Tag Archives: Proper Footwear

Landscaping: How To Protect Your Feet From Injuries

15 May

Which would you rather say to your podiatrist?

“I got this monumental ankle sprain when I was pushing my lawnmower and rolled my foot in a gopher hole.”
or
“I got this monumental ankle sprain when I rolled my foot AFTER THE MOST SPECTACULAR JUMP SHOT EVER!

If you picked “gopher hole”, you’re in the minority.

Landscaping – and even gardening – cause their share of foot and ankle injuries, especially in spring when we’re out of shape. We tend to jump right in where we left off in October, and our bodies just aren’t up to it. Bending, twisting, and lifting or pushing heavy and sharp equipment can cause an injury quite quickly if you don’t take a few precautions.

chainsaw

We hope he’s wearing a good pair of work boots

Wear proper footwear.

It may have been fine when you were a teenager to wear worn-out sneakers when you cut the lawn. As an adult, you should wear athletic shoes which support your feet well and will protect them if you step on a rock you didn’t expect to be there. Or in the groundhog hole which magically appeared overnight.

If your ankles or feet have been subject to injuries in the past, or if you’re landscaping with sharp equipment, wear a quality pair of work boots (not garden boots, which offer little protection beyond moisture). If you’re a landscaper, work boots with good support and metal-tipped toes should always be on your feet. Work boots will also protect your feet in the event you accidentally drop any equipment with sharp blades or heavy bottoms (like a tamper).

Don’t work on a wet lawn.

When grass is even a little wet, it can be very slippery. If you have a slope or hill on your lawn, cutting it when wet can be especially dangerous. Wait to mow your lawn until the turf is completely dry.

Use equipment with safety shutoffs.

Decades ago, equipment with sharp blades only stopped turning when you intentionally shut it off, which allowed chainsaws to run out of control, and feet to slide under lawnmowers while the blades were still turning. Fortunately, most modern lawnmowers, edgers, tillers, cultivators, post hole diggers, chain saws, and other equipment with high speed, rotating blades or teeth, stop as soon as you let go of the handle or trigger. If you’re still using decades-old equipment which doesn’t have a shutoff feature, it’s time to upgrade.

Shovels and other step-on equipment can cause surprising damage to your feet.

If you’re doing a project that requires a lot of digging, or using equipment like manual aerators for your lawn, wear quality work boots at all times. The repeated stepping-on-with-force required with these tools can cause injuries like sesamoiditis, plantar fasciitis, sprains and fractures.

If you have ankle, foot, leg, or back issues, stretch before you start.

In gardening and landscaping, lots of bending, squatting, twisting and turning is required, sometimes while holding or moving heavy equipment. Injuries happen remarkably quickly when your body isn’t prepared for them. We recommend that those who have previous injuries of the back, hip, legs, feet, or ankles, or are over 50, stretch before they begin their activities.

Taking these precautions and wearing work boots when you garden or landscape may not make you look like the coolest guy or girl on the block, but they’ll keep you out of the podiatrist’s office. Or the ER.

 

Advertisements

Why You Should Skip the Flip-Flops This Summer

7 May
Flip-flops are just so easy – slip ’em on and run out the door. Seems like everybody starts wearing them as soon as outdoor temps climb above 50 degrees.

flip-flops-bad-for-your-feet

Unfortunately, flip-flops are just about the worst thing you can wear on your feet. In fact, there is a growing problem of heel pain among teens and young adults, which podiatrists are attributing to wearing this paper-thin footwear (no doubt intensified by the obesity epidemic).

Walking barefoot is better for your feet than walking in flip-flops. If your feet have any abnormal biomechanics, flip-flops can accentuate these problems, leading to plantar fasciitis and accelerating other foot problems.

Think about it: the bones in your feet are the base of your skeleton and your body weight is riding on them. If your feet aren’t supported correctly, the rest of your bones, joint, tendons, and muscles have to make up for it. The stress shifts elsewhere and that leads to foot pain, heel pain, leg pain, hip pain, bad knees, sore back, and any number of other ailments.

Naturally, wearing flip-flops in the sauna, locker room, or by the pool won’t cause any harm. But as everyday footwear, we suggest you make a smarter choice.

So how exactly do flip-flops affect your feet?

Toes: That little thong that slips between your toes actually makes the muscles in your feet work overtime. The perpetual gripping this requires of your feet can lead to a nasty case of tendinitis, hammertoes, and bunions. Additionally, bare skin rubbing against the plastic or leather thong can lead to nasty blisters.

Fractures: With no support under your feet, all of that pressure from your body weight can create stress fractures in the bones of your feet. If you spend a lot of time on your feet in flip-flops, this is very likely to occur.

Bottom of your feet: The flip-flop isn’t stationary on your foot like an athletic shoe is. Since the bottom of your foot is in a constant sliding motion against the material, it can create a burning feeling or blisters, especially on hot days.

Arch and heel pain: If your footwear doesn’t support your arch, you run an excellent chance of developing plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of the band of tissue which runs along the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel to your arch. Pain may be felt anywhere along the plantar fascia.

For summer footwear, we suggest that you always wear athletic shoes that fit properly or a solid, rugged pair of sandals with significant arch support and a heavy sole.

Thanks to Huffington Post for this excellent infographic on what happens to your feet when you wear flip-flops.

flip flops

Best New Running Shoes for 2014

11 Apr

For all of you runners, spring means that it’s time to shop for new running shoes.

(a note from our docs: please don’t wear last years’ shoes, as they’re probably too worn down to support your feet correctly.) Here are the best shoes for the money for 2014, courtesy of Runner’s World magazine:

Top 3 new running shoes for Men:

adidassuperglide6mar600x600_0Adidas Supernova Glide 6, $130
Top-of-the-line cushioning designed for the long run.

brookspureflow3mar600x600Brooks Pureflow 3, $100
Excellent cushioning, smooth landing.

uaapollomar600x600Under Armour Speedform Apollo, $100
Exciting new shoe worth a look on race day.

 

Top 3 new running shoes for Women:

womens adidassupernovaglide6fem600x600Adidas Supernova Glide 6, $130
Sturdy trainer with a smooth heel-first landing and springy underfoot.

womens brookspureflow3fem600x600Brooks Pureflow 3, $100
Bargain priced trainer that handles a lot of miles.

uaspeedformapollofem600x600Under Armour Speedform Apollo, $100
Puts your foot close to the ground, but heel cushioning is soft.

That’s right, same shoes for men and women this year.

Remember these tips when choosing a new running shoe

Make sure it fits
The shoe should never slide on your foot – up, down, or sideways. Conversely, it should also not be too tight. It should be “just right” when you put it on.

Are your feet the same as last year?
In other words, do you have any new pain, aches, soreness or fatigue where you weren’t experiencing it before? If so, see your podiatrist for an exam. If you’re developing any problems, they can create a custom orthotic insole for you so that you can keep running.

Remember, it’s best to take simple steps to prevent sports injuries, rather than injuring yourself and sitting out the season.

Here are more tips on choosing the right running shoe.

Basketball: How to avoid the most common foot and ankle injuries

5 Mar

It’s safe to say that no sport demands more from an athlete’s feet and ankles than Basketball. Every movement on the court starts with the player’s feet – every shot, every rebound, and every pass.

The sudden turns, side-to-side cutting, running, stopping, sudden acceleration, changes in direction, jumping, and landing, combined with the immense size of pro basketball players, creates an almost perfect storm of injury possibilities for the lower extremities. Professional athletes train constantly on and off-court, in-season and out of season, yet their bones still fracture and their tendons and ligaments tear.

Here are the most common basketball injuries to the foot and ankle:
deron williams ankle sprain

Deron Williams of the Nets suffered an ankle sprain in 2013

Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain occurs when the foot rolls inward or outward and stretches or tears the ligaments in the ankle. In basketball, this usually occurs when the player lands improperly after a layup, or steps or lands on another player’s foot. Swelling and bruising occur, and the foot can’t bear weight. Mild ankle sprains heal relatively quickly, but a severe sprain can disable a player for 8 weeks or more.

Watch a video of Dr. Teichman from PA Foot and Ankle Associates explaining how an ankle sprain occurs.

Fractures

Fractures of the metatarsals (the long bones in your feet), the tibia (shinbone), and the navicular bone (on the top of your foot near the ankle), are what podiatrists refer to as overuse injuries. As an athlete trains, bones actually develop tiny fractures which heal quickly and strengthen the bone. However, their adjustment is slow, and when outside stress exceeds the bone’s capability to withstand it, the bone fractures. The repeated pounding of running, jumping, and landing is especially difficult on the 5th metatrasal bone on the outside of the foot, and is the bone most often fractured by basketball players.

Read more about foot fractures

Plantar fasciitis

Another overuse injury, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of tissue which connects the arch of the foot to the heel. Repeated pounding on hard surfaces – the basketball court – subjects the plantar fascia to stress, and it reacts with inflammation and pain. Treatment and rest are essential at the first sign of pain from plantar fasciitis, because if an athlete continues to play on the sore foot, the condition will only worsen.

Read more about plantar fasciitis

Achilles Tendonitis

Your achilles tendon is responsible for every step you take, and you couldn’t make that jump shot if you didn’t have one. You’re asking a lot of this tendon during the game and sometimes it can’t keep up, and becomes strained and irritated (itis).

The achilles tendon attaches your calf muscle to your heel, and when you damage it, you’ll usually feel a knife-like pain in your leg, just below the calf muscle. It maybe accompanied by swelling. If you really do a job on it and cause it to rupture, you may be able to walk, but it will be impossible to jump until it’s healed. An evaluation from a podiatrist is absolutely essential to speed its healing.

Read more about achilles tendonitis ​

For any of these injuries, the sooner that RICE begins, the less secondary damage you’ll incur. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Do not continue to play or the injury may become much worse. Have your injury examined by a podiatrist as soon as possible.

How to avoid basketball injuries

Proper athletic conditioning

Strong and flexible ankles reduce the occurrence of injuries, improve performance on court, and decrease the time lost to an injury. Weekend athletes in pick-up basketball games are most frequently injured due to their lack of conditioning and weight training. That Michael Jordan-style layup looks beautiful, but hurts like mad coming down, especially if you land on another player’s foot.

Cold muscles are more prone to injury, so stretch and warm up before games with a light run, walking, biking, or calisthenics like jumping jacks and basic stretches. Stretch your muscles after the game also. If you’re out of shape, ease into it and don’t try to play like you did when you weighed 25 pounds less.

Wear new basketball shoes

They’re called basketball shoes for a good reason – they’re designed to support and accommodate the foot for the unique stresses of the game. If you play every weekend, your shoes should be updated every two months, as the padding and support wears out quickly. If you’re in high school or college, and working out almost every day, you should replace your shoes every month during the season.

The padding and stability a good pair of basketball shoes offer is your best defense against injury. Once your foot begins to rock or slide, even a little inside your shoes, your chance of injury goes up exponentially. As you accumulate playing hours on the shoe, the synthetic uppers slowly begin to fatigue and stretch in response to your starting and stopping motion. Slowly, the foot gains more and more rotational movement within the shoe, which in turn offers less and less protection to the foot.

Wear custom orthotics if you had a previous injury

Hands down, the best way to avoid re-injuring your foot or to provide additional arch support is to have custom orthotics made by a podiatrist. Proper balance, support, and foot/leg alignment are not only necessary for you to consistently play at your best level, but for your protection as well. In fact, the use of custom orthotics in the NBA has increased from about 40% in 1990 to more than 80% today.

Buying Athletic Shoes For Kids: Avoid Hand-Me-Downs

22 Aug

athletic shoes kidsIt’s true that every parent with young children wants to save a buck wherever possible. You might be tempted to hand down your 12 year old’s outgrown shoes to your 10 year old, but you might want to think twice before doing that, especially when it comes to athletic shoes.

Sneakers, cleats, and any shoes made for athletic training need to fit every foot correctly. Considering the heavy beating a foot takes when they’re in these shoes, this is not an area to skimp. Your child will be running, jumping, and kicking, and their feet require padding and comfort to not only perform as well as possible, but to protect their feet from injury. Athletic shoes that are too tight will create blisters, corns, calluses, redness, sores, or ingrown toenails. Those that are too loose will allow the foot to slide, putting undue stress on the toes.

Hand-me-downs also may provide less support for the arch and heel than what’s needed. “Shoes lose their shock absorption over time, and wear and tear around the edges of the sole usually indicates it’s worn out and should be replaced.”, notes Dr Teichman at PA Foot and Ankle Associates. “If a child keeps wearing worn-out or non-supportive dress or athletic shoes, it elevates the risk for developing heel pain, Achilles tendonitis and even ankle sprains and stress fractures.”

When you’re buying new shoes for your child, make sure they’re not too tight, and resist the urge to buy a pair that are slightly large, believing that your child will “grow into them”. And with the innovations in shoe design and construction, modern materials don’t need to “break-in”, like they did years ago.

How to know if the shoe is right for your child:

  • Make sure there’s a finger’s width distance in the shoe box between the longest toe and the front of the shoe
  • No redness should appear on the child’s feet after taking the shoes off. Redness is a sign of the shoe rubbing or pinching
  • The shoe should not bend in the middle of the sole, it should bend at the ball of the foot
  • The toe box should flex easily
  • The back of the shoe should meet your child’s foot, but not be tight
  • Shoes should be made of quality materials which will cushion the foot
  • The toe box should be roomy enough that your child can wiggle their toes

Your child’s shoes not only protect their feet from injury this year, but also protect them from developing foot problems which may follow them into adulthood. Take the time and choose wisely.

Diabetic Socks: Why you need them and how to choose them

31 Jan

diabetic socks

Diabetes complicates your life quite a bit. It requires a radical change to your diet, daily blood sugar monitoring, significant weight loss, and starting an exercise program. You may also need to change your wardrobe and add diabetic shoes and diabetic socks.

What are diabetic socks?

No, diabetic socks aren’t insulin dependent. They’re socks made specifically for diabetics, created from special materials that promote healthy circulation, reduce irritation and infection, and keep your feet drier than typical socks. As we’ve written in this blog, diabetes can have a big impact on your feet, ankles, and lower legs. It affects blood circulation, reducing your ability to heal normally, and it causes neuropathies, which reduce your ability to feel sensation or pain in your feet.

You’d think that normal socks couldn’t possibly cause damage to your feet, but if you’re diabetic, they surely can. A simple seam running across the front of a cotton sock can rub against a diabetic’s sensitive skin and cause a blister. If you have a neuropathy, you may not notice this blister until you actually see it, and by then it may be infected, requiring significant medical attention.

What to look for in a diabetic sock

Diabetic socks should have non-binding tops which allow for better blood circulation. A normal sock has either a slightly tighter stitching or elastic at the top to keep them from falling down. This light pinching above your ankle can actually reduce blood circulation to the feet in diabetic patients.

Diabetic socks should have a seamless design. This means the socks won’t rub against your toes, which is significant if your diabetes causes your feet to swell. The seam of a traditional sock rubbing against a swollen foot can become unbearable.

Diabetic socks should be made from materials that wick moisture away from your feet. This will keep your feet nice and dry and reduce the chances of getting a bacterial or fungal infection like athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, which can become quite serious for diabetics if not addressed immediately.

You can find diabetic socks in PA Foot and Ankle’s online store

Carry That Weight: Every Step Depends On Your Achilles Tendon

17 Jan

Running, walking, dancing, hopping, jumping. You couldn’t do any of it without your achilles tendon.  When you don’t take care of this tendon and injure it, the result is heel pain or ankle pain, and depending on the injury, anywhere between a few days to 12 weeks of rest and recovery.

achilles_tendon_movementYour achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel bone, and is responsible for every movement of your lower leg. When you contract your calf muscle, it pulls up on the achilles tendon, which forces the front of your foot down. This connectivity enables you to stand on your toes, walk, run, and jump. When you push off a surface, each achilles tendon has to handle 3-12 times your body weight. It’s a tendon with a lot of responsibility.

And that’s why it’s so easily injured when you don’t take care of it. The major causes of injury are overuse, misalignment of your leg, improper footwear, and accidents. These injuries usually show up as Achilles tendonitis or an achilles tendon rupture or tear.

Symptoms of achilles tendon injury

Achilles tendonitis (aka achilles tendinosis): 

Soreness or stiffness usually just behind the ankle, which comes on gradually and continues to worsen. This is a very common injury among athletes, especially long distance runners.

Achilles tendon rupture

There usually is little mystery when this happens. This partial or complete tear of the achilles tendon happens quickly, often with a popping sound, and is very painful, usually described as a knife-like pain. A complete tear is self-evident by the inability to properly coordinate the movement of your foot and leg, but a partial tear may be a bit more mysterious. This is most common in middle age athletes who don’t do proper warmups (stretching) before exercising.

Preventing Achilles tendon injury

You get what you pay for in athletic shoes. A shoe which fits your arch, is matched to your pronation, and is sufficiently cushioned, is key in keeping your Achilles healthy, especially as we age. In fact, just a little padding under the heel can be of tremendous benefit to those who suffer from repeated injuries to the achilles. That’s because the padding actually shortens the length of the stretch of the tendon with every step. Custom made orthotics (shoe inserts) are also very helpful in healing the achilles tendon and preventing injury.  And as always, stretching before exercise is key in avoiding many injuries of the foot and ankle – and elsewhere.

Treating an achilles tendon injury

Fortunately, treating an achilles injury under a podiatrist’s supervision is usually successful. Depending on the severity of your injury, your podiatrist may recommend rest, a change in footwear, orthotics, over the counter anti inflammatory pain medicine, and stretching exercises via physical therapy. If your achilles is ruptured or torn, surgery or immobilization with a walking boot or cast may be necessary to repair it.

Early treatment by a podiatrist is key in healing the achilles tendon correctly and preventing more serious injury. Even in mild cases, it can take weeks or months until you’re able to get back to your regular routine.

How to prevent athlete’s foot

14 Dec

One of the great myths about foot care is that only athletes or people who shower at the gym get athlete’s foot.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

athletes foot between toes

A typical case of athlete’s foot

In fact, athlete’s foot, called tinea pedis in medical terms, can affect anyone, and just about everyone gets it at one time or another. Minor cases will result in dry, itchy, flaky skin between the toes, while the most severe will also include redness and open and sore areas.

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin and is typically picked up in communal areas where you walk barefoot, like the shower at your gym or summer camp, or even your own bathroom. You can also get it by wearing someone else’s shoes (be careful renting footwear in bowling alleys and ice rinks). The fungus grows on floors, bath tubs, shower stalls, clothing, anywhere that’s warm, damp, and dark.

The first place you typically experience athlete’s foot is between your toes. From there, the fungal infection can spread to literally anywhere else on your body, especially those areas which are enclosed and remain warm and moist, like your groin. It can also infect your toenails. As with many foot care problems, your footwear figures prominently. Since your shoes typically press your toes together and perspiration keeps the skin damp, once infected, the fungus can spread rapidly.

Symptoms of athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot causes scaling, flaking, and mild to intense itching of the affected skin. Blisters and cracked skin may also occur, leading to exposed raw skin, pain, swelling, and inflammation. A bacterial infection can accompany the more serious cases, requiring a course of oral antibiotics. Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to the fungus, causing blisters or vesicles on the hands, chest and arms.

How to avoid athlete’s foot
bad case athletes foot

A severe case of athlete’s foot

  • Athlete’s foot can easily be avoided by letting your feet “breathe”. Go barefoot as often as possible, especially at home (assuming you have no foot conditions that would prohibit this). In fact, those who go habitually barefoot (such as those in tropical climates), rarely experience athlete’s foot. Being shoewear-free ventilates the skin of your feet, allowing moisture to evaporate and sunlight in to discourage fungal growth.
  • If you frequent the shower or sauna at the gym or other communal areas, wear flip flops to avoid contact with the floor. The infection spreads by direct contact with the contaminated area.
  • Never wear someone else’s shoes or socks
  • Keep your feet dry, especially between your toes
  • Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row – allow them to thoroughly dry between wearing
  • Wash your feet daily with soap and water
  • Wear shoes which allow your feet to breathe-those that are open toed or are made from materials like leather, cotton, or canvas
  • Wear shoes which are wide and roomy
  • Always wear clean, dry socks
Treatment of athlete’s foot

If a minor case, over the counter foot creams like Lotrimin or Lamisil usually work well. If your case is severe, see a podiatrist for a diagnosis and treatment program.

***Please note that if you’re diabetic, have an impaired immune system, or are elderly, athlete’s foot can quickly lead to a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis, which requires medical treatment.

%d bloggers like this: