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A daily walk is important in winter too

A 30 minute daily walk is excellent for your physical and mental health. It improves cardiovascular fitness, helps reduce body fat, strengthens muscles and bones, improves balance and reduces stress and anxiety. Walking is great for everybody but it is particularly beneficial for seniors, people who are trying to lose weight and anyone who hasn’t participated in an exercise program for some time.

During the spring, summer and fall it is relatively easy to get out for an invigorating daily walk. However, during the winter, when the snow, ice and freezing temperatures set in it is tempting to stay indoors. Snowstorms and cold weather alerts aside, it is important to continuing your walking regularly throughout the winter or you will lose all of the fitness you have gained during the warmer months.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy a daily walk all winter long:

• Purchase a pair of warm, supportive, properly fitted, light weight winter boots that provide good traction on snow and ice. Avoid boots that have smooth, plastic or leather soles. Shoes that have a thicker treadline, will provide you with more traction in the snow and on ice. Think of your shoes like tires on a car! You can also beef up your shoes by purchasing removable rubber spider web like grips that slip on over the bottom of your shoes, providing you with more traction to tackle that snow and ice. Giving you the ability to maintain your daily walking.
• If you are fearful of falling always use a cane, walking poles or simple ski poles that are properly fitted for your height. Be sure to use an attachable spike tip on icy days.
• Wear a warm, winter coat that is brightly coloured or has reflective patches so that approaching traffic can see you easily.
• Although a hat and scarf are essential make sure they don’t block your vision as you need to be able to see and hear everything that is happening around you.
• Stick to well-established paths and walkways and keep an eye out for any dark, areas as they may be sheet ice.
During the winter you may want to try other walking like activities, like snow shoeing and cross country skiing as mixing up your activities will keep you motivated! Walk with a buddy not only for safety but for motivation. If you have a friend who wants to walk they can keep you motivated on the days you aren’t.

Whether you are walking in the winter or during the spring, summer or fall, your footwear is your most important piece of equipment as it keeps your feet dry and comfortable and provides you with extra stability. It doesn’t matter if you are buying winter boots or summer walking shoes the footwear must be the right size for your feet – and the best indicator is that the footwear feels comfortable the moment you try it on. It is equally important to replace your walking footwear every 500 km as the support and comfort it provides will wear down over time. If you experience foot or lower limb pain during or following your daily walk when you are wearing properly fitted shoes or boots, don’t delay, book a consultation with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your community. Your Pedorthist will determine the cause of your pain and recommend treatment options to quickly get you back on the walking paths and trails.

By Mike Neugebauer C. Ped Tech (C), C Ped (C) Port Coquitlam BC

Living with diabetes – extra tips

As I mentioned in my last blog (include link to Living with diabetes – selecting shoes), purchasing properly fitted, supportive shoes is very important but you need to do even more if you want to avoid painful foot wounds that can lead to serious complications.

Check your shoes daily to see if any small stones or foreign objects are caught inside. Also carefully examine the top, heel and toe of your shopic shoees to make sure they haven’t broken down or worn. Damage to the shoe (as shown in the image to the left) changes the fit which can cause a bad sore to develop even after just one day of wear. One patient of mine was wearing good diabetic shoes but her shoes were loose at the heel so they moved up and down creating a sore. The patient thought it was just a small sore and didn’t treat it. However it became infected and eventually she had to have her leg amputated.

Also make sure you wear seamless, moisture-wicking socks and change them daily. Sock seams can put pressure on your foot so if you have reduced sensation in your feet they are best avoided. Moisture wicking socks will keep your feet dry and further reduce risks of sores as they won’t “pill” and rub.

pic toes

Cut your toenails square, leaving a bit of nail over the toe as shown in this image. This will help prevent ingrown toenails which can lead to infection. As people living with diabetes have a decreased ability to fight infections, preventing infection is easier than curing it.


If a sore develops – it doesn’t matter how small – stop wearing the shoe that caused the wound and treat it immediately with antibiotic or silver nitrate cream. Keep pressure off the wound until it heals. If the wound is on the bottom of your foot, a Canadian Certified Pedorthist can create a device to re-distribute the pressure on your foot that will allow the wound to heal. Be patient – it can take up to five years for a sore to heal on some feet due to poor circulation.

Most importantly, keep your sugar under control by staying active, eating well and taking your medications. Better sugar control decreases the rate of side effects like peripheral neuropathy, loss of sensation which in turn will reduce the likelihood of foot injuries and complications. If you are living with diabetes you have to take extra care of your feet but if you are vigilant, follow my tips and work closely with your Canadian Certified Pedorthist your diabetes shouldn’t slow you down.

By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C), Prince Albert, SK

Living with diabetes – selecting shoes

If you’re living with diabetes you need to pay careful attention to shoe selection and fit as your feet are highly susceptible to injury and poorly fitting shoes are one of the leading causes of foot wounds.

Here are some tips to help you select shoes that won’t damage your feet:

pic 1 When you are shoe shopping, take the insole out of the shoe and stand on it. There should be a thumb width between your longest toe and the end of the insole. If any part of your foot is hanging over the insole the shoe is too short or too narrow for you (like the photo to the left).

Conversely if insole is showing under the edges of your foot, the shoe is too wide for you. People who have reduced sensation in their feet often choose shoes that they can feel, which means they buy shoes that are 1.5 to 2 sizes too short. Shoes that are this small put extra pressure on their feet they can’t afford to have!

pic 2


If you look down at your feet past your shin and see your second toe, your foot is “straight”. This means you need to buy a shoe that is pretty much straight on the inside like the one shown in the photo to the left.


However, if you can see your third or fourth toe while looking down, your foot is “inflared” which means you should look for apic 3 shoe where the toe is turned in at the front. If you wear a “straight” shoe when your foot is “inflared” your fourth and fifth toes will hang over the side of the insole which will cause it to wear earlier on the outside and break down sooner than it should. I have seen people whose toes fall over the outside edge when they walk because their shoes do not support them.


In addition to looking for shoes that match your foot shape, you should pay attention to shoe construction. Flat seams are best as they will reduce irritation. Shoes that have right sides sewed together like pant seams (like the one shown below), will likely irritate your foot. Also carefully feel the heel to make sure there isn’t any extra fabric that will rub.

pic 4




It is always advisable to shop for shoes later in the day when your feet are at their biggest. However, if your feet tend to swell or you find your shoes are too tight at the toes, look for extra depth shoes as they will provide your feet with the room they need.

Do not buy any shoes unless they feel comfortable when you first try them on. Shoes don’t need to be “broken in,” they should be comfortable from the start. To be extra sure your new shoes won’t injure your feet, start by wearing them a couple of hours a day and slowly increase the time they are on your feet. This is not to break the shoes in, but to confirm that they fit perfectly. If they rub or pinch they are going to give you an injury that may take months or possibly years to heal.

By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C), Prince Albert, SK

Living with diabetes – foot care

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes it is important to take your diabetes seriously from the start. I’ve seen too many patients who have been living with diabetes for years and wish they’d been given this advice earlier.

As a foot expert I am most concerned about how diabetes affects the feet, and diabetes has a big impact on feet. Over time, diabetes can cause diminished, or total loss of, sensation in the feet which can lead to foot ulcers. These ulcers can develop into serious wounds which can dramatically impact your mobility and even lead to amputation.

Fortunately foot ulcers are easier to prevent than many other diabetes-related problems. The best way to prevent diabetes-related foot problems is to make foot inspection and care a daily habit:

• Wash your feet daily and dry them well, especially between your toes. Look closely for any redness or blisters as even small wounds can become infected.

• If you discover a wound (no matter how small), rinse it with water and a mild soap. Apply antibiotic cream and bandage it.

• If the sore is still there the next day, go to your doctor. You might not think it is a medical emergency, but it needs to be checked!

• If you have difficulty moving or bending, purchase a mirror on an arm to inspect your feet. If you still can’t check your feet, ask a family member or nurse to check for you.

• In addition to conducting daily foot checks, have your feet examined by your family doctor at your annual medical checkup.

If you have diabetes, a small foot wound can quickly become a serious complication that may have life changing consequences. Protect yourself by making foot care part of your daily routine.

By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C), Prince Albert, SK

Properly-fitted ski boots are essential

I never complain about Canada’s long, snowy winter as there is nothing I enjoy more than spending a day, or even better, a weekend on the ski slopes. After a stressful and sedentary working week, hitting the hills is a great way to relax the mind and exercise the body. Although skiing is great for your mental and physical health, it is a sport that is very tough on your feet and ankles as they bear the brunt of your workout, helping you make sharp turns, navigate bumps and come to a stop at the end of a fast run. To reduce the risk of blisters, bruises and more serious injury it is essential you wear properly fitted boots.

Whether you are renting ski boots for the day or buying a new pair for the season, look for ones that fit snugly over your ski socks. Although ski boots are by nature restrictive, and are not designed to allow you to walk normally, they should feel comfortable so spend time trying on different brands. Boots that are too tight will cause blisters, may limit the movement of your foot and hurt your toes. Boots that are too loose will not hold your foot and ankle in place, increasing your chance of sustaining a sprain or fracture.

Boots for snowboarding are softer and less restrictive – they must be sturdy and flexible so you can direct your board, jump and do acrobatics – but fit is equally important. As snowboarding boots provide less protection than ski boots, snowboarding has a higher risk of foot injuries.

If you wear a foot orthotic in your street shoes be sure to try on your ski or snowboarding boots with your orthotics. However, if you don’t require a foot orthotic for daily use but ski or snowboard regularly you may benefit from a custom foot orthotic that is specifically designed to fit inside your ski boots. If appropriate for your individual biomechanics, custom foot orthotics will reduce the stress skiing places on your feet, lower your risk of injuries and improve your performance on the slopes.

Although skiing experience, technique and even socks also play an important role in your foot comfort on the slopes, if you end the day with painful, injured, cold feet you need to make some adjustments to your equipment to avoid sustaining more serious damage.

Before heading out to the slopes this season visit a good quality equipment store and get fitted with boots that are right for your individual needs. If you suffer from pre-existing foot conditions such as diabetic neuropathy, bunions, neuromas, corns or calluses, or have suffered foot pain in the past during, or following, a day of skiing book an appointment with your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist and see if a custom foot orthotic will benefit you.
By Steve Stredulinsky, C. Ped (C), Calgary, Alberta

Give some thought to your socks

When you buy socks do you quickly pick up whatever brands are on sale or thoughtfully select colours and designs to reinforce your sense of fashion? Do you have a preferred material (i.e. cotton, polyester, acrylic, etc.) or do you simply purchase a few heavy, longer pairs for cold weather and some lighter, shorter pairs for warm days? There are many choices of socks available today, but beyond personal style, few people understand the importance of buying socks that are right for them.

In earlier blogs, my colleagues have discussed the importance of wearing supportive, properly-fitted shoes to prevent foot and lower limb injuries. But socks play an important role in injury prevention too. Socks provide a protective barrier between the skin of your feet and your shoes. The right pair of socks can prevent rubs, blisters and infections and the wrong ones can actually cause them.

As experts became more knowledgeable about our feet, significant changes have been made to sock design. New material blends have been introduced and new features added to increase foot protection. Today there are socks with extra padded sections, seamless socks, moisture wicking socks and more.

Here are a few tips to help you choose socks that will provide you with the protection you need:

• When It comes to socks one size does not fit all – make sure you buy the right size for your feet
• Check the thread count – socks with a higher thread count provide greater protection
• Whether you are a weekend warrior or a serious athlete buy sport specific socks. If you play multiple sports, purchase socks for each sport
• If you are living with diabetes look for seamless, moisture wicking socks. They will keep your feet dry and warm and reduce possible irritations
• If you have neuropathy, white plain socks are a good choice. You’ll quickly see any blood or fluid stains so you will know immediately if you have developed a sore even if you cannot feel it
Spending the time and the money to buy good quality, proper fitting socks with the features that are right for your needs is an important investment as reduced mobility and foot pain can be life changing.
By Mike Ennis C. Ped (C), Guelph, Ontario

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