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4 Foot Problems For Runners

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

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

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

Shin Splints

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

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

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

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

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

Black Toenails

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

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

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

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

Blisters

Getting blisters is a shoo-in for runners.

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

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

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

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

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

Chafing

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is a Bunionette?

Bunions are among the most common sources of foot pain. Bunions are particularly prominent among women, especially those older than 60.

A Bunionette, on the other hand, is less common. When you think about it, a bunionette sounds like a bunion’s younger sibling. And it kind of is.

What Is A Bunionette?

While a bunion is a pronounced bump on the outer edge of the big toe, a bunionette is exactly the opposite. A bunionette is a bump on the outer edge of the little toe.

A bunionette is commonly known as a “tailor’s bunion.” Why? Because tailors used to sit cross-legged. All day. (Apparently, this was done to Tighten Back Muscles so they didn’t wear out as quickly.)

As a result, their feets’ outer edge always made contact with the ground. Over time, the rubbing created a bump on the outside of tailors’ little toes, and further aggravated the foot condition.

And that’s a brief history lesson on a bunionette’s backstory.

The bump may also be a bone spur – a bony outgrowth – caused by osteoarthritis in the fifth metatarsophalangeal joint. The metatarsophalangeal joint is the area between your metatarsal bone (the base of your toe) and your proximal bones (smaller bones close to the head of toe).

Pain associated with a bunionette occurs on the outside of the foot, and tight shoes may exacerbate the condition. Shoes with narrow toe boxes are particularly problematic for those with a bunionette. Narrow toe boxes increase friction against the bony protrusion.

People who have mild to medium cases of bunionettes may experience little to no pain. In these cases, one should take the proper precautions to keep the case mild, and not progress any worse. A mild case of a bunionette may be a small bump on the outer edge of the little toe. A severe case may be that your little toe is overlapping your fourth toe.

Since bunionettes are a progressive condition, they will only get worse over time. This means you cannot reverse what’s already been done.

But, don’t worry, there’s still plenty you can do. In fact, the worsening can be slowed significantly, and it’s absolutely possible to maintain a high quality of life without pain. However, because it’s a progressive condition, the only corrective measure to remove the bunion is surgery.

Causes

According to Harvard Medical, bunions and bunionettes can be heredity, due to arthritis, or misalignment of the foot.

The causes of a bunionette are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic.

Extrinsic causes include:

  • External pressure on the forefoot
  • Tight shoes

Intrinsic causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Foot anatomy
  • Faulty mechanics

Foot function and foot mechanics can also contribute to the formation of Bunions and bunionettes. For instance, overpronation, which is the turning in of your foot towards your arches as you are walking, can lead to bunions and bunionettes.

Bunion vs. Bunionette: What’s The Difference?

Whereas a bunion is a result of a deformity and shift to the first metatarsal, a shift in the fifth metatarsal bone causes a bunionette.

The bump that you see is the metatarsal shifting in alignment as the toe begins to point inwards. As this happens, the base of the metatarsal bone shifts outwards causing the bump that is so often related to foot pain. Because the little toe is smaller than the big toe, a bunionette is considerably smaller than a bunion.

Treatment And Prevention

Bunion and bunionette treatment is similar. As such, properly-fitting shoes are an essential step. The team here at First Feet Clinic specializes in Shoe Fitting. No appointment is necessary to find a pair of shoes that fit the profile of your feet.

Additionally, stretching your shoe can provide benefits as it artificially provides additional toe room. This allows your bunionette more space in the shoe.

If foot anatomy and pronation appears to be the cause, investing in Custom Foot Orthotics can be beneficial in the long run. If you’re unsure of the root cause, see a foot specialist for a course of action. Additionally, foot specialists can perform a biomechanical assessment to determine whether orthotics are the right approach.

Anti-inflammatories can also help reduce swelling and pain. Furthermore, you can purchase bunionette Splints for relief and to reduce swelling.

As a final resort, and if physical therapy doesn’t work, surgery is an option. Like for a bunion, surgery corrects the joint and bone deformity. This restores the toe to its regular position. Recovery time can be between 6-12 weeks and it’s recommended you explore all other non-invasive options before considering surgery. Note that because the small toe generally absorbs less body weight than your big toe, bunionette surgery recovery time may be less than for a bunion.

Book an appointment with a chiropodist at Feet First Clinic for professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

10 Common Foot Conditions And Injuries

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

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

1.  Bunions

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

You may develop bunions through any of the following reasons:

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

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

2. Athlete’s Foot

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

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

3. Ingrown Toenails

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

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

If the ingrown toenail is serious, surgery is performed.

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

4. Black Toenails

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

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

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

5. Plantar Fasciitis

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

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

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

6. Nail Fungus

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

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

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

7. Bone Spurs

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

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

8. Corns

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

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

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

9. Blisters

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

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

10. Gout

Gout affects roughly 3 million Canadians each year.

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

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

And there you have it: 10 common foot conditions.

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

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

Foot Myths, Debunked And Explained

Our legs are a complex and intricate system of bones, joints, and muscles. Everything is interconnected in some way.

Muscles and joints rely on each other to perform properly, and to provide the necessary foundation for our body. Our habits, genetics, and environment all affect our feet. With so many different possibilities for foot conditions to arise, it’s important to remember that correlation is not causation.

Just because we do one thing, does not necessarily mean it causes another. To help clear the air over a sample of common foot myths, we decided to debunk a few of them below.

1. Flat feet are bad

About 30% of the population lives with flat feet.

Flat feet are defined as a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse. As a result, the entire foot makes contact with the ground. The foot is characterized by a very low arch, and can other foot conditions because of the leg’s compensation.

Flat feet can develop in one foot, or both, depending on your body’s development.

According to Harvard Medical School, even in adulthood, 15% to 25% of people have flexible flatfeet. Most of these people never develop symptoms. For those with what’s called rigid flat feet, several measures can be taken to reduce pain and live comfortably with flat feet. These include:

  • Custom orthotics that artificially raise the arch and provide support
  • Strengthen and stretch your calf as this reduces the pressure and load on your arches
  • Supplement some high-impact exercise with low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or spinning
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Wearing slippers or supportive footwear inside instead of walking around barefoot

2. Wearing heels causes all of women’s foot problems

Additionally, a common misconception is that high heels cause bunions. This isn’t true. Heels aggravate bunions but are likely not the cause.

However, excessive heel usage can result in a few common foot conditions: Corns, Hammertoe and Calluses. Additionally, you’re at a greater risk of osteoarthritis since you may lose fat under your foot.

According to WebMD, you can prevent certain foot conditions while continuing to wear heels. Some of these preventative measures include:

  • Get the well-fitted high heel
  • Use silicone metatarsal pads for under your feet
  • Wear a thicker heel for stability
  • Pay attention to the “slope” or “pitch” of the heel
  • Wear open-toe high heels to relieve pressure on corns and calluses

3. A bunion is just a bump

A bunion may look like just a bump. However, that’s another in the list of foot myths. If only it were that simple…

Depending on the cause, your habits may worsen the condition. Maybe you wear shoes with a narrow toebox. Without correction, bunions can get a lot worse over time, turning just a bump into severe pain.

A Bunion, or hallux valgus, is a bony protrusion that forms at the site of the large joint that connects your big toe to your foot.  As you can expect, without addressing the cause of bunions, the toe angle’s alignment can sharpen, causing a larger bump.

It should be noted that bunions can be hereditary, in which case you might be doing everything right. In this instance, continue to practice proper foot habits like:

  • Footwear modification, i.e., avoiding tight shoes with a narrow or stiff toe box.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bunion splints
  • Bunion aligner
  • Therapeutic taping
  • Supportive insoles or custom orthotics

You should consult a foot specialist to see whether or not action needs to be taken.

4. Foot pain is the result of getting old

Foot conditions like osteoarthritis are common in older people. Osteoarthritis is a generative joint disease characterized by both a breakdown of cartilage and a build-up of osteophytes.

However, young people are not immune to the foot conditions of the elderly. If you train at a high level and participate in high-impact sports, you may experience osteoarthritis earlier in your life, even in your 20s. Common areas for osteoarthritis include the big toe joint, knees, and hips.

Because osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, the damage that’s been done is irreversible. The damage to the cartilage between your joints has been done. If this is, in fact, the case, physical therapy is the best course of action. Common treatments include functional improvements – like stretching for a range of motion – and managing symptoms like with rest and ibuprofen.

5. Surgery will fix foot problems

Surgery can help fix certain foot conditions, but non-invasive options may work equally well, if not be more effective.

There are several factors to consider when deciding on foot surgery:

  1. Necessity
  2. Success rate
  3. Cost
  4. Recovery time
  5. Long-term effectiveness

Certain progressive conditions like hallux rigidus, bunions, and a ruptured Achilles may require surgery to correct the inherent problem. However, physical therapy can also improve quality of life. Proper orthotics, avoiding high-impact exercise, proper footwear, and strengthening can help limit pain associated with certain foot conditions.

However, surgery removes the bone portion of the injury. For those with Hallux Rigidus, the Bone Spur contributes to the toe’s stiffness. The range of motion won’t improve without surgery. Although, the worsening of the condition can be slowed with physical therapy as mentioned above.

For those with a Bunion, you’ll want to explore All Non-Invasive Measures before deciding on surgery. If you have explored all options, surgery may be an option. Typically, those who experience significant pain, have severe toe deformities, and have chronic inflammation are the likely candidates for surgery. Bunion surgery (of which there are a few) can include several correct measures:

  • Realigning the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe.
  • Pain relief.
  • Correcting the deformity of the bones, especially if your big toe is drifting inwards towards your second metatarsal.

If you’re unsure about foot conditions, toenail conditions, or skin conditions, contact us at Feet First Clinic to set up an appointment. You can do that below, or by Contacting Us Here!

Is Foot Surgery Worth It?

If you experience foot pain for some time or have a trauma injury, surgery has likely come to mind.

Surgery is a treatment of injuries or disorders of the body by incision or manipulation. Surgery is quite common for foot injuries and is done as a restorative measure.

Because of its invasive nature, considering the positives and negatives of surgery is important. You should not only weigh the direct impact of surgery but also the long-term effects.

There are several factors to consider when deciding on foot surgery:

  1. Necessity
  2. Success rate
  3. Cost
  4. Recovery time
  5. Long-term effectiveness

With these in mind, you should take into account the positives and negatives of both. Does the recovery time justify getting surgery, for example? How about the long-term effectiveness of the surgery?

Below, we get into the case for, and against, foot surgery.

When is Foot Surgery Necessary?

Some foot conditions require surgery. You should explore all non-surgical options and physical therapy before foot surgery.

Certain foot conditions are progressive, and will not get better without surgery. In these instances, one can consider surgery as a measure to better their quality of life. A few examples of progressive foot conditions include hallux rigidus, bunions, a rupture in your Achilles tendon. Conditions that get progressively worse over time (though slowed with proper measures) may require surgery.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t live comfortably with the condition. Investing in proper shoes, doing physical therapy, and avoiding certain activities may relieve pain.

In the instance of hallux rigidus, you can maintain a high quality of life through physical therapy, proper orthotics, avoiding high-impact exercise, and working on flexibility. However, since the osteoarthritis that breaks down the cartilage won’t be able to recover, the resulting bone spur will likely grow over time, further limiting the range of motion.

Some people opt for a cheilectomy, which is an incision along the top of the toe to shave down a Bone Spur. In other cases, people opt for a fusion, which connects the first metatarsal with the phalanx. The connecting of the two bones fuses the area of the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP joints).

For those with a bunion, you’ll want to explore all non-invasive measures before deciding on surgery. If you have explored all options, surgery may be an option. Typically, those who experience significant pain, have severe toe deformities, and have chronic inflammation are the likely candidates for surgery. Bunion surgery (of which there are a few) can include several correct measures:

  • Realigning the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe.
  • Pain relief.
  • Correcting the deformity of the bones, especially if your big toe is drifting inwards towards your second metatarsal.

Finally, in the case of an Achilles tendon rupture, surgery may be needed. A rupture of the Achilles is a partial or entire tear of a tendon when stretched beyond its capacity. You may hear a pop when a rupture occurs. Surgery on the Achilles tendon involves making an incision in the back of the leg and stitching together the affected tendons. Foot surgery in this instance should only be explored after non-surgical options have been explored including icing, rest, using a walking boot or crutches, and taking anti-inflammatories.

When is Foot Surgery Not Necessary?

Generally, you can treat foot conditions without operational procedures. The body is incredibly resilient when it comes to injuries, and many foot conditions can be treated with a proper plan.

Surgery is usually seen as a last resort because there is significant rest needed afterwards, the occasional complication, and sometimes nerve damage. Surgery can also be expensive if it’s not covered under provincial or private insurance. Finally, surgery might the obvious problem, but may not solve the underlying issue. This means that the foot condition may return in the future.

For the examples mentioned above – hallux rigidus, bunions, and an Achilles tendon rupture – all have recommended treatment options that don’t involve surgery. Working with a foot professional to determine the underlying cause, like a muscle imbalance, for example, can help treat the resulting condition, and can be better for your body in the long run.

Surgery also can take weeks, if not months to recover from. Make sure to incorporate several weeks of recovery into the discussion when considering foot surgery. Recovery time may otherwise be used to build a habit of incorporating physical therapy into your routine. Consider the opportunity cost of the severity of the surgery as well as the recovery time.

For most foot conditions, there are a number of treatment options you should consider including:

  • Rest
  • Icing/compression
  • Strength-training
  • Custom orthotics
  • Proper footwear
  • Physiotherapy
  • Over-the-counter footwear products like Bunion Socks

Any number of these treatment options may be able to provide the relief you need. Remember, you might not see results right away. In some cases, incorporating these treatments may take weeks, if not months, to result in meaningful change. However, those habits will continue to benefit you for the rest of your life.

There’s no hard and fast rule for in cases for and against surgery. Always consult a medical professional when deciding upon the best course of action, and see if foot surgery is recommended. For chronic foot pain, and conditions, schedule an appointment by using the appointment request form below or contact the clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).

Are Those Aches in Your Legs Shin Splints?

Few lower leg injuries are as common as shin splints. In fact, between 30-70% of runners get injured each year, and about 35% of those injuries are attributed to shin splints.

Shin splints can be pesky injury as they can creep up fast, and often. Anyone that participates in high-impact sports like running, soccer, basketball, and the like are susceptible. Let’s get into shin splints 101 before outlining treatment and preventative measures.

What are shin splints?

Shin splints is a term generally used for any sort of lower limb pain associated with the tibia, the large bone in the front of your leg. Medial tibial stress syndrome is the proper term for the condition. It refers to stress on your shinbone and the connective tissues that attach muscles to your bones.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you might notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg. At first, the pain might stop when you stop exercising.

Pain and severity varies. A stress reaction is irritation of the tibia while a stress fracture is a crack in the bone. If you ignore the early signs of shin splints, a reaction can turn into a fracture over time.

Causes of shin splints

There is rarely one single cause of shin splints. Rather, there may be a few factors that come into play including the following:

Overuse

No truer words have been said than “too much, too soon” to describe the onset of shin splints. Typically, runners experience shin splints when they ramp up either their intensity, or volume, too quickly. This is especially the case when coming back from injury as your body re-adjusts to the impact of running, and needs time to acclimate to the load running puts on the body.

Flat feet

People with flat feet may experience ongoing difficulties with shin splits. This is the case because those with flat feet have a collapsed arch during their normal gait. As such, your ankle rolls inward more so than it should, also known as overpronation – as your arch does not act as a governor.

Runners and walkers with flat feet may benefit from orthotics to artificially support their arch, and to prevent flat feet-induced injuries and conditions. Additionally, physical therapy including the taping of your arch may benefit you when struggling with flat feet and shin splints. See our blog post on Daily Feet Exercises for more information on exercises you can try to keep your feet strong and healthy.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this battle. About 30% of the population lives with flat feet.

Improper footwear

If you suffer from shin splints, the source could be your shoes. It may not even be your specific running footwear either. In fact, the shoes you wear when you’re not running could actually be the problem. Determining the right shoe for you, whether that’s an off-the-shelf running shoe, or the addition of orthotics comes down to a number of factors including weight, foot type, mileage, and much more. To learn more about proper running footwear, check out this handy resource, or visit us Feet First Clinic to speak with a professional.

Treatment

Although shin splints are common and can creep up quickly on you, fortunately, there are a number of treatment options that can have you feeling better quite quickly. Fortunately, shin splints can be managed and treated quite effectively.

Reduce load

First, reduce the activity which is causing the pain. Why? Shin splints is a repetitive injury and the condition is a stress reaction in the shin bone.

If that’s running, consider replacing that form of training with another, low-impact exercise like cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, or using the elliptical. Depending on the severity of shin splints, you may still be able to run. And oftentimes, complete rest may not even be the best form of treatment. Rather, a reduction, and physical therapy while maintaining some forms of exercise, may be the best defense.

Icing

As shin splints are caused by the body not being able to repair itself fast enough, icing can help reduce inflammation caused by the repetitive nature of running. Additionally, icing the area can provide pain relief. Fill a paper cup with water and freeze it. Then apply it to your shin bone for 5-10 minutes.

You can also supplement icing with anti-inflammatory to reduce pain and inflammation.

Prevention

Proper footwear

Prevention begins with proper footwear. Depending on whether you overpronate or supinate, you’ll need to find a pair of shoes that’s right for your body. This can be said for both your running footwear, as well as personal footwear. If you find yourself wearing flat-soled feet often casually, consider replacing them with more supportive shoes that support your arch, and put less pressure on your lower limbs.

We also know that there is a breakdown of running mechanics when wearing worn-out shoes. Replacing your footwear every 500 kilometres or so is beneficial.

Foot exercises

One of the most common exercises is the toe curl. Place a towel on the ground, and while keeping your heel on the floor, bring the towel towards you with your toes. Pretend you’re using your feet like your hands to bring the towel closer to your body.

Another exercise is the heel drop. With one foot on a step or a ledge, and the other heel raised up, lower the heel and raise it again until it’s parallel to the ground. Keep your leg straight. Repeat 10-15 times per leg, and you should feel the muscles in your calf and ankle.

Finally, you can foam roll your calves, and gently massage along the tibia to break up some of the scar tissue. This can be done both before exercise, as returning from shin splints can often be easier when doing a proper warmup, or after exercise. In general, tight calves and Achilles tendons can exacerbate shin splints, so stretching them out can be a source of relief, both in the short-term and long-term.

Training plan

When it comes to runners, many of us always want to do more. But, sometimes our aerobic fitness is ahead of where our bodies are at. It’s important to listen to your body and recognize the early signs of shin splints: dull pain along the inside of your tibia and aches after runs. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Running through pain is never a good idea, and shin splints rarely go away on their own.

Instead, if you feel as though you want to ramp up the intensity or volume of your training, consider following the 10% rule. In essence, the 10% rule recommends increasing your weekly mileage by no more than 10% per week. So if you run 30 kilometres per week, aim to reduce your weekly mileage by no more than 3-4 kilometres. If you’re at 50 kilometres, ramp up your weekly mileage by about 5-6 kilometres.

Surface

Surface also matters. Harder surfaces like asphalt and concrete have a greater impact on your body while running on grass and trails softens the load. Opt for softer surfaces if you experience shin pain, and incorporate them within your routes as you return to running.

If you continue to experience shin splints, and are seeking professional help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

You do not need a referral to become a patient at our Toronto Foot Clinic.

Schedule an appointment by using the appointment request form below or contact the clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).

Possible Reasons Why Your Knee Hurts

Did you know that your knees absorb about one-and-a-half times your body weight every step?

As the largest joint in our body, our knees are essential to the overall health of our bodies. Knees act as a hinge joint and permits flexion and extension. Additionally, the knee allows for slight rotation both internally, and externally. Knees allow us to perform horizontal movements, like running or walking, and vertically, like jumping.

Because of our reliance on knees, and its complexity, they’re often the source of many foot conditions, either directly or indirectly. As the gateway between our thighs and lower legs, all muscles run through, or adjacent to the knee, meaning prevention is absolutely necessary for overall leg health.

If you do experience pain, below are four reasons for why your knee hurts:

Common conditions

Your Knee Hurts Because…Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, is the most common knee injury. Considering its nickname, it should come as no surprise that many runners and athletes experience patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a relatively broad term for any pain in the front of your knee. In particular, the following activities may trigger pain:

  • Walking up or downstairs
  • Kneeling or squatting
  • Sitting with a bent knee for long periods of time

There are a number of causes for patellofemoral pain syndrome including:

  • Overuse. Repetitive activity can cause irritation under the kneecap. Running for extended periods of time, or through pain, is one common cause, as are sports that involve a lot of jumping.
  • Muscle imbalances or weaknesses. Muscle imbalances can cause undue stress on your knees because of overcompensation. Additionally, weak hips can also cause your knees to taken additional loads off your body, which can increase the likelihood of injury.

Note that causes may also include acute injuries such as trauma or surgery.

Fortunately, treatment for runners knee can, for the most part, be done at home. Following the RICE method which includes rest, icing, compression, and elevation can be effective in keeping inflammation down and allowing your muscles to recover.

You can also try using a knee brace if you feel like your knee is not getting proper support.

In terms of prevention, there are a number of steps you can take:

  • Strength training. Keep your muscles that lead to your knees is crucial. Working on strong quadriceps and hip muscles keep your knees better aligned and balanced. Ensure you perform each strength exercise slowly, with an eye on form, as your knee will likely otherwise compensate, which can cause pain in and of itself.
  • Return from injury slowly. Now that you’ve rested, and iced, you’re ready to return to activity. But, your body may not be 100% ready to return to pre-injury form right away. Build up slowly, and make continuous checks of your knee to ensure you improve gradually. If you’re returning to running, follow the 10% rule which states that you should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% per week.
  • Find the right shoes. Research the type of shoes you need for your foot type. You may be better off with motion control or stability shoes, or neutral cushioned shoes might be best. If you have any doubt, visit the clinic for a full gait analysis and we’ll put you into proper footwear.
  • Warm-up. Perform dynamic stretches and light exercises before you exercise so your muscles are warmed up, and firing properly. Cold muscles can lead to poor form, and compensating in areas.

Your Knee Hurts Because…Patellar tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis is a common injury for why your knee hurts that affects the patellar, the ligament that connects your kneecap to the shin bone. The tendon allows the knee to straighten and is crucial in the overall health of your knee.

As with many knee injuries, patellar tendonitis is often seen among runners, and pain can worsen when using stairs, excessive use, and sitting for long periods of time. Approximately 25% of knee injuries are diagnosed as patellar tendinitis.

The following symptoms can be a sign of patellar tendonitis:

  • Pain under the kneecap
  • Inflammation and tenderness in the front of the knee
  • Difficulty walking or doing sports activities
  • Difficulty climbing or descending stairs
  • Pain when bending the knee

Common causes of patellar tendonitis include:

  • Trauma
  • Increased training
  • Weak quadriceps muscles

To treat tendonitis:

  • Rest. If you’re a runner, cross-train by swimming, cycling, or using the elliptical to reduce the load on the tendon
  • Ice
  • Seek medical advice

Like many knee injuries, preventative methods include:

  • Strength training
  • Stretching your quads and hamstrings to reduce the pressure on the knee, and the patellar tendon
  • Foam rolling

Your Knee Hurts Because…IT Band Syndrome

IT Band syndrome (short for Illiotibial band syndrome) is a common knee injury characterized by inflammation and friction of the IT band. The IT band runs along the outside of the tight from the pelvis to the tibia and is crucial as a stabilizer for the knee.

IT band syndrome arises out of overuse as the band crosses back and forth. This injury is particularly prominent in:

  • Long-distance running
  • Those who have increased hip internal rotation and knee adduction
  • Cycling
  • Weight-lifting

Although the IT band extends the entirety of the leg, pain is typically felt most common on the outside of the knee, and around 30 degrees of knee flexion.

IT band syndrome, although one of the most common running injuries, can be treated with physical therapy, as well as RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).

Try the following preventative and treatment methods to keep IT band syndrome at bay:

  • Anti-inflammatories
  • RICE: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation
  • Foam rolling: self-massage your IT band by applying pressure to it with foam rolling. Read more in our complete foam rolling guide.
  • Stretching: focus on stretching your hips to help reduce tight muscles
  • Strength training: focus on the gluteus maximus and hip external rotators. You can target these areas by using a resistance band and performing some of these daily foot exercises.

Your Knee Hurts Because…Osteoarthritis

Knees are susceptible to osteoarthritis, a type of joint disease that results from cartilage breakdown between bones. Osteoarthritis is often known as wear-and-tear arthritis since it’s commonly associated with overuse.

You may be at higher risk of osteoarthritis if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • Age: many people 70+ have osteoarthritis
  • Sex: women are more likely than men to suffer from OA, especially in the knees.
  • Previous trauma: joint injury can change joint alignment and cause more overuse in certain areas
  • Weight: increased weight will increase the load on the joints, causing the earlier onset of osteoarthritis.
  • Biomechanics: deviations in the knee joints can cause excess wear on certain joint areas, for example, genu valgum (knees come inwards).

As osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, the effects will likely worsen over the years. But, that doesn’t mean you cannot delay the onset of pain.

Some common treatment options include:

  • Physical activity: light activity keeps joints and muscles lubricated. If impact sports aggravates your injury, try swimming or another form of non-weight-bearing activity.
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Soft surfaces: running on grass or on the treadmill can lessen the load of sports

WebMD has a useful self-assessment tool that can offer a glimpse into why your knee may be hurting. Of course, use the tool only for reference, and do not take it as medical advice.

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.

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).

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.