Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that means spending time with family and friends. It also means spending a lot of time staying inside preparing, cooking and eating. It is important to be mindful about proper footwear at home especially during the holidays when we spend the most time walking around barefoot.
Recent studies find that it is not recommended to walk around barefoot at home when you have hardwood floors, laminate or ceramic floors. When we strike our heel, the pressures from the ground are absorbed by our heels by means of pronation. However, most people who are “heavy footed” lack proper shock absorption and with every heel strike those hard ground reactive forces are being transferred to the joints at an alarming force.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, people who walk with a “slap foot” have too much shock absorption and lack the ideal structure for proper pressure redistribution. If you are experiencing any heel pain, pain in the balls of the feet or your feet just feel tired – then you are definitely putting your feet at more risk by walking around barefoot. We often suggest wearing Birkenstocks as slippers for inside the house.
Birkenstocks have a cork footbed which is one of the best materials for shock absorption. The arch support also helps balance your foot and heel in the proper position for shock absorption. Also, straps around the ankle and the arch create a more stable platform for support. If you find Birkenstocks too hard or uncomfortable, a great alternative is Mephisto which have a softer footbed but equal support and shock absorption as Birkenstocks.
If you find you are susceptible to corns or calluses or you have been struggling with a painful corn or callus, then it is necessary to be wearing shoes inside the house. Calluses occur due to pressures not being absorbed properly while corns occur usually within a callus due to excessive pinpoint pressure.
Excessive swelling can occur in the ankles and feet if you are standing for long hours. Along with the swelling, the veins can be overworked and eventually become twisted and bulge out as varicose veins. Compression stockings help promote circulation and prevent varicose veins and swelling.
It is recommended to wear them while standing or sitting for long hours to make sure circulation is constantly flowing.
This year enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays with friends and family with pain free feet legs and feet.
The lesser digits in the foot are prone to deformity when there is an imbalance to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments surrounding the toe joints. These imbalances can occur due to faulty biomechanics, having excessively long toes, neuromuscular disease, systemic conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes), ill-fitting footwear choices, and genetics. Depending on where the bend in the toe occurs, the descriptive name for each deformity is given. Lesser toe deformities are commonly seen in a high arched foot or a foot with bunions. Continue reading to find out more about the different types of lesser digital deformities and how they can be prevented and treated.
Types of Toe Deformities:
A mallet toe has an abnormal bend in the joint of the toe that is closest to the toenail.
A hammer toe has an abnormal bend in the middle joint of the toe. This term is commonly used as a general term to describe all lesser toe deformities.
A claw toe has an abnormal bend in both the middle joint and the last joint closest to the toenail of a toe.
A retracted toe is very similar to a claw toe. In fact, it is a claw toe that is also pulled back or retracted so that the digit abnormally bent but also lifted from the ground.
Treatment and Prevention
All lesser toe deformities can either be flexible or rigid. The aim of treatment is to keep the joints in the toe flexible and prevent progression to a rigid deformity.
The following recommendations will help to do just that:
Wear properly fitting and supportive footwear
Wearing shoes that are the correct size is the simplest thing you can do to help your feet. If you do not know your foot size, use a standard foot measuring device to measure your foot before you purchase shoes. Always trying on shoes and walking around the store in them before purchasing will also help to determine if they fit properly. As a general rule, there should be about 1 cm distance between the longest digit and the end of the shoe. If you have digital deformities, look for shoes that are wide and deep enough at the toe box. Bring your shoes to Feet First Clinic if you want them stretched to accommodate bunions and hammer toes. Finally, avoid wearing unsupported shoes such as flip flops that encourage your toes to grip the shoe as you walk. Instead, opt for shoes that have arch support in the foot bed, a cushioned sole, and a minimal to low heel.
Address biomechanical issues
Faulty foot mechanics such as overpronation, which is the movement exhibited when your foot rolls towards your arches as you walk, can be a major culprit of hammer toes. In a pronated foot, the smaller muscles in the foot lose their function and the larger muscles gain mechanical advantage causing the toes to curl. The good news is that overpronation can be corrected and managed by custom foot orthotics -functional devices that are made to support, stabilize, and align the foot in its most anatomically efficient position.
Address painful corns and calluses
Lesser toe deformities can result in areas of increased pressures on the digits and consequently painful corns and/or calluses in these places. See your local chiropodist for debridement of these painful lesions and ask him or her about any over the counter toe supplies such as, hammer toe crests and silicone toe sleeves that may help.
As mentioned previously, toes bend abnormally due to muscular imbalance. This muscular imbalance can be caused by weak muscles in the foot and lower limb. Stretching and strengthening exercises will help to maintain flexibility in the digits and prevent less toe deformities.
Your feet hurt, your muscles ache, and your joints are sore. What’s going on?
If you experience pain on the top of your foot, there are a number of injuries that may be the culprit.
Pain on the top of your foot is a relatively broad term. That’s because there are so many different issues that can arise from the foundation of our bodies. We do after all use our feet every day. Typically, one injury can lead to another as well, given the interconnectedness of our muscles, joints, and tendons.
Below we outline four common injuries and reasons you may be experiencing pain on top of your foot.
Tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon. For those experiencing top-of-foot pain, tendinitis of the tibialis anterior tendon may be the cause. The tibialis anterior is a far-reaching muscle that originates two-thirds up your lower leg, and extends down to the top of your foot and connects to your metatarsal bones.
Another source of tendinitis may be in your extensor tendons, which wraps across your ankle and extend through the top of your foot. These tendons sit between the bones and the skin, making them prone to injury, and aggravation because of tight shoes. Tightness, overuse, friction, and improper fitting shoes can all be contributing factors.
With all tendinitis, the best course of action includes rest, icing to reduce inflammation, anti-inflammatories for the same reason, and toe grip exercises. If the root of the problem is improper shoes, visit the clinic for a foot assessment and we’ll get you into the proper footwear.
Bone spurs are bony outgrowths as a result of osteoarthritis. Although heel spurs are common, pain specifically on the top of your foot is more likely a toe spur.
As your joint cartilage breaks down, your body responds by growing additional bone as a defence mechanism. Bone spurs develop in order to fortify and stabilize the joint by building additional calcium deposits. Because of the outgrowth, there are a number of symptoms that arise.
Symptoms of a bone spur – also known as osteophyte – include pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, grating sensations, swelling, and seeing bony projection itself.
These symptoms are particularly prevalent in athletes who participate in high-impact sports. Those who run, or do gymnastics and ballet are particularly prone, as are older people. Symptoms may get worse over time if not addressed. Plus, you may experience any combination of these symptoms.
Treatment isn’t always necessary, since a bone spur may not cause you any pain or reduce your quality of life. If you experience pain, visit a professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
You cannot remove the bone spur without surgery. But, if you fix the problem at its root, and take certain precautionary steps, bone spurs won’t necessarily be painful, and surgery won’t be necessary. In any case, surgery is a short-term solution as a bone spur can re-develop. Certain treatments include weight loss, changing shoes, hot and cold therapy to reduce inflammation, and anti-inflammatories.
If you do require surgery, the course of action is to either remove the bone spur entirely or to fuse the bones together. Recovery time can vary, and as always, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.
If the pain is sharp, you may have a stress fracture. A common area of stress fractures is within the area of your midfoot, where your metatarsals are located.
They are the first metatarsal, second metatarsal, third metatarsal, fourth metatarsal, and the fifth metatarsal. These bones connect your toes, and are put under pressure during high-impact activities like running.
You may also be experiencing metatarsalgia, a more general term used for any pain found in the ball of the foot, where the metatarsals of the foot lie. This pain often occurs under the second and third metatarsals. In that case, wear shoes with a low heel and a wider toe box to reduce stress to your feet.
If the root problem is faulty foot mechanics, corrective custom foot orthotics will help to increase support and stability in the foot and ankle as well as redistribute plantar pressures.
Neuroma is a benign growth of nerve tissue frequently found between the third and fourth toes, often referred to as a ‘pinched nerve’, according to the Mayo Clinic. You may experience pain in the ball of your foot, a burning sensation, or tingling, depending on the severity. Similarly, it can feel like you’re walking with a pebble in your shoe.
Causes of neuroma include biomechanical deficiencies, trauma, improper footwear, and repeated impact and stress. We encourage you to read more about neuroma on our injury-specific page.
In terms of treatments, simple fixes include:
Metatarsal pad or neuroma pad – these types of padding are placed under the ball of the foot and act to open the intermetatarsal space and reduce irritation of nerve tissue;
Wear shoes with wider toe box, and lower heels to reduce pressures applied to the front of the foot;
Custom foot orthotics – these custom-made devices can help further offload the forefoot and control and biomechanical abnormalities;
Injection therapy: An alcohol solution can be injected into the nerve site at regular intervals to decrease size and subsequent pain.
Your feet have just survived summer in sandals and the drastic change to boots can come at a price. Feet can be extremely dehydrated in the summer as people as people are not moisturizing them as regularly. When your feet are in shoes, any skin conditions can be extremely exacerbated.
Autumn is the perfect time to get your feet back in shape with a few helpful tips:
At least once a week, soak your feet in epsom salts for 15 minutes and then take a foot file/pumice stone around callused areas. Foot soaks are also known to increase circulation to the feet and aid in keeping skin healthy and moisturized. If you are a person living with diabetes, immunocompromised or have a difficult time reaching you feet, then book an appointment with one of our Chiropodists to have a medical pedicure to remove all the dry, cracked, hard skin.
Daily applications of moisturizers can help prevent painful deep cracks in your heels and prevent the further build up of hard skin. An ideal time to moisturize your feet would be after a shower or before bedtime and put on socks after to hold the moisturizer in. Recommended products are Gehwol Salve for cracked skin, Gehwol Foot cream and Dermal Therapy.
Take a break from nail polish
Nail polish has extremely hard chemicals such as Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate and Toluene which can cause nails to peel, turn yellow or cause permanent damage. If you are dealing with nail fungus, it is highly recommended to avoid wearing nail polish. Nail polish creates a perfect dark and impenetrable barrier in which fungus thrives in. If you have dry and brittle nails, also avoid wearing nail polish and moisturize with Vitamin E oil for strengthening the nails.
Find the proper footwear
The change from sandals to shoes can be a difficult transition for most people. Your feet can change drastically in only a few short weeks of wearing unsupported shoes; sometimes even causing more permanent damage. Be sure to wear shoes that are not completely flat, have some sort of arch support and a small heel or wedge.
If you are experiencing any pain in your feet, be sure to book in with one of our Chiropodists for an assessment.
Never ignore pain, it is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.
If you have a red, swollen, warm, painful big toe and it came about relatively suddenly perhaps in the middle of the night, you may have gout.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Elevated levels of uric acid lead to the formation of crystals which deposit into a joint resulting in the joint becoming red, hot, swollen, and painful. The initial attack of this condition is usually sudden, symptoms lasting for about a week. The most common joint it affects is at the joint that connects your big toe to the rest of the foot.
Gout is predominantly seen in men around the age of 60. People who have existing health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease are also more likely to get gout. In addition, dietary choices such as frequent consumption of red meats, shellfish, as well as alcoholic beverages can increase your risk.
If you think you may have gout, a Licensed Chiropodist will be able to manage your pain and ease the symptoms.
The main goals of therapy are to terminate a painful attack and prevent recurrences. In general, management of gout involves a prescription oral medication such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory called, Indomethacin.
Then, to help decrease pain, a Chiropodist will aim to immobilize the joint temporarily. This can be done via pads and tape. Your footwear choices are also something to consider. Wearing shoes with increased toe-box depth, increased width and rigidity in the sole can help reduce pain.
If gout related pain becomes chronic, more permanent solutions such as a custom foot orthotic with a rigid extension to reduce mobility in the affected joint may be recommended.
Arthritis is a broad term that describes a disease characterized by inflammation (redness, swelling, and pain) in the joints of the body. As the disease progresses, chronic inflammation can lead to permanent damage to these joints, resulting in restricted mobility and loss of function. It is safe to say that arthritis can significantly diminish your quality of life.
There are many types of arthritis; however today, we will discuss the most common type: osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis in which the cartilage between the joints in your body breaks down. This is usually caused by “wear and tear” or overuse of the joints accumulated over a long period of time. The most common areas affected are those exposed to the most stress or weight like the knees, hip,hands and spine.
Damaged cartilage within the joints makes movement painful and stiff. If you have osteoarthritis, you may experience a deep, aching pain in the affected joints, as well as morning stiffness and stiffness after resting. Moving your joints in its full range of motion and doing activity that engages the affected joints may be difficult and painful.
Although aging is inevitable, you can reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis by maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood sugar, regularly participating in low-impact exercise, avoiding injury, and getting rest when needed.
How Does Osteoarthritis Affect the Feet?
In the foot, the most common joint to be affected is the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint, which is the joint that connects your big toe to the rest of your foot.
If you’re experiencing arthritic pain, swelling, and restricted motion in the 1st toe, consider booking an appointment with a Licensed Chiropodist who can help by limiting painful movement and preventing further deformity. Your chiropodist may create a shaft pad for your shoe or tape the joint to limit range of motion.
A full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis will also determine an underlying biomechanical fault that may be exacerbating the progression of the disease. The best custom foot orthotic will control, stabilize, and support the foot, reducing stress and encouraging healthier joint alignments.
If you have hard, thickened, painful skin on the bottom of your heels, you may have what is called cracked heels.
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 causing the skin to split and crack. Fissures are usually accompanied by thickened yellow or brown callus. These fissures can be painful and bleed and if persistent, can lead to infection.
To help avoid and manage cracked heels, follow the steps below:
This is probably the easiest thing you can do to help treat cracked heels. Applying moisturizer twice daily can really make a difference in your skin. Look for moisturizers that contain a handful percentage of urea. Urea helps to bring moisture into the skin as well as acts as a chemical exfoliant. For best results, apply right after washing your feet.
While in the shower or after a foot bath, use a pumice stone or file to gently exfoliate the heels of any dead skin cells and keep them smooth.
Avoid harsh conditions
In general, avoid all harsh conditions such as excessively hot baths, exposure to very cold weather, or use of harsh soaps. Instead, opt for warm showers, wearing proper protective shoes and socks in the winter, and washing your feet using a gentle, scent free, moisturizing soap.
Visit your local Chiropodist
A Chiropodist is a primary health care provider who will be able to directly treat your heel fissures. This means, at your appointment, a Chiropodist will mechanically debride (removal of damaged tissue) or remove all calluses down to normal tissue to encourage closure of any cracks in the skin. If your cracked heels are accompanied with redness, swelling, pain, and you suspect infection, book an appointment with a Chiropodist for proper treatment.
Whether over the counter or custom made, insoles with extra cushioning around the heels can also work to prevent cracked heels. In cases where you have an occupation which requires you to be on your feet all day or work on hard surfaces, insoles may be a great option to look into.
If you have a medical condition such as Diabetes associated with cracked heels, do not try to treat them yourself. Rather, book an appointment with a Registered Chiropodistat Feet First Clinic who will assess your feet and provide the necessary treatments. Careful debridement as well as the appropriate wound dressings may be required to encourage healing and prevent infection.
A hammertoe is a toe that is bent in the middle joint so that it folds or curls over. In some cases, the toes crowd over each other instead of sitting flat and pointing straight ahead. The musculoskeletal condition makes everyday activities like standing and walking uncomfortable or downright painful. And finding a pair of shoes that can accommodate the bent and awkwardly crowded joints can be a challenge.
Find out what you should do if you suspect that you have hammertoes:
You should get checked at our Toronto foot clinic if you are exhibiting any of the above symptoms and suspect you have hammertoes. The specialist will examine your feet and determine the appropriate diagnosis. They will also check for problems that form in tandem with hammertoe like calluses, corns and blisters. Establishing the foot condition is the first step to treating it.
The good news is that flexible hammertoes can be reversed when you practice toe strengthening exercises and use specialized accessories. Hammertoes are a progressive foot condition — the longer you ignore them, the worse they’re going to get. However, the earlier that you notice the symptoms and commit to a personalized treatment plan, the faster you can rectify the problem.
Hammertoe happens when the muscles in your feet tighten and the tendons contract, pulling the toes into a curled and clustered position. Eventually, your muscles can’t force the toes to lie flat. A non-invasive way to counteract the painful toe position is to strengthen the muscles in the toes and feet, so they can eventually lie in their natural position without discomfort.
A toe crunch is one of the best hammertoe strengthening exercises that you can try out at home. To do the exercise, sit down in a chair with your shoes and socks off. Put a towel on the ground right under your feet. Root your heels into the floor and then try to scrunch up the towel, drawing it closer to you using only your toes. Do multiple reps every day. You will notice a difference in how your toes feel and how they lie over time.
Until the strengthening exercises take effect, you should consider hammertoe straighteners and separators to prevent your toes from curling or crossing over each other. These corrective accessories make it more comfortable to stand and walk.
When you’re doing a more intensive form of exercise, you may want to tape your hammertoes to keep them separate and straight underneath your sneakers. A gel straightener will be uncomfortable and will likely move during a jog or fitness class. Use sports tape or first-aid tape to do the job.
You need to stop wearing shoes that can make hammertoes worse. Otherwise, your strengthening exercises and accessories won’t offer any long-term results. You need to avoid wearing high heels and shoes with tight or pointed toe boxes so that your toes can stay properly aligned.
You can visit Feet First Clinic to find some comfortable orthopaedic shoes for sport, work wear and nights out. Specialists at the clinic can also help you get custom orthotic insoles to accommodate the curled toes and ease any discomfort while you move around. You can have them made for whatever kind of footwear you want, including skates, cleats and ski boots.
Certain medical conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis will make it more difficult to alleviate the symptoms of hammertoes. If you are aware that you have these conditions, please notify the chiropodist during your visits. They offer other specialized services and products that can help you manage these ailments.
As you’re training for a marathon you’re stretching your hamstrings, quads and keeping track of your time but its also important to prepare your feet for that big day. Here are some tips to consider:
Proper footwear for your foot type is one of the most important things when running a marathon.
Improper footwear can cause blisters, calluses, numbness and even muscle/tendon injuries. It is important to be measured properly for footwear to make sure the length, width and shoe type is right for your foot. Always buy your footwear from a reliable store that is familiar with shoe brands and the type of footwear which is ideal for your foot.
Footwear should also be replaced every 400-500 miles as the support in the shoe wears out and can cause injuries.
At Feet First, all of our staff are extremely knowledgeable in fitting the shoes and the types of running shoes which are an ideal fit for your foot type. If you are unsure about your foot type, come in for a foot assessment by our Chiropodists who will do a full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis to find the perfect shoe type for your feet.
Sometimes proper fitting footwear is not enough to prevent your feet from injury. Orthotics can help with proper alignment and stability in your ankles, knees and hips. Orthotics can also help with shock absorption to help save your joints from damage. Visit one of our Chiropodists to get a foot assessment and see if you would benefit from orthotics.
Improper fitting socks are the main cause of blisters and abrasions during a marathon. If your socks are too loose, they can cause a lot of rubbing or blisters; if they’re too tight, then your toenails can be bruised. Also, be sure to check the material – 100% cotton socks can hold in too much moisture. It is better to buy Bamboo material or even synthetics that have quick dry or Moisture wicking technology.
Moisturizing should be a part of daily foot care. It helps with preventing dry skin and cracks. While training for a marathon, it is necessary to moisturize before and after training. Be sure to never moisturize in between the toes as this can promote fungal growth. The following products are highly recommended:
Gehwol Hydrolipid lotion
Gehwol Foot Cream
Gehwol Deodorant Cream
If your feet get swollen while you are running or right afterward, consider wearing sports compression stockings. Graduated compression socks have been shown to improve an athlete’s performance and aid in a faster recovery. When blood is properly circulated, it restores the oxygen and nutrients to tired muscles that are exhausted during exercise.
Get a Medical Pedicure
Before a marathon, it is a great idea to see one of our Chiropodists to get your feet checked out and get treatment. A medical pedicure consists of having your nails trimmed (especially before the race to prevent losing a toenail), calluses debrided and to make sure there are no open sores or blisters which can affect your training and performance.
Daily Foot Exercises
As you are preparing for a marathon, you’re strengthening and conditioning your large muscles but you also need to consider conditioning your muscles in your feet. Many injuries are directly related to weak feet and improper gait. The following exercises can be done 2-3 times a day:
Towel pick-ups: try to pick up a towel on the floor with your toes for 30 seconds
Heel raises: raise your heels by standing on your toes 30 times
Ankle rolling: roll your ankles clockwise 10 times and counterclockwise 10 times
Alphabet – spell the alphabet with your toes pointed
Heel drops – at the edge of stairs, drop your heels below the step and hold for 20 seconds
With summer over and the back to school rush, we have prepared a small checklist/guideline to get you and your little ones ready for the new school year.
Back to School Checklist:
Often times the transition from summer sandals to closed toe shoes can be hard on the feet for children and adults alike. Be sure to check your children’s shoes to make sure they still fit by checking the following:
Length: there should be at least 1-2 finger spaces from the end of their longest toe
Heel: should be fitting just right – not too snug or too loose as this can cause rubbing.
Width: should be roomy and you should not feel their toes bulging
Toebox: should be wide and deep – you shouldn’t be able to see toes squished at the top of the shoe
The right type of sock can make a huge difference in eliminating odours and damp socks.
Check the following:
Materials: Avoid buying synthetic material socks (acrylic, polyester and polypropylene); these breed odour causing bacteria and hold moisture in. If your child has very sweaty feet, avoid buying 100% Cotton socks. Cotton helps to retain heat which allows the growth of bacteria. The most breathable sock material is Bamboo which also has natural antimicrobial properties.
Fit: If socks are too short they will cause the toes to either rub (causing blisters) or curl (causing nail and skin issues). When purchasing socks, always check the shoe size associated with the fit on the label. When replacing shoes, be sure to also check the size of the socks and replace them accordingly.
Daily changes: Be sure to check that your child is changing their socks daily. If they have very sweaty feet, it would be beneficial to send them to school with an extra pair of breathable Bamboo socks to change into during lunch.
If your child suffers from stinky sweaty feet, be sure to try the following products:
Gehwol deodorant foot cream – 24 hour relief with natural Manuka extract which has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Foot and Shoe deodorant spray – spray once a day to eliminate bacterial and fungal spores from your skin and your footwear.
If your child has been complaining about foot, knee or hip pain, it would be a great idea to get them in for a Biomechanical analysis and Video Gait Analysis with one of our Chiropodists. It is common for children to experience some sort of growing pains. However, if the pain persists for weeks to months or with a specific activity such as running, biking, walking, there could be more serious issues at hand.
At Feet First Clinic, we assess your child’s feet, muscular strength, gait and footwear to make sure it is specific for their foot type and age.