As simple as it may seem, trimming and filing your toenails correctly is an important part of maintaining proper foot health. It can save you from pesky and rather painful nail problems, such as ingrown toenails, broken toenails, and toenail related infections.
Here are the Dos and Don’ts of toenail cutting.
Wash and Dry Your Feet First
Clean your feet at least once a day to maintain proper hygiene. Your feet are either in contact with the ground or very close to it couped up in a pair of shoes. These circumstances make them highly susceptible to come in contact with harmful microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. Thoroughly drying your feet will also ensure your tools do not slip and you are able to see the nail edge clearly.
Have the Right Tool(s) Available
To trim your toenails, you will need a pair of sharp nail clippers or professional nail nippers if you have very thick nails. You will also need a nail file.
Clip Nails Straight Across
When cutting the toenail, the safest way to do it is to cut the nail straight across. This will ensure the toenail continues to grow forward.
File Sharp or Jagged Edges
This is an important step. Always file any sharp corners or jagged edges to ensure the nail edge is smooth. Sharp corners can catch on socks or even poke the surrounding skin. This also ensures you do not leave a nail spike behind to grow into the skin and cause a very painful ingrown toenail.
Wait Too Long Between Trimming Toenails
Although toenails do not grow as quickly as fingernails, they still need to be trimmed routinely. You should cut your toenails at least once every eight weeks. Keeping them long is not only uncomfortable in socks and closed-toe shoes, but it also increases the risk of the toenail breaking or cracking, and thus increases the risk of infection.
Rip, Peel, or Bite Your Toenails
Using your fingers or any other body part to “trim” your toenails is very unsafe (and unhygienic!). You have very little control when doing this and more often than not, the nail is left too short, jagged, and removed too deep.
Trim The Nails Too Short or Too Deep
The skin surrounding the nail should not be higher than the toenail as this may cause the nail to grow into the skin instead of on top of it. Rather, the nail should be cut to the edge of the skin and should not be cut deeper than that. Cutting the nails too short can also expose the nail bed underneath, making the area very tender.
Use Dirty Tools
Clean your tools regularly with rubbing alcohol or regularly replace them if they are disposable. Using tools that harbor germs and bacteria can be dangerous, especially if you accidentally nick your skin or have an ingrown toenail.
If you suspect you have a toenail issue, do not wait to seek attention from a licensed chiropodist, especially if you have other medical conditions such as diabetes. A chiropodist will be able to assess the problem and explore the appropriate treatment options.
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Ageing is inevitable. Foot problems aren’t. Understandably, as we age, our bodies are no longer what they once were. This includes ageing feet. After all, we put our bodies under immense wear and tear over the years. Ageing feet are prone to a number of conditions. In fact, many older adults are prone to certain foot conditions they’ve never experienced before. As we age, prevention is key. Treatment and recovery can be more difficult as the body ages. Learn about the various foot conditions that may affect the older population.
Fat Pad Atrophy
Fat Pad Atrophy is the thinning of the pad that protects the underlying structures of your feet, such as neurovascular tissues, ligaments and tendons. This is the “cushioning” of your feet. The fat pad protects your feet in everyday activity. Over time, this 1-2 cm pad begins to wear down as you age. According to the Ontario Podiatric Medical Association, by the age of 50, people lose half of the fat pad. Treatment includes custom foot orthotics, and orthopaedic footwear, both of which are sold in-store at Feet First Clinic.
Morton’s Neuroma is foot condition in the ball of your foot. It occurs most commonly in the area between your third and fourth toes. Morton’s neuroma can feel like you’re walking on a pebble and worsens with tight footwear and high heels. Neuroma is more common in females and inactive individuals, usually aged 15-50.
When the skin on the bottom of your heels becomes overly dry, it can split and crack. This condition is known as Cracked Heels. These fissures can be painful and bleed. If they persist, your heels can become infected.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue (plantar fascia) along the bottom of your foot between your heel bone and toes. This condition of the arch is most commonly associated with overuse. Pain is gradual, but can be sharp upon first steps after prolonged rest—like when waking up.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition for adults over 70. This degenerative joint disease is the most common form of arthritis. Breakdown of cartilage and formation of osteophyte (bony outgrowth) are common symptoms.
Risk factors include:
Gender: women are more likely than men to suffer from OA, especially in the hands and knees.
Joint injury: prior trauma can alter joint alignment and cause more overuse in certain areas.
Obesity: increased weight will increase load on the joints, causing earlier onset of osteoarthritis.
Biomechanics: deviations in foot and knee joints can cause excess wear on certain joint areas.
Bone spurs are bone outgrowths caused by osteoarthritis. Often, bone spurs develop at joints, and where bones meet. The most common place for bone spurs is in the foot. Conditions include hallux rigidus and heel spurs.
Hallux rigidus is the medical term for stiff big toe. Hallux rigidus is a stiff first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) characterized by a bone spur on the big toe. This condition develops over time due to osteoarthritis and progressively worsens. Since it’s a wear-and-tear condition, ageing feet are particularly prone. Custom foot orthotics and stiff shoes with a rocker midsole can help prevent and limit the onset of hallux rigidus. Otherwise, surgery may be your best option.
Heel Spurs are a bony growth from the underside of the heel bone that forms due to repetitive muscular and ligament strain. Common activities include: walking, running, and jumping. Heel spurs are managed by rest, exercise, custom foot orthotics, supportive footwear, a night splint, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, and cortisone injections.
One in three people older than 18 have bunions making it one of the most common foot conditions. Bunions are bony protrusions along the edge of the big toe. At the site of the MTPJ, which bears up to 60% of our body weight, bones are particularly susceptible to shifting. Herein lies the start of a bunion. The bones of the big toe and foot can deviate from proper alignment and create the angular protrusion that juts out from the base of the big toe. Studies show that bunion deformity occurs more frequently in women and older individuals.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the side of the toenail curls down and pierces the flesh of the toe as the nail grows. Older adults are prone to ingrown toenails because of curved or thick nails. Thick and curved nails make ingrown toenails more prevalent.
Cutting your toenail too short or rounding the edge of the nail
Wearing shoes or socks that don’t fit well can also cause an ingrown toenail
Have an ingrown toenail? Visit Feet First Clinic for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Flat feet occur when your arch collapses, and can be a sign of ageing feet. Adults may get flat feet because of an injury, obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure. Over time, the tendons supporting your arch weaken, and your feet flatten. Orthotics, physical therapy, braces, and surgery help.
Middle-aged men’s ageing feet are most susceptible to gout, a common and complex form of arthritis. Gout is due to a condition known as hyperuricemia, which occurs when there is too much uric acid in the body. Red meat, shellfish, alcohol, and sugary foods all contribute to the build of uric acid. As you age, avoid the aforementioned to limit your chance of gout.
According to Harvard Medical School, bursitis is most common in people who are overweight, elderly or diabetic. Bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa, and often occurs in the foot. Bursae, which are small sacs of fluid that protect your tendons, bones, and joints, can swell and become painful due to repetitive impact. Fortunately, ice, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help.
Hammertoes look like curled toes. (Read: I Have Curled Toes — Is There Something Wrong?) Hammertoe is a toe deformity in which the middle toe joint is abnormally contracted a bent causing the toe to curl downward. This can typically affect one or more toes and can either be fixed or mobile, and the second toe is most often affected.
Stress fractures are a small crack in a bone. Repetitive use, or trauma can cause the bone to break. According to one study, “the incidence of stress injuries in older athletes is noticeably increasing, associated with a more active, older population.” Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do with a stress fracture other than to rest, or stay off your feet. However, non-impact exercise like swimming is a way to stay active, but be careful of aggravating the bone.
Ageing Feet? We’re Here To Help!
As we age, regular foot health check-ups are essential. Be proactive, not reactive. Book an appointment with one of our Licensed Chiropodists for a thorough assessment to determine an appropriate preventative plan, or for treatment.
Running is a great form of exercise that helps burn calories, strengthen muscles and bones, and improve cardiovascular fitness. Being that you only need a pair of running shoes and an open path, makes it very accessible, which is an added bonus. On the other hand, running also generates a lot of biomechanical stresses on the lower limb and that can potentially combine to result in injuries. Here are 8 common injuries that may occur with running.
IT Band Syndrome
Also known as Runner’s Knee or Cyclist’s Knee, IT Band Syndrome is the most common cause of lateral (outer) knee pain in runners. It is caused by excessive friction between the iliotibial band and the end of the femoral bone where the knee is located, resulting in tightness, irritation, and inflammation when the knee is bent. Pain usually occurs a few kilometers into the run and is typically worse with downhill running.
You are more likely to develop IT band syndrome if you have bowed legs, your foot overpronates, you have a tight IT band, or you have changed the intensity or frequency of your training.
Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is described as pain at the inner portion of the shin bone. It is caused by repetitive microtrauma to the bone and/or surrounding soft tissues.
Athletes who do not build up their mileage gradually or abruptly change their workout regime by increasing intensity or changing from a flat road to hills are more likely to experience shin splints. It is also associated with weak muscles, improper footwear, and a hypermobile, pronated foot type.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain and it is caused by inflammation of the fibrous band that runs from the heel bone to the ball of the foot. The tell-tale sign of plantar fasciitis is heel pain that is worst with the first steps in the morning out of bed. Pain also occurs with initial steps after sitting or rest.
Running puts a great deal of stress on the heel bone and strain on the plantar fascia as the arch of the foot depresses 50% more relative to walking. Overpronators, as well as increased body weight, puts you at higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, which is a tendon that connects the calf muscle to the back of the heel bone. Repetitive strain and stress to the tendon or tissue encapsulating the tendon can result in irritation and therefore, inflammation. Pain may be along the tendon or closer to the heel bone and worsens with increased activity (ie after a run). Pain or stiffness may also be experienced in the mornings. Chronic inflammation may lead to thickening of the tendon and decreased flexibility of the ankle. Tight calf muscles, a sudden increase in running mileage, overpronation, and having bone spurs can all cause Achilles tendonitis.
The most common ankle sprain is an inversion ankle sprain, specifically at the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL). It occurs when you “roll” your ankle inwards and the ligament is stretched or torn causing pain and swelling. The more severe the sprain, the longer the recovery.
Ankle sprain treatment requires PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for the first three days. Minor ankle sprains will then move onto range of motion exercises and then strengthening exercises. For more severe injuries, splints or immobilization is necessary before rehabilitation commences. You may be more likely to sprain your ankle if you have a varus deformity of the lower limb and foot, you have a hypermobile foot, you train on uneven terrain, or you have a history of ankle sprains. Improper footwear, as well as participation in sports that require dynamic foot movements, can also predispose you to ankle sprains.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as Runner’s knee results from overuse and overload of the patellofemoral joint resulting in an “achy” pain at the front of the knee and around the knee cap. Pain is worse with activity and worsens with downhill running, running on an uneven surface, or prolonged sitting.
Having a high arched foot, knock-knees, muscular imbalance such as weak quads and tight hamstrings, or an overpronated foot, all predisposes you to developing patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Anterior Compartment Syndrome
Compartment syndrome, specifically chronic or exertional compartment syndrome occurs when pressure builds up at the front of the lower leg as the muscle expands in volume during exercise but the tissue encasing the muscle does not. This results in a deep aching pain, tightness, and swelling. It can also lead to reduced circulation and sensation resulting in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and in severe cases, foot drop. Exertional compartment syndrome is caused by regular vigorous exercise and overtraining. It is initiated by activity and ceases with rest.
A subungual hematoma is the medical term for bruising and bleeding under the toenail caused by trauma. With running, bruising usually occurs from the toe repetitively hitting the end of the shoe. Wearing properly fitted footwear will decrease your chances of developing a subungual hematoma. Silicone toe caps may also help.
If you are experiencing one or all of the injuries discussed above, incorporating a chiropodist in your circle of care may be of great benefit. Have your feet assessed today to determine if they may be a contributing factor to your pain.
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We all know regular exercise is good for our health. It has many benefits such as helping with weight loss, reducing risk of chronic diseases, and improving overall mental health.
Exercise or sport activity also builds your bones and muscles and makes them strong. On the other hand, it also puts a tremendous amount of stress and pressure on them. The feet, ankle, and legs in particular, undergo high levels of biomechanical stress during various kinds of rigorous weight-bearing activity. On top of this, each sport activity requires specific movements and are played on different surfaces. Fortunately, we live in a time when shoes are designed with all these factors in mind. Wearing activity-specific shoes will not only help to improve performance and comfort but prevent commonly associated lower extremity injuries.
Types of Activity Specific Footwear
Running generates a large impact on the lower limb. Forces acting on the body can reach up to ten times a person’s body weight. In addition, the arch of the foot tends to depress 50% more than in walking and the rate of pronation is generally increased. As such, running shoes are built with increased support, cushioning, and shock absorption properties. This is done in varying degrees to accommodate different foot types. The more pronation your foot exhibits, the greater amount of control and stability you should look for in a running shoe.
Basketball and tennis are sports that require a bit more dynamic movement across the court relative to running. Basketball in general, involves a lot of jumping, landing, starting, and stopping motions. As such, basketball shoes tend to have a higher upper to increase support around the ankle to increase stability and prevent ankle sprains. Court shoes tend to also have a thicker and wider outer sole that features a herringbone pattern for better grip, balance, and stability in all directions.
Baseball and soccer are both sports that require cleat shoes. Cleats are protrusions on the sole of the shoe that provide adequate traction on soft or slippery surfaces, such as a grass or dirt field. The shorter cleats found on soccer shoes as well as their low-cut uppers and lightweight design provide ankle manoeuvrability and better agility. A baseball cleat has an additional toe cleat in front to dig into the dirt to increase stability during sudden moments of acceleration such as running from base to base.
Hiking is a long vigorous walk on trails and paths of uneven, rough terrain. You may walk through a forest, cross a river, pass a waterfall, and even climb a cliff. Wearing the proper shoes will ensure your feet are protected and able to withstand various impacts. Good hiking shoes have a wide and thick rubber lug sole to provide stability and good traction. They also have sufficient cushion and shock absorption properties as well as a waterproof membrane to keep the feet dry.
All in all, are sports shoes worth it? Absolutely!
Sports Foot Injury? We’re Here To Help!
If you have acquired a sport-related injury, book an appointment with one of our Licensed Chiropodists for a thorough assessment to determine an appropriate treatment plan.
Your toes are one of the most essential parts of your body. Toes help your feet bear the weight of your body when you walk. Toes also provide our bodies balance and support. These core functions are important to our everyday life, and the weight our toes bear makes them vulnerable to injury. Plus, the fact that many of us are on our feet for hours on end, toe health is essential.
Below you’ll find the five of the most common toe conditions.
Athlete’s Foot is a contagious fungal skin infection that afflicts the skin on soles of the feet and between the toes. Fungi prevalent in Athlete’s Foot thrive in dark moist areas and feed on keratin. This means that our feet, which spend most of the day bound up in socks and shoes, present an ideal environment for the proliferation of a fungal infection. Consequently, 1 in 10 people have athlete’s foot, or about 10% of the population making it one of the most common toe conditions. A common sign of an athlete’s foot is translucent white moist skin between the toes on one or both feet.
Fortunately, treatment is simple yet effective. Over-the-counter topical antifungals are the most common remedy for athlete’s foot. Products include medicated creams, ointments, sprays, and powders. Our Toronto foot clinic is open six days a week.
Hallux Rigidus/Hallux Limitus
Hallux rigidus and hallux limitus are variations of a similar toe condition. Both are disorders of the joint at the base of the big toe. Hallux means big toe while rigidus and limitus refers to the damage of the joint and the degree of flexibility of the big toe. Rigidus refers to a rigid big toe, and limitus, a less severe version of injury, refers to limited flexibility and an earlier stage of the condition.
Hallux rigidus is the loss of flexibility due to arthritis in the first MTP (metatarsophalangeal) joint. As the toe stiffens, friction to the joint may lead to pain and/or a Bone Spur — your body’s defense mechanism to prevent further harm. As it’s a progressive condition, damage to the joint cannot be reversed. But, with proper measures including orthotics, proper footwear, and joint exercises, one can live pain free with the condition.
Hallux limitus on the other hand is characterized by limited flexibility in the joint and trouble bending the big toe. Typically, no bone spurs are present (yet). Flexibility is greater with those in hallux limitus than the more progressive hallux rigidus.
Severe versions of hallux rigidus – with complete loss of flexibility in the joint – may require surgery. Options include:
A cheilectomy, removal of bone spurs from around the big toe joint. This is done to free the joint of volume, and to encourage greater degrees of flexibility.
A second procedure, which is permanent, is called arthrodesis. In these cases, the joints in the big toe are fused, eliminating the joint surface leaving the joint permanently stiff.
Hallux rigidus and limitus can be caused by abnormal foot anatomy or a history of trauma including turf toe, a toe fracture or repeated strain to the joint, like running for example. However, there are no specific causes. Rather, hallux rigidus and hallux limitus are influenced by several contributing factors.
An Ingrown Toenail occurs when the side of the toenail curls down and pierces the flesh of the toe as the nail grows. Untreated ingrown toenails can easily become infected.
To start, you’ll want to focus on treatment, and then prevention.
Place a spacer or splint under the ingrown edge of the toenail
Soak feet in Epsom salt and water bath at home to flush out the infection and manage pain and inflammation
Trim the ingrown portion of the nail
In recurring cases, surgical removal (outpatient) of part of your toenail
If your toenail becomes infected you may need topical or oral antibiotics
Avoid shoes that crowd your toes
Trim your toenails straight across and file the corners
Avoid injury to your toenails
Blisters are among the most common toe conditions. Although common, blisters typically are not serious and can be treated immediately for relief within a few days. Blisters are small, fluid-filled bubbles on the upper most layer of the skin. Friction against your skin and your socks and shoes causes your skin to form small bubbles to prevent further damage to the underlying skin. More serious blisters may contain blood as the vessels at the surface of your skin burst.
These skin conditions typically heal themselves within a few days. However, it’s advised to cover blisters either with a basic bandage, tape, or a Band-aid, all of which are available at our Toronto foot clinic. These measures are simply to prevent unwanted popping of the blister and to shield your skin from friction.
To schedule best foot care treatment with our licensed Chiropodists (foot specialists), use the booking form at the bottom of this page or call 416-769-FEET(3338).
A Bunion is a deformity of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. A bony bump protrudes from the base of the big toe causing pain, redness, and sometimes even swelling. Bunions are atop the list of most common toe problems. It affects about 23% of adults. The common age range of onset is 20-50, and women are more commonly affected than men.
Like hallux rigidus and other progressive foot conditions, a bunion is irreversible once it starts. So you can’t reverse what’s already been down, but you can take measures to slow down the deformity over time. The sooner you address the problem, the slower the rate of bunion growth.
Similarly, a Bunionette (or tailor’s bunion) is a bunion on the opposite side of the foot. A bunionette appears on the pinkie toe and affects the fifth metatarsal. It’s smaller than a bunion, but still appears as a bump. 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. The causes of a bunionette are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic.
External pressure on the forefoot
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 your foot profile. Additionally, stretching your shoe can provide benefits as it artificially provides additional toe room. This allows your bunionette more space in the shoe.
Experiencing Toe Pain? We’re Here For Your Toe Conditions
Our team is trained to handle any and all your foot health concerns including common toe conditions. From bunions to blisters to ingrown toenails and orthotics, we cover all sides of the foot needs spectrum. Call us to ask about actionable steps towards your solution today.
Is Work Causing Your Foot Pain? Do My Feet Hurt Because of My Job?
Have you ever thought about how your job or lifestyle choices may affect your feet? Whether you are an athlete, engineer, labour worker, teacher, or health care professional, your feet are very important in your day to day life. And although anyone can develop foot problems, there are certain issues that are more commonly seen in specific professions.
In today’s blog post, we will discuss profession and/or lifestyle specific foot concerns as well as easy tips on how to avoid them. Keeping your feet pain free and in good health will ensure you are less focussed on them and more focussed on doing your job to the best of your ability.
The purpose of a toenail is to protect the skin and bone underneath it, which means it takes on quite a bit of distress especially during rigorous activity if not properly protected itself. Due to the enormous amount of strain your feet endure during a game/work out session/training, the fast-paced stop and go motions, and the occasional collision with a member from the opposing team, your toenails are very vulnerable to trauma. Toenails can crack, become bruised, and even fall off. If damaged critically enough or repeatedly, the toenail may exhibit permanent changes such as thickening, discolouration, and stunted growth. Trauma can also encourage fungus to invade and colonize the exposed nail bed leading to stubborn toenail fungus.
Athlete’s foot, which is a fungal skin infection of your foot that causes skin peeling or a red scaly rash, is another common foot problem seen in athletes. During physical activity, feet can become very sweaty while confined within socks and shoes. This provides a perfect environment for fungi to thrive; dark and moist. Athlete’s foot is also contagious and can be spread from person to person by sharing towels and walking barefoot in gyms and locker rooms.
Wear proper shoes that are activity specific and the correct size and fit to avoid injury
Wear toe caps to protect the toenails
Wear moisture-wicking socks
Disinfect the interiors of the shoe
Do not share towels and do not walk barefoot in public spaces
Working With Safety Shoes
Safety shoes are shoes made to protect an individual who is or may be exposed to hazards in the workplace. They are usually made with a protective material (ie steel, aluminium alloy, carbon fiber) at the toes as well as other sturdy materials at the soles and upper of the shoe. They may be puncture-resistant, slip-resistant, heat resistant, acid-resistant etc. When bought incorrectly, safety shoes can be occlusive and results in excessive sweating also known as hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis and inadequate air circulation in footwear can lead to skin infections, foul odour, and heat rashes.
Buy a safety shoe that is protective and breathable
Wear moisture-wicking socks
Change your socks throughout the day when they get too damp
Use foot powders to soak up the excess moisture
Swollen legs and feet
If you are sitting for extended periods of time, you may start to notice swelling at your legs and feet by the end of the day. This is because when you are inactive, the muscles in your legs do not help to pump the blood back up to the heart. With age, this can worsen, and swelling can lead to heavy and tired legs, maybe even varicose veins. These are all signs of venous insufficiency, which suggests your veins are not efficiently pushing the blood from your lower extremities back to the heart.
Shortened calf muscle
Some jobs have a dress code, we get it. But, believe it or not, your footwear choices can really affect the anatomy of your feet. For instance, wearing high heels on a regular basis can effectively shorten the calf muscle. Tight calves can produce symptoms such as sudden pain at the back of your calf or heel, especially when the foot is flat on the ground. Sitting with your heels lifted from the ground (tip-toed position) can also lead to this.
Wearing improper footwear can also cause nail issues. Tight-fitting and narrow shoes apply pressure to the toes, pushing them together in a small space, which may encourage toenails to curve and become ingrown over time.
Walk around every couple of hours to get the muscles in your calf working
Wear compression stockings
Do not sit with your heels lifted off the ground
Do not wear shoes with a heel higher than 2 inches
Do not wear narrow shoes
Hospital Staff / Health Care Workers / Restaurant / Food Industry
Heel pain/ball of foot pain/arch pain
Working as a healthcare professional, a waiter/waitress, chef, or even a teacher, you are on your feet for most of the day. Unless you have a perfect foot, the sheer time spent on your feet can lead to overuse injuries and soft tissue strains resulting in inflammation and overall foot pain. More often than not, these conditions are caused by faulty foot mechanics.
Wear shoes with arch support, good torsional stability, and adequate cushioning
Wear orthotic inserts
If pain is worsening or consistent, have your feet assessed by a foot care professional
As always, if you have serious concerns with your feet, do not wait to seek attention from a Licensed Chiropodist.
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Let’s face it, feet are probably the most neglected part of the human body. Think about it. When is the last time you checked the bottoms of your feet or in between the toes? Do you pay attention and tend to the aches and pains in your feet? Feet work hard every day to support your body and take you wherever you need to go, all while being cooped up in socks and shoes (hopefully comfortable ones at the least) for most the day. Stresses on your feet are more so if your job requires you to be on your feet, you’re a busy parent looking after an active child, you’re an athlete, or exercise is part of your daily regime. Making sure your feet get the care and love they deserve will not only leave your feet feeling better, but it will keep them healthy, keep you mobile and pain-free, and ultimately improve the overall quality of your life. Keep reading to educate yourself on five very simple foot care tips and why each is important to healthy and happy feet.
Proper Toenail Cutting/Toenail Care
We need toenails to help protect our toes, in particular the skin and bones underneath them. Toenails are made of a protein known as keratin, which makes them less vulnerable to daily wear and tear. It is important to maintain the health of our toenails so that they can fulfil their purpose.
Proper toenail cutting is a simple way to reduce the risk of nail complications such as ingrown toenails and toenail fungus. The safest way to cut your toenails is to cut them straight across using a clean, disinfected nail clipper. Avoid cutting the nail too short and do not cut the nail at an angle down the sides. Finish off by filing the edge of the nail smooth, getting rid of any sharp corners or jagged edges that may get caught in clothes or bed sheets and tear the nail. Toenails should be cut every six to eight weeks.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it plays a vital role in creating a barrier against harmful microbes. If the skin is dry, it can become irritated, itchy, and crack. Breaks in the skin will allow bacteria to enter and may lead to inflammation and infection.
Moisturizing your skin daily with a good moisturizer will help to hydrate the skin and keep it soft and smooth. Look for creams that contain effective ingredients such as urea and/or alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Urea causes skin cells deep below the surface to attract, absorb and hold moisture better while AHA speeds up cell turnover and stimulates cell renewal by dissolving the bonds that hold them together. In the end, you’re left with younger-looking, smoother, and softer skin. It is best to apply moisturizer right after a shower and reapply a couple times a day.
If you have calluses, in addition to moisturizing, using a foot file or a pumice stone can help to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells. Thick calluses and painful corns will need to be removed by a health care professional. Regular application of vitamin E oil on the nails can also help to keep them strong and moisturized.
Wash Your Feet
Washing your feet thoroughly (don’t forget in between the toes) and drying them well afterwards is a very simple way to keep the feet clean and healthy. And no, it is not enough to think they get cleaned in the shower from simply standing in soapy water. Wash your feet somewhat vigorously and daily with soap and water to help physically remove dirt and dead skin cells as well as prevent the build up of bacteria that can cause foul foot odours. You can also reduce the risk of infections such as Athlete’s foot and plantar warts.
A proper shoe has many benefits including comfort, protection, and support. Wearing the right shoe for you will make all the difference, especially on days when your feet take on extra stress. Here are some tips to keep in mind when looking for shoes:
Always try shoes on before purchasing. No two feet are the same, therefore, what may be comfortable for someone may not be comfortable for you.
If you are unsure of your size, have your feet measured. Keep in mind, the right fitted shoe will have about a finger’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. If you can feel the end of the shoe with your toe, it’s too small!
Bring your orthotics. If you wear orthotic insoles, bring them with you and try them on with the shoes. A shoe that has a removable insole are more likely to comfortably accommodate an orthotic device.
A good shoe will have the following features:
The shape of the shoe matches the shape of the foot. Avoid wearing narrow or pointed shoes that force your toes to squeeze in small spaces.
Functional fastenings such as laces, velco, buckles. The foot should make no effort to keep the shoe on.
The shoe should only bend where the foot naturally bends which is at the joints that connect the toes to the rest of the foot. You should also be able to twist it slightly.
A firm and snug heel counter. The heel should feel gripped into the shoe.
The outer sole should provide enough grip and traction to prevent slippage.
A midsole that provides adequate cushioning and shock absorption.
An innersole that provides arch support.
Don’t Wait to See Attention
Above all, if you have ongoing foot pain or discomfort, or you’ve noticed changes to the skin or nails of your feet, don’t wait to seek attention from a licensed chiropodist. Chiropodists are primary health care professionals who specialize in the assessment, management, and prevention of dysfunctions, disorders, and diseases of the foot. More often than not, the earlier you treat your foot problems, the better the results. In particular, if you have health conditions that put you at risk such as diabetes, it is recommended to seek care right away.
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Many People May Confuse a Foot Clinic With a Nail Salon or Spa
The truth of the matter is, the two are very different. One focuses on the assessment and treatment of your foot issues, and the other on aesthetics and beauty. Here we will describe the similarities and differences (but mostly differences) of one particular service a foot clinic and a nail salon may offer pedicures. This quick and easy read will help you decide which service, a cosmetic pedicure or a medical pedicure, is best suited for you and your foot needs.
If cosmetic pedicures and medical pedicures have one thing in common, it is that they both tend to the toenails and skin of an individual’s foot. The purpose and details of these treatments are where the differences lie. A cosmetic pedicure is described as a beauty and therapeutic treatment for the toenails and feet. It involves removing dead skin, softening the skin, trimming and shaping the toenails, cutting back cuticles, and the optional application of polish. It is focused on providing space and time for pampering and relaxation.
Medical pedicures, on the other hand, involve the assessment and treatment of toenail and skin pathologies of the foot. They are performed by a medical health professional, specifically a chiropodist or a podiatrist, who specializes in the assessment, management, and prevention of dysfunctions, disorders, and diseases of the foot. At an appointment for a medical pedicure, a chiropodist will start by taking a full medical history, including current and past health conditions or morbidities, a list of active medications, and the main concern that prompted the visit. He or she will then proceed to check for the following:
Proper and adequate circulation/blood flow
Proper and adequate nerve function
Signs and symptoms of infection (ie bacterial, fungal, or viral)
Signs and symptoms of skin pathologies (ie callus, corns, psoriasis, eczema/dermatitis)
Signs and symptoms of nail abnormalities (ie thickened toenails, ingrown toenails, discoloured toenails)
Treatment involves proper trimming and filing of the toenails as well as addressing any significant medical findings and complaints of pain. This may include the use of prescription or over the counter medications, physical reduction of nails and thickened skin, and education on how to prevent complications or reoccurrence. For instance, chiropodists treat fungal toenail infections using mechanical reduction of the nail and topical prescription medications. They also safely remove thickened calluses and painful corns down to normal skin using the precision of a surgical blade. Healthy, properly trimmed nails and smooth supple skin on your feet reduce risks of infection and can ultimately, significantly improve the quality of your life.
All treatments from a chiropodist are performed using medical grade products and a fresh set of sterilized instruments for each client. The sterilization process used by chiropodists will remove and kill all forms of life that should not be transferred between individuals, in particular micro-organisms such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, and spores.
A medical pedicure is typically pain-free and can be relaxing as well. In fact, many clients will leave an appointment feeling much more comfortable than when they arrived. You can say, a medical pedicure is a way to pamper yourself in a health-conscious way.
In the end, choosing what kind of pedicure is right for you will depend on what you are aiming to accomplish.
If you are looking to groom your feet and leave with a freshly painted set of toenails, a cosmetic pedicure may be the right choice for you.
If you are looking to address any nail or skin abnormalities and/or other foot concerns, no matter how mild or severe, a medical pedicure is the right choice for you. If you have health conditions that put you at risk such as diabetes, it is highly recommended to seek nail care from a medical health professional. Routine medical pedicures will ensure your feet are on the right path to proper foot health by managing existing problems as well as detecting issues early on and treating them in their early stages.
Looking for a Foot Clinic in Downtown Toronto? We Can Help!
Book an appointment with one of our licensed chiropodists for a medical pedicure today. Whether you’re on the mild or severe side of the spectrum, or you are just looking to have a general assessment of your nails and skin, you can rest easy knowing we’re able and happy to solve all your foot care needs.
The human gait is a fascinating component of the body. Factors including nervous, musculoskeletal, and cardiorespiratory systems all play a role. Specifically, age, personality, footwear, mood, and sociocultural factors all affect the way we move. For these reasons, everyone’s gait is unique in their own way.
According to one study, the prevalence of gait disorders increases to 60% in people over 80 years compared to 10% in people aged 60–69 years. Gait doesn’t just affect the older population. Due to the time spent on our feet, gait affects our every step. Think about how many steps you take a day. It may be 5,000. It may be 10,000. Or even 25,000. Whatever it is, multiply that by your entire lifespan and you have an inconceivable number. That’s the magnificence and resilience of the human body.
What Is Gait?
In scientific terms, human gait refers to locomotion achieved through the movement of human limbs. In simple terms, gait is a person’s manner of walking (or running). One can have a narrow gait or a wide gait. One may overpronate, or supinate. One may have high arches versus fallen arches. As simple as walking or running sound, gait is the result of many complex systems.
To move forward there are several stages of movement: walk, jog, skip, run, and sprint. Foot strike is one variable. These include:
Forefoot Strike – toe-heel: ball of foot lands first
Midfoot Strike – heel and ball land simultaneously
Heel Strike – heel-toe: heel of foot lands, then plantar flexes to ball
The foot strike on the surface is simple. However, again there are external forces including your footwear that may affect how your foot hits the ground. Compare yourself running barefoot versus with shoes. The differences are likely stark.
Another variable is sex. According to a 2013 study, females tend to walk with smaller step width and more pelvic movement.
Gait analysis is a tool used to identify biomechanical trends and abnormalities in your foot cycle. Here at Feet First Clinic, we employ 3D video in order to further analyze gait. Video analysis involves being recorded while walking 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 pattern.
Gait Concerns? We Can Help!
We’re confident in our ability to help inform you and solve your concern with the least amount of discomfort as possible. Call us even to ask about a quick question and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!
If you have been experiencing foot pain, discomfort, or have been diagnosed with a disease that put your feet at risk, you have probably heard of orthotics and orthopaedic shoes and may be left with the following questions:
What is the difference between the two?
Which one is better for me and my foot concerns?
What properties should I look for to accommodate my lifestyle?
In today’s blog, we will tackle these questions to help provide a better understanding of these devices, and ultimately help you make the right, healthy choices for your feet.
What is an Orthotic Insole?
An orthotic insole is an insert that is placed inside a shoe to address various foot concerns. There are two major kinds of insoles: custom foot orthotics and over the counter insoles.
Benefits of Custom Orthotic Insoles
A custom foot orthotic is classified as a medical device made from a three-dimensional mould of an individual’s foot. Therefore, it is unique to one’s specific foot and tailored to meet one’s foot needs. These devices are prescribed by a physician or a foot specialist, such as a Registered Chiropodist or podiatrist and will contain specific prescriptive elements based on the practitioner’s physical assessment. Custom foot orthotics address faulty foot mechanics and other foot ailments that cause pain such as, plantar fasciitis, painful calluses and corns, shin splints, tendonitis, diabetic feet, and ulcers. They are made to mechanically control, support, redistribute pressures, and balance the foot to improve function. They are also made from high-quality materials and will generally last 2-3 years if used properly.
Look into your insurance plan as some plans cover a percentage of custom foot orthotics when prescribed and assessed by a recognized health care practitioner.
An over the counter insole is a shoe insert that you can find in the shelves of your local pharmacy or retail sports store. Compared to a custom orthotic, these devices are much less costly; however, they will not address or correct improper foot function and more serious foot problems. The purpose of over the counter shoe inserts/insoles/arch supports is to provide additional cushioning, support, and increase general comfort for the foot.
What is an Orthopaedic Shoe?
An orthopaedic shoe is a shoe made with properties a normal shoe would not typically have. These types of shoes are made to accommodate foot abnormalities or foot deformities, improve biomechanical foot function, as well as enhance the effectiveness of custom foot orthotics.
Benefits of Orthopaedic Shoes
Orthopaedic shoes are for those who are suffering from bunions, hammertoes, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, diabetes, arthritis, flat feet,swollen feet caused by venous insufficiency/lymphedema, or recovering from foot surgery. This type of footwear is made with characteristics that a normal shoe would not normally have. These may include but are not limited to:
Extra-wide and deep toe box to accommodate and make room for bony toe deformities
Firm heel counter to control and support the heel as well as prevent irritation to the Achilles tendon
Deep heel cup to control and stabilize the heel for better alignment
Shock-absorbing sole to dissipate ground reaction forces and reduce stresses on joints and soft tissues of the body
Stability sole and good torsional stability to help control faulty foot mechanics such as overpronation (rolling in of the foot towards its arches) and stabilize the foot
Rocker bottom sole to promote a smooth and efficient heel to toe gait by inhibiting painful joint motion such as those seen in conditions like hallux limitus or hallux rigidus
Easy to fasten (eg velcro straps) for those who suffer from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and have difficulty using their hands
Seamless design to prevent irritation and pressure points which may not be detected in an individual with diabetic neuropathy
Removable liner to adequately accommodate a custom foot orthotic
How to Choose an Orthotic Insole Based on Your Lifestyle
We are fortunate enough to live in a time when orthotic insoles come in a wide array of shapes and sizes to accommodate different lifestyles and footwear. The following are general guidelines to keep in mind when looking for insoles for specific lifestyle choices.*
Good shock absorption
Good cushioning if the footwear allows room for this
Semi-rigid to semi-flexible shell depending on what the individual can tolerate
Top cover (the material that comes in direct contact with the foot) should have low friction and good breathability qualities
Dress shoe orthotics
Thin and narrow device to fit into a lower volume shoe
Good cushioning properties in particular at the ball of the foot and heel
Semi-flexible to flexible shell
*If you are experiencing foot pain and continuous foot discomfort it is in your best interest to book an appointment for a consultation from a licensed health care practitioner. Chiropodists are foot care specialists who are professionally trained to assess the biomechanics of the lower extremity. At your appointment, a full medical history will be taken and a biomechanical assessment and gait analysis performed to determine the right foot care devices for your needs.
We’ve Got You Covered!
We’re confident in our ability to help inform you and solve your concern with the least amount of discomfort as possible. Call us even to ask about a quick question and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!