Category Archives: Foot Care

Getting Back on Your Feet

Many of us are adapting to different daily routines. Some work more than ever, others found a new work-life balance allowing them to better focus more on their personal well-being. Creating new workout routines to stay active has become a common trend not only for people working out on a regular basis. We want you to know we are still available if you have any questions on how to get back on your feet – literally.

Are you new to running and started to experience a burning sensation or numbness? This may be caused by incorrectly sized shoes or shoes that are not made for running. Inform yourself about appropriate gear prior to starting a new workout to genuinely enjoy your new hobby. The same applies to any other sport, so don’t overcommit to too many new activities since each requires specialized, and potentially expensive, equipment.

If any of your new workout routines still cause any foot pain, we recommend to first check for ingrown toenails.  These are often caused by injuries, infections, improper trimming, or excessive pressure on the toes. We provide quick evaluations and treatments ranging from chemical to surgical.

Even if you are not making any changes to your daily routine, now may be a good time to assess your fitness goals and to address any foot concerns that didn’t seem relevant just a couple of months ago. A quick treatment may save you much trouble down the road when damage cannot be reversed that easily anymore. Check out the links below for more information on some common foot issues:

Keep in mind that healthy feet will also help with daily activities. They allow you to spend time at the lake, wear your favorite high heels, get your weekly grocery shopping done, and be active with your friends and family.

Foot and Leg Stretching Exercises

Remaining active during the COVID-19 lockdown is a challenge for most people. Some have spontaneously created a home workout routine or even attempted building their own workout equipment. In any case, stretching your feet and legs daily will provide relief against inactivity and warm you up for some home routines. Since many stretching exercises are fun and have health benefits for senior citizens as well, the entire family can participate in the following activities together.

Medical News Today offers detailed instructions for the following exercises promoting flexibility, mobility and strength. Their gifs and step by step instructions are especially well-suited for beginners.

  • Big toe stretches
  • Toe raise, point and curl
  • Toe splay
  • Toe curls
  • Marble pickup

Ready for the next level? Healthline offers similarly descriptive instructions on stretches, but focuses more on exercises you perform while standing. They suit most children and adults alike.

  • Ankle circles
  • Achilles stretch
  • Towel stretch
  • Band stretch
  • Standing calf stretch
  • Standing soleus stretch
  • Cross leg ankle stretch
  • Chair Pose

You can also check out Ardash Williams, a popular Yoga instructor. He created a YouTube video with tips on more advanced leg and feet stretches for healthy adults. These work best for individuals who have experience with professional workout equipment.

Some exercises are more adequate than others depending on your age and physical health. Please reach out to our office for more information on foot and leg exercises you can safely perform from home.

How to Stay Mobile and Independent

There is no denying: the older we get, the less mobile we become. Our hearts, nervous systems, muscles and bones gradually change and inhibit our ability to walk. Not only may this impact our work performance, it will eventually restrict us in making the best of our retirement years. No matter your hobby, it either directly involves walking, or it requires you to get from point A to point B.

Let’s compare the human body to an engine. Taking care of the cylinders, optimizing your performance while idling and make sure your car gets clean air and gas for efficient combustion. The better you take care of the engine, the more resilient it becomes. Humans can engage in a variety of exercises to “build a better engine/walking machine” through impairment-based exercises and to “build a better engine/walking machine” through task-oriented motor learning exercises. The table provides in this article, displays exercises you can perform at home with where they help your body and your engine. Click here to read more about the topic and please talk to your physician to determine which case of action fits best to your individual situation.

Some engines may benefit from tuning-up system components like new air filters or better belts. Pro-active foot treatments, like Laser Therapy, can tune-up your ability to walk and improve mobility in the long run by treating arthritis and many other conditions. Some of the benefits include:

  • Quick treatments around 4-8 minutes per session
  • No known negative side effects
  • Non-invasive; works at a cellular level
  • Painless; instant relief

“In using MLS Laser Therpy the cells of the tendons, ligaments, muscles and even the skin repairs itself faster,” Dr. Smith notes, “as the inflammation is reduced, the pain subsides, helping the body achieve a speedy recovery.” Learn more about Laser Therapy here, and please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Smith if you have any questions about you or your loved one’s mobility challenges.

Shoe Inserts, Known as Orthotics, Have Come a Long Way

We have all had the experience of having a pebble in our shoe, and we know how much that tiny object can interfere with our ability to walk pain-free.  Switch from a pebble to a condition or injury that causes pain, and you can understand how for centuries, people have tried to figure out how to make walking more comfortable.  Today, orthotics is a professional clinical specialty, where each patient is treated for their specific condition, with a ton of proven science behind each diagnosis and treatment.  But there’s a long history leading up to this point.

In 1780, Swiss doctor Jean Andre Venel set up the world’s first orthopedic clinic to help children with skeletal deformations.  He pioneered the production of various orthotic devices.  The 19th century Welsh surgeon Hugh Owen Thomas developed the method of examination of deformation in a lying position, and is considered the father of orthopedics in the United Kingdom.  The first modern orthotics began to be developed in the early 20th century, assembled from metal components padded with felt, and covered in leather.  In 1906, Dr. William Scholl (yes, THAT Dr. Scholl) introduced a lighter, more flexible metal support called the Foot-Easer.

But this mode of design remained largely unchanged for decades.

Orthotics became more prevalent as a way to help injured veterans of two world wars, as well as polio victims of the 1940s and 1950s.  The demand for corrective shoes was so high that there were close to 1000 different brands.  The advertising campaigns were so outrageous that the Federal Trade Commission had to begin issuing cease and desist orders.  The corrective shoe industry began to fade away.

Then, in 1968, an article was published describing the use of polypropylene to fabricate lower-leg braces for children with spina bifida.  Parents began asking for “plastic braces,” and a revolution was born, not just in the design of orthotics, but in how they were prescribed.  Manuals and textbooks had tended to pigeonhole each patient into a set category.  For each category, there was a device, but the patient and the device were often not well matched.  With new and more specialized manufacturing options, diagnosis and treatment began to focus more on achieving an exact match between the patient’s needs and the device used.

By the late 1970s, jogging became much more popular, and foot orthotics developed even more rapidly, as athletes reported more foot and lower limb injuries.  In the 1980s and 1990s, athletic shoes were developed with features such as flared heels, contoured sole inserts, and underfoot cushioning.

Today, skin-friendly Velcro straps have replaced leather.  Dynamic ankle braces made of light carbon fiber have replaced orthopedic shoes.  Though there are devices available over-the-counter, anyone wanting a solution that will match their specific needs should get a specific diagnosis and proposed treatment.  Dr. Smith offers both ready-made and custom-made orthotics.  To ensure they are as effective as possible, he will prescribe and fit them to you based on your diagnosis, foot shape and other factors.  Remember, foot pain is NOT normal.  An appointment with Dr. Smith is the first step toward feeling better.

Sources:
https://www.thompsonhealthservices.ca/origins-of-orthotics/

https://www.academia.edu/39269847/A_Brief_History_of_Prosthetics_and_Orthotics_of_the_Lower_Body_and_Their_Types20190526_72374_ms8gro

Should I wear compression socks?

Compression socks, compression stockings or pressure socks are often used to try to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot from forming in the deep veins of the body and usually in the legs.  But are they right for you?

History

Little was known about deep vein thrombosis (DVT) until the mid-19th century.  Theories were developed to try to explain the phenomenon.  By the 1920s, lack of physical activity, vessel wall alteration and an increased tendency to form blood clots were known as possible causes for this condition.  However, treating this condition was largely a mystery until several breakthroughs, most discovered by accident, revolutionized DVT treatment.  The anticoagulant Heparin, for example, was in wide use by the 1940s.  So, this drug replaced the previously popular, but ineffective, prescription of weeks of bed rest.

Since then, there have been advances in anticoagulants, along with the rise of compression therapy as a drug-free solution.  The idea of using compression bandages to decrease blood pooling in the legs and prevent the problems it may cause actually goes back centuries.  However, its effectiveness was very limited, because it was usually paired with prolonged bed rest.  Compression therapy gained popularity by the 1950s when prescribed at the conclusion of an anticoagulant treatment with more emphasis placed on ambulatory activity, rather than resting.

What do they do?

The way compression socks work is actually quite simple.  Because they have somewhat stronger elastic properties than regular socks, they apply gentle pressure to the lower legs, helping to promote the flow of blood back to your heart.  This helps reduce the pooling of blood in the legs, which can lead to the development of blood clots or lightheadedness when standing up.  They are often used following surgery or other periods of inactivity to promote better overall circulation.  They can also help reduce the pain caused by varicose veins.

Are they for me?

While you can buy socks or stockings with a small amount of compression over the counter, as a medical treatment they should be prescribed and professionally fitted, so they will be the most effective.  This can include taking measurements of your legs when they are the least swollen.  Be sure to wear them as prescribed.  Not wearing them when you’re supposed to can lead to increased swelling, making them difficult or impossible to put back on.  You’ll also want to check them daily for any signs of skin irritation, redness, as well as other color or skin changes. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several risk factors for DVM.  The more you have, the greater the chances of developing DVM:

  • Inheriting a blood-clotting disorder 
  • Prolonged bed rest, such as during a long hospital stay or paralysis 
  • Injury or surgery 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) or hormone replacement therapy 
  • Obesity 
  • Smoking 
  • Cancer 
  • Heart failure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease 
  • A personal or family history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism 
  • Age 
  • Sitting for long periods of time, such as when driving or flying 

If you suspect you may be at risk, Dr. Smith can help you sort through the factors to come to the right determination of whether compression socks are for you.