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Cracked Heels: Frequently Asked Questions

Cracked heels, also known as heel fissures, is a common foot condition in which the skin on the bottom of the heels becomes excessively dry and therefore, loses its elasticity, causing the skin to split and crack. Today, we will be answering some of the most frequently asked questions regarding cracked heels.

Do I still get cracked heels even when the weather is cold?

YES. You can still get cracked heels during the winter season. In fact, cracked heels are usually worse in the winter than in the summer. This is because the skin is usually the driest in the winter when humidity is low and the temperature is cold. In general, both extremes in weather and environmental temperature can exacerbate cracked heels.

Is Vaseline good for cracked heels?

Vaseline is an occlusive ingredient, meaning it creates a film or barrier where applied, often used to protect the skin and seal in existing moisture. With that being said, Vaseline does not hydrate the skin as it does not add moisture. Therefore, by itself, it is not the most effective way to moisturize the cracked skin on your feet.

What is the best moisturizer for cracked heels?

A urea-based cream is the best moisturizer for cracked heels and for overall dry feet. Urea is an organic compound that works as a keratolytic and a humectant emollient. This means it exfoliates the skin cells to allow for better product penetration as well as softens and hydrates the skin as it attracts and holds onto water. Look for moisturizers that contain 10-25% urea as an active ingredient. Using a urea-based cream regularly as well as a foot file to remove dead skin cells will help to manage the calluses on your heels.

When should I see a chiropodist for cracked heels?

See a Registered Chiropodist or Foot Specialist for cracked heels if the calluses are thick and you cannot manage them yourself with moisturizers and a foot file. If there is pain, signs of an infection, or you have diabetes, see a chiropodist right away.

What are cracked heels a sign of?

Cracked heels are a sign of dehydrated skin and increased tensile stress on the heels. Tensile stress occurs when an object is under load and the active forces on the object are trying to stretch it. In other words, as load increases on the heels, the skin is not able to withstand these pressures and will tear, especially if the skin is dry and callused. Factors that influence the occurrence of cracked heels include but are not limited to peripheral vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis/eczema, tinea pedis, and faulty foot mechanics or gait abnormalities. Talk to your chiropodist about the possibility of these additional factors contributing to your cracked heels.

If you would like to have a Registered Chiropodist look at your cracked heels and provide treatment to help manage them.

Book an appointment with one of our practitioners at Feet First Clinic today!

How to Reduce Physical Pain This Holiday Season

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

Visit Feet First Clinic

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

Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Your Feet

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

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

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

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

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

Look for Opportunities to Carpool

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

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

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

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

Planning on Playing Sports this Winter? Use These Tips to Keep Your Feet Safe

Despite the cold temperatures, winter is a fantastic season for athletes at all levels. There are endless sports that you and your friends can play. You can try your hand at hockey, curling, snowboarding, skiing and more.

To guarantee that you enjoy these sports all winter long, you need to make sure that you take every precaution when it comes to keeping your feet safe.

If you don’t know where to start, read this list of helpful foot care tips and tricks for winter sports.

Keep Your Feet Warm

Firstly, if you want to keep your feet in good condition over the winter, you need to keep them as warm as possible. This is going to be a challenge when the temperature dips below freezing.

Thankfully, there are a wide variety of footcare products that can help you stay warm, whether you’re on the ice or the slopes. One of the most effective products that you can use to keep your feet warm is a pair of compression socks.

If you aren’t familiar with compression stockings, they’re a high-quality sock that helps improve your circulation. The stockings gently squeeze the legs, increasing blood flow to the lower limbs. This can help athletes stay warm in colder conditions.

It is also worth noting that some recent studies have shown that compression socks can help athletes deal with pain and shorten recovery time after injuries.

Avoid Ill-Fitting Footwear

Whether you’re getting hockey skates or snowboarding boots, you need to make sure that your footwear fits properly.

If your footwear is too loose, you won’t have suitable ankle support – this could lead to issues like rolled or broken ankles. Additionally, if your footwear is too tight, it could result in painful issues like ingrown toenails and blisters.

When you’re looking for a pair of skates or boots, you should always try them on beforehand. This is because manufacturers will size their products differently. If you don’t try them on, you could be stuck with footwear that doesn’t fit properly. Go shopping in the afternoon — not the morning — because your feet swell as the day goes by. When you shop at a strategic time, you’ll get a more comfortable fit.

Find the Right Insoles

Many people have tried athletic or orthopedic insoles in the past. These products can help reduce impact and minimize the amount of pain you feel when running, skating or jumping.

If you want to find the best insoles for winter sports, you need to purchase a pair of Superfeet insoles. The company makes specialized insoles for hockey, snowboarding, skiing and other snow sports, and we carry them at Feet First Clinic.

If you’re dealing with musculoskeletal conditions like bunions or hammertoes, you should talk to one of our chiropodists about getting custom made orthotic inserts. These will be crafted to perfectly match your foot shape and to provide the support and comfort you need.

Winter is a cold, slick and slippery season. If you want to stay safe and warm while playing sports, be sure to keep all of our safety tips in mind!

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!

Nights Before Christmas at Toronto Distillery District

Enjoy this week’s unexpected winter wonderland weather by visiting the Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District.

The Christmas market opens on Thursday, November 14th, until Sunday, December 22nd; it is open 7 days a week from noon to 9pm or 10pm (Friday and Saturday only). Admission is free during the week and charged after 6pm on weekends.

The nights are getting colder and the snow came early this year so be sure to stay warm and comfortable for this outdoor event.

Compression stockings are the ideal product to keep you warm and pain free all evening. Compression stockings are graduated meaning they are tighter around the ankle and decrease in compression the higher they go; this provides a constant flow of circulation to your lower limb. With constant circulation, your muscles will not experience tiring effects of standing and walking. They also allow a quicker recovery so the next day you won’t feel that soreness from being on your feet the day before.

Sigvaris is always coming out with new innovative products and keeping up with current fashion trends. Their newest product is a Mulberry Opaque Stocking which is warm enough to wear during the colder evenings but thin enough to look like a regular stocking. mulberryAnother way to beat the chilly and unpredictable temperature at the Distillery District is by wearing the right footwear.

This time of the year, the ideal type of footwear should be durable, weatherproof but not too bulky.

Sorel has a great selection of transition boots with a variety of styles for both men and women. The “Out N’ About” boot is fully waterproof with a seamless design and more importantly anti-slip to keep you walking worry free in these slippery, slushy, and wet conditions.

sorelThe “Madson” boot is also fully waterproof with a seam-sealed design and tough leather exterior. The reduced bulk and EVA footbed make it a shoe to wear all day without putting your legs through excessive stress.

sorelThe Holidays are fast approaching and if you are experiencing any foot issues, come visit us at Feet First Clinic so we can help you start feeling great for the season. 

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!

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.

Foam Rolling 101: Why And How To Do It

Foam rolling is one of the easiest ways to keep your legs at their best.

Foam rolling is a self-therapy method used to eliminate general fascia restrictions. Think of foam rolling as your own personal massage therapist.

What is foam rolling?

Foam rolling involves using a foam roller as a method of release. By using your own body weight, the method is simple, effective and low-cost. Foam rolling is a great injury prevention method and can leave your muscles feeling refreshed afterwards.

Some people who foam roll do it as a warm-up to exercise, as it gets the muscles firing and activated. For example, some runners foam roll before activity to ensure their muscles aren’t cold when heading out the door.

Alternatively, foam rolling can be done after exercise, to break up the fascia, and knots that develop in the muscles.

What type of foam roller to buy

There are a number of different types of foam rollers on the market, from simple to premium.

Foam Rolling

Basic foam rollers can be found at most sporting goods stores for approximately $30.

Depending on your needs, a basic foam roller may do just fine. On the other end of the spectrum are more premium options, including Hyperice and Trigger point. These products are meant more for deep tissue massages and have additional features like vibration. Typically, the foundation of these rollers are made of stiff plastic with a foam outer layer, so they will last longer than a purely foam product. As their cores are also plastic, they also have a lot less ‘give.’

Foam rollers also come in various sizes. You can find travel sizes so they fit in your luggage if you’re a frequent traveller, Or, there are standard versions which cover a greater surface area of your leg and are often less painful because weight is dispersed more evenly across where you’re rolling. Fortunately, because they’re largely inexpensive, owning more than one won’t break the bank.

It should be noted that there are alternative ways to roll, including using tennis or lacrosse balls. The smaller the object, the more precise you can be with targeting trouble spots, or ‘trigger points.’

Foam Rolling

According to the American Council on Exercise, foam rolling  “focuses on reducing pain or the discomfort that comes from the myofascial tissue—the tough, but thin membranes that cover and surround your muscles.”

How to do it

Foam rolling can be tricky at first, but you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. Using your body weight, position the foam roller about two-thirds to the bottom of your body, or to wherever on your legs you want to target. Then, roll slowly and gently back and forth and pause on particularly tight spots.

You can reduce the pressure by bearing more weight on your upper body, or when you’re on your side, by having your torso on the ground. There should be some discomfort, but don’t go as far as feeling intense pain.

You’ll want to avoid bones, and focus on the muscles, specifically trigger points. These refer to specific knots that form in the muscles, that will benefit from being rolled out, which increases blood flow to the area.

Typically, anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes is appropriate for an area before moving on. In total, spend 10-15 minutes rolling various parts of your legs, even if they’re not particularly sore. Remember, sore muscles in one spot may mean the problem is actually somewhere else, so distribute the rolling appropriately.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling doesn’t just have to be on your legs either. You can do your back, hips, arms, shoulders, and whatever else is sore.

Benefits

There are a number of benefits to foam rolling, both as an injury treatment, as well as for injury prevention. Best of all, it’s one of the most affordable methods of self-treatment needing little more than a $30-40 product, that lasts quite a few years too.

According to the American Council on Exercise, foam rolling has been shown to help the following conditions: 

  • IT band syndrome
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee)
  • Shin splints
  • Lower-back pain
  • Infrapatellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee)
  • Blood flow, overall soreness
  • Joint range of motion

If pain continues to persist, and foam rolling doesn’t seem to be helping, your injury may be more serious.

For all of your foot treatment needs, schedule an appointment, or contact Feet First Clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).

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.