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June 2020

Monthly Archives

Easy At-Home Foot Care Tips for Seniors

Feet are one of the most overused yet overlooked parts of your body. Your feet help you get around and stay mobile and active. Staying active is what keeps you and your body healthy. So everyone needs to pay more attention to your feet – especially seniors. Healing rates can decline in seniors and there can be issues with circulation in the feet that also decrease the rate of healing.

Ingrown toenails are a common problem for seniors and can decrease a person’s activity especially if the ingrown nail gets infected. This can severely curtail activity because it is uncomfortable to walk. If a person has ingrown toenails, having shoes that are not wide enough and deep enough to avoid putting pressure on the foot can aggravate the current situation. These shoes can also be responsible for causing the ingrown toenails to reoccur.

Because the soft tissue in seniors’ feet is diminished, corns and calluses are more frequent and need proper care to make them go away and keep them from returning. Gradual removal of calluses is the best way to proceed. The root cause of corns is point source pressure between the foot and shoe. It is important to find the root cause and deal with it. If it is a problem with a broken insole in the shoe, replacing the insole or shoe may be required. If it is a problem with the corn being on the top of the toes, the upper may be too tight at that spot. Stretching of the upper will help relieve pressure at the point source and the corn can diminish when the area is not irritated.

Footcare tips for Seniors:

  • Above all, “bathroom surgery” is to be avoided!! This especially applies to people with circulation issues and diabetes. Taking any harp item like a knife blade to cut off calluses and corns is a very risky business. With circulation being diminished, healing is slower and resources to combat infections is also diminished. This is why it’s crucial these procedures are only done by a trained professional.
  • Examine your feet at least once a week – Putting your feet on a stool can help you to see your feet and provide care yourself or for others who provide the care if you can not do it. You should be on the look out for cuts, scratches, cracked skin, growths, numbness or any other new developments. If you find a sore that’s not healing, lo
  • oks infected or any other abnormalities get it checked out by your doctor or Canadian Certified Pedorthist as soon as possible.
  • Nail care is an important aspect of foot care. Cut the toenails square and have the length just beyond the weight bearing surface to avoid the possibility of the nails being ingrown.
  • When you finish bathing, pay particular attention to drying the foot especially between the toes. Wet skin is a lot more easily injured as moisture can help promote skin and nail infections.
  • Moisturize your feet except between the toes at least once a day if you are a senior. If your skin is cracking, it is important to do this a couple of times a day. I recommend moisturizing creams with shea butter and cocoa butter for natural moisturizing.

If you have any questions, please contact your friendly local pedorthist

By Jim Pattison, B.Sc, C. Ped (C)


Shoe Shopping Tips for Seniors

Shoe shopping for seniors can be a challenge, but it is not impossible.  As we age, soft tissue and fat pads thin out making the foot more sensitive. Additionally, the size and shape of our feet can change which means the shoes we used to wear may no longer be the best fit.

A comfortable shoe helps put some cushioning under the foot to make up for what is lost through the years of wear and tear. It needs to fit the foot right and accommodate any abnormalities found like bunions, hammertoes, braces that you have. 

Here are a few criteria and tests to keep in mind the next time you’re shopping for new shoes:

Soft Shoe Material – Softer, more flexible uppers (part of shoe above the sole) make the shoes more comfortable and accommodate any abnormalities in the foot. Mesh uppers and softer leathers are generally preferred for most people. For some with larger bunions and hammertoes, an upper made from a two-dimensional elastic material like Lycra may be required to provide comfort in a shoe and have it be comfortable. Stiffer uppers made from material like Box leather would not be flexible enough to wear in comfort for most seniors.

Foot Shape – As we age, the foot lengthens and widens more at the front. The shoe needs to be wide enough at the front and narrow enough at the heel. This generally means a split width shoe is required. You can tell when a shoe has a split because it gives the size and width in this form 9.5 EEE/D showing the 9.5 size with an EEE toe width and D heel width.

Foot Shape Test – Make sure the shoe fits the exact size and shape of your foot by removing the insole and placing the foot on it. There should be about a thumb thickness past the longest toe to the end of the insole. There should not be any part of the foot hanging over the side of the insole.

Non-slip Sole – A non-slip sole is important as well. There is an increased risk of falling as people age and it can lead to significant changes in where the person lives and how much they can do. What “non-slip” means changes by circumstance. Walking in snow, cold weather or on ice calls for a certain type of sole. These soles will likely have lugs on the sole and be made of rubber so that it is flexible in the cold. If a person who shuffles their feet in gait wears these shoes while walking on polished concrete floors, they are at risk of falling because the grip is too much and they will fall. In such an instance, the more appropriate sole material would be more like Topy Elysee that has smaller texture and does not grab the ground with as much force so that a person wearing these shoes will not be as likely to fall because the sole does not grip the concrete too hard.

Heel Counter Test – A stiffer heel counter will help keep the shoe on the foot and help keep it more stable. If you can put your hands on both sides of the heel and feel something in there that keeps the edges from touching will help keep the shoe stable on the foot. If it is soft at the back, the shoe may allow your foot to slide sideways inside it and lead to a fall.

Torsional Stability Test – If you can’t twist the front of the shoe sideways when holding on the heel, the shoe is said to have torsional stability. This helps the shoe also be stable on the foot and to make it work better.

Fasteners – Velcro strap attachments may be more suitable for some who have difficulty in using laces to tie up their shoes. Shoes with fasteners (Velcro, laces, etc) are recommended for seniors vs slip on shoes as they provide greater support and stability.

In short, comfortable shoes can make it easier to partake in activities. Keeping active is important in so many ways. It helps maintain fitness in the general body. It is especially important to help with fitness of the heart and lungs. Activity is one thing that can regulate blood sugar in diabetics and helps all people reduce weight. Keeping active helps delay the progression of arthritis.

If you want to know more about comfortable footwear, please contact your friendly local Pedorthist

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

Meet a Pedorthist – Sean Murray, C. Ped (C)

Sean Murray, C. Ped (C) lives in Gloucester, ON has been practicing pedorthics for 30 years and now works at his clinic in Ottawa – Ottawa Sport & Health Clinic. He loves to travel, stay active and plays golf and hockey on his free time.

Upon completing his diploma in Sport Injury Management from Sheridan College, he knew he needed a career that would fulfil his fascination of biomechanics. He began to connect with athletic therapists and started learning about orthotic design and manufacturing; it was then that he shifted his focus from treating pain to preventing pain using orthotics.

After Sean completed his C. Ped (C) certification, he branched out into a partnership and opened a privately-owned orthotic clinic, where he established an on-site lab for manufacturing. After a few years, he also joined in with a newly formed sports injury clinic. Sean was drawn to the idea of this new clinic because it encompassed many services to meet all patient needs. From bracing, to chiropractic needs, to orthotics, his clinic employs a team of incredible experts. Sean loves being self-employed and enjoys working with a team of like-minded health care professionals. He is proud of his long-lasting relationships with both patients and specialists in his community. In fact, his network had grown so much that he established several satellite clinics in Ottawa to reach an even broader audience.

Sean is incredibly happy that he gets to help people everyday. His favourite feeling is when a patient tries orthotics instead of getting surgery, and the orthotic works! There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a client pain-free and active again.

He has two pieces of advice for pedorthists out there.

  1. “Don’t oversell. People are putting their trust in us to recommend appropriate care and if you oversell or over promise, that not only tarnishes the industry but your individual reputation. Much of my success if based off word of mouth. You cannot afford unhappy patients.”
  2. “Take the opportunity to network in the Association and take advantage of the Symposiums. Much of my learning has been the result of interesting keynote speakers and colleagues. Over the years, I have also participated in the pedorthic placement program. These mentoring opportunities have been very fulfilling for me personally.”