If you have ever experienced foot or knee pain you may have been tempted to ease your discomfort by purchasing a foot orthotic from your local pharmacy or sports store. Like store bought reading glasses, these mass produced orthotics may provide the necessary support or cushioning you require to get relief. However, if your store bought orthotic is not easing your lower limb pain, or only providing limited relief, it is time for you to book an appointment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist.
After a tough day at work, many people think there is nothing better than heading out for a run, joining a game of basketball with friends, or hitting the gym for a cardio or spin class.
The enjoyment, relaxation and health benefits of recreational sports are well documented and millions of us participate in a variety of sports and fitness activities each day. However, each year more than 1.2 million Canadians are sidelined from their favourite sports activities because of injuries that may have been prevented.
Recreational athletes are at increased risk of injury as they often fail to train sufficiently for the sports they participate in and many of them don’t invest the time or money, to ensure they are wearing the proper footwear for their sport. Buying supportive, stable footwear will eliminate a range of problems from minor discomfort such as blisters, corns and calluses to more serious conditions including repetitive stress injuries to the joints and muscles.
Sports enthusiasts who are experiencing lower limb and foot pain should consult a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, an orthotic and footwear expert. The pedorthist will conduct a biomechanical exam, ensure they are correctly fitted with the right footwear for their sports activity and advise if an orthotic will ease any foot issues that are present.
If you are a recreational athlete, here are some tips to help keep you off the sidelines and in the game:
- Purchase shoes that fit. Shoes that are too long, too short or too wide can affect the function of your foot.
- Select footwear that is appropriate for your sport. If you are a jogger, purchase running shoes. If you play basketball choose shoes that are designed for side to side movement.
- Replace your running shoes every 12 months or every 700 to 800 km. The cushioning and supportive material in running shoes breaks down over time, even if they’re not being used, so make sure you replace your running shoes regularly.
- When starting a new sport, slowly increase your activity so your lower limbs have time to properly adapt to your new activity levels.
- If you get injured, rest, use ice and ask your physician for a referral to a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. The pedorthist will help get you back in the game.
Submitted by: Tasha Fensom, C. Ped (C), Vancouver, BC
A person’s car or clothes may say a lot about them, but experts say the way one walks speaks volumes too.
When a patient visits a Canadian Certified Pedorthist for an initial consultation one of the first things the Pedorthist does is a gait assessment. This careful evaluation of how the patient walks is important because gait is one of the main contributing factors to foot and lower limb issues.
Many people who are required to stand all day at work believe achy feet and legs are just part of the job. But sore feet should not be ignored. Long periods of standing can cause muscle and ligament fatigue, which could increase the risk of injury and damage to your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and other tissues of your feet.
An estimated three million Canadians currently live with diabetes [sub]1[/sub] and, although they may not realize it, many of them have reduced sensation (neuropathy) or poor circulation in their feet. Footwear is designed to protect feet but people who cannot feel their feet properly are often unaware that their footwear is causing irritations. If you have poor circulation these small sores can develop into wounds, foot ulcers and serious foot conditions. In fact, 85 percent of all leg amputations (for Canadians living with diabetes) are a result of non-healing foot ulcers – more than half of which may have been prevented with more effective nail and foot care, and by people with diabetes wearing appropriate footwear[sup]2[/sup]
Pedorthists don’t just make orthotics. Footwear can play a major role in a patients comfort, and modifying them so that they perfectly fit the individual’s foot is an important part of our job.
When we think about orthopaedic shoes, many of us immediately think of the comfortable, frumpy shoes found in Grandma’s closet. Fortunately, this widely held stereotype no longer holds true. There are now many stylish options available for patients, which is great, as many patients simply won’t wear a shoe they don’t like.
One of my patients is a 20-year-old, petite blonde, with a great smile. By looking at her you wouldn’t know she has endured more than 15 surgeries, countless hours of physiotherapy, and is in constant pain – unless you looked at her feet. She was born with club foot deformity, which causes the foot to be twisted inward, and the toes to be pointing down.