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July 2020

Monthly Archives

Meet a Pedorthist – Julia Hayman, C. Ped (C)

Julia Hayman’s, C. Ped (C), interest in pedorthics started at only 13 years old, after receiving her first pair of orthotics from a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. This interaction later inspired her to pursue a degree in Kinesiology with a specialization in pedorthics from the University of Western Ontario. Today, she’s living in Barrie, ON as a Certified Pedorthist with over five years of experience in the field. Julia believes patience and understanding are what makes a great pedorthist.

About a year and half ago, Julia proudly opened her own practice, On the Ball Orthotics. She wants to continue building her practice with other Pedorthists and teach a few students along the way. Julia is passionate about discovering innovative pain relief solutions for her patients.

Julia has reopened On the Ball Orthotics since the COVID-19 closure. The clinic now provides hand sanitizer, pre-screening procedures, and increased room disinfecting in between appointments for all patients. They also encourage patients to book their visits ahead of time.

When she’s not working with patients, she could be playing beach and court volleyball, water and downhill skiing, hiking, biking, or running. She also enjoys volunteering, cooking, and baking on her spare time.

Julia’s advice for aspiring pedortists:

“Always continue to learn from others. There are so many different techniques and new knowledge to learn. The same treatment doesn’t work for everyone, and sometimes you need to think outside of your normal routine to come up with a solution.”

Rock Your Walk

Walking has always been an easy entry-level form of exercise that can provide long lasting positive effects on physical and mental health. Walking is now becoming a growing hobby for everyone stuck at home during the current pandemic we are experiencing in 2020. With all this extra time on people’s hands, we have more time to focus on our health. For those looking to improve their well-being or just escape the house, walking can be much more than just a leisure activity.


That’s right, if it’s been a while since your sneakers have seen the sunlight you should consider preparing your body and easing your body into a walking routine. Although walking may seem like a leisure activity for most, you need to keep in mind that walking is a repetitive form of exercise. This means that the same muscle groups are going through the same repetitions and contraction patterns every single step and every single kilometre. This means that there is a risk of developing an overuse injury, similar to overuse running injuries developed by runners. If your body has been settling into a sitting posture over the winter months and recent quarantine your hips, knees and low back almost certainly need some preparation before lacing up your sneakers and tackling a rugged trail or urban path.

  • Heel-raises: Heel raises are a great way to warm up your ankles and get blood flowing in the calf muscles. Your calf muscle has two muscle bellies. When you are up on your toes try shifting your body weight from your big toe to your baby toe and see if you can feel these different muscle bellies contracting.
  • Squats: Body-weight squats (meaning no-weights) are a great active warm-up to open up your hip range of motion, increase blood flow to the thighs and stretch the gluteal muscles. You don’t need to do a full squat, the goal here is to get blood flowing and muscles contracting. Fun fact: the gluteus maximus (more commonly called your buttocks) is your largest muscle in the body and many people do not use it to its full potential! Pedorthists see this limited use every day and can help you improve the function of your hips while you walk.
  • Toe-stretch: You may not think about your toes much, but they play a very important role in walking. Prepare your feet for your walk by stretching all 5 of your toes up and toward your shin. If you have tight foot muscles you may feel a stretch through the bottom of your foot. If you feel an exceptionally tight stretch you should consider massaging your feet with a firm ball before walking or even consult your local pedorthist.
  • Stretch: You likely do not need to do much stretching before a walk. Researchers are finding that static stretching is far less effective at warming up muscles than the exercises listed above. However, it is a good idea to stretch any specific muscles that you know are routinely tight in your body. Pro-tip – make frequent stops during your walk to stretch. This will also give your body a brief rest to get more oxygen into your blood which will delay muscle fatigue. Stopping to stretch and take a quick break, even if you don’t feel tired, will allow you to go farther and faster.


Watches, Apps & Stats

With the surge of tech in the last decade it seems like everyone is tracking every second and every metre of their exercise routines. The ability to use data to track your goals and exercise achievements is empowering but it can also be harmful, so be careful what you pay attention to and remember to always ‘listen’ to your body. It is not normal to do EXACTLY 10,000 steps every single day. It is important to set goals, but it is also important to give yourself a break if you do not reach your daily goal. Life is busy and unpredictable in the best of times so cut yourself some slack. If your goal is to do 10k steps per day and you were 4k short yesterday, do not try and do 14k steps today to make up for the missing steps; this is what leads to injury.
Some great tech that you can use for your walks include Strava, AllTrails, Garmin Connect, Nike Run Club, FitBit, Apple Watch, and a really fun one I personally recommend everyone try at least once is an app called ‘Zombies, Run!’

Mix-It Up

Try your best not to do the same route, in the same shoes, at the same pace, every single walk. Keep your body fine-tuned by mixing up your walks with some variety. If you walk to the end of your laneway and turn right every single walk (assuming you are on a sidewalk) you are putting asymmetrical stress on your right and left legs due to the sidewalk being sloped. This is another possible cause for injury. Try going alternate routes to put a variety of stress on your muscle groups.

A great way to train your heart and improve cardiovascular health is to do interval training. This can be done while walking and is not just reserved for athletes. Try walking at a comfortable pace for about 75% of your walk and work in several short higher-intensity segments throughout your route. This will cause your heart-rate to adjust to the new speed. Researchers have shown that this change in heart-rate improves cardiovascular endurance and health better than maintaining a steady heart-rate (and therefore speed) the entire route of your walk.

Change up your footwear. Footwear is a functional piece of clothing. Just like your smart-watch and your sunglasses, footwear serves both a functional purpose and a fashion purpose. You won’t be surprised to read that most pedorthists care little about footwear fashion and that’s because improper footwear can cause a multitude of problems and injuries. Make sure you consult your local pedorthist to learn about what footwear features match your foot-type and the activity you are wearing them for. One pair of sneakers is not necessarily appropriate for all activities. Many high-end athletes will train in a variety of footwear that have very similar features, yet are just different enough that muscle groups are recruited slightly differently between each pair of shoes. By rotating between 2-3 pair of shoes this prevents muscles from contracting in the exact same position and length every single step, every single day. Indeed this is a large investment, but one that will pay-off in the form of decreased risk of injury and a better looking footwear wardrobe!

by Brandon Nethercott, R. Kin, C. Ped (C)

Tips for Injury Prevention

With the arrival of summer and nice weather, more and more of us will be getting out and being more active. 2020 has so far been a trying year for many people, with COVID-19 interrupting people’s normal routines and greatly effecting physical fitness levels.

Now, with a surge in people getting back to their chosen activities, it is inevitable that injuries will occur. Injuries though, can be prevented. Here are some simple tips to keeping you pain free and out enjoying the things you love to do.

  • Warm Up. This sounds almost too easy of a tip to mention, but for many of us, time is of the essence. With work, family and life, tasks taking up more and more time, we often only get a small window to be active. Still, warming up is key. Take the time to do some simple stretches, get moving and gradually increase your intensity level before going all out in your activity.
  • Again, you’re reading this and thinking, really? Really! Most of the population doesn’t drink enough water during the day as it is, but bringing something to drink is a commonly overlooked part of any activity. Whether you are lifting weights, going for a walk, a run or a hike, bring water. This is even more important now, as many public water stations will be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Proper footwear. This is a big one for us in the pedorthic community. Proper and appropriate footwear is key to injury prevention no matter your activity is. Would you wear flip-flops to play ice-hockey? Sounds silly doesn’t it? Well, take that example and apply it to any other activity. You wouldn’t wear soccer cleats to go golfing or roller blades to go biking. Choosing the appropriate shoes for the appropriate activity is key and while there is an expense to buying shoes, if it is an activity you plan on pursuing, it’s worthwhile to invest in it.
  • Be prepared. This one is the biggest aspect that is often overlooked. If you are planning on doing a 5K run, make sure you work up to that distance. If you are going for a hike, know the route and make sure you have water, proper shoes and you can do the hike. By being prepared for your chosen activity you will greatly reduce the chances of suffering an injury doing something you love.

So, there you have it. Four quick tips to help you stay injury free. If you have any questions on any of the tips, definitely make an appointment with your local pedorthist and we’d be happy to guide you!

By Steve Stred, C. Ped (C)

Foot Strengthening for a Barefoot Summer

As warm weather and sunshine returns to Canada so do summer wardrobes, flip-flops and sandals. Some people enjoy going barefoot more often than they are used to and who can blame them?! Personally I love the feeling of grass under my feet and mud squishing between my toes.

One condition that pedorthists see frequently in the summer months is a condition that we like to call ‘seasonal barefoot-itis’. Folks who normally wear footwear most of the time are now wearing sandals and are going barefoot and they come into clinics with aches and pains in the toes, feet, knees and low-back.

Here are three simple exercises that can fine-tune some of the muscles in your feet and ankles to prepare yourself for sandal and barefoot season.

  1. Calf raises. Standing on both feet, slowly raise your heels off the ground as high as you can and hold this position for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your heels to the ground. Touch the ground (do not rest) and repeat. This is strengthening muscles in your calf as well as the arch of the foot.

  1. Single-leg balance. While holding something sturdy, stand on one leg. Close your eyes and focus all your mental awareness on the pressure on the bottom of your foot and the contractions of your muscles in your feet and ankles. Try your best to completely stabilize your ankle without twitching side-to-side. If you find this easy, put a slight bend in your knee to make things a little trickier. This is more of an exercise for your brain than for your ankle muscles. Your brain is trying to find the perfect position for balance without using your eye-sight as a short-cut. This is training your nervous system! A healthy neural connection between the brain and your feet will keep you balanced and avoid injuries.
  2. Toe-curls. For this one you will need a stretchy exercise band. Sit in a chair so that your knee and ankle are at 90 degree angles. Place the band underneath your foot from heel to toe. Ensure that your small toes are on the band, and your big toe is off to the side of the band, firmly on the ground. The end of the band should stretch from your toes to about your knee. Keep your heel, big toe, and the ball of your foot firmly on the ground and allow the stretchy band to pull your toes up in the air. Now, while keeping your toes straight, contract (or curl) your toes to the ground. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly allow the band to bring your toes back up into the air. Repeat.

The number of recommended repetitions and sets of these exercises is different for everyone. As a general rule, if you find yourself getting tired and unable to perform the technique of the exercise or hold it in the correct position, you should stop and record that number. The next time you workout try to match that number or surpass it by 1-2 repetitions. Remember, these are introductory exercises and you will master them within a few weeks. Your local pedorthist or physical therapist can guide you on how to improve upon these basic exercises.

Always keep in mind that if you are used to wearing supportive footwear and orthotic devices, you are going to need several weeks to get used to being barefoot, even for short periods of time. The feet need time to adapt to this change in pressure on the bones and load on the muscles of the foot and ankle. Start slow and gradually increase your time in sandals or barefoot. If you run into problems or encounter any new aches or pains, always consult your local pedorthist who will have the best understanding of your individual biomechanics and what you can and cannot tolerate.

by Brandon Nethercott, R. Kin, C. Ped (C)