Posts for: June, 2016
Choosing summer footwear that looks and feels great
So long, snow boots—warm weather is here at last! But while you’re skipping through summer in your saucy sandals or padding through the sand in your favorite flip-flops, what toll will your seasonal footwear take on your hardworking feet? Nearly eight of every 10 Americans have experienced foot problems caused by wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
“Many of us increase our activity levels in the summer, and that could mean an increased risk of foot and ankle discomfort or even injury,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Center and APMA member. “Plus, many of the shoes we enjoy wearing during warm weather, like flip-flops and sandals, may not always be the best choice in terms of foot health.”
Once considered only beach wear, flip-flops have gone fashionable, now showing up in offices, classrooms, and social events when warm weather arrives. But some styles may be more harmful to your feet than others and can cause blisters and foot pain. Remember the following tips when shopping for flip-flops:
Forego vinyl or rubber and look for high-quality, soft leather, which will minimize the potential for blisters and other irritations. APMA certifies some footwear products with its Seal of Acceptance, which tells you a team of APMA podiatrists has evaluated the footwear to ensure it allows the most normal foot function and promotes foot health. View the list of products by visiting www.apma.org/seal.
Like all shoes, the flip-flop should bend at the ball of the foot. Don’t buy it if the flip-flop bends completely in half.
Straps should fit comfortably but not be too loose or too snug. Your foot should not hang off the edge of the flip-flop. The thong between the toes should not be irritating.
If last year’s flip-flops show severe signs of wear, toss them and buy a new pair.
Don’t wear flip-flops for long walks; even the sturdiest styles don’t offer sufficient arch support and shock absorption for extended wearing. And never wear them when doing yard work or playing sports.
“If you suffer from heel pain or diabetes, avoid flip-flops altogether,” says Dr. Gordon.
As popular as flip-flops, sandals are versatile options for warm weather footwear, but you don’t have to sacrifice foot health to look good in them. You should choose a sandal as much for its comfort and support as its fashion appeal. Fortunately, following a few simple steps can ensure your feet look and feel good in the summer’s hottest fashion sandals:
Flats and slides are comfy and convenient, but prolonged wearing and inadequate support and cushioning may lead to arch and heel pain. Use cushioned inserts to improve sandals’ support, and choose styles that have soles that don’t twist excessively.
Gladiator sandals are back in step this season, but some styles may irritate the toes and cause calluses on the heels. “Choose natural materials like soft, supple leather,” Dr. Gordon suggests. Toes and heels should not hang off edges.
Platforms and high heels may make your legs look great, but they can also put you at risk of foot and ankle injuries. Opt for heels less than two inches high, which offer more stability.
Rubber soles with good traction are a must for anyone wearing wedges or espadrilles.
Peep-toe sandals can put a lot of pressure on your feet, causing bunions and hammertoes over time. Wear them for short periods only, and use toe inserts to improve comfort.
Ankle-wrap sandals often lack true ankle support, and friction from the straps may cause blisters. Choose sandals with straps made of soft, breathable material like leather, cotton, or satin. Never wrap the straps too tightly.
How to keep your morning run healthy—for your feet
Love isn’t the only human experience that may make you wonder, “How can something so good hurt so bad?” You might find yourself asking that question after your morning run, afternoon power walk, or other physical activity that demands a lot from your feet. Physical activities like running, brisk walking, and playing sports can be great for your body; exercise improves cardiovascular health, burns calories, and builds muscle strength. Summer is a great time to stay—or get—active, but you still need to take precautions to ensure your exercise routine is also healthy for your feet.
“Let’s face it—we all have a lot riding on our feet, and we demand a great deal from them, especially when we’re engaging in strenuous exercise,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, Leesburg Foot and Ankle Center and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Foot health is a key component of overall health and well-being. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to take the right steps toward protecting your feet when you run, jog, power walk, or engage in other exercise.
“Be aware of common ailments of the season like athlete’s foot, blisters, nail fungus, foot odor, and warts, and the summer foot fixes that can help cure them,” says Dr. Gordon.
You can also take these steps to minimize the risk of injury or other problems when running or exercising:
- Stretch before and after activity. Lactic acid is the chemical by-product of exercise that causes muscles to ache after a workout. Stretching improves your circulation and decreases the buildup of lactic acid; it can also help relieve stiffness and prevent strain. Simply flexing the hamstrings and stretching calves, Achilles tendons, and shins can help ensure your workout is safe.
- Choose an appropriate running shoe. The only real expense of running or walking is buying shoes, so it pays to invest in a good pair that will provide the support you need to have a safe, successful workout. If you’re prone to swollen feet later in the day, try on athletic shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are most swollen, to ensure a proper fit. Shoes should be stable from side to side, well-cushioned but with enough room to wiggle your toes, and snug to the heel. You can find a list of healthy footwear that carries APMA’s Seal of Acceptance on the organization’s website, www.apma.org/seal.
- Be aware of the surface. The surface you’re running on makes a difference in how hard the activity is on your feet. Hard, uneven ground can lead to stress fractures, slips, and falls. Softer ground is more foot-friendly and causes less shock than harder surfaces. If possible, run or walk on grass or dirt paths that are flat, even, and well-manicured.
- Think twice about running in inclement weather. If your feet are wet and cold, the ground will feel harder, and you’ll be more prone to slipping.
- Listen to your feet. It’s not normal to experience pain or changes in the feet and ankles. If you experience foot pain that lasts for more than a few days, see a podiatrist for evaluation. He or she can tell you if the pain is a minor, passing problem or a symptom of something more serious such as injury or disease.
“With some simple precautions, you can ensure your walking and running activities remain healthy and enjoyable for your entire body, especially your hardworking feet,” Dr. Gordon says.
Many people underestimate just how much they actually move and walk throughout an entire day.
For those dealing with pain or discomfort in their heel, every step can be a constant reminder of how integ
ral motion is to our everyday lives, and just how debilitating it can be when pain stands in the way.
Unfortunately, common tendon conditions localized to the heel, such as
However, individuals who regularly participate in intense physical activity, like exercising or sports, are more susceptible to these types of injuries.
The doctors at the Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers have a deep understanding of the root causes of heel pain, as well as the best way to treat it. Local Reston and Manassas heel pain sufferers no longer have to worry about the consequences of tendon damage thanks to the Tenex Health TX System.
Developed in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, this procedure involves the use of ultrasound imaging coupled with the TX MicroTip; a tool designed to break down and remove damaged tissue with the utmost precision, while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact.
Once the damaged tissue is extracted, the tendon can fully heal, effectively eliminating the pain.
Unlike many other tendon repair operations, this advanced technique requires only a minor incision. Reston and Manassas heel pain sufferers can have this performed as a minor outpatient procedure, often even with the patient wide awake.
After identifying the primary source of the pain, a local anesthetic is applied to numb the area. The ultrasonic waves breaking down the injured tissue only feels like a slight pressure.
For Reston and Manassas heel pain patients who desire to rid themselves of their chronic discomfort, contact Reston Foot and Ankle Center at (703) 437-6333 to learn more about this advanced procedure.
Relaxing on the beach, hiking through the mountains, trekking around a new city, or just keeping up with all the kids’ summer activities—however you spend summer vacation, your feet will carry you through it all. During the course of these adventures, your feet may endure stubbed toes, miles of walking, hot sand, and possibly even some sunburn. So be kind to your tootsies, and take note of these tips for protecting your feet from summer heat.
Foot care on the road
You may be looking forward to a beach vacation or lounging by the pool at a luxury hotel. But even those fun activities can take a toll on your feet if you don’t practice proper safety.
“Even if you're just lying still on your back soaking up the sun’s rays, your feet are still vulnerable,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston Foot and Ankle Center and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “You can seriously sunburn your feet. And no matter how upscale your hotel is, athlete’s foot can be present in all public pool areas.”
To help steer clear of foot problems, follow these tips:
- Walk barefoot as little as possible. Going shoeless exposes your feet to sunburn, plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other infections, and increases the risk of injury. Wear shoes or flip-flops around the pool, to the beach, in locker rooms, and even inside your hotel room, as infection-causing bacteria can linger in carpets and on bathroom tiles.
- Just as you rely on sunscreen and drinking plenty of water during the summer, these practices also help your feet. Apply sunscreen on your whole foot, especially the tops and fronts of ankles. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help minimize foot swelling caused by the heat.
- Always pack an extra pair of shoes, especially if you expect your feet will get wet.
- Take along a foot-care kit that includes sterile bandages, antibiotic cream, an emollient-enriched cream, blister pads, and an anti-inflammatory pain-reliever.
- Avoid a flip-flop fiasco. Ditching heavy boots and wearing lighter footwear is one of the great joys of summer. But be aware that not all types of footwear are good for your feet. Flip-flops, in particular, can cause problems.
“During warmer months, many podiatrists treat more foot problems, and they can often be traced back to the wearing of flip-flops,” Dr. Gordon says. “You don’t have to give up wearing flip-flops altogether; certain types offer a superior amount of stability and support than others.”
So, what's considered a bad flip-flop? Flip-flops with soles that bend and twist freely offer no support or stability. Choose flip-flops that bend only at the ball of the foot and that provide arch support, which cushions the foot and provides stability. High-quality soft leather for the thong part of the flip-flop will help you avoid blisters. Your toes or heels should never hang off the edge of the flip-flop. Throw away flip-flops that are old, worn, cracked, or frayed—no matter how much you loved them last season.
Finally, never wear flip-flops for doing yard work, playing sports, or taking long walks. Do wear good, supportive flip-flips at the pool, beach, or in public places. Your feet will take you to a lot of cool places this summer. Keeping them safe and comfortable can maximize the fun during your next warm-weather adventure.
Steven Gordon, DPM, is a podiatrist at Reston Foot and Ankle Center in Reston, VA. Call 703-437-6333 or visit www.FootVA.com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.