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5 Types of Shoes That Aren’t Good for Foot Health

5 Types of Shoes That Aren’t Good for Foot Health

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Your feet are affected by more than just your daily activities and movements. Some sources of foot pain aren’t entirely preventable, as is often the case with deformities present at birth or certain diseases and conditions. However, there are some potential sources of foot-related discomfort you can have more control over, such as the choices you make with what you put on your feet. Here’s a closer look at some of the footwear styles you may want to avoid if you want to reduce your risk of experiencing foot pain.

1. Super High Heels and Stilettos

Heels have been getting progressively higher over the years, with current shoes of this nature offering a heel height that ranges from 4 to 10 inches. Consistently wearing high heels or stilettos can contribute to ankle sprains and a permanent protrusion sometimes referred to as “pump bump” that can contribute to swelling, blistering, and other conditions like bursitis.

2. Flip-Flops and Sandals

You wouldn’t think shoes designed to let your toes wiggle freely would be a potential source of pain. But what most flip-flops and sandals fail to do is provide sufficient support. The result is an increased risk of developing issues such as plantar fasciitis and tendon and ankle problems. Instead, opt for biomechanically designed sandals if you really want to enjoy some added foot freedom.

3. Ballet Flats

While comfy and convenient to slip on, most types of ballet flats provide no arch support, which can even more of a potential problem if you have existing issues related to your foot’s arch. Since there’s also little toe padding, you are essentially wearing thin socks when you wear shoes like these.

4. Platform Shoes

Platforms have experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Shoes like these are actually better for your feet than high heels since heel height is added in a way that still retains foot support without excessively staining foot and ankle tendons and muscles. The potential problem here is ankle instability because of the way these shoes are designed. If you regularly wear platforms, you may find yourself dealing with ankle sprains.

5. Sheepskin-Lined Boots

These types of boots have remained consistently popular because of a combination of style and comfort. Many people prefer to wear sheepskin-lined boots without socks. This could result in a humid environment within an enclosed space, which could ultimately contribute to issues with foot fungus and infections. Also, boots like these don’t provide much support if you do a lot of standing or walking.

If you do experience foot pain, switching to shoes that are more comfortable and supportive may provide welcome relief. Should you continue to have persistent aches and pain or signs of other foot, toe, and ankle problems, you might be referred to a podiatrist for evaluation. You may also benefit from custom orthotics if your years of opting for shoes that are more fashionable than functional has affected some of the structures in your feet.

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Confirming a Broken Toe

Confirming a Broken Toe

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It can happen to anyone. A toe can be stubbed on the corner of a bed, something heavy might drop on it, or you might accidentally twist one of your toes while running or jogging. The resulting injury is sometimes a broken toe. If you’re under the assumption there’s nothing you can really do about a broken toe except let it heal, you may not consider seeing a foot doctor about it. But there are some important steps you should take when you have a toe you think may be fractured.

Look for Signs of a Toe Fracture

The first thing to do after something happens that may have injured your toe is to look for signs of a fracture. Sometimes, a snap or pop is heard at the time of injury. Other times, there may be visible swelling or bruising. A minor hairline fracture may result in pain felt with certain movements of the affected toe.

Use Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Most of the pain from a broken toe comes from swelling of tissues in the affected area. Applying ice immediately can help minimize inflammation and ease some of your initial discomfort. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve) may also ease swelling. Elevating your foot as much as possible can also help reduce inflammation.

Get a Positive Diagnosis

Unless there’s a visible deformity, the only way to positively know if you have a broken toe is to get a diagnosis. A podiatrist will examine the affected toe and evaluate the rest of your foot to rule out other conditions such as bursitis, which may result in pain in and around toes. An X-ray is sometimes performed to determine if a fractured toe is also dislocated.

Seek Treatment If Home Remedies Aren’t Helping

Minor toe fractures often heal well with rest and other home remedies. But if you reach a point where such treatments aren’t effective, a foot specialist can provide more comprehensive care. If you do not have an underlying condition like peripheral arterial disease or diabetes that may require special attention, buddy taping may be a recommended treatment. This is when the largest adjacent non-broken toe is taped to the broken one to prevent motion. Use cotton balls and gauze to prevent skin irritations between toes. For more severe fractures, splinting or bracing might be done. Surgery may be necessary for severe toe breaks.

It typically takes a fractured toe about 6 to 12 weeks to heal. In addition to the treatments already discussed, a podiatrist can also recommend custom orthotics or special shoes that could make your daily life easier until your toe heals. Also, keep in mind that delaying treatment sometimes contributes to damage to nearby tissues or long-term problems like osteoarthritis. If you suspect a broken toe, it’s best to see a foot doctor for an assessment.

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How to Do a Self Diabetic Foot Exam

How to Do a Self Diabetic Foot Exam

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According to the American Diabetes Association, a major reason individuals with diabetes seek medical care is due to issues with nerve damage and circulation. Such problems often affect feet. Diabetic foot issues are sometimes overlooked in early stages if infections or signs of damage are in unseen parts of feet between toes or on the bottom of feet. One way to minimize health risks associated with your feet if you are living with any type of diabetes is to get into the habit of performing foot exams. It’s a simple process that could prevent potentially serious problems.

Clean Your Feet and Get Into a Comfortable Position

Get started by cleaning your feet. You can also do a self-exam after you get done with your regular bath or shower. After cleaning and drying your feet, sit on a comfortable bed or chair in a room with good lighting. Lift one foot over the other leg. If you are unable to assume a comfortable position, ask a friend or family member for help.

Get a Good View of the Bottom of Your Foot

Undetected problems are more likely to develop on the bottom of your feet. Having flat feet can also increase your odds of sustaining an injury in this location. Check the bottom of each foot by rotating your ankle slightly. If you aren’t able to fully see the underside of your foot, use a handheld mirror.

Look for Anything Unusual

Examine all parts of each foot for anything unusual. Pay attention to the balls of your feet between your toes and arch since this is where pressure is placed while walking. This is also where a type of foot pain that can make diabetic nerve pain worse known as metatarsalgia sometimes develops. Next, check the soles of your feet for any irregularities or bumps. On your heels, feel for rough, dry, or cracked skin. Feel the entire foot and take note any noticeable changes in temperature, texture, or shape. Also, compare both feet to see if there are any noticeable differences. Talk to your doctor or a foot specialist if you observe:

  • Signs of muscle or bone injuries
  • Swelling or tenderness
  • Small cracks (fissures) that appear infected

Diabetes affects about 30 million Americans. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, part of your regular care should include visits to a foot doctor to make sure there aren’t issues that should be treated sooner rather than later. People with diabetes are also at a greater risk of developing infections from if open sores or ulcers develop on feet. if you spot anything out of the ordinary during a self-exam of your feet, a podiatrist can determine if it’s something that needs attention.

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Artificial Turf & Football Injuries

Artificial Turf & Football Injuries

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Since its advent in the 1960s, artificial turf has become commonplace in both amateur and professional football arenas throughout the country. It is widely appreciated for its clean and uniform look and easy maintenance. As preferable as it may be for stadium owners and groundskeepers, it also can pose a unique risk to football players. Studies continue to link artificial turf to football injuries that may otherwise be prevented on natural grass surfaces.

The Link between Artificial Turf and Football Injuries

Artificial turf is made out of nylon and other synthetic materials that are soft, durable, and easy to maintain. It can be crafted to look exactly like natural grass and can easily be painted on, making it highly preferred by stadium owners, football teams, and groundskeepers who want a visually appealing playing surface that is easy to care for and long-lasting.

However, because of its construction and design, artificial turf also tends to be slippery and does not offer the friction that can be found with natural grass football fields. Further, artificial turf lacks shock absorption that can prevent players from being injured during tackles and falls.

The detriments in the design and use of artificial turf in football stadiums are directly linked to common football injuries suffered by players today. These injuries include ankle sprains, foot fractures, and ACL tears.

Artificial Turf Injury Prevention

Scientists continue to study how injuries caused by artificial turf can be prevented, however. One of the simpler remedies being suggested today involves increasing the infill weight on the field. A recent study indicated that increasing this infill weight to 6 pounds per square foot could provide the friction and shock absorption that players need to play safely.

Football Injury Treatment

Until the infill weight is increased to the recommended amount in every stadium, however, players need to learn how to minimize their risks out on the field. They are encouraged to wear high-quality cleats and to follow the guidelines of their athletic trainers when it comes to tackling, running, and falling on the turf.

Even so, if they suffer an injury like an ACL tear, they can expect to undergo treatment like splinting or bracing, rest, physical therapy, and surgery if required. Athletic trainers and doctors increasingly are adapting their treatment options to address football injuries caused by artificial turf.

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A Primer on Athlete’s Foot

A Primer on Athlete’s Foot

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Athlete’s foot is a common condition that is easily acquired and transmitted. It is a fungal infection that is caused by the same organism responsible for jock itch and ringworm. This fungus thrives in warm, humid environments, which is why damp shoes and socks are the perfect place for it to grow. Wet surfaces such as those found in locker rooms, gyms, and public pools and showers are also areas that routinely play host to athlete’s foot. The infection is contagious and can be spread directly from one person to another or by contact with surfaces that have been contaminated with the fungus, such as towels, shoes, socks, and floors.

Symptoms

Athlete’s foot is typically characterized by a red, scaly rash that causes itchiness, stinging, and burning. The rash usually begins between the toes and can spread over the surface of the foot. The affected skin may peel or crack. Some cases may include blistering or ulcers, and the “moccasin variety” of the infection causes dryness on the sole of the foot that can extend up the side. The condition can affect one or both feet, and it can also spread to the toenails, to the groin area, or to a hand or hands (if you scratch or pick at an infected area).

Prevention

There are several things you can do to help prevent athlete’s foot from developing. First, try to avoid creating the kind of warm and damp environment the fungus depends on by keeping your feet as cool and as dry as possible at all times. Make sure that you dry your feet well after bathing or swimming, and wear sandals or open shoes whenever you can to ensure that your feet can breathe. Keeping your feet and your socks clean will also help discourage the infection. Whenever you go to a public pool or shower, always wear shower shoes or flip-flops to prevent your feet from coming into contact with any potential strains of the fungus. Wearing talcum or anti-fungal powder can also keep the condition at bay. In addition, it is recommended that you let your shoes air out for at least 24 hours after you have worn them.

Treatment

If you suspect you have athlete’s foot, there are a number of over-the-counter medicated creams, powders, and sprays that can be effective in eradicating the infection. It is important that you apply the medicated product thoroughly and regularly, and that you continue to use it one to two weeks after the infection has cleared up to prevent a reoccurrence. For more serious cases, you should consult a doctor, who can prescribe a stronger cream or anti-fungal pills that should take care of the infection.

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How to Choose the Right Shoe for Your Child

How to Choose the Right Shoe for Your Child

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Approximately 98 percent of children are actually born with healthy feet, but only about 40 percent of kids will be still be enjoying healthy feet as adults. A significant contributing factor is the shoes worn throughout the different stages of life. Since children’s feet are constantly growing and developing, it’s especially critical to choose the right shoe when it’s time to upgrade to something new. Consider these tips as you make your decision.

Look for the Right Fit

According to some estimates, about half of all children three and under wear shoes that aren’t a proper fit. Part of the reason for this may be the fact that feet can grow rapidly and increase up to 12 sizes during these years. Children over 3 years of age increase their foot size about a half of a size every 4-6 months. Avoid the temptation to pass shoes along from one child to the next. Each child has unique foot features.

Shoes for toddlers should have enough support in the sole to provide sufficient stabilization while learning to walk and improve coordination, although heels are not necessary at this age. Shoes that are too tight can result in bunions, corns, and conditions such as hammertoe and crossover toe. A proper fitting child’s shoe is one with:

  • Ample room around the toe
  • Enough width to support foot movements
  • A comfortable fit right away (shoes should never have to be “broken in”)

Consider Breathability

Breathability should also be considered, since children have feet that sweat more than adult-size feet. Infants have delicate feet, so soft shoes or even slipper socks with anti-slip protection on the bottom should provide sufficient ventilation. Opt for breathable materials like leather and canvas and avoid plastic.

Pay Attention to Shoe Construction/Design

Look for an absorbent material for the insole of your child’s shoe. The outer sole needs to provide sufficient traction. Support in the ankles is especially important for toddlers since they’re often on their feet all day as they learn to get around on their own. Proper ankle support can also minimize a child’s risk of having problems with the development of bones in this area.

When older children start wearing shoes with heel height, it shouldn’t be more than an inch. Durability should be a priority when kids get into sports. Choose shoes appropriate for your child’s sport. Shoes for baseball will be different than ones worn for competitive running or track and field. As a general rule, you want shoes for your child that are well-ventilated and comfortable with some room for growth.

Be mindful of how well your child is getting around in their shoes. If you notice signs of foot pain, take a good look at their shoes to see if it’s time for a new pair. If their shoes aren’t the problem, see your podiatrist to determine if special footwear or orthotics may benefit your child to correct foot irregularities that may affect younger shoe wearers.

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6 Tips for Diabetic Foot Care

6 Tips for Diabetic Foot Care

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Nearly 20 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. It’s a condition that can affect circulation and various tissues throughout the body, including those in the feet. Diabetics often have to be proactive about foot care because of nerve-related damage (neuropathy), which affects about 60-70 percent of people with diabetes and may result in reduced sensation in parts of the feet.

Do Daily Self Inspections

In between regular visits to a podiatrist for a full foot exam, do self-inspections of your feet every day. As you inspect your feet, look for the following signs of something out of the ordinary:

  • Bruises and pressure areas
  • Blisters
  • Cuts and scratches
  • Redness
  • Areas that become sore when touched

Don’t Go Barefoot

Diabetics tend to have reduced sensitivity, especially if diabetes has been a chronic condition for many years. If you go barefoot, you may not feel things like a nail puncture or cut. Such injuries may become infected if undetected.

Wear Comfortable, Supportive Shoes

Choose supportive shoes that are already “broken in” to avoid placed too much pressure on your feet. Wide-width shoes are often recommended for diabetics already experiencing occasional foot pain to prevent issues with circulation. Wear loose socks around the house to protect your feet while still allowing air to flow through the material. Avoid high heels and pay attention to the fit around the heel.

Trim Toenails

Toenails that are uneven or sharp can cause scratches or cuts on your feet or between your toes that may go unnoticed. Use a nail file and avoid using clippers if you have numbness or reduced sensation around your toes. Let your podiatrist know if you find an ingrown toenail while trimming.

Wash Feet Daily

Take time to specifically wash your feet with warm water and soap daily. Make sure your feet are dry when you’re done cleaning them or showering, including in between toes.

Keep Feet Dry

Wet skin is softer and more susceptible to damage and blistering. If you do swim or use a spa or hot tub, dry your feet immediately. Avoid leaving wet socks or shoes on if you’re coming in from the rain or snow and change socks that have become soaked with sweat on hot days.

A podiatrist users a painless tool called a monofilament to test the feet of diabetic patients for nerve-related damage. Due to the reduced nerve sensation diabetics can experience, it’s important to identify deformities that may develop as feet become numb. With proactive care, foot issues common among diabetics such as ulcers and undetected sores can also be treated early.

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Most Common Podiatric Ailments

Most Common Podiatric Ailments

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The study and practice of podiatry are known to have taken place across many generations. For instance, treatment of foot problems has existed even in the era of the Pharaohs. This practice can also be traced back to the era of Hippocrates (also known as the father of western medicine). This Greek physician emphasized the need to address foot problems.

Several notable individuals over the centuries have been known to have their podiatrists including Napoleon, kings of France, and Abraham Lincoln. In America, the first podiatric society was established in 1895 in New York. Subsequently, the first school for training podiatric physicians was opened in 1911.

Common Podiatric Problems

Foot problems are very common, with 75% of American citizens reporting an experience associated with at particular points of their lives. The most common reported podiatric ailment is the heel pain. Podiatric surgeons treat various lower limb problems include including:

  • Corns and calluses – These are areas with thickened, hard skin that develops when exposed to extreme friction or pressure. They cause discomfort and pain when walking. The problem has various causes including wearing shoes that do not fit properly.
  • Verrucas – These are small lumps that develop at the bottom of the feet, also known as plantar warts. They are harmless and may eventually to go away on their own after several months or even years. Despite being harmless, verrucas can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. They can also spread to other parts of the body or infect other people.
  • Athlete’s foot – This refers to a rash brought about by fungi that appear between the toes. The affected area may be red, itchy scaly, dry blistered or cracked. The condition is not usually serious but requires attention to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the foot or other people.
  • Flat feet – Many people with flat feet have no reason to worry about their condition. However, it may be associated with pain on the feet, overpronation, as well as underlying bone and muscle problems.
  • Smelly feet – The condition is also known as bromodosis. It is mainly as a result of sweaty feet and poor hygiene. Note the feet have approximately 250,000 sweat glands.
  • Heel pain – This is a common condition that affects the foot characterized by an intense pain on the affected heel. The pain builds and gets worse gradually especially when one applies pressure on the heel.
  • Gout – This is a type of arthritis whereby small crystals form within the joints. The condition causes swelling and sudden severe pain and mainly attacks men over 30 years and women past menopause.
  • Bunion – this is a deformity at the joint and base of the big toe. The condition makes the big toe point towards the others on the same foot, forcing the foot bone to stick outwards.

Podiatric surgeons play significant roles in maintaining correct foot posture and health. The practitioners in this field are also trained to handle various illnesses that affect the feet. It is important to make the necessary consultations whenever someone notes any of the symptoms above.

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Avoiding Amputation for Diabetic Patients

Avoiding Amputation for Diabetic Patients

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After diagnosis, diabetics are faced with a variety of lifestyle modifications to avoid further health risks. The most common modifications include dietary changes, daily blood glucose monitoring, medication administration and foot care.

Uncontrolled diabetes can affect blood circulation and can even damage the nerves, which can lead to a decrease or loss of sensation in the lower extremities, especially the feet. This combination of nerve damage and decreased perfusion makes diabetics susceptible to developing gangrenous sores and ulcers because of the lack of awareness of the initial injury and poor wound healing. Once a diabetic has developed gangrene in a lower extremity, amputation may be performed to avoid spread of the infection. Amputation of the feet can be avoided if diabetics engage in daily care and monitoring of their feet.

Foot Care Routine

One of the best ways to care for feet is to create a routine. Diabetics should wash their feet in warm (not hot) water daily. Warm water and gentle cleansing encourages blood flow in the feet and toes, but feet should not be soaked. After washing the feet, they should be dried thoroughly, especially between the toes. While drying, each toe and all aspects of the feet should be inspected for signs of injury. If any signs of injury or infection are present, the diabetic should inform their health care provider for further instruction.

Lotion should be applied, but not between the toes, and nails should be cut straight across to avoid ingrown nails and infections. After foot care is finished, properly fitting socks and shoes should be worn to protect the feet and keep them warm.

Medical Care

In addition to daily care, diabetics should always attend appointments with their regular health care provider to manage diabetes symptoms. Many diabetics also consult with a podiatrist to develop a specialized plan to care for the feet. In addition to doctor visits, diabetics should avoid smoking, which leads to impaired oxygenation and other health complications, including cancer. Diabetics should also follow a healthy diet and exercise program to minimize further complications and to enhance quality of life.

While diabetes can create health challenges, dire complications like amputation can be avoided with care, planning, and the team effort of health care providers and patient.

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Is Barefoot Running Right for You?

Is Barefoot Running Right for You?

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The human foot is designed to function efficiently without shoes. Barefoot running is a common preference for many amateur and professional runners who wish to adopt a more natural approach to leg and foot movements. The main difference between shoe-covered running and barefoot running is that feet strike the ground at the forefoot (just under the toes) and mid-foot area rather than on the heel with barefoot running.

What Barefoot Running Does for Your Feet

Various studies have confirmed that barefoot running can be beneficial since it restores the natural motions of feet, ankles, and legs. Runners often report an ability to run faster while also appreciating the ability to feel lightness with basic foot movements. Noted benefits of barefoot running also include:

  • Strengthening foot muscles
  • Reduced use of natural energy/effort to run since feet will be lighter
  • Less stress on sensory nerves due to lighter impact forces
  • Reduced risk of developing shin splints

When to Avoid Barefoot Running

While there are many potential benefits, barefoot running isn’t for everyone. It’s best to avoid barefoot running if you have a foot condition like chronic tendonitis or sensory loss in your feet. Also avoid running without shoes if you have a foot deformity or issues with gait mechanics that prevent your feet from carrying out natural motions. Barefoot running should also be avoided after foot surgery unless you get the “okay” to do so.

Preparing for Barefoot Running

Running barefoot is like getting used to arm movements again once a cast comes off. Feet will be making a more direct on the ground with each strike, so it’s important to strengthen foot-supporting muscles as much as possible to minimize the risk of injury while running sans shoes. Experiencing some initial soreness in the feet, calves, and lower legs is normal and usually temporary. Prepare for barefoot running by:

  • Starting with slow runs or jogs
  • Progressing naturally as you become used to the different strike motions
  • Learning and maintaining proper foot movements
  • Sticking to flat surfaces as much as possible to avoid sharp objects and broken pavement or concrete
  • Avoiding over-striding to protect calves, the Achilles tendon, and the arch

Contrary to popular belief, calluses don’t usually develop from barefoot running since pavement acts as a natural pumice stone to minimize callusing. If you do get calluses, it will likely be on the balls of your feet, although topical ointments can help. Another option is to wear minimal running shoes designed to allow feet to function as naturally as possible if barefoot running isn’t for you. Speak with a podiatrist for more advice specific to your feet.