The Best Shoes for Teachers: Sweet Relief From Hard Floors and Long Hours

Posted by on Friday, November 30th, 2012

I think teaching is one of the noblest professions. We’d be a nation of imbeciles without the hard work and dedication of the men and women in our classrooms. We owe them so much! I wish I could raise their pay and give them more vacation time or a robust 401K. Of course, I can’t. One thing I can do: find them some comfortable shoes. Often ignored in the hustle and bustle of a classroom, foot pain is one of the occupational hazards of being a teacher. Teachers are on their feet all day: lecturing, writing on the blackboard, and ferrying kids to and fro down busy corridors. The pain may be mild and sporadic, or severe and lasting. As always, severe lasting pain should immediately raise red flags. And, it always warrants a trip to the podiatrist.

Flight Attendants and Foot Pain: 5 Quick Fixes

Posted by on Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Flight attendants are in a class all their own when it comes to foot pain. They’re on their feet all day, first navigating airports, then navigating the tight and unyielding spaces of the airplane. They’re required to walk backwards while pulling heavy carts. They have to schlep bags, stand still for extended periods while the plane is in flight, and balance deftly during turbulence. Add the airline’s dress codes and you have recipe for chronic foot pain, and even debilitating injury. “We’re on our feet 13 hours a day, sometimes six days a week,” said Grace A. Brown, a North Carolina-based flight attendant who has worked for a regional carrier for more than four years. So how can flight attendants protect their feet while still maintaining their stylish image? Keep reading.

The Dress Code Blues: How Waitresses Can Save Their Feet, Despite the Heels

Posted by on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I was a waitress for four years, all through college. Then I was a bartender for another two. Those were the hardest jobs I ever had, but not for the reasons you’d think. I was great at remembering orders, making drinks, keeping customers happy, and carrying eight plates at once. I was a whiz at doing math in my head, knew which wines paired with which meats, and was the fastest table busser this side of Las Vegas. The thing that made those jobs so challenging, that held me perpetually on the brink of throwing in the apron, was the ridiculously inappropriate footwear. I worked in a fancy restaurant, so my shoes were dictated by the dress code. Of course, while the men got to wear sensible black leather dress shoes, the women were expected to race around in three-inch high heels. I think I cried myself to sleep every night of that first week. Then there was a sweet spot, between two weeks and six months, when my feet felt okay. Then came the inevitable slide into misery and pain. If only I’d known then what I know now, I’d have taken some steps to protect myself.

9 Easy Ways to Avoid Foot and Ankle Running Injuries

Posted by on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

If you ask me (and you just did, didn’t you?), running is one of the greatest forms of exercise out there. Why? Well, you basically just need some shoes and you’re ready to go. No trip to the gym, no making sure you signed up for the class you want with the teacher you want, no need to join a league (although many people have a lot of fun with running clubs).  No, just you and the road, the park, or the track at your local high school.

Six Bad Skateboarding Foot and Ankle Injuries (And Help for Avoiding Them)

Posted by on Monday, November 26th, 2012

I was a little slow when it came to learning to ride a bike. Once I learned, though, I loved it. My favorite part was speeding down hills as fast as possible. When I said that to my parents, they looked less than happy, and probably began to hope that by the time I got to driving age cars would be obsolete and replaced by something like giant snails.

I was hardly the only kid to delight in the newly discovered thrill of rushing through the wind on some kind of wheeled vehicle. For kids who get really into skateboarding, though, speed is just the beginning of the adrenaline-seeking journey, something that is rapidly replaced by the gravity-defying joy of jumps, spins, and flips.

Learning those tricks can result in a lot of hard falls, though, and even the best in the business can find themselves out of commission thanks to bad injuries. While you can injure pretty much any part of your body while skateboarding, ankles and feet are particularly in danger, not only because of the likelihood of traumatic events, but also because of wear and tear that can cause repetitive use injuries.

Now we’re at a time of year where your child may be asking for a gift of a first or new skateboard. If you fulfill that wish, here are some common foot and ankle  skateboarding injuries that your young daredevil may encounter, and some tips for avoiding them:

Traumatic, or sudden injuries:

  • Fractures Yes, you can fracture your ankle, toe, or even heel when you take a bad fall. Skateboards can also land on your foot or roll over your toes. If you’re lucky, you just end up in a cast for six to eight weeks; if you’re unlucky, you have to have surgery, which extends the recovery time.
  • Sprains These can happen to your ankle, feet, or toes on any fall or stumble. Foot sprains aren’t common in everyday life, but if you have foot straps on your board, you’re at a risk for a sprain if your foot is caught in a strap going in one direction while the rest of your body goes in another. Now if you’re thinking, “Sprains are minor and better than fractures, right?” think again–broken bones heal predictably, but sprains, or damaged ligaments can be as severe as fractures and take just as long if not longer to return to normal health. High ankle sprains are particularly bad–they’re difficult to diagnose and can linger a frustratingly long period of time.
  • Cuts and bruises Don’t dismiss the power of a cut or a case of road rash–if dirt and gravel get into an open wound and you don’t take care of it, you risk developing a nasty infection. Bruises shouldn’t be taken lightly either–bone bruises can be seriously painful and take a long time to heal.

Repetitive Use Injuries

  • Plantar Fasciitis Think of how much you use your foot while you’re on a skateboard. The foot has the pressure of constantly pushing off and takes the force of all your jumps. After a while, you can develop plantar fasciitis, a strain of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects your heel to your forefoot. This causes serious, nagging heel pain.
  • Achilles tendonitis The Achilles tendon, the tendon that connects your heel to your calf, plays a role in almost any move you make, whether it’s running, jumping, or just standing on your toes. Skateboarding, then, keeps your Achilles tendon really busy–so busy that it can wear down, suffer tiny tears and become inflamed. Then voila! Tendonitis.
  • Stress fractures It doesn’t always take a single traumatic event to break a bone–repeatedly landing on a bone can cause tiny cracks that eventually add up to a painful foot that can’t take your weight anymore.

So what can you do about foot and ankle injuries if you’re a skateboarder (or a parent of one)?

Know what you’re doing You may think you can learn how to do a trick by just watching someone else do it in a video you found online, but you’ll learn it better and more efficiently if you can have someone who knows how to do it break it down and help you master it. You can save a lot of falls just by having the proper technique.

Use the right equipment Choose the right size board for you. If you’re young, but want to be cool and use a full size skateboard just like the bigger kids in your neighborhood, well, you’re not likely to be reading this blog, but if you’re a parent of a kid who feels that way, don’t give in to the pleading. Get the kids’ size one that he or she can manage. Yes, soon it will be too small and you’ll have to buy another (unless said kid is now into something else), but you’ll be able to find someone else to take it off your hands. Even if you don’t, you won’t regret missing those trips to the emergency room.

Pay attention when it hurts When you fall hard, then you’ll probably know pretty fast if you have a broken bone and you’ll be off to the ER. If you feel nagging pain in your feet or ankle any other time, don’t ignore it–you could have a sprain that didn’t heal properly, or a repetitive use injury. Get it checked out by a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine ( 212.996.1900 ) to find out what’s going on and figure out a treatment plan. The longer you let it go, the worse it will be.

Here are some more skateboarding safety tips, but in the end, if you or your child get really into it, you’re going to fall and hurt something. That’s no reason to be scared of it; kids get hurt playing every sport. Knowing the injuries you might have to face can make you feel a little more prepared, though.

Fantasy Football Friday: Danny Amendola and His Mysterious Foot Injury

Posted by on Friday, November 23rd, 2012

If you were one of those people who kept St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola on your fantasy team when he suffered a shoulder injury on October 4th, or you picked him up right before his return in Week 10, then you probably felt pretty good about yourself. His eleven receptions for 102 yards probably helped many clever people–such as you, perhaps–win their matchups. 

The Nail Health Diet: Four Great Foods for Superstrong Toenails

Posted by on Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Hey, what are you eating today? Any toenail-friendly foods?

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Whaaaat? I’m not eating any food with toenails in it!” I completely understand your horror and am happy to inform you that I am not suggesting that you eat food with toenails mixed in (excuse me, need to step away and regroup and erase that image from my mind, don’t be afraid to join me;  okay, I’m better now!). No, I mean foods that will make your toenails healthy and strong.

Black Friday Shopping: 5 Tips for Pain-Free Feet

Posted by on Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

For many Americans, shopping for bargains on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is part of their holiday tradition. Some people get up before dawn to get on line early, but in recent years, stores have even been opening up on Thanksgiving evening, attracting an after dinner crowd with super bargains. In a 2011 study, 26% of those surveyed said they planned to shop on Thanksgiving night, so maybe we’ll soon have to start calling Thanksgiving “Black Friday Eve.”

Secrets to Winter Ready Running Feet

Posted by on Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

We’re still weeks away from the scientific beginning of winter, but in many areas it’s already cold, or even snowy and icy. Now for many people that means a hearty, “Goodbye, going indoors, see you next spring,” with only brief appearances trundling back and forth from cars to buildings in heavy layers of clothes. Shopping? Do it online. Movie? We’ll watch videos. Workout? That’s why we got the treadmill.

Others of us, though, can’t keep ourselves indoors, no matter how cold or nasty it is. Those people will brave anything for a breath of fresh air, no matter how wet or frosty it is outside. Their idea of a great vacation is a visit to an ice festival, not a beach on a tropical island.

I tend to be one of those people, in one way at least. In general I have a very low tolerance for the cold, and complain and shiver once temperatures begin to drop. However, I can’t stand running inside, so no matter how awful it is outside, I will find some way to get outside and get some sort of run in. I’ve had my hair freeze, ice crystals form on my eyelashes, and my shoes soaked from an ill-timed step through a puddle of slush all in the name of a winter run.

I’m sure there has to be a better way to prepare, though, especially when it comes to your feet. With that in mind, let’s look at some ways you can make your winter running both safe and fun.

Choose Winter Ready Running Shoes You may not see shoes advertised specifically as “winter running shoes” and “summer running shoes,” but you can tell pretty easily just by looking which kinds are right for which season. Shoes that are mostly mesh let in a lot of air, and therefore are best for summer; shoes that have few mesh panels are good for winter. It’s all in the timing. If your shoes are wearing down in October, look for winter types when you go shopping; if your shoes are wearing down in late March, it’s time to look for summer types. Some running shoe makers even have lines specifically designed for winter. Asics has the Gel-Arctic shoe which has spikes in it; Salomon has the Speedcross trail running shoe which has a waterproof coating, and the Spikecross, which has spikes; the Nike Free TR2 Winter has a water-resistant coating and a fleece lining.

Get Warm/Dry Socks There are plenty of running socks out there with varying levels of thickness and warmth. It’s important to keep your feet warm, of course, but if they’re too warm, your feet will sweat. Then you’ll not only feel miserable and cold, but you’ll create an environment for your feet where they’re more vulnerable to blisters and bacteria, which love to grow in warm, damp environments. In extreme cases, moisture on your skin in freezing temperatures can cause frostbite, so make sure you choose socks that wick moisture away from your skin. There are several good winter running sock brands; Drymax and SmartWool are some names to keep in mind when you shop.

Try Hand Warmers on Your Feet If it’s a bitterly cold day, you can give your feet a boost of warmth by putting those hand warmer packets into your socks, on top of your toes. They’ll help you get through that first mile before your blood really starts pumping. Don’t let your feet overheat, though–if your feet feel too warm, stop and take them out.

Stay on the Dry Path I probably don’t need to tell you to avoid running through slushy puddles, because you probably have at least once, and know how awful it feels to run with cold wet shoes and socks. But be careful of snow too–I’ll state the obvious by saying “snow is wet.” You may think that it’s fun to run through billows of soft, powdery new snow, and while your feet will feel fine for a little while, eventually that stuff will penetrate, too. So just steer clear of it.

Don’t Slip If you live in an area where there is a lot of ice and snow and where running trails and paths may not always be cleared of those things too quickly, you may want to invest in equipment that will give your feet some traction on slippery surfaces, like Yak Trax. If you’re an intrepid, DIY type, you can add traction to your shoes yourself, using these instructions from Competitor.

Hopefully you won’t suffer any kind of injury while you’re out running in the cold or snow, or any time of year. If you do have foot pain during or after running, contact a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900). It’s bad enough to have cold feet; it’s worse to have cold, injured feet.

Can Yoga Help Your Feet? Yes–Find Out How

Posted by on Monday, November 19th, 2012

If you enjoy doing yoga, you probably don’t think too much about your feet other than maybe thoughts like, “Do my feet look weird?” “Do they smell?” “Is that person next to me staring at my feet?” “Oops, I still haven’t removed my cute Halloween-themed pedicure.” After all, your feet don’t get the kind of pounding in yoga that they get in running and other kinds of workouts, so why think about them beyond whether they’re helping you maintain your Utkatasana?

Actually, you can and should pay attention to your feet–there are yoga poses and stretches that are great for strengthening your feet, toes, and ankles, and strong feet can improve the rest of your yoga practices.

Here are some yoga stretches for your feet to get you started:

*Tip – Breathing is very important in yoga–and in the rest of your life!–so make sure you breathe deeply with each step or pose, exhaling and inhaling slowly and fully. When you exhale, visualize your breath traveling all the way down to your toes; when you inhale, imagine yourself drawing it back up from your feet.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, knees slightly bent. Reach your hands forward, palms down, and lace your fingers between your toes. Pull your feet towards you gently, flexing them a bit. Hold this pose for about one minute, breathing deeply.
  • Stand with your feet together, parallel to each other. Rise up onto your toes, stretching as high and long as you can. Rest a hand on a chair or table for balance. Then lower down to the starting position and roll back through your feet so your weight is on your heels, lifting all your toes off the ground. Hold this for a few seconds so you feel a stretch in your calf muscles, making sure you breathe evenly. Lower your toes down and start over.
  • Start by kneeling. Then sink down until you are sitting with your butt on the ground, between your legs, not on top of them. Your feet should be stretched out, with the top of your foot on the ground. Keep your feet straight, not pointed outward or inward. If you find this difficult, or if you know you have knee problems, place a yoga block or towel between your legs to sit on. Hold, relax, and breathe (yoga pros no doubt recognize this as Virasana, or Hero Pose).

People who are experienced with yoga will also probably be familiar with other poses that are good for your feet, such as Downward Facing Dog:

Also, Lindsay Fields has a video here for yoga geared towards your feet, and here’s a simple yoga foot workout from ShaktiShala. Some people also recommend “yogatoes,” a simple device that you put between your toes to help stretch them out after a long day of being squooshed in shoes.

Yoga is good for the rest of your body, so why neglect your feet? Of course, if you have foot pain from doing yoga or any kind of workout, then stop doing it immediately and let your feet rest. If the pain doesn’t seem to be getting better, contact a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900  ). Keep your feet healthy and happy!