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Plantar Hyperhidrosis: Frequently Asked Questions

Plantar hyperhidrosis is the medical term used to describe a condition characterized by excessive sweating of the feet. This condition affects approximately 1-3% of the population. Today, we will be answering some the most frequently asked questions about plantar hyperhidrosis.

  1. What causes sweaty feet?

Feet submerged in water and surrounded by question marksIn most cases, the cause of sweaty feet is idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown. Onset is usually in childhood suggesting a hereditary component to this physiological disorder. Emotional and physical distress as well as heat can initiate sweating and/or make it worse. Sweaty feet can also be secondary to a chronic systemic illness or it can simply be a side effect of a drug.

  1. How can I stop excessive sweating?

More often than not, plantar hyperhidrosis can be controlled by conservative measures including topical antiperspirants, foot powders, deodorants, proper footwear, moisture-wicking socks, and absorbent insoles. In severe cases, treatments include but are not limited to prescription oral medications, Botox injections, and iontophoresis.

  1. Can it be cured?

Plantar hyperhidrosis will likely require ongoing treatment and management.

  1. Does it get worse with age?

The general trend is sweaty feet actually improve with age. This is because as we age, our sweat glands become less active and less responsive to stimuli.

  1. How much does your feet perspire in a day?

According to the Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine, your feet contain approximately 250 000 sweat glands and the average person will perspire about a cup of moisture throughout the day.

  1. Does wearing socks make a difference with sweaty feet?

Socks on feetWearing socks with closed toe shoes help to reduce sweating in feet. When you don’t wear socks with closed toe shoes, the increased friction between your feet and the interior of the shoe in combination with poor air circulation tends to induce sweating.

The type of sock is also important. Choose socks made out of cotton, wool, or merino wool and avoid synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester.

In general, look for socks that have a “moisture-wicking” property. Finally, socks that contain silver, copper, or bamboo will control odors and growth of micro-organisms.

Sweaty feet can cause foul odors, increase risk of fungal and bacterial infections, and dramatically affect your quality of life.

Book an appointment with a Registered Chiropodist at Feet First Clinic today for all your foot concerns, including sweaty feet.

We are open six days a week!

5 Simple Exercises for Bunions

A bunion (also known as hallux valgus) is a deformity of the big toe where the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint is misaligned. With this deformity, the muscles surrounding the big toe are at an imbalance. In particular, the muscle that pulls the big toe towards the lesser toes is at a mechanical advantage, pulling the big toe closer to the one beside it. This is muscle is called the Adductor Hallucis. To counteract this muscle, we have to strengthen the opposing muscle: the Abductor Hallucis.

The following exercises and stretches focus on the smaller muscles of the foot, which is essential in managing bunions and the pain associated with them.

Toe curls and spreads

Curling toes down and spreading toes upwards

Do this exercise sitting with your foot several inches off the floor. Curl the toes down as if you want to grab something with the toes. Hold that position for 10 seconds and release. Then bring your heel to the ground, lift your foot slightly and spread your toes as far apart as possible. Hold that position for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times on each foot.

Towel grip and pull

Curled toes pulling towel towards foot

Place a towel on the ground and put your foot on top of the towel. Then use your toes to scrunch the towel towards you. Do this for 1-2 minutes on each foot.

Toe stretches

Hand gently pushing toes downward

Use your fingers to press your big toe down and hold that stretch for 30 seconds. Then position your toe in the opposite direction and use your fingers to help reach the end range of motion. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times on each foot.

Toe resistance exercises

Use your fingers or your other big toe to create resistance so that the small muscles within the foot are isolated and activated. Place your finger on top of the big toe and while applying a small amount of pressure downwards, move your toe in the opposite direction. Hold this for 10 seconds. Then bring your finger under the toe and apply a bit of pressure pushing the toe upwards. While doing this, push your toe downwards and hold for 10 seconds. Finally, bring your finger to the side of your big toe pushing it towards the second toe. While applying this pressure, move your big toe away from the lesser toes. Hold this for 10 seconds. Do this entire exercise 5 times on each foot.

Toe circles

Do this sitting on a chair. Bring your foot on the knee and use your hand to grip your big toe and run it through circular motions. This keeps the joint mobile.

At first, these exercises may seem unnatural and difficult to do, but with time and consistency, you will get the hang of it!

For more information on bunions, click here!

For more inquiries and hopes to speak to a Licensed Chiropodist, book an appointment at Feet First Clinic.

We are open six days a week!

Lest We Forget: Remembering our Veterans’ Hard Work

Remembrance Day is a memorial day to remember the end of World War I and to commemorate all those who served during the war.

During WWI soldiers were subjected to horrible conditions in trenches and on the battlefield. On average, each soldier would spend 8 days in the front line and 4 days in the reserve. However, when a soldier was injured, another had to take their place and they could possibly spend around 30 days in the front line trenches.

Trenches were dug around 10ft deep and 6ft wide and in the spring and fall they would fill up with rain up to a soldier’s waist.  During the harsh winter months, trenches did not provide a lot of shelter or warmth. Blankets and clothing were said to freeze, food became frozen and inedible and the frozen mud walls became hard as stone. Soldiers suffered from frostbite and exposure leading to amputations. Once the snow and mud started to thaw, it only escalated the muddy and wet conditions in the trenches similar to those in the warmer months. Along with thick mud and flooding, trenches were also infested with rodents and insects.

Prolonged exposure to moisture and unsanitary conditions lead to “trench foot”, which causes open sores, blisters, fungal nail and skin infection and eventually amputation due to gangrene.

In the early stages of war, the standard footwear of the British Army were known as “Ammunition boots” which were unlined ankle boots made out of tanned cowhide with an iron plate half sole that was fixed to the heel. They were designed to be durable but not comfortable nor waterproof.

Over the course of the war, due to the increasing number of British casualties caused by trench foot, trenches were constructed with better drainage and more importantly soldiers received improved waterproof footwear called the “Perishing boot”.

These boots were designed as an American combat boot and were made out of heavier leather, they had a thicker sole and several more hobnails and treatments to improve waterproofing.

The Perishing boot was also dubbed “Little Tanks” as the soldiers found the construction heavy and bulky but incidents of trench foot dramatically decreased.

Diabetic Foot Care

Diabetic foot care and foot exams are extremely important for individuals who have just been recently diagnosed, those who have been living with diabetes for several years or at risk individuals.

Individuals living with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing infections and peripheral vascular disease.

What to expect:

For your first visit be sure to come prepared with a list of medication you are currently taking, bring a pair of your widely used footwear, and be sure to discuss any foot/knee/hip issues you may be experiencing.

The Chiropodist will do a full diabetic foot assessment and treatment which includes nail and callus care.

Diabetic Foot Assessment:

A diabetic foot assessment is a step by step approach to testing your vascular system, sensory system, motor system, skin system and footwear. It is highly recommended to have an annual assessment for most individuals living with diabetes. However, certain higher risk individuals need to be monitored more closely.

  • Vascular Assessment: an assessment to test your blood supply to your feet. Blood supply can become limited to the feet and extremities with long standing diabetes, uncontrolled diabetes and old age. The assessment includes taking pulses, measuring the blood flow back to the skin, gradual cooling of the lower limb to the feet and assessing the skin and nails for any vascular changes.
  • Sensory Assessment: an assessment to test your feeling in your feet. Often with long standing or uncontrolled diabetes, the small and large nerves in your feet can be affected and eventually stop working. The assessment includes testing different locations on your feet with your eyes closed, vibration test, light touch test, and soft pinch test.
  • Motor Assessment: an assessment to test your most important joints for walking. If your gait is impaired, pressures will not be distributed properly which may cause the build up of calluses, corns or even diabetic pressure ulcers.
  • Skin Assessment: an assessment of your skin and nails to check for corns, calluses, ingrown nails, warts, dry or cracked heels, diabetic ulcers or fungal infections to name a few. Since healing is impaired alongside diabetes, it is very important to treat any infections immediately.
  • Footwear Assessment: an assessment to make sure your shoes are being properly worn and they are not causing any calluses or sores to develop.

Diabetic Foot Treatment:

A diabetic foot treatment is a safe medical pedicure which includes nail and skin care. It is very important to avoid nail salons and spas as they do not use clean sterilized instruments nor do they have the medical knowledge necessary to provide diabetic foot treatment. Diabetic nail care includes trimming your nails safely and properly, cleaning out the corners from each nail and thinning out thick/rough nails. Skin treatment includes taking down any hard calluses or corns in a safe manner to a proper depth and even distribution. If any pressure points were noted in the footwear or skin assessment, these pressure points are addressed and often your footwear will receive a makeover to help your feet feel better.

Taking care of your feet is an important aspect of overall diabetic care and that includes having a Licensed chiropodist to be a part of your diabetic health team.

Cracked toenails

Cracked toenails can really be a bother. They get caught on socks, pants, and bed sheets, and depending on the severity of the crack, they can be downright painful. Although in most cases patience and simple nail care will tend to the issue, there are times when further treatment may be required. It really all depends on the reason why the toenail has cracked or split in the first place.

image of a cracked big toenail

Causes of A Cracked Toenail

Trauma

Trauma is a broad term that includes an injury which may result in a bruise and undetected, repetitive micro trauma from daily activities. Sport activity, an accidental fall, dropping a heavy object on the foot, ill-fitting footwear, and frequent use of high heels can all cause trauma to the toenails.

Environment

Frequent exposure to wet or cold environments can make the nail weak and vulnerable to cracking.

Nail polish

Frequent use of nail polish and strong solvents such as nail polish remover can cause the nail to split.

Fungal infections

Harmful microorganisms can infect a weakened nail and cause the nail to change. If your toenail looks yellow, white, brown, cracked, crumbly, and/or thickened, you may have a fungal nail. To protect yourself from fungus, avoid injury to the nail, wearing wet or damp shoes or socks, unsanitary pedicures, and always wear shoes in public gyms or showers.

Systemic issues

Toenails can crack because of an underlying systemic disease including but not limited to rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, anemia, psoriasis, eczema, and peripheral vascular disease. Bad habits such as smoking increase the risk of developing conditions that cause poor circulation, especially to the extremities of the body.

Nutritional deficiencies

Your nails need nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein to grow healthy and strong. Iron deficiencies as well as vitamin B deficiencies are common causes of split nails.

Age

Finally, age is another factor that can cause the nail the become brittle and more vulnerable to crack.

As mentioned previously, treatment depends on the cause. If the cause is a systemic issue, the systemic disease must be addressed and treated. If the cause is a vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about vitamin supplements and possible dietary changes.

For local treatment of the nail itself and management of potential infections, visit a Licensed Chiropodist or foot specialist who will address the concern directly.

Chiropodists are primary health care professionals who are able to prescribe medications, administer local injections, and perform soft tissue surgeries, including nail surgeries. Although rare, a nail surgery may be indicated for a damaged nail depending on the severity of the deformity.

Leading up to your appointment with a foot specialist, you can prevent further damage to the nail by protecting the area with either a bandage, a toe sleeve, or toe cap, and keeping the nail trimmed, filed, and clean.

Book an appointment today!

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Feet Covered Up

Walking around barefoot is not the wisest decision. The main reason to keep your feet covered up is that it lowers your chances of catching an embarrassing condition. When you expose your bare soles to a germ covered floor, you can accidentally pick up a virus or fungus.

Athlete’s Foot

Skipping your shoes and walking barefoot can lead to athlete’s foot — it can even happen in the comfort of your own home. The foot fungus is contagious. When a family member or roommate has an irritating infection, you are likely to contract it too. A person with this specific fungal infection will contaminate the floor whenever they walk over it barefoot.

Exposing your feet to the contaminated area raises your risk of infection. If you’ve never suffered from the foot fungus before, here are some common symptoms of athlete’s foot that you should recognize:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Dry, cracking skin
  • Rash
  • Odour

Toenail Fungus

You can catch toenail fungus from a surface that’s been contaminated by someone with the infection. You can also get an infected toe if you have athlete’s foot. The foot fungus spreads from the soles and up into your toenails, turning them thick, brittle and yellow. You can click here to find out what causes toenail fungus other than contaminated floor surfaces and wandering athlete’s foot. Knowing the risks can help you avoid an uncomfortable infection.

Plantar Warts

If you walk around barefoot, you can also contract the human papillomavirus (HPV) through your sole and develop a plantar wart. It is a small rough growth that looks like a callus or corn. Since the plantar wart is on the bottom of your foot, it can feel tender or painful when you stand, walk or put pressure on it in any other way.

What Should You Do?

Start by breaking the bad habit of walking around barefoot. You can wear waterproof shower shoes in public spaces like gym locker rooms, swimming pool decks and saunas to protect your feet. Surfaces that are warm and moist present a higher risk of contamination.

Buy some pairs of indoor slippers for the home and place them by your main entrance. This way, you can effectively cover up your bare feet and avoid tracking outside dirt on your clean floors.

Here are some other simple tips to avoid infection:

  • Wash your feet every day
  • Moisturize your feet if your skin is dry
  • Cover up cuts or wounds on your feet with bandages

If you happen to contract any of these infections, you should make an appointment with one of our licensed chiropodists. We have the best foot solutions in Toronto — we can do everything from nail fungus treatment to plantar wart excision. When over-the-counter medications and home remedies don’t do the trick, experts can give you effective treatment options.

As an additional perk, slippers and shower shoes protect your bare feet from any objects lying on the floor. You’ll appreciate the protective barrier when you step over something sharp like a shard of glass, something hard like a discarded toy piece, or something disgusting like a cat’s hairball.

 

Trick or Treat: How to Prepare for Halloween

Are you prepared for Trick or Treating this year? Halloween is fast approaching and with the unpredictable October weather you want to be ready for anything.

Footwear & Socks

You will be spending a few hours walking around outside so the most important preparation is good footwear. Ideal footwear for Trick or Treating should be waterproof or water resistant. Avoid putting your kids in mesh running shoes as they can get too wet while running through grass or leaves. Your kids should also be wearing warm socks made out of Merino wool or Bamboo for extra moisture wicking properties. While your kids are busy running from one house to the next, you will be mostly standing. To prevent tired and achy legs, consider wearing compression stockings. Sigvaris Merino Wool Compression stockings are a great outdoor compression stocking that keeps you thermoregulated.

Be seen

The most important Halloween safety rule to follow is to be properly seen. Most Halloween costumes are too dark for the night time Trick or Treating. Consider putting your kids in brightly colored or white costumes or adding a splash of colour to their costume with reflective padding/stickers. Another great idea is for kids and adults to wear glow sticks, bracelets or headbands.

Foot Spray

After a long night of walking and running around in the wet or damp weather, it is recommended to sanitize all footwear. Bacteria and fungus thrive in warm moist environments created by excessive moisture with sweaty feet in wet or damp shoes. Gehwol Foot and Shoe deodorant helps to kill odour causing bacteria and eliminate fungal spores in shoes. It is recommended to remove the insole or orthotic inside the shoe, spray the Gehwol Foot and Shoe deodorant inside and let it dry overnight.

Sore Feet? 

You have been at work all day and now you have to take your kids out Trick or Treating so get your feet ready with some extra support. If you have tired and sore feet at the end of the day, consider wearing orthotics to help align your feet in the most efficient position.

Custom foot orthotics are recommended for people who experience sore feet, heel pain, ankle pain or have too much movement/drifting in their joints (like a bunion or hammer toes) Superfeet are the best non-prescription and non-custom insole you can buy. Superfeet have a harder plastic shell which offer general arch support and are the most widely used insole for athletes.

superfeet insoles

Another great device to help your feet feel better is the Bunion Aligner.

The Bunion Aligner helps to correctly position your big toe while strengthening your muscles and ligaments around the joint.

BUNION ALIGNER POSTS
Bunion Aligner

Many individuals who wear the bunion aligner have found less pain around the bunion area, a wider gap between the first and second toe and less pain in the balls of their feet.

Call Feet First Clinic to book an appointment for a biomechanical assessment and gait analysis to find out if orthotics or bunion aligners are right for your feet.

How to Manage Foot Calluses

Calluses are thickened and hardened layers of skin that develop as a result of pressure or friction. It is the skin’s way of protecting itself from these external forces. Calluses may appear yellow, white, or grey in hue and can be accompanied by dry scaling skin and even fissures.

Because our feet take on a lot of stress (i.e. supporting our body weight and taking us wherever we need to go) calluses are commonly seen on the feet, particularly at the heels and balls of feet. Ill-fitting footwear can also cause calluses to form on the sides or the tops of toes. While calluses are generally harmless, when left untreated for a prolonged period of time, they can become very uncomfortable to walk on. Not only that, but calluses also reduce the skin’s elasticity and moisture, making it more likely to crack under shear forces.

Whats the difference between a callus and a corn?

The major difference between a callus and a corn is that a callus will cover a diffuse area on the skin and usually have a relatively equal thickness, whereas a corn occurs in a localized area and contains a deep centre of hardened tissue. This deep centre is called a nucleus and it goes so deep that it presses into the underlying layers of tissue causing pain.

Corns usually form at the site of a bony protrusion and thus are commonly seen on the tops of, at the tips of, or in between the lesser digits of the foot.

How to take care of your calluses and corns

You can help manage these thickened and hardened areas of skin by:

  • Moisturizing daily with a urea based emollient (e.g. Dermal Therapy)
  • Using a foot file or pumice stone to exfoliate the dead skin away
  • Wearing proper footwear with a wide and deep toe box is highly recommended

When to seek medical attention for calluses and corns

Book an appointment to see a Licensed Chiropodist for your calluses and/or corns if you notice any of the following:

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Brown or red pigmentation within the callus
  • Leakage of fluid/pus
  • Swelling and redness in the surrounding skin

Calluses and corns can build up so much that it cuts off the blood supply to the skin underneath it, causing the skin to break down.

This may result in an ulcer or wound which can become infected.

A Licensed Chiropodist will be able to remove all calluses and corns on the foot by sharp debridement. If necessary, he or she may also offload pressures from these pressure points via means of various foot supplies such as foot pads, toe wedges, or toe props, and even custom foot orthotics.

Book an appointment with a Chiropodist at Feet First Clinic today!

When You Need to Get a New Pair of Shoes

Everything has an expiration date, including your shoes. Keeping your old and worn-down footwear in your closet can take a toll on your feet later on. It’s time to take a look at your shoes to see if they’re worthy of staying or if they should be thrown out.

Wear and Tear

You know that it’s time for a new pair of shoes when your favourite pair is looking worse for wear. Small problems like chewed-up laces and slipping insoles can be easily replaced. But, you should consider throwing out the pair when you spot one or more of these red flags:

  • The tread has been smoothed over from friction and repetitive impact.
  • There are creases in the mid-sole and heel.
  • The heel cup is fraying or completely split so that it rubs against your skin.
  • There are rips in the toe box and on the sides.

Essentially, if your shoes look and feel nothing like they did when you first bought them, you need to get some upgrades as soon as possible.

High Mileage

You need to track how much distance you’ve covered in your athletic shoes so that you can tell when they need to be put away for good. The logic behind this is simple: the further you go with your shoes, the faster they wear out. If you’re only using a pair to go on short walks around the neighbourhood every weekend, you won’t need to get an upgrade for a long time.

Ideally, you should get a new pair of running shoes after running or walking 500 kilometres in them. Avid runners and joggers can meet this goal in a matter of months, especially when they’re training for 5Ks, half-marathons, marathons and other ambitious races.

Pain and Discomfort

An old pair of athletic shoes can be the catalyst behind a long list of problems. When they aren’t offering proper arch support and shock absorption, they’re going to punish your feet, your knees, your legs and other connecting muscles and joints. For instance, if you suffer from Iliotibial band syndrome or a stubborn case of plantar fasciitis, you need to take a look at the shoes you’re exercising in.

You can visit some of the best chiropodists in Toronto to diagnose your painful condition and get treatment fast.

What Should You Do About It?

If you’ve noticed these warning signs, you need to get appropriate replacements for your bad shoes. One out of the three warning signs is too many.

You should check out our on-site shoe store for upgrades that are guaranteed to offer superior arch support and shock absorption during high-impact activities and long-distance runs. Our experts will make sure to measure your feet and recommend shoe styles so that you find the perfect match.

Book an appointment with a chiropodist to deal with problems like plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee and hammer toe. They will provide effective treatment options, including custom orthotic inserts and foot care recommendations. So, if your shoes took a toll on your body, you can find upgrades and start your physical recovery at Feet First Clinic.

You wouldn’t keep a shirt that has frayed seams and holes in the fabric. You wouldn’t keep a pair of pants that were painfully tight and left angry red marks on your skin. Don’t treat your running shoes any different. Get rid of them when they wear out.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is fast approaching on October 20th, 2019. You have been training hard for the marathon so here are a few tips to get you feeling your best:

Have the right footwear

Photo of a man tying his shoe lace - A closeup of a man tying his shoe lace resting his foot on a steal fence, after a run work out. He is wearing a red sweater, black shorts and sports shoes. In the distance the sun is setting giving a nice warm light.

Most marathon runners have their favourite trusted brands that they spend months training in. Months before the marathon, you should check the wear pattern on your soles to make sure they will be in good shape for the big day. If you find you are tilting too much on the inside/outside of your heel or there is excessive wear under the balls of your feet then they are too worn out for a marathon. New shoes can take a few weeks to break in so make sure you run a few weeks/months in new shoes to get used to them.

Wear the right socks

sports-more-cut-off-2048×1024

Socks are just as important as good shoes during the day of the marathon. The right socks can help reduce blisters, calluses and corns and they can help keep your feet dry. Seamless socks can reduce friction and aid in redistributing pressure points. Sock material is another important consideration. Consider buying Bamboo socks or socks with moisture wicking technology as opposed to 100% cotton which can hold in too much moisture. If your feet or legs get swollen during a run, try Sigvaris Running Compression Socks. Compression stockings can help reduce swelling and aid in keeping blood flow to your muscles to keep them energized for longer.

Moisturize your heels

If you have cracks in your heels or feet, you should take care of them before the marathon to avoid problems with your performance. Two weeks before the marathon start moisturizing your heels and feet every evening. Products with excellent ingredients to help heel cracks and dry skin are Gehwol Soft Feet Cream, Gehwol Salve for Cracked skin, Dermal Therapy and Camillen 60 Intense Fissure Cream. Avoid walking around barefoot, especially around hard surfaces, to prevent further complications with dry cracked heels.

 

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Wear your orthotics

Orthotics are excellent devices for helping with shock absorption and increasing stability. You need to make sure you have run with your orthotics weeks and even months before the marathon. It is very important to not wear new orthotics the day of your marathon as they can cause blistering, rubbing, instability and soreness if they are not broken in.

Don’t change anything the day of the marathon

You have spent weeks or months preparing for this marathon, perfecting your technique, wearing the right shoes and socks so don’t change anything the day of the marathon. It’s important to remember, there are no last minute changes that can drastically improve your technique. It is the weeks of preparation that will help you succeed.

Get a medical pedicure 

Runners feet are prone to developing bruised and damaged nails, calluses, corns and blisters more so than the average person. At least two weeks before your marathon, get your feet ready by getting a medical pedicure at Feet First Clinic. Our highly trained Chiropodists will safely trim your nails, help fix cracked or bruised nails, and take care of any calluses and corns.

Relax after the race
After spending all day running, you need to take care to relax your muscles and feet. You can relax at home with Gehwol foot bath and afterwards for added relief moisturize your feet with Gehwol Warming Balm.