Posts for: May, 2017
Power shoes: Choosing the right footwear for climbing the corporate ladder
Climbing the corporate ladder requires marketable skills, initiative, creativity, and ... the right shoes? While the importance of proper footwear may seem obvious for professions that require standing or walking all day, such as waitressing, nursing, or cooking, poor shoe choices can also trip you up in an office setting.
“At best, sore feet can be a troublesome distraction when you need to concentrate in a meeting or be at your best during a job interview,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “At worst, severe foot injuries from poor footwear can require corrective surgery that puts you out of commission—and out of the office—for extended periods of time.”
While you may assume that some professions are more prone to injury than others, or that women wearing high heels are more at risk, everyone working nine to five should take steps to ensure he or she heads to work every morning wearing shoes that will help—not hinder—job performance.
When you’re choosing a dress shoe for work, keep these tips in mind:
Shoes for women
Avoid wearing heels higher than two inches. If you choose to wear very high heels for a meeting or other work occasion, limit the time you’re in them and change into a lower, more comfortable pair as soon as possible.
Vary heel height from day to day. Look for “walking” pumps—also called “comfort” or “performance” pumps—with mid- to low heels. APMA offers a list of shoes that have earned its Seal of Acceptance for promoting good foot health, available at www.apma.org/seal.
Look for plenty of toe room. Ideally, pumps with wider, rounded, or square toe boxes give your toes more room. “Avoid shoes with pointy toes that squeeze digits into unnatural positions,” says Dr. Gordon, “Cramped toes can cause a host of foot woes, from bunions to ingrown toenails.”
Choose wider heels that offer more stability. Stiletto heels and similar pointy heels are less stable and may cause spinal misalignment and ankle injuries.
Beware ballet flats. You may think no-heel shoes are better for your feet, but often that’s not the case. Ballet flats offer little cushioning or support, and can also cause foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tendon that connects the heel bone to the toes.
Regardless of heel height or shoe style, look for shoes that offer adequate arch and ankle support, and plenty of cushioning.
Shoes for men
Look for good quality oxford styles—like wing-tip or cap-toe designs—which tend to be best. You can also opt for slip-ons, dressy loafers, and low dress boots.
Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes every day. You should have at least three or four pairs of good quality professional shoes.
When shoes become too worn to be supportive anymore, replace them. You may be tempted to hold on to that old pair of shoes you love, but apart from looking unprofessional, worn-out shoes also provide less support for your feet.
Tips for men and women:
Always shop at the end of the day when feet are at their largest.
Choose quality materials that allow the foot to breathe.
Look for shoes that offer good support.
“Never buy a pair of shoes that are uncomfortable, assuming you’ll break them in,” adds Dr. Gordon. “Shoes should be comfortable right away. If they’re not, then they’re not the right shoes for your feet!”
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 Centers 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.
If you experience persistent foot pain, see a podiatrist. Feet shouldn’t hurt all the time, and if they do, it may indicate injury, irritation, or illness.
No one disputes that exercise provides a host of health benefits, from helping control weight to improving cardiovascular function. But exercising in the wrong footwear can cause more harm than good, especially because foot health is integral to overall well-being.
“To get the most out of your workout or from playing a favorite sport, it’s imperative to choose the right footwear for the type of exercise you’ll engage in,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Improper footwear can lead to irritation and injury.”
Foot or ankle sprains and fractures are the most common types of injuries related to exercise and footwear. The type of exercise or sport you prefer can influence the type of injury you could experience. For example, foot and ankle sprains and fractures are generally more common among football players, while basketball players may suffer more ankle sprains, and runners experience stress fractures to feet or ankles.
APMA offers some guidance on how to avoid foot injury while exercising:
Always warm up before exercise. Just as you stretch to warm up leg and arm muscles, your feet need to warm up gradually too.
If you experience foot pain while exercising or engaging in physical activity, stop immediately. Foot pain is not normal, and you shouldn’t feel any when you exercise. If pain persists even after you stop your workout, see a podiatrist.
Always wear supportive shoes that are appropriate for the type of physical activity you’re engaging in. “Runners need more arch support and cushioning to absorb impact,” says Dr. Gordon, “Basketball players require extra ankle support to prevent injury from side-to-side movement—which is why basketball shoes come up over the ankles.” Choosing the right footwear can help ensure you minimize the risk of injury and enjoy a more productive and comfortable workout.
Don’t go it alone when you’re shopping for a workout or sports shoe. Go to a store that specializes in athletic footwear and ask to be fitted professionally before you buy. Shoes should fit comfortably as soon as you try them on; never assume you’ll “break in” an uncomfortable athletic shoe. Shop toward the end of the day, when feet are at their largest due to normal daily swelling.
Whatever your exercise or sport of choice, your athletic shoes should offer plenty of support in the front and back.
Finally, when athletic shoes begin to show signs of wearing out, it’s time to replace them. “Examine the tread, especially around mid-sole,” adds Dr. Gordon. “Generally, you should replace athletic shoes every year, and running shoes every 300 to 400 miles.”
Power Mowers Pose Danger to Feet
Thousands of Foot Injuries Can be Prevented Each Year
Manassas, Reston, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers -- Lawn care season is back and Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon, Shaun Hafner DPM, FACFAS cautions homeowners to protect their feet and the feet of those around them when using rotary-blade lawnmowers.
Each year, some 25,000 Americans sustain injuries from power mowers, according to reports issued by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. “The blades whirl at 3,000 revolutions per minute and produce three times the kinetic energy of a .357 handgun. Yet, each year we continue to see patients who have been hurt while operating a lawnmower barefoot,” said Dr.Hafner, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Dr. Hafner said children under the age of 14 and adults over the age of 44 are more likely to be injured from mowers than others. He advises anyone who operates a power mower to take a few simple precautions:
- Don’t mow a wet lawn. Losing control from slipping on rain-soaked grass is the leading cause of foot injuries caused by power mowers.
- Wear heavy shoes or work boots when mowing – no sneakers or sandals.
- Don’t allow small children to ride on the lap of an adult on a lawn tractor. Children can be severely injured by the blades when getting on or off the machine.
- Mow across slopes, never go up or down.
- Never pull a running mower backwards.
- Keep children away from the lawn when mowing.
- Keep the clip bag attached when operating a power mower to prevent projectile injuries.
- Use a mower with a release mechanism on the handle that automatically shuts it off when the hands let go.
“If a mower accident occurs, immediate treatment is necessary to flush the wound thoroughly and apply antibiotics to prevent infection,” says Dr. Hafner, “Superficial wounds can be treated on an outpatient basis, but more serious injuries usually require surgical intervention to repair tendon damage, deep clean the wound and suture it. Tendons severed in lawnmower accidents generally can be surgically reattached unless toes have been amputated,” he adds.