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October 2019

Monthly Archives

Footcare for the Great Canadian Winter

Now that summer is over and the cooler months are here, it can be tempting to neglect your feet over the winter because they are more out of sight. Out of sight shouldn’t be out of mind; doing this is not the best decision for the feet or the rest of the body!

It’s easy to forget about going out to exercise when the winter weather arrives as it is easier to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy! The problem is that sitting around all day can lead to foot and ankle swelling. Without your calf muscle pumping, the blood circulating through your body starts to pool in your feet and ankles. If you must stay inside, then be sure to do a few basic foot and leg exercises, as advised by your Canadian Certified Pedorthist, to keep your blood flowing. The key message is to stay active and continue your exercise routine during the winter.

Winter Footwear Selection 

It is important to consider what you are going to be doing for activity and select the right shoe or boot for the job. There are different types of footwear with a variety of fancy features on the market. It does not matter if you are walking to work on snow-covered sidewalks, hanging out at the rink, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, it is important to choose proper winter footwear that keeps your feet warm, dry and protected. Wintertime shoes should have ample padding and warm lining but still be roomy enough as to not cut off circulation in the feet and toes. Having some space around your toes allows warm air created by your body temperature to circulate in that space. Avoiding synthetic materials and other non-breathable fabrics can help control foot sweat; too much perspiration could create an extra chill that can lead to frostbite on the coldest of winter days. A Canadian Certified Pedorthist can assist you in finding the best pair of shoes for you.

Your Pedorthist will advise that it is important to wear shoes with good grip and strong arch supports, like custom foot orthotics, so that you do not slip or fall. It is also very important that the feet remain dry when it is wet and cold out. Make sure that the shoes or boots you wear fit when wearing thicker and warmer socks. The socks should fit well to prevent blistering and should help keep moisture from sitting on your skin. Socks that wick away moisture from the foot will help keep your feet warm and will help reduce the chances of frostbite when you are outside for an extended period. As it is difficult to avoid wet or cold feet completely, it is important to remove wet footwear as soon as possible and get the feet dry and warm as soon as possible.

When you go out in the cold, be sure to allow time for extra stretching as winter weather can make you less flexible and therefore prone to more injuries to your feet and the rest of your body. Also, when you are out walking and running, shorten the stride length to help increase stability when you go over slippery and icy patches.

Winter is a time when humidity is lower, and skin can dry out. Work to keep your skin moisturized to avoid problems that come with dry skin such as painful cracking, calluses and other rough spots.

Winter Footcare for People with Diabetes

Have you been diagnosed with diabetes? In winter, foot care for people with diabetes becomes more important. There are potential problems that can arise from moisture, cold, and dryness. Here are some tips to keep top of mind:

  • Lower temperatures can enhance neuropathy and numbness. This can lead to sores, blisters, and trauma to the foot.
  • Keeping feet warm and dealing with dry skin is of utmost importance
  • Dry feet can lead to cracking followed by skin breakdown. This breakdown can lead to wounds and infections. Daily foot inspections, cleaning and moisturizing the feet with foams or lotion formulated for the feet of people with diabetes can help prevent issues seen in this area.
  • As always, people with diabetes must maintain control over their blood sugar levels
  • There is no let up in the need to keep nails trimmed straight across and not rounded. Trimming may be done after bathing when the nails are softer. Seek help from a licensed provider if you are unable to do this yourself.
  • Footwear for people with diabetes in winter should follow basic principles of comfort, fit, and protection from the elements. It is more important for people with diabetes that seasonal footwear should provide adequate padding, room and protection from wet and cold temperatures.
  • The toe box of your footwear should be square or rounded to allow all the toes to wiggle freely. Avoid footwear that has seams whenever possible.
  • It is almost impossible to avoid dampness in shoes and socks over the winter, so it is important to remove wet shoes and socks as soon as possible. Allowing dampness to sit on your feet leaves them susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections. Try to carry an extra pair of socks for emergency situations. Make sure that shoes are thoroughly dry before wearing them again. If they’re not fully dry, choose a new pair to help keep your feet healthy and clean.

For further information, please consult a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. You can find one in your area by visiting

By Jim Pattison, B Sc., C. Ped (C)

Meet a Pedorthist – Dan Steffens

Dan Steffens, C. Ped (C)

Dan Steffens, a clinic owner and Canadian Certified Pedorthist in Barrie, ON, started his career renting out a walk-in clinic and using his parents’ 200 square-foot basement as a lab. As time went on his client base grew, resulting in an abundance of positive casts in the already cramped basement.

When he outgrew that space, Dan moved to a healthcare complex and shared an office with his father. He remained there for about seven months and built up enough clients and referral sources to expand and open his own clinic.

“I ended up in the heart of Barrie and I opened my own multidisciplinary clinic – including physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, athletic therapy and of course my own pedorthic lab in the very back,” says Dan.

Dan graduated from the University of Guelph in Biological Science – Human Kinetics and continued his post-grad Diploma in Pedorthics at Western University.

“Seeing the intricacy of the foot in my anatomy class really sparked my interest in pedorthics,” Dan remembers. “Learning about the 26 bones, 33 joints and 100 different muscles, tendons and ligaments were also intriguing as well. I have always enjoyed working with my hands and in a healthcare setting.”

Dan enjoys many aspects of the job – including seeing the biomechanical changes immediately after an orthotic is applied. 

“This makes it a very reassuring profession in my opinion, as we can actually see the changes in gait. I also love working with my hands and have always been a tactile learner, which also makes it the perfect career choice for me,” he says.

Dan also finds the job rewarding, especially when he makes follow-up calls after the patient picks up a pair of orthotics. 

“I love hearing the difference I have made in their everyday lifestyle and if there wasn’t success with the original pair of orthotics, I love the challenge for the modifications that need to be applied to the orthotics,” he says.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys playing any kind of sports including wakeboarding, hockey, and frisbee. Not to mention “slicing golf balls and going to church on the weekends.”

October: A Focus on all things Pedorthics

This month we’ll be focusing on all things pedorthics. Still not clear on what a Canadian Certified Pedorthist does or what pedorthic treatment involves? We’ll be covering all of this and more. Here are some answers to some commonly asked questions to get you started!

What is Pedorthics?

The word pedorthics (ped-or-thics) comes from the Latin word for ‘foot’ (ped or pes) and Greek word for ‘straight’ or ‘correct’ (ortho). The first known use of the word pedorthics was in 1974 when it was defined as “the art and practice of designing, making, and fitting therapeutic shoes for relieving painful or disabling conditions of the feet.” ( The definition has evolved to also include other appliances such as custom foot orthoses (orthotics, orthotic inserts) and modifications to off-the-shelf devices and footwear.

What is the history of Pedorthics in Canada?

It’s estimated that footwear has a 40,000-year-old history and pedorthics has been practiced in some form or another since long before it was defined in the dictionary. Pedorthics, as a profession in Canada, is still relatively young. 

The Pedorthic Association of Canada (PAC) was established in 1990 under the mandate to promote the study, practice, and knowledge of pedorthics in Canada. The College of Pedorthics of Canada (CPC) was later established to protect the public by administering a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for all who hold a title a CPC designated title. CPC titles include Certified Pedorthic Master Craftsman, Certified Pedorthist (Canada), and Certified Pedorthic Technician (Canada); in short form they appear as C. Ped MC, C. Ped (C), and C. Ped Tech (C), respectively. To hold a title with the CPC, one must also be a member-in-good-standing with the PAC. Currently, PAC has about 650 active members.

What background do Pedorthists have?

Canadian Certified Pedothists come from a variety of educational and experiential backgrounds. Many were drawn to pedorthics through a university degree in kinesiology or other health sciences like physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Others may have found their way there by way of working in footwear retail. (I even know a pedorthist who retrained in pedorthics after a career in furniture making!) It is important to note that all those holding a title from the College of Pedorthics of Canada have fulfilled the requirements to hold that title which includes supervised hours, competency exams (written and practical), and regular audited completion of continuing education and ongoing professional development. (Interested in learning more about becoming a Pedorthist? Visit

What do Pedorthists do? What can they do for me?

Pedorthists have a number of tools in their toolbox. They are problem solvers who have a knack for finding creative solutions. There is both an art and a science to the work that pedorthists do. Solutions may be for the purpose of improving alignment for more effective motion, accommodating of painful or prominent areas, or stimulating proprioceptive mechanisms (i.e. your awareness of your body in space and how it’s moving). We’ll be sharing more on specific pedorthic treatments as the month goes on so stay tuned!

Where do Pedorthists work? Who do they work with?

Pedorthists work in a variety of settings. Many are in what is considered private practice working in clinic settings others work in public hospital environments. Some work in a pedorthic-centric space, some work in multi-disciplinary spaces. Some are stationary, based in the same clinic everyday, while others are mobile and travel to provide service to more rural or isolated communities. Many pedorthists are also entrepreneurs having started their own clinics, labs, or retail shoe stores. Whether under the same roof or not, pedorthists pride themselves on being an important part of the health care team and work closely with doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, surgeons, orthotists, and, perhaps most importantly, the clients themselves, to provide comprehensive care.

How do I get an appointment to see a Pedorthist?

You may start with a referral and prescription from your primary health care provider such as your family doctor, GP or Nurse Practitioner. To find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your area visit where you can search by location, name, or organization. Give one a call today! They will be happy to address your questions and welcome you in for a consultation and/ or assessment.

By Jaime Nickerson, C. Ped (C), B.Sc. (Kin), Dip. Pedorthics