep you mobile and pain-free, and ultimately improve the overall quality of your life. Keep reading to educate yourself on five very simple foot care tips and why each is important to healthy and happy feet. 

 

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Proper Toenail Cutting/Toenail Care 

We need toenails to help protect our toes, in particular the skin and bones underneath them. Toenails are made of a protein known as keratin, which makes them less vulnerable to daily wear and tear. It is important to maintain the health of our toenails so that they can fulfil their purpose. 

Proper toenail cutting is a simple way to reduce the risk of nail complications such as ingrown toenails and toenail fungus. The safest way to cut your toenails is to cut them straight across using a clean, disinfected nail clipper. Avoid cutting the nail too short and do not cut the nail at an angle down the sides. Finish off by filing the edge of the nail smooth, getting rid of any sharp corners or jagged edges that may get caught in clothes or bed sheets and tear the nail. Toenails should be cut every six to eight weeks.

 

Moisturize 

Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it plays a vital role in creating a barrier against harmful microbes. If the skin is dry, it can become irritated, itchy, and crack. Breaks in the skin will allow bacteria to enter and may lead to inflammation and infection. 

Moisturizing your skin daily with a good moisturizer will help to hydrate the skin and keep it soft and smooth. Look for creams that contain effective ingredients such as urea and/or alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Urea causes skin cells deep below the surface to attract, absorb and hold moisture better while AHA speeds up cell turnover and stimulates cell renewal by dissolving the bonds that hold them together. In the end, you’re left with younger-looking, smoother, and softer skin. It is best to apply moisturizer right after a shower and reapply a couple times a day.

If you have calluses, in addition to moisturizing, using a foot file or a pumice stone can help to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells. Thick calluses and painful corns will need to be removed by a health care professional. Regular application of vitamin E oil on the nails can also help to keep them strong and moisturized. 

 

Wash Your Feet 

Washing your feet thoroughly (don’t forget in between the toes) and drying them well afterwards is a very simple way to keep the feet clean and healthy. And no, it is not enough to think they get cleaned in the shower from simply standing in soapy water. Wash your feet somewhat vigorously and daily with soap and water to help physically remove dirt and dead skin cells as well as prevent the build up of bacteria that can cause foul foot odours. You can also reduce the risk of infections such as Athlete’s foot and plantar warts.

 

Effective Shoes 

A proper shoe has many benefits including comfort, protection, and support. Wearing the right shoe for you will make all the difference, especially on days when your feet take on extra stress. Here are some tips to keep in mind when looking for shoes: 

  • Always try shoes on before purchasing. No two feet are the same, therefore, what may be comfortable for someone may not be comfortable for you. 
  • If you are unsure of your size, have your feet measured. Keep in mind, the right fitted shoe will have about a finger’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. If you can feel the end of the shoe with your toe, it’s too small! 
  • Bring your orthotics. If you wear orthotic insoles, bring them with you and try them on with the shoes. A shoe that has a removable insole are more likely to comfortably accommodate an orthotic device. 

 

A good shoe will have the following features: 

  • The shape of the shoe matches the shape of the foot. Avoid wearing narrow or pointed shoes that force your toes to squeeze in small spaces.
  • Functional fastenings such as laces, velco, buckles. The foot should make no effort to keep the shoe on.
  • The shoe should only bend where the foot naturally bends which is at the joints that connect the toes to the rest of the foot. You should also be able to twist it slightly.
  • A firm and snug heel counter. The heel should feel gripped into the shoe.
  • The outer sole should provide enough grip and traction to prevent slippage.
  • A midsole that provides adequate cushioning and shock absorption.
  • An innersole that provides arch support.

 

Don’t Wait to See Attention

Above all, if you have ongoing foot pain or discomfort, or you’ve noticed changes to the skin or nails of your feet, don’t wait to seek attention from a licensed chiropodist. Chiropodists are primary health care professionals who specialize in the assessment, management, and prevention of dysfunctions, disorders, and diseases of the foot. More often than not, the earlier you treat your foot problems, the better the results. In particular, if you have health conditions that put you at risk such as diabetes, it is recommended to seek care right away. 

 

Have No Fear!

We have all your solution under one roof. Call or Book Today and we’ll have you in asap! Open 6 days a week, we’ll be happy to help inform you and solve all your concerns any day at your convenience! 

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Everything About Your Gait

What is Gait?

Have you ever wondered if you are walking properly? Do your feet feel easily tired from activity? Did you know that a lot of the time, you can attribute the pain you experience at your feet (such as the arches, heel, and balls) to abnormal walking patterns?

Today’s blog will explore the gait cycle and look at how faulty foot mechanics, specifically overpronation and oversupination can affect your gait, as well as how one’s gait changes with running. 

Gait is defined as a person’s manner or pattern of walking. It is a complex, coordinated series of movements that involve both the upper and lower extremities to propel the human body forward. For simplicity’s sake, we will focus on how the lower extremity moves during gait and in particular, the foot. 

What is a “Normal” Walking Gait? 

The gait cycle is a cyclical series of events, meaning it is the continuous repetition of one gait cycle over and over again. One gait cycle is the period from heel strike of one foot to the next heel strike of the same foot. One gait cycle can be divided into two major phases: stance phase and swing phase

Gait Cycle

Stance phase refers to the time your foot is on the ground. It occupies approximately 60% of the gait cycle. It begins with the heel making contact with the ground and ends with toe-off, at which point the foot rises from the floor to enter into swing phase. 

During stance phase, the lateral heel (outer portion of the heel) comes into contact with the ground and initiates pronation of the foot. Pronation is the motion at which your foot rolls inward towards its arches. This natural motion allows for proper shock absorption and allows the foot to adapt to the terrain it is striking. 

Then as the weight of the foot moves from the heel to the ball and then toe-off, it should supinate. Supination is the rolling motion towards the outside edge of the foot. At this point, the foot transitions from the fluid, adaptor to a stable and rigid lever. The foot needs rigidity for efficient toe off and propulsion. 

Foot-Illustration-1

Swing phase refers to the time your foot is in a non-weight bearing position. It occupies approximately 40% of the gait cycle. It provides the actual step which moves us from one location to another and the power necessary to advance the limb forward. 

Overpronation?

Overpronation can be observed in the stance phase. If you overpronate, it means you roll your foot towards its arch excessively, more than what is necessary for normal foot function. In some cases, over-pronation can lead to an absence of supination, resulting in an apropulsive gait. The foot will flatten its arch when it is pronating; therefore if you overpronate, you will likely have fallen arches or a flat foot. 

Other foot manifestations/symptoms associated with overpronation include:

  • Bunions 
  • Hallux limitus/Hallux rigidus
  • Plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Arch pain 
  • Tired feet 
  • Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction 

Oversupination?

Oversupination is also observed in the stance phase. It is defined as the lack of pronation after heel strike, resulting in poor shock absorption at the foot. Weight remains on the outside of the heel then travels along the lateral border (outside border) as it moves to the ball of the foot. 

People with high arches are at particular risk of oversupination.  

Other foot manifestations/symptoms associated with oversupination include:

  • Knee pain 
  • Achilles tendonitis 
  • Inversion ankle sprains
  • Calluses 

How Does Gait Change With Running?

Similar to a gait cycle, a running gait cycle is a cyclical series of running strides. One running cycle consists of two main phases: contact phase and swing phase

In a running cycle, the swing phase is longer than the contact phase. In fact, as a runner’s speed increases, the contact phase will further decrease and the swing phase increases. This means the foot is in contact with the ground for a shorter period of time. It also means the body’s weight is supported by a single limb at any given time during contact phase. Furthermore, there are even moments in the swing phase of a running cycle where neither foot is in contact with the ground, called double float or airborne phase.

As such, you can imagine biomechanical stresses are much higher with running than with walking. For one, the forces acting on the body while running can reach up to 10 times the body weight. Ground reaction forces can be 2 to 3 times greater than in walking, and the foot tends to pronate 50% more. Faulty foot mechanics in a runner can increase risk of developing complications and symptoms of foot problems. If you are experiencing pain, don’t ignore your problems. Have your feet checked by a licensed chiropodist today. 

Your Solutions Live Here!


All under one roof! Our team is trained to handle any and all your foot health concerns. From mild, to critical, we cover all sides of the foot needs spectrum. Call us to ask about actionable steps towards your solution today! 

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Click to Book Your Assessment Today!

How Does My Gait Affect My Life?

How Gait Affects Your Life

The human gait is a fascinating component of the body. Factors including nervous, musculoskeletal, and cardiorespiratory systems all play a role. Specifically, age, personality, footwear, mood, and sociocultural factors all affect the way we move. For these reasons, everyone’s gait is unique in their own way.

According to one study, the prevalence of gait disorders increases to 60% in people over 80 years compared to 10% in people aged 60–69 years. Gait doesn’t just affect the older population. Due to the time spent on our feet, gait affects our every step. Think about how many steps you take a day. It may be 5,000. It may be 10,000. Or even 25,000. Whatever it is, multiply that by your entire lifespan and you have an inconceivable number. That’s the magnificence and resilience of the human body.

What Is Gait?

In scientific terms, human gait refers to locomotion achieved through the movement of human limbs. In simple terms, gait is a person’s manner of walking (or running). One can have a narrow gait or a wide gait. One may overpronate, or supinate. One may have high arches versus fallen arches. As simple as walking or running sound, gait is the result of many complex systems.

To move forward there are several stages of movement: walk, jog, skip, run, and sprint. Foot strike is one variable. These include:

  • Forefoot Strike – toe-heel: ball of foot lands first
  • Midfoot Strike – heel and ball land simultaneously
  • Heel Strike – heel-toe: heel of foot lands, then plantar flexes to ball

The foot strike on the surface is simple. However, again there are external forces including your footwear that may affect how your foot hits the ground. Compare yourself running barefoot versus with shoes. The differences are likely stark.

Another variable is sex. According to a 2013 study, females tend to walk with smaller step width and more pelvic movement.

Gait Analysis

Gait analysis is a tool used to identify biomechanical trends and abnormalities in your foot cycle. Here at Feet First Clinic, we employ 3D video in order to further analyze gait. Video 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 in order to educate you about your foot type and pattern.

Gait Concerns? We Can Help!

We’re confident in our ability to help inform you and solve your concern with the least amount of discomfort as possible. Call us even to ask about a quick question and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

Featured Birkenstocks For Summer

It’s summer. Or as some people call it, Birkenstocks season.

Birkenstocks are a German shoe manufacturer known for its sandals. Notably, Birkenstocks consist of cork and rubber and conform to the shape of the foot. For this reason, each pair is unique to its owner.

These are fantastic summer shoes for a few reasons:

  1. Birkenstocks’ cork bottoms conform to your feet over time
  2. Birkenstocks are supportive, and include features like:
    • Arch support
    • A deep heel cup
    • Raised toe bar;
    • And ample of toe room
  3. They’re a great alternative to non-supportive flip flops
  4. Birkenstocks are affordable

The footbed – the most important component of the sandal – comprises four parts. The first layer is the shock-absorbing sole. The second is a layer of jute fibres, a firm corked footbed, another layer of jute fibres, and soft suede.

The German brand manufactures several different models. But, all include the same notable Birkenstock features. The differences lie in the material, strap design, and the number of straps.

Arizona

Birkenstocks

The Arizona is Birkenstock’s most iconic look.

The often imitated, never duplicated, category-defining, two-strap wonder from Birkenstock. A comfort legend and a fashion staple. With adjustable straps and a cork footbed that conforms to the shape of your foot, the Arizona is a no-brainer for your collection.

Arizona EVA

Birkenstocks

Like the Arizona, the Arizona EVA is the waterproof, lightweight version of the shoe. Exact same design, but with EVA, a type of very light, elastic material with very good cushioning. This type of cushioning is particularly useful on uneven surfaces, making it a versatile choice for by the water, or at the gym.

Compared to the Arizona, the Arizona EVA is a tad more casual and versatile. Plus, it comes at a lower price point than the Arizona. But, you don’t get the corked footbed. For this reason, having both would mean you’re set for all summer conditions.

Madrid

Birkenstock Madrid

Named after the ancient Spanish city, the Birkenstock Madrid is the brand’s oldest line.

The Madrid was originally launched as a “gymnastics sandal” half a century ago due to its simplistic design. The single strap model is great for casual wear, and for around the house when you’re slipping in and out of your sandals often.

Gizeh

Birkenstocks

The Gizeh is a minimalist approach to a sandal. With a single strap across and a single strap down the centre of the shoe to the toes, the Gizeh is an iconic classic. The Gizeh features classic Birkenstock support and is the original thong sandal, with support between the big toe and the second toe.

Mayari

Birkenstock Mayari

The Birkenstock Mayari is a thong sandal with a toe loop. The Mayari is fashionable and suitable for formal occasions. Plus the two loops both have customizable straps for small tweaks in fit to ensure the Birkenstock fits like a glove.

Boston

Birkenstocks

The Birkenstock Boston is true to its name – a year-round sandal for cold and hot conditions. The unique look includes the same corked footbed, but with a covered toe. The upper is suede and hugs the foot like a second skin providing support across the toe box.

Milano

Summer Birkenstocks

The most supportive Birkenstock – in the sense of straps and heel support – is the Milano.

This three strapped Birkenstock sandal includes two straps over the top of the foot, plus a third around the back of the Achilles heel. The extra strap adds security and improved fit. All around, these features make the shoe a great fit.

In fact, thanks to ample support, the Milano is great for an active lifestyle including longer walks.

Where To Buy Birkenstocks

We have a full selection of the latest Birkenstocks in the clinic. While you’re here, receive a free shoe fitting to find the perfect size footwear.

Don’t spend another day without a pair of Birkenstocks. Treat your feet and visit us in person at 2481 Bloor Street West.

How Your Job Affects Your Feet

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. To put that into perspective, that’s more than 10 cumulative years in equivalent time.

In fact, you may spend more time at work or on the job than at any other aspect of your life (with the exception of sleeping).

With such great time spent working, your job can have a huge impact on your feet, and quality of life. It’s not only the type of work but also the shoes you wear. Whether it’s a formal environment, or whether you wear steel-toed boots in a blue-collar industry, your job affects your feet and can have a major bearing on your body (and vice versa).

Different Careers = Different Foot Needs

Take a moment and think about your situation. Do you stand all day at work? Teachers, cooks, chefs, barbers, hairdressers, cashiers, manufacturing employees, and construction works all spend hours on their feet at a time. Meanwhile, other places of work may have certain dress codes. You may be required to wear formal attire including high heels and dress shoes.

What you wear has a great impact on you.

For example, standing all day in your job can expose you to the following foot conditions:

  • Varicose veins
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Lower back pain
  • Soreness and fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Knee or hip arthritis
  • Bunions
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Neck and shoulder stiffness
  • Chronic heart and circulatory disorders
  • Poor posture (and its effects)
  • Various foot problems and pain
  • Knee problems
  • Swollen or painful feet or legs
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Joint damage
  • Poor circulation and swelling in feet & legs

Healthcare Professionals

Doctors and nurses are always on the go. With the hecticness of medicine, healthcare professionals are always on the go, often logging long and arduous hours. Much of which is on their feet. Because of long shifts, those hours can have effects on the feet including bunions, flat feet, toe deformities, and heel spurs.

For these reasons, it’s advised that healthcare professionals invest in the proper footwear that fit correctly to ensure the time spent on their feet is not damaging. Similarly, this advice can be applied to other industries with similar long hours including cooks, retail workers, and cashiers.

Additionally, investing in compression socks can help reduce swelling and inflammation of your legs.

Construction

Beyond the fact that construction workers need to wear boots all day, additional potential hazards exist. Traumatic impact like falling objects, accidents, and shock can all impact your feet. Ensure your workspace is safe and invest in proper boots that have adequate cushioning for the career you’re in. Shoes are not an area where you want to be overly frugal. Invest in your feet.

Teachers

Teachers spend most of their days on their feet. This stress can cause lower leg problems including arthritis, joint damage, lower back pain, and knee pain. Try to take regular sitting breaks every hour, even if it’s for a few minutes.

Invest in proper footwear that has the proper support and cushioning to protect your feet. Avoid using the same footwear as you do when exercising as footwear may be worn down in places. Wearing worn down shoes (from running for example) can cause joint soreness and misalignment since standing, walking, and running all have different impacts on shoes depending on your gait.

Outdoor Jobs

If you work outside all year-round, including in the winter, you’ll need winterproof footwear and socks to prevent frostbite. From the temperature to the climate, the elements can have a major impact on your feet. Wet feet mean added risk for blisters, athlete’s foot, and toe fungus. Conversely, cold feet are at an increased risk of frostbite, which causes irreversible damage to your feet.

Office Jobs

Then there are other jobs that don’t require you to stand all day. In fact, many jobs require the opposite – sitting all day. In these cases, you want to make sure you stay hydrated and get up regularly to avoid hip pain and tight muscles.

For example, if you work in marketing, sales, design, web development, data, as a lawyer, or in HR, you’re likely spending hours in front of a computer. Making sure you have a balanced work-life balance that involves adequate exercise is essential. And that may not be enough. Remember, you can’t simply reverse the effects of sitting for 7-8 hours a day with a few thousand steps.

Following a proper stretching routine, and incorporating strength training to avoid muscle imbalances is key for a healthy lifestyle. And to have healthy feet.

Plus, office jobs often have dress codes. If you wear formal footwear including high heels or dress shoes, think about the long-term impact they can have on your feet. Aim to either reduce the frequency of use or invest in comfortable and supportive dress shoes that are a hybrid between fashion and function.

Proper Footwear For The Job

Foot health starts with proper footwear.

Investing in the right shoes for the job is essential for the long-term health of your body. Here at the clinic, we have a select of great orthopaedic shoes available to help heal your foot problems and prevent pain.

Our clinic prioritizes a preventative approach to foot care in which the patient is empowered to be an active participant in his or her treatment. Our on-site shoe store provides patients with therapeutic tools and resources including orthopaedic footwear, insoles, medical devices, and over-the-counter solutions.

If you need assistance with shoe fitting or choosing the right shoe for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Your Solutions Live Here!

All under one roof. Our team is trained to handle any and all your foot health concerns.

From mild, to critical, we cover all sides of the foot needs spectrum. Call us to ask about actionable steps towards your solution today.

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Click to Book Your Assessment today.

Haglund’s Deformity – All You Need To Know

Haglund’s deformity is a bony enlargement on the back of the heel.

The foot condition is found where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel. The enlargement can lead to bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac between the tendon and bone).

Haglund’s deformity is often known as “pump bump.” Originally, doctors gave the condition this name because women who wore high heels were often observed to have Haglund’s. This is generally a myth as high heel wearers and non-wearers alike can get the condition, which was first coined by Patrick Haglund in 1927. Still, the term continues to be used today.

Causes

Although Haglund’s deformity is considered a common clinical condition, it’s “still poorly understood.”

Friction between the Achilles heel and the shoe contributes to Haglund’s. Beyond your shoes, it could be because of wearing ice skates or any stiff-backed footwear. This friction causes inflammation of where the Achilles attaches to the heel and a bone spur forms. Over time, the bone spur (a bony enlargement) irritates the bursa.

Typically, friction along the Achilles heel is the result of two things. First, overuse. Runners are particularly susceptible to Haglund’s deformity because of high mileage. Specifically, long-distance runners are prone to getting the bone spur.

Second, improper footwear can lead to Haglund’s deformity. If your shoes are too tight, your Achilles will rub excessively against the back of the shoe. Over time, bone spurs develop as a self-defence mechanism.

Additional causes may include:

  • High arch
  • Tight Achilles tendon
  • Tend to walk or run on the outside of your heel

Overall, there are several risk factors involved with Haglund’s deformity but pinpointing a cause can be difficult. While external factors may increase your likelihood of having the condition, your foot structure as determined by your genetics may also come into play.

Symptoms

Beyond pain, Haglund’s deformity is one of the few foot conditions that you can visibly see.

Typically, your Achilles heel will have a bump indicating a bone spur. The enlargement feels rigid, as it’s a bone, and can grow over time. Since bone spurs are progressive conditions, meaning they won’t get any better even if treated, addressing the true cause is crucial to prevent additional friction.

Common symptoms may include:

  • A bump on the back and outside of the heel
  • Inflammation
  • A callus
  • A clicking sensation when you press on the bump

Diagnosis

As conditions that affect the Achilles tendon can be quite similar, diagnosing Haglund’s deformity can be difficult.

Fortunately, because of the presence of the bone spur, the appearance of your heel can differentiate Haglund’s from other Achilles conditions, like tendonitis. If in doubt, contact a healthcare professional for a diagnosis, and to have X-rays or an MRI, if required.

Treatment

Generally, and we’ve written about this before, surgery should be a last-resort option if non-invasive treatments fail. First, consider the following:

  • Proper shoes (we at Feet First Clinic offer a free shoe fitting)
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Icing
  • Self soft tissue massage
  • Custom Foot Orthotics

If none of the above treatments work, surgery may be your best and last option. During surgery, the doctor removes the bone spur from your heel, or it can be smoothed and filed down. This reduces the volume of the bone in the area and also frees up your bursa.

Removal of the enlargement also means that you may be less prone to the area rubbing against the back of your shoe.

Recovery is typically 8-10 weeks. In fact, a number of long-distance runners opt to have surgery for Haglund’s in the offseason. This illustrates that, if done correctly, surgery and a proper recovery plan can improve your quality of life if non-surgical options don’t work.

For most, walking is still possible with an air cast. This way, you can still move as you normally would, but reduce the weight-bearing component on your one leg (or both).

Your Solutions Live Here!

All under one roof! Our team is trained to handle any and all your foot health concerns. From mild, to critical, we cover all sides of the foot needs spectrum. Call us to ask about actionable steps towards your solution today!

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Click Above to Book Your Assessment Today!

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal Tunnel In Your Foot

Carpal tunnel, but in your foot.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a relatively common foot condition that affects the ankle. Specifically, tarsal tunnel syndrome is the result of a damaged posterior tibial nerve.

Overview

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve entrapment of the ankle. It compares to carpal tunnel syndrome, the condition’s equivalent in the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve compresses. Symptoms include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm.

OK, back to the tarsal tunnel.

The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space on the inside of the ankle next to the ankle bones. The tunnel is covered with a thick ligament that helps contain its inner workings – veins, arteries, tendons, and nerves. Notably, the tibial nerve runs through the tarsal tunnel.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tarsal tunnel is compressed. Imagine your squeezing a casing of wires. The more pressure against the case, the more stress put onto fillings inside. In this case, those would be the nerves, arteries, and tendons inside.

Symptoms include sharp, shooting pain, pins and needles, or a burning sensation on the inside of your foot, close to where your foot meets your ankle. Some say that pain can be severe enough to cause a person to limp, and individuals may describe a radiating pain that cannot be localized to one spot.

Causes

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can result in pain because of direct damage to the tibial nerve.

The following can contribute to tarsal tunnel syndrome:

  • Flat feet: fallen arches and flat feet can stretch the tibial nerve;
  • Growths in the tarsal tunnel (bone spurs and cysts);
  • Varicose veins: can cause compression on the nerve;
  • Inflammation;
  • Osteoarthritis;
  • Overpronation: overpronating and inward rotation of the foot can strain the ankle and lead to pain in and around the tarsal tunnel. Overpronation can also stretch out the tibial nerve;
  • Improper shoes: small shoes can cause undue stress around the heel (and elsewhere) compressing the tarsal tunnel;
  • Ankle injuries: sprains, stress fractures, and other lower leg and ankle injuries can cause inflammation and swelling.

A medical professional can diagnose TTS (tarsal tunnel syndrome) through an exam, x-rays, or electrical testing. Typically, an MRI and Nerve Conduction Velocity test is done to diagnose TTS.

Often, there are numerous causes. Or, the cause is unclear. Runner’s World reports that about 50% of the time, a cause for Tarsal tunnel syndrome cannot be identified. In these cases, if a cause is not immediately clear, consult a doctor for more information.

Treatment

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be managed effectively, especially if treated early.

  • Swap out your shoes: small shoes can put undue pressure on the inner ankle;
  • Custom-made orthotics: custom-made orthotics (which we do in-store) can help reduce the effects of overpronation;
  • Anti-inflammatories: swelling in the foot can lead to compression of the tarsal tunnel;
  • Compression socks: akin to anti-inflammatories, the goal here is to reduce swelling of the ankle and lower leg;
  • As a last resort, surgery is an option.
    • One such surgery is a tarsal tunnel release. In this case, the doctor “creates an opening behind the ankle that extends down to the arch of the foot. The surgeon carefully divides the ligament so it is not pressing against the tibial nerve.”

If symptoms persist or worsen, consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Prevention

  • Improve flexibility of the lower leg and foot;
  • Schedule a shoe fitting: finding the right shoes (and the right fit) is essential for the health of your feet. Small shoes can lead to tarsal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, ill-fitting shoes can cause a whole slew of other foot conditions;
  • Physical therapy and strengthening.
    • Heel raises
    • Calf stretches
    • Balancing exercises

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the less-talked-about version of carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you feel a burning sensation or pain on the inside of your ankle or experience chronic ankle swelling, you may have tarsal tunnel syndrome.

For more information, and to schedule a shoe-fitting session or to learn more about custom foot orthotics, fill out the form below, or stop by the store. We’re located at 2481 Bloor St. West in Toronto.

4 Foot Problems For Runners

Running is one of the most rewarding activities both for our mind and body.

That said, running comes with several risk factors in the form of injuries and foot issues. Some are rare, and some are experienced by almost every runner you come across. And, if you haven’t yet, now’s the time to do some reading to prevent yourself from the same fate by avoiding several runner’s foot problems

Consider these foot issues a part of the unofficial runner’s bucket list when it comes to experiences.

Shin Splints

Shin Splints are the common term for medial tibial stress syndrome.

This condition is characterized by pain along the inner part of the shin. Most commonly, shin splints are a result of too-much t00-soon. Your lower legs are not able to acclimatize to the load running puts on your body. For example, many new runners suffer shin splints when running for too long, too soon.

Typically, our aerobic capacity builds faster than our muscles and joints. So, it’s important to increase your weekly running by no more than 10%.

Another possible cause of shin splints is overpronation, which occurs when your ankle rolls too far inwards. The excessive inward rolling means your shins are bearing more of the impact than normal. If this is the case, consider purchasing motion control shoes that feature a thick medial post.

In terms of treatment, follow the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You’ll also want to reduce your mileage and the intensity of your workouts. When you’re ready to return, ramp up slowly, and avoid running on harder surfaces and opt for grass, and trail running.

Black Toenails

Running-induced black toenails are called Runner’s Toe. Repetitive trauma – the type associated with long-distance running – cause a blood blister to form under the toenail resulting in the blackened nail. Black toenails are among the most runner’s foot problems.

The medical term is known as a subungual hematoma, which means bleeding and bruising under the toenail. Sometimes, the blood blister can start out small, and remain small. In that case, the darkened part of the nail will begin to grow out and be removed with the routine nail clipping. The drying of the blood can cause your nail to separate, and loosen. So, your toenail may fall off altogether. Hence, the common runner experience of ‘losing a toenail.’

Fortunately, the whole experience isn’t particularly painful, and no intermittent treatment is necessary. If the toenail does, in fact, fall off, wash the area and wrap in a bandage. If you experience persistent pain, you should visit a healthcare professional.

In terms of prevention, find a shoe that fits right. Consider a Shoe Fitting to determine the exact size and type of shoe that’s best for you. If your toes are crowded and up against the edge of your shoe, there will be more friction and impact causing you toe to blister. Additionally, if you run on undulating terrains, like downhills, you may be more prone to black toenails.

Blisters

Getting blisters is a shoo-in for runners.

A Blister is a small fluid-filled bubble on the skin. Most blisters on your feet are friction blisters, which result from socks or shoes excessively rubbing against the skin of your feet. This excessive rubbing can be from ill-fitting shoes, wet shoes, or just overuse, like running a marathon.

The ‘bubble’ itself is a natural cushion that your body produces in order to create a protective barrier between the irritated area of skin and friction-causing object.

The most common question related to blisters is: should I pop the blister or let it be? It depends.

If the blister is small enough and poses no risk of opening and possibly causing an infection, leave it be. Cover it with a Band-aid, or even basic medical tape, which has proven to be one of the most effective tools in preventing blisters. Additionally, the medical tape is only mildly adhesive meaning it won’t tear the blister. Plus, it’s extremely inexpensive.

However, if it’s large, and has a greater risk of opening because of added friction, consider popping the blister. Use a pin or needle (sterile) and puncture the outer skin. Drain the fluid from the blister. Thoroughly rinse the area.

Chafing

Chafing is similar to blisters in that it’s caused by excessive rubbing.

For runners, chafing can occur anywhere where skin rubs against skin or clothing. One common hotspot is the groin area, both because of shorts, and because your thighs may rub together when running. In fact, the latter even has its own name: Chub Rub.

Chafing is more of a nuisance than a foot condition but still important to address. You’ll want to do a number of things in order to prevent chafing:

  • Use vaseline to provide a barrier on your skin.
  • Stay dry: moisture can increase irritation and lead to chafing.
  • Dress right: wear moisture-wicking clothes and do not re-use the same part of bottoms without washing.

If the area is very painful, swollen, bleeding, or crusted, your health care provider may recommend a Medicated Ointment.

If you’re a runner and are interested in avoiding potential concern, Call us at 416-769-3338 or book a visit today!

Are Flat Feet A Problem?

About 30% of the population live with flat feet.

So there’s a high likelihood that either you or someone in your family have flat feet.

What Are Flat Feet?

Flat feet are as they sound: a collapsed arch with much of your sole in contact with the ground. This is relative to a regular arch, which is when about half of your arch is in contact with the ground.

Good news! Flat feet are usually a painless condition. Often, flat feet occur during childhood development, but they can also occur as you age. Flat foot often starts with a dysfunction of the ankle tendon known as posterior tibial tendon. This tendon is responsible for holding up your arch. Weakness or underdevelopment in the tendon means your arch can drop.

Injury to the ankle can also cause flat feet, partly because damage to the tendons won’t be able to support your arch.

How Can I Tell If I Have Flat Feet?

Flat Feet

The easiest way to determine your foot type is with a wet test.

The wet test is a cheap and easy way to determine your foot type. The test only requires a piece of paper and wetting the bottom of your foot.

To perform the wet test:

  1. Pour a thin layer of water into a shallow pan
  2. Wet the sole of your foot
  3. Step onto a blank piece of paper (or onto a wooded surface like your deck)
  4. Step off and look down

Based on the shape of your foot on the paper, you can determine your foot type. If your arch is partially filled out,  then you have a normal arch. An arch that’s fully filled out means you likely have flat feet and fallen arches. If your arch is barely visible, you likely have a high arch.

Is It A Problem?

In short: it depends. In most instances, it isn’t.

There are generally a few tendencies associated with flat feet.

People with fallen arches generally have more inward rotation than those with a regular arch.

Generally, this gait deficiency will overwork other muscles and tendons in the leg. Overcompensating in your lower leg can cause problems in your knees, ankles, and hips. Fallen arches can also cause pain in your arches and can lead to swelling. Overcompensation can also lead to underlying issues in the foot like bone spurs, osteoarthritis, and bony prominences.

Someone with flat feet may also experience posterior tibial tendonitis. This condition causes pain and swelling in the posterior tibial tendon. As the tendon supports the arch of the foot, and provides stability, leaving this condition untreated may lead to an increased risk of flat feet. Why? Since the resulting tendons become inflamed and damaged, they lose the ability to maintain your arch height.

In many cases, the body adapts to having flat feet and you may never experience pain at all.

One form of fallen arches is known as flexible flat feet. In these cases, you never develop symptoms and the fallen arch is related to the looseness of ligaments and is inherited. In this case, flat feet are not preventable.

How To Live Pain-Free With Fallen Arches

If you’re pain-free, no treatment is necessary.

However, just because you don’t have pain now doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t in the future. Given your body may compensate for fallen arches, the deficiencies in your stride may take years to develop. (On the other hand, the deficiencies may never develop into pain.)

If you do start to experience pain, there a number of measures you can take including:

  • Orthotics: custom foot orthotics are specifically designed for your feet. These devices work to correct faulty foot mechanics and redistribute pressures across the bottom of the foot.
  • Motion Control Footwear: to help with overpronation (when your foot rolls too far inward), motion control footwear has medial support built into the midsole to help limit the damage and wear to the inner portion of your shoe.
  • Lifestyle Changes: an exercise program and a plan to manage your weight can help reduce the pressure on your feet.
  • Stretching Exercisesstretching and lengthening the range of motion of your Achilles tendon can help.

In short, flat feet can pose some problems in certain cases. In many cases, they aren’t a problem, especially if you follow certain precautions like strengthening and orthotics.

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10 Common Foot Conditions And Injuries

Your legs are involved in every aspect of movement. They’re the foundation of your body, and act as shock absorbers. Our reliance on our legs cannot be overstated. It’s crucial we take proper leg and foot pain management to avoid common foot conditions.

Overwhelmingly, there are some common foot conditions that are more prevalent than others. These are either injuries or conditions that a large portion of the population experiences once, or repeatedly. To put you on the right track, we’ve rounded up 10 common foot conditions. Note that these are listed in no particular order.

1.  Bunions

A bunion is perhaps the widest known foot condition. A bunion is an enlargement on the outside of the big toe. The enlargement can be a bony outgrowth, or a shift in your big toe. Often the base of the metatarsal shifts outwards (meaning your toe points inwards), and a bunion results because of the deformity.

You may develop bunions through any of the following reasons:

  • Your foot is shaped in a way that makes you more likely to have bunions
  • Your foot rolls overly inwards when you walk
  • Flat feet
  • Tight footwear

Fortunately, a physical therapy regimen, over-the-counter products, and proper footwear enables you to live with bunions without surgery.

2. Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal skin infection that affects the skin on soles of feet and between toes. The fungi that causes athlete’s foot is commonly found in moist places, like shared showers and locker rooms.

Athlete’s foot typically presents as a translucent white moist skin between the toes on one or both feet. To treat the condition, you can use over-the-counter products including medicated creams, ointments, sprays, and powders.

3. Ingrown Toenails

An Ingrown Toenail occurs when the nail begins to grow into the skin. In many cases, you can treat ingrown toenails yourself. In severe cases, you should consult a doctor.

Typically, wearing tight shoes, cutting your nails too short, or not across, and injuring your toenail can cause an ingrown toenail. Home remedies include soaking your feet in warm water, wearing proper footwear, taking anti-inflammatories, and placing dental floss under the edge of the toenail.

If the ingrown toenail is serious, surgery is performed.

The surgery consists of numbing the toe with a local anaesthetic, then removing the portion of the toenail that is growing into the skin, and finally, applying a chemical to the nail root to prevent regrowth.

4. Black Toenails

Black toenails may be rare to the majority of the population, but are common among runners. The repeated nature of running puts your toenails at risk due to impact and friction. Typically, black toenails result from a blister underneath the toenail. The most common cause is tight footwear, and from undulating terrain as downhill running adds pressure on your toes.

You might also get a black toenail because of trauma to the toe. Occasionally, a black toenail will fall off.

Here’s everything you need to know about black toenails including treatment and prevention.

5. Plantar Fasciitis

Common Foot ConditionsPlantar fasciitis can be a real pain…in the heel.

This foot condition involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects your heel with your toes – the plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis can cause sharp pain in the heel, especially in the morning.

Runners are especially prone to plantar fasciitis because of the repeated stress to the plantar fascia. Common treatment and preventative measures include self-massage with a golf ball, anti-inflammatories, and if necessary, custom orthotics.

6. Nail Fungus

The toes are particularly susceptible to nail fungus because fungi thrive in dark, moist places. Since many of us wear shoes for hours every day, one can understand how nail fungus comes about.

Common symptoms of nail fungus include yellowing and thickening of the toenail, brittleness, and sometimes an unpleasant odour. For early or mild cases of nail fungus, you can use a topical antifungal cream.

To prevent nail fungus, wash and dry your feet regularly, don’t share nail clippers, avoid being barefoot in public facilities, and keep your toenails short, but not too short.

7. Bone Spurs

Bone spurs are bony outgrowths, typically in areas prone to osteoarthritis. The most common forms of bone spurs in the foot include heel spurs, and a bone spur on top of the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTJ). The latter is a common spot. Stiffness and arthritis in the big toe leads to a condition known as hallux rigidus.

Bone spurs inherently reduce flexibility and can be quite painful. With treatment including proper footwear, people can live normally with bone spurs without needing surgery. You should note that bone spurs are progressive meaning there’s no reversal of impact and damage done.

8. Corns

Corns are like calluses, except that corns can be painful. A corn is an area of hardened skin that develops on areas of the feet that sustain too much compression.

A corn has a few hot spots: between your toes, the outer edge of your little toe, and on top of the toes.

Corns are removable. One of our Toronto foot clinic specialists or chiropodists can safely remove the build-up of tissue and assess whether Orthopedic Shoes or Custom Orthotics may be indicated to prevent their recurrence.

9. Blisters

Blisters are more of an annoyance than anything. This minor foot condition occurs when the skin is aggravated. Because of this friction, a small fluid-filled bubble on the skin forms.

Fortunately, most blisters heal on their own. To ensure there are no complications, you can cover the blister with an adhesive bandage or blister pad, both of which are available at our Toronto foot clinic. Common tricks to avoid blisters include using baby powder for sweaty feet, proper moisture-wicking socks, and wearing shoes that fit.

10. Gout

Gout affects roughly 3 million Canadians each year.

This condition is a form of arthritis that can develop rapidly. The painful condition involves swelling and tenderness of joints. Gout is most common at the base of the big toe.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack. Urate crystals can form when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood.” Foods that can lead to high levels of urate are red meats, seafood, refined or processed carbohydrates, sugary drinks and alcohol such as beer and hard liquor.

And there you have it: 10 common foot conditions.

This list is by no means an exhaustive list. There are tens, if not hundreds, of different common foot conditions you might develop over the course of your life. To address your foot issues early, see a foot specialist.

If you’re in Toronto, Book An Appointment with a specialist today, or visit the store for everyday items like compression socks, footwear, and for a custom shoe fitting.