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The ‘What’ And ‘How’ Of Foot Conditions

We’re on our feet every day, if not for hours a day. Our daily habits shape how our body functions, and vice versa. Because of how interconnected our body is, small abnormalities and foot conditions can manifest into something much greater. All a small problem needs is time.

From what we wear to the anatomy of our body, there are many factors that contribute to potential injuries or foot conditions. Below we outline a possible scenario, like a daily habit, and what might come from it. Then, we outline fixes for various foot conditions might be.

The what: Ill-fitting shoes

May cause: Bunions, black toenails, blisters

The fix: 

  • Proper shoe-fitting session: we offer shoe fitting here at the clinic. Come visit us – no appointment required – to be properly fitted into a pair of shoes best suited for your feet.
  • Taping: if you experience blisters on a regular basis, consider using basic medical tape to provide protection, and to reduce friction that causes blisters.

The what: Flat feet

May cause: Plantar fasciitis

The fix:

  • Arch support: orthotics can help reduce the symptoms of flat feet as they act as a support under your arch.
  • Stretching exercises: stretch your Achilles tendon as that area often takes the brunt of the impact when walking and running with flat feet. This is because of your arch’s lower profile, and overpronation.
  • Supportive shoes: Since your arch collapses as a result of flat feet, you will likely overpronate. As such, supportive shoes can help correct your gait imbalance, and provide a solid foundation under your arch to keep your foot stable.
  • Physical therapy: the goal with physical therapy is to help reduce the muscle imbalances that naturally occur as a result of compensating with flat feet. Important exercises include strengthening the muscles along your arch, and your Achilles tendon. Read more about various exercises for flat feet in our daily foot exercises post.
  • Rest: According to the Mayo Clinic, “avoid activities that aggravate your condition. Participate in low-impact activities — such as walking, biking or swimming — rather than jumping and running activities.”

The what: Overpronation

May cause: Morton’s neuroma

The fix: 

  • Custom orthotics: as pronation lower the transverse arch of the foot, orthotics can help with stability and limiting the effects of overpronating.
  • Stability shoes: those who overpronate may benefit from stability shoes, which have a stiff medial post. This reduces the amount of overpronation as your foot no longer rolls inwards as much. Additionally, the support that is along the medial shoe of such a shoe can absorb some of the impact.

The what: Overtraining

May cause: Osteoarthritis, bone spurs, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis

The fix:

  • Overtraining is a surefire way to injure yourself, and to quicken the onset of progressive foot conditions like osteoarthritis.
  • Rest: no good comes from continuing to train through pain. Rest if you feel like muscle soreness is gets worse.
  • Stretching: maintaining flexibility in your lower limbs is key to staying healthy.
  • Increase load slowly: the human body can withstand an incredible amount of impact, but only if you train it to. Slowly ramp up the intensity of whatever exercise you’re doing to ensure you don’t do too much too soon. Sometimes, your aerobic fitness improves faster than your body’s adaption to an increase in training, so make sure to recognize the early warning signs like chronic pain, and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for a few days.

The what: Tight calves/Achilles

May cause: Metatarsalgia

The fix:

  • Tight calves can increase the weight applied onto the front of the foot, which can lead to metatarsalgia.
  • Stretching: loosen your Achilles tendon, and calf muscles as with tight muscles, your foot will compensate by bearing more load in the balls of your feet.
  • Orthotics: you can reduce forefoot pressures and improve biomechanical function to prevent further pain by investing in a pair of custom orthotics. Visit the clinic for an assessment and to be fitted with custom orthotics. Most extended health insurance plans cover the cost of orthotics in part or in a whole.

The what: Wearing high heels

May cause: Heel spurs/Haglund’s deformity, bunions

The fix: 

  • Reduce usage: high heels don’t necessarily cause bunions, but they do exacerbate the problem because the front of your foot bears more weight. Swap out high heels for more comfortable shoes, or, if your workplace is formal attire, try to reduce the amount of hours spent in them.
  • Orthotics: custom foot orthotics can reduce excessively high pressures at the forefoot, which can, in turn, aggravate and accelerate bunion formation
  • Haglund’s deformity on the heel is known as ‘pump bump’ because of its association with wearing high heels. Haglund’s deformity an abnormality of the foot bone and soft tissues characterized by a bony protrusion. Additionally, this condition develops when there is too much pressure on the heel, in part because of tight-fitting shoes.  To Haglund’s deformity:
    • Replace heels with open-heel shoes
    • Ice the bump
    • Soft tissue massage
    • Orthotics
    • Heel pads

As you can tell, small changes to your habits can make a significant difference in the long-term health of your feet. Habits in moderation, like wearing high heels, can lessen the impact on your legs versus say, wearing them each and every day.

If you continue to experience pain, and are looking to get to the root of the problem, feel free to visit the clinic. You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic. Schedule an appointment by using the Appointment Request form below or contact the clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).

Relieving Pain Caused by Plantar Fasciitis

Taking proper care of your feet is an essential part of life; your feet allow you to walk, run, and stay active.

However, these simple tasks can become a burden if you suffer from plantar fasciitis.

For those that are wondering, “what is plantar fasciitis?”, it’s a common foot condition that causes your plantar fascia (the connective tissue that runs between your toes and heel) to become inflamed and irritated. This results in severe heel pain.

Our team at Feet First Clinic knows how painful plantar fasciitis can be; that’s why we want to help you deal with and recover from your condition.

For those that aren’t familiar with us, we’re a team of foot care experts in downtown Toronto that specialize in orthopedic services and assessments. Our team also offers a wide range of foot-related products, like:

  • Custom-made orthotic insoles
  • Compression stockings
  • Custom-made shoes

Continue reading to learn more about how you can relieve pain caused by plantar fasciitis.

 

Who Needs to Worry About Plantar Fasciitis?

 
Before delving into the topic, it’s always a good idea to take the time to learn if you’re at risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

Anyone can potentially develop this condition; there have been reported occurrences in several age groups, ranging from young children to the elderly.

However, plantar fasciitis appears to be more common in women who are pregnant or overweight. This is because the muscles in your feet have to support more weight than they are used to.

However, women that lead an active lifestyle are also at risk of developing this condition, especially if they participate in repetitive physical sports, like running. These sports can agitate your plantar fascia and increase the chances of developing this condition.

Additionally, the risk of developing plantar fasciitis is even higher for women between the ages of 40 and 70.

 

Tips for Dealing with Pain

 
Do you currently suffer from plantar fasciitis? Then you should make use of the following tips and tricks the next time it flares up:

 

1. Sit Down and Rest

 
This is the first thing that you should do after experiencing plantar fasciitis-induced pain. Sitting down takes the pressure off of your plantar fascia (and the rest of your foot), which can help relieve the pain.

While sitting down, you should try to keep your foot elevated. This will help increase blood flow and reduce the swelling. You can also give yourself a foot massage for additional pain relief. However, don’t be too rough, as your foot muscles will feel tender and sore.
 

2. Purchase a Pair of Custom Orthotic Insoles

 
You’re most likely familiar with custom orthotics; these unique insoles are relied on by people around the world.

This is because orthotic insoles can:

  • Help reduce overall impact while walking, running or playing sports
  • Minimize leg, back and neck pain
  • Reduce pain caused by foot deformities (bunions, hammertoes, etc.)

Orthotics are also extremely beneficial for people that suffer from plantar fasciitis. This is because they can improve the wearer’s pronation control.

For those that don’t know, pronation of the foot is when the arch lowers on the inner, medial margins. Having poor pronation control can lead to excessive foot fatigue and contribute to your plantar fasciitis.

The best insoles for plantar fasciitis also offer several long-term benefits. Wearing orthotics can prevent foot conditions, like plantar fasciitis, from getting worse. This is because they can help reduce muscle imbalances in the feet and lower body.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a pair of orthotics for plantar fasciitis, you should avoid going with an over-the-counter product; instead, you should consider opting for our high-quality, custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis.

Our custom-crafted orthotic insoles for plantar fasciitis can help you increase your pronation control while relieving stress in your arches and heels. Not to mention, we can customize your insoles to fit in any shoe. This means that you’ll never have to go a day without them!

Custom orthotics aren’t just beneficial for people who suffer from plantar fasciitis; they can also help people who have the following conditions:

 

3. Take Action and Be Prepared

 
Your plantar fasciitis can flare up at any moment; it could strike while you’re working, at school, or doing chores around your home.

However, you can’t let your plantar fasciitis take control of your life — you need to take action!

There are several small things that you can do to make your foot pain more manageable. Two practical examples include icing your foot and taking pain medication.

Icing your foot is a quick and easy way to relieve plantar fasciitis-induced pain and relieve swelling. If you’ve experienced a flare-up while working, you may want to keep an ice pack in your lunch box or the freezer at work (if there’s one to use). This will give you quick access to ready-to-use ice.

Over-the-counter pain mediation can also help you deal with your foot pain. Store-bought pain medication contains additives that stop your cells from producing prostaglandin (a chemical that is naturally produced within our bodies). When this happens, our nerve endings feel less sensitive; thus, we feel less pain.

Although these medications don’t provide permanent relief, they do make the pain much more manageable for a short period. To be safe, you should keep a small amount of over-the-counter medication in an accessible area, like your vehicle or office.

 

Pain-Relieving Exercises

 
Although they are helpful, you can’t rely solely on ice and pain medication. If you want your plantar fascia to heal correctly, you should start doing exercises that can prevent your foot condition from getting worse.

At Feet First Clinic, our team is happy to demonstrate several useful (and easy) exercises. However, if you don’t have time to book an appointment with one of our specialists, you can use the following exercises to prevent plantar fasciitis from getting worse in the meantime:

 

1. Towel Stretch

 
One of the first exercises that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with is the towel stretch. This simple exercise helps strengthen the muscles in your feet without straining the rest of your body.

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to complete a towel stretch exercise:

  1. Sit down on a hard surface (preferably carpet) with your legs forward and knees straight
  2. Wrap a towel around the upper portion of your foot and toes
  3. Hold the towel with your hands and apply pressure by pulling back
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds (don’t force yourself to exceed this)
  5. Repeat the exercise four more times

For the best results, you should repeat the entire process at least five times a day.

 

2. Calf Stretch

 
The calf stretch is another simple exercise that requires a minimal amount of equipment. Calf stretches help relieve built-up tension in your feet and heels.

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to complete a calf stretch exercise:

  1. Find a sturdy wall and place your hands on it (at approximately eye-level)
  2. While your hands are on the wall, take one step back with the compromised foot
  3. Stretch your front leg inwards while bending your other knee (remember to keep your back heel on the floor during this step)
  4. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds
  5. Repeat the exercise two to four times per day

Doing this will loosen up the muscles in your lower body and help relieve a substantial amount of pain.

 

3. Tennis Ball Roll

 
There are several unexpected uses for tennis balls. But, did you know that rolling a tennis ball under your affected foot can reduce pain and speed up the healing process?

As you roll the ball under your foot, you’re applying pressure to the plantar fascia. This massages the tissues and muscles in the bottom of your foot.

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to complete the tennis ball roll:

  1. Place a tennis ball on a hard surface (preferably carpet)
  2. Without applying too much pressure, step on the tennis ball (if you have poor balance, you can use a chair or table for support)
  3. Roll the tennis ball around the affected area for 15 to 30 seconds at a time
  4. Repeat this motion two to four times, then repeat the entire process twice more throughout the day

Bonus Tip – If you don’t have a tennis ball handy, you can use a frozen water bottle!

 

4. Marble Pick Up

 
To finish up the workout session, you should try a marble pick up exercise. This exercise works the muscles in your toes and upper portion of your feet.

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to complete the marble pick up:

  1. Place a small pile of marbles on a hard surface
  2. While sitting on a chair, pick up the marbles with your affected toes
  3. Repeat the process two to four times per day

It’s worth noting that this is one of the more challenging exercises on the list and should be during the latter stages of the healing process.

If you’ve recently developed or suspect that you’re developing plantar fasciitis, you should make use of the tips and exercises listed above. If you’re still struggling with your condition, one of our team members will be happy to help you come up with a recovery plan.

Protecting Your Body on the Hockey Rink

Hockey is the number one sport in Canada and this winter sport has been enjoyed around the world as well for over 100 years!

Not only is hockey extremely fun to play, but it’s also an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise and vigorously works your lower body. Playing hockey increases your heart rate, which improves your body’s ability to build muscle and burn calories.

Hockey is also beneficial for your mental health — getting vigorous amounts of exercise releases endorphins. This puts you in a better mood and gives you additional energy. Playing hockey can also keep your brain sharp; this is because it can help improve your problem solving and decision-making skills.

However, athletes should know that playing hockey comes with its fair share of risks. Hockey is one of the more aggressive sports —players can potentially experience concussions, lose teeth and break bones.

Hockey players are also prone to several foot and ankle related injuries. One of the most common hockey injuries is known as lace bite (also occasionally referred to as skate bite), which occurs when you tie your laces too tight.

Lace bite causes players to experience:

  • Ankle pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Some hockey players may experience less-common issues like sprained ankles, fractured bones or peroneal tendonitis (a chronic form of tendonitis caused by excessive overuse).

We know that a few potential injuries won’t stop hockey players from doing what they love; that’s why our team at Feet First Clinic has put together this list of safety tips.

For those that aren’t familiar with our work, Feet First Clinic is a foot clinic in Toronto that offers a diverse variety of foot and ankle-related services.

Aside from offering unique services, like shoe stretching and measuring, our team of foot specialists also offers an assortment of foot and ankle products, like custom-made orthotics. These products can help you deal with current injuries and prevent future incidences from occurring.

Are you looking for effective ways to keep your body safe while playing hockey? Feel free to continue reading!

Always Wear a Helmet

Practically every hockey league (both professional and recreational) require players to wear a helmet. This requirement, which was put in place in 1979, is essential for several reasons.

As mentioned earlier, hockey players are prone to head injuries, like concussions. Studies show that concussions account for approximately 2% to 14% of all hockey injuries. Additionally, concussions account for about 15% to 30% of all hockey-related head trauma.

Although concussions are occasionally unavoidable, wearing a high-quality helmet can drastically decrease your risk of experiencing head trauma.

So, why are modern helmets so effective? First of all, modern hockey helmets are made out of high-quality materials like vinyl nitrile and expanded polypropylene foam. These materials are made to disperse and absorb large amounts of impact.

Additionally, modern hockey helmets are form-fitting; they are designed to cup and protect the orbital protuberance (the back of your head).

Are you looking to protect more than just your head? Then you may want to consider buying a helmet with a visor and/or ear guards. These helmets are made to protect the remainder of your face from stray pucks, sticks and skates.

Wear Skates That Have the Right “Fit”

Having the right pair of skates is integral, especially if you want to perform at the best of your ability.

Are you new to the sport? Then you may not know that buying a pair of skates is quite different from picking out a pair of shoes.

Here are several key differences that you need to keep in mind:

Size

The first thing you need to consider is the size. While looking for new skates, you need to remember that hockey skates have a different sizing system than traditional walking shoes. You should generally look for hockey skates that are one to one and a half sizes smaller than your everyday footwear.

Are you buying skates for your child? Then you may want to get a pair that has a little bit of wiggle room. This way, if your child has a growth spurt, you won’t have to replace their skates instantly.

Tightness

While playing hockey, athletes want their ankles to feel stable and secure. Wearing loose-fitting skates strains your ankles and can increase the risk of sprained or broken bones.

Before hitting the ice, make sure that neither of your laces are untied. This will not only help you feel secure, but it will also lower the chances of you accidentally tripping.

For extra security, you may want to wear a pair of thick socks. This will help keep your feet warm and fill in any additional space in the skates.

Heel Movement

Can you lift or shift your heels in your current pair of skates?

When your skates fit properly, you shouldn’t be able to move your heels at all. Instead, they should feel snug and continuously in one position.

Wearing skates that don’t fit properly can cause your heels to shift in place. This can make your skin feel rough and potentially lead to painful blisters on the sides of your feet.

If you’ve noticed that your skates are impacting your heels, you should consider getting over the counter insoles like Superfeet.

Superfeet is an over-the-counter insole company that offers a wide range of products. Each product is made to benefit the wearer in specific situations.

For instance, hockey players can benefit from wearing a pair of Superfeet’s yellow insoles. Superfeet’s yellow insoles are designed to fit perfectly in hockey skates. These hockey skate insoles also feature a flexible heel cradle, which is designed to keep your heels in one place at all times.

Stay Hydrated

During the sweltering summer heat, athletes are constantly reminded to drink as much water as possible — however, if you’re playing sports in the winter, like hockey, you still need to drink a sufficient amount of fluids.

Drinking water is incredibly beneficial for athletes, as staying hydrated can:

  • Improve your joint and muscle health
  • Regulate your body temperature
  • Prevent and lessen the severity of muscle cramps

Failing to drink enough water can lead to dehydration; this happens when your body uses more fluids than it’s receiving. When this happens, your body slowly begins to shut down, and in some severe cases, dehydration can lead to short-term hospitalization.

It can be challenging to pinpoint exactly when you (or one of your teammates) are feeling dehydrated, as other common issues share many of the symptoms.

If you don’t know what to look for, then keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Dizzy/light-headed feeling
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach
  • Elevated heart rate

To be safe, you should aim to drink at least 8 oz of water before playing. During the game, you should try to consume anywhere from 7 oz to 10 oz. Finally, you should have no less than 8 oz of water after the game is finished. This may seem like a lot of fluid, but your body will appreciate it.

Wear Compression Stockings

These garments are designed to apply therapeutic pressure to your feet and ankles.

Wearing compression stockings can help improve the circulation in your lower body and decreases fluid retention. Fluid retention (also referred to as water retention and edema) generally stems from prolonged periods of sitting and/or standing. This condition causes extremities, likes your feet, to swell up and feel uncomfortable.

Additionally, compression stockings are a cost-effective tool for reducing and managing blood clots. After experiencing a blood clot, some patients are advised to wear compression stockings for as long as two years.

So, why are compression stockings so vital for hockey players? In short, compression stockings can improve your athletic performance. This is because compression stockings can:

  • Increase your endurance
  • Minimize muscle strain
  • Improve your balance and stability
  • Lower the risk of shins splits and other forms of soft tissue damage

Additionally, if you wear compression stockings while doing your daily feet exercises, you can drastically decrease your recovery time (for lower-body injuries) — this means you can spend less time on the couch and more time on the ice.

If you’re a female hockey player, you most likely want something that fits your body. That’s why many companies produce compression stockings for women as well as men. This makes them an accessible tool for both genders.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear why athletes should always wear a pair of compression stockings underneath their uniforms.

Whether you’re a professional hockey player or just want to have some fun with your friends, there’s no denying that hockey is an exhilarating sport. It’s social, competitive and is the ideal winter activity. However, hockey is also a dangerous sport, and if you’re not paying attention, you can easily injure yourself.

If you don’t want this to happen to you, then you should make sure that you always wear a helmet and have the right pair of skates. You should also drink lots of fluids and purchase a pair of compression stockings.

Heel Spurs: What Should I Do?

What is a Heel Spur?

The human body is a complex and magnificent system that adapts and learns, continuously finding ways to build and strengthen itself through its experiences. One example of this is our bones’ response to stress.
Soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons insert themselves into bones; ligaments connect bone to bone while tendons connect muscle to bone. When the area of insertion undergoes injury or inflammation from stress or strain of these soft tissues, the bone may respond by depositing new bone on existing bone. This is the bone’s way of fortifying itself.

A heel spur is just that. It is a bony protrusion or growth from the underside of the heel bone that forms over time due to repetitive muscular and ligament strain from activities such as walking, running, and jumping.

Contrary to popular belief, a heel spur is simply the reaction to the problem at hand, and not necessarily the cause of your pain. In fact, most heel spurs are asymptomatic.
It is often associated with a condition known as plantar fasciitis, which is the inflammation of the fibrous tissue that connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot.

Rather than the heel spur itself being the culprit, more often than not, it is the associated soft tissue injury such as plantar fasciitis that causes sharp pain at the heel with the first steps in the morning or with initial steps after rest. Some report the pain turns into a dull ache and comes back with increased activity throughout the day.

Am I at Risk?

You can increase your risk of developing a heel spur and associated heel pain due to soft tissue injury by:

  • wearing unsupported shoes
  • not addressing current foot issues
  • abnormal gait
  • poor foot posture
  • increased time on your feet
  • vigorous sports or activities
  • weight

All these factors put high stress and strain on the soft tissues of your feet, specifically the plantar fascia.

How do I Manage the Pain?

Heel spurs are managed by rest, exercise, custom foot orthotics, supportive footwear, a night splint, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, and/or cortisone injections.

Rest and exercise are both highly recommended when dealing with a heel spur and associated soft tissue strains. Stretching the muscles and tendons of the foot will reduce tension and resistance training will help to strengthen them.

Calf stretches against the wall and/or on a step are particularly helpful. Remember to hold your stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 times on each leg and do this set a couple times throughout the day to get the best results.
Look for shoes that have a cushioned sole with arch support rather than a shoe that is completely flat.

A good shoe will also have good torsional stability, a firm heel counter, and a roomy toe box. In addition, for indoor shoes, opt for sandals or slippers with a cork foot bed that has arch support and straps around the forefoot, midfoot, and ankle.
Wearing a night splint while you sleep may also help to keep the plantar fascia elongate and therefore deplete tension.
around the forefoot, midfoot, and ankle. Wearing a night splint while you sleep may also help to keep the plantar fascia elongated and therefore deplete tension.

Talk to your local chiropodist for advice on custom foot orthotics. A custom insole will support your foot in all the right places and correct any harmful compensations or abnormal gait patterns. Furthermore, a heel pad may be added to provide additional cushioning or a horseshoe pad to offload a specific localized area of pain on the heel.

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If you are in an immense amount of pain, resulting in limitations to your mobility, talk to a Toronto foot specialist about cortisone injections, which may provide temporary, but effective relief. You can get up to three cortisone shots per year.
If conservative measures fail to relieve your pain within a year, surgery to either release the plantar fascia or remove the bone spur may be indicated to restore quality of life.

What Happens if it’s Not Treated?

Unfortunately, a heel spur or any bone spur for that matter is permanent and cannot be removed without surgery. However, the pain associated with a heel spur will likely worsen and become chronic if you do not seek treatment to address the soft tissue injury.
This can lead to changes in your gait to accommodate and compensate for the pain, resulting in a limping gait and secondary injuries to the hip and knee joints. If you avoid walking or activity all together, the chances of weight gain are high. On the other hand, most of individuals with heel pain will experience resolution when treated using conservative methods.

When Should I See a Foot Specialist?

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Any kind of foot pain is a valid reason to see a general physician, licensed chiropodist, or podiatrist for a consultation.

Chiropodists or podiatrists are primary health care professionals who specialize in the assessment, management, and prevention of dysfunctions, disorders, and diseases of the foot. The sooner you see an appropriate health care practitioner for heel pain or a heel spur, the sooner you will experience relief of your pain.

What Can I do to Prevent Spurs?

To help prevent heel spurs you can reduce injury to the heel bone by wearing supportive footwear. Always remember to stretch before and after sport activity, and gradually increase your level of activity rather than engaging in too much activity too quickly.

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Pay attention to the shape and movement of your feet to detect any anomalies with your gait pattern, and avoid long periods of standing.
You can also increase flexibility in your calf and plantar fascia with daily stretches, avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces, and maintain a healthy body weight.

How Can I be Sure it’s a Heel Spur?

A bone spur can only be definitively diagnosed with diagnostic imaging such as, x-ray or ultrasound. If you have a very localized area of pain on your heel(s) and experience pain with your first steps in the morning, talk to your doctor about these tests to determine if you have a bone spur or not.

For a full foot assessment and treatment for heel pain, book an appointment with one of our Toronto Licensed Chiropodists at Feet First Clinic.

 

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).

Frequently Asked Questions About Custom Made Orthotics

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

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

What are orthotics?

A line of different orthotics on a wooden surface

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

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

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

How do I know I need them?

Woman rubbing her foot in pain

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

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

What is an orthotic shoe?

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

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

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

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

Feet on a pair of orthotics

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

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

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

How do I know if my orthotics are working?

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

What are the risks of using/wearing orthotics?

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

How expensive is it?

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

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

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

Call today!

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.

Corns: What Are They?

Callus or Corn?

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

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

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

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

Hard vs Soft Corns

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

Will it go Away?

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

Why do I have it?

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

What are the Risks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can I Treat it at Home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens After?

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

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

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

3 Signs That Your Running Shoes Don’t Fit

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

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

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

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

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

You Can’t Slide Your Shoes Off Easily

Woman sliding off shoe

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

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

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

Your Toes Touch the Inside of Your Sneaker

Toes touching the top of tiny shoes

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

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

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

Your Heel Moves Around While Walking

Kids wearing high heels that are too big

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

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

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

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

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

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

At-Home Diabetic Foot Care

What is Diabetes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Does Diabetes Develop?

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Healthy Diabetes Diet

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

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

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

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

Why is Taking Care of my Feet Important?

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At-home Diabetic Foot Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Needs to Worry About Diabetes?

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

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

What Problems does Diabetes Cause for my Feet?

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

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

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

So, What Products Can I Use?

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

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

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

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

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

Will it Get Worse?

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

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

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

Where Can I Get Help? Who Can I Ask?

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

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

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