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October 2015

Monthly Archives

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

Prevention is best for foot health

Every day I see a wide range of patients with a variety of foot problems who are experiencing foot pain, decreased mobility or both. Although they are keen to do whatever it takes to ease their discomfort, many of them are frustrated when I explain that their foot condition could have been avoided. Foot problems and foot pain are widespread problems in Canada but very few people are born with foot problems. The majority of problems develop because people, either knowingly or unknowingly, fail to care for their feet properly, and wearing ill-fitting shoes is one of the main culprits.

As our base of support, our feet take a lot of pounding. But feet are not as sturdy as they appear. Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles which means there are a lot of elements that can be injured if they are not supported and cared for properly.

Wearing well-fitted, supportive shoes during childhood is an important defence against future foot troubles. Babies’ feet are made of soft cartilage which slowly hardens into bones over the years. The soft structure of their feet combined with the rapid growth they undergo means children’s feet are particularly vulnerable to ill-fitting shoes and tight socks.

Although a good start is important, feet cannot be neglected through adulthood and continuing to wear properly fitting shoes is essential. Many people don’t realize that feet change shape and size as they age so it’s important to continue to get your feet measured even after they are full grown. People of all ages experience foot problems but foot problems are four times more common in women than men and high heels are the primary cause. High heels are often pointy and unnaturally force weight on to the balls of women’s feet causing forefoot and arch pain to develop along with the formation of corns and calluses in areas that are rubbed and pinched. To protect women’s feet, Canadian Certified Pedorthists advise women follow the 80:20 rule – wear supportive footwear 80 per cent of the time and the other 20 percent of the time can be spent in less supportive footwear.

Foot pain can impact your entire life as it can limit your ability to do the things you love. To ensure foot pain never slows you down, wear supportive, professionally fitted footwear all the time. When it comes to foot health, prevention is definitely the best approach.

By Laura Allen, C. Ped (C), Fergus, ON