Walk a Mile in My Shoes: Helping Podiatrists Diagnose Foot Problems

Posted by on Friday, March 29th, 2013

That old clichéd saying is a cliché for a reason. You really can’t understand a person until you’ve seen things from their perspective for a while. When you’re a podiatrist, it’s even more true… and literal. It’s difficult to diagnose foot problems in a vacuum. It’s common to interview a patient about her activities, fitness level, and level of pain, but only recently have podiatrists been taking a concerted interest in the shoes their patients wear. In science, the more data you have about a problem, the better able you are to diagnose it. Foot pathology is complex and sometimes the obvious answer is reasonably far from the truth. Shoe analysis alongside gait analysis, patient interviews, foot exams, and diagnostic tests, can provide the most complete picture. What can shoes tell a podiatrist? Lets’ find out.

The type of shoe a person wears is the very first part of the puzzle. Shoe type gives the doctor clues about the person’s lifestyle and habits. For example, if your primary shoe choice is high heels, a doctor willknow right away that your feet are under pretty constant strain and pressure and he’ll know to look for bunions, plantar fasciitis, pump bump, Achilles tendonitis, and all of the other foot disorders associated with high heel wearing. If your shoe of choice, however, is a sturdy, comfortable sneaker with a wide toe box, the doctor will have to dig a bit further to understand your injury. It’s also true that many of us wear different types of shoes on different days. We may wear heels to a fancy dinner, supportive sneakers to the gym, and sensible flats to the office. For us, the shoe is only a tiny part of the story.

Examining the sole of your running shoes can illuminate your gait and many abnormalities of weight bearing. Gait analysis is an important part of podiatric diagnostics. The way you walk has a direct impact on the health of your feet. By looking at the pattern of wear on the soles of your running shoes, your doctor can tell if you pronate or supinate (if the soles are worn on the inner edge or outer edge). In some cases he can probably also tell how your foot strikes the ground (a forefoot, midfoot, or heel strike).

A prescription for new shoes can often dramatically improve a foot condition. When your doctor knows what you put on your feet, he can make recommendations for better choices. He may recommend a different brand of running shoe for a pronator, orthotic insoles for someone with weak ankles, or supportive flats for a high heel lover. If you’re buying shoes on your own, look for the APMA seal.

Are Bulls All Star Joakim Noah’s Shoes Causing His Plantar Fasciitis?

Posted by on Thursday, March 28th, 2013

As one of the most common foot injuries on the planet, plantar fasciitis gets a lot of our attention here at Healing Feet. It’s the subject of some real fascination actually, since it carries an air of mystery. We don’t understand exactly why it happens! To quickly recap: the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that runs from the ball of the foot to the heel, starts to hurt. The pain is caused by micro tears and subsequent inflammation, but why these tears accumulate rather than healing (like they usually do, in the plantar fascia and everywhere else in the body) isn’t understood. We know that tight calves, a quick intensification of training, and poorly designed footwear are all factors in the condition’s development. There are many different treatment options but in all cases, rest is a major factor for a successful recovery. Enter, Bulls all star Joakim Noah who really hates to sit one out and who always wears some particularly unsupportive sneakers.

Advice for the First Time Runner: Start with Your Feet

Posted by on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

For some reason, I tend to assume a lot of you readers are already runners. I think it’s my own bias: years of running have warped my mind. These days I imagine the world is made up of runners and non-runners, and never the twain shall meet. This is, of course, ridiculous. There are probably thousands of novice runners hitting the streets every day with excitement and hope in their hearts. We all have to start sometime, right? So today’s post is for you: the newbie! Welcome to the wonderful world of running for pleasure, health, vitality, and energy. It may not always feel great (there’s nothing quite so painful as mile 5 when you’ve only ever run 3) but it’s always rewarding. The feeling of accomplishment I have after a particularly challenging run is what I live for. It keeps me going. It makes me feel strong, capable, and great about myself. You’ve made a choice to do something that can be incredibly healthy for your body and mind, congratulations! Now here’s how to do it safely.

What Do Fashionistas and Soldiers Have in Common? Comfy Shoe Inserts

Posted by on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

While this might not be true for everyone, for a podiatry obsessive like myself the fashion world and the American military have a whole lot in common. Both are places where feet experience all sorts of unusual and painful punishment. Both require a certain style of footwear, and in both cases that footwear can be damaging. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know how awful high heels can be for the feet. They can cause all sorts of structural problems, from plantar fasciitis to stress fractures. And these problems can become chronic in the fashion forward high heel wearer. In the military, those standard issue boots don’t offer a whole lot of arch support. Many soldiers suffer from plantar fasciitis and stress fractures, just like their fancy fashion obsessed fellows. So what is to be done about these occupational/recreational hazards? One woman has some ideas.

If Those Shoes Could Talk… Well Now They Can, Thanks to Google

Posted by on Monday, March 25th, 2013

Connectivity is the buzzword these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being the American Dialect Society’s word of the year for 2013. (2012’s word of the year was “Hashtag.” Yawn.) Point is, we’re all connected like never before, via our computers, phones, department store loyalty card buying histories, the GPS systems in our cars, mobile tracking technology on trains and planes, satellite images, Google Maps… Pretty much everything we do is recorded in some way. It would be terrifying if it had happened more quickly. But like the frog in the slowly boiling pot of water, what happens gradually seems somehow to escape our notice. Then all of a sudden we wake up one day and our shoes are telling us we’re not getting enough exercise. At least, that’s what’s going to happen if Google has its way.

Curious About The Best and Worst Feet in Hollywood? Check Out Wikifeet

Posted by on Friday, March 22nd, 2013

The tabloid news is known for many strange and unsavory things: hiding out in bushes, posing as mailmen, stalking celebrity children, selling nude pictures to the highest bidder, and just generally being obnoxious scourges in the lives of the stars. One thing they’re not known for, however, is obsessing over celebrity feet. Well hold on to your hat because that’s changing! Now Wikifeet, a Wikipedia-like site dedicated to Hollywood tootsies, will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about those famous toes. Who has the most beautiful feet? Who’s feet aren’t fit for the silver screen? Oh boy, I can barely contain my excitement! Some of these ladies better insure those dogs, stat!

Parents Take Note: Flat Feet and Club Feet in Kids

Posted by on Thursday, March 21st, 2013

There is nothing more precious than the tiny feet of a newborn baby. Those little toes that wiggle when you touch them, that soft skin, those plump heels—it’s enough to make even the staunchest among us swoon. In many cases, baby feet are perfectly healthy. In some, foot problems only appear later, when the child begins to walk. And sometimes, foot problems are apparent right away and require early treatment. Here are some of the most common foot problems in children, and tips about interventions that can help.

Swim with the Fishes, Just Don’t Kick Them: Surprising Aquatic Foot Injuries

Posted by on Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Almost every athlete with a foot injury has been told that swimming is a great activity for recovery. It’s low-impact but offers plenty of resistance to build up weakened muscles, and improve blood-flow and healing in tendons and ligaments. The buoyancy of water takes a lot of the pressure off of sore feet and ankles, so even when you’re standing in the water, your putting less weight on your injuries. And who doesn’t love to swim? It’s soothing, meditative, and a great escape from the day-to-day hubbub. I’ve been wooed by the swimming recovery plan more than once, and have found great success. In many cases, it can be an incredibly helpful activity for healing. But sometimes it can cause injuries of its own.

Barefoot Running May Be More Dangerous Than We Thought

Posted by on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I think at this point we can all agree that barefoot running has taken the running world by storm. It’s everywhere you look: on the streets, on commercials, and on marathon runners (complementing their snazzy custom outfits). But until recently, there hasn’t been good evidence about barefoot running’s safety. Many athletes, podiatrists, trainers, and talking heads have touted its benefits, often citing very official-sounding biomechanical data. They argue that the foot and leg respond to the rigors of pad-less running by cushioning steps the way they were meant to be cushioned: with ankles, knees, and hips. After all, back in the caveman years we weren’t wearing padded sneakers. We were built for barefoot running!

Marathons Don’t Have to Mean Mangled Toes: Cosmetic Foot Care for Athletes

Posted by on Monday, March 18th, 2013

Most of the time, we talk about anatomical foot problems that affect basic function. We’re concerned with getting you all healed up so you can work all day on your feet, run your races, climb those mountains, and just generally live your lives. But foot issues aren’t all structural and don’t all require podiatric care. Many of them are mild infections or aesthetic concerns, the results of an active take no prisoners lifestyle. We all have these problems from time to time: dry feet, cracked skin, yellowed toenails (beware the fungus!), or large unsightly calluses. These are the problems that get ignored because mild cases don’t typically affect basic foot function. A few yellow nails aren’t going to stop you from running that marathon, after all. Still, with summer coming, keeping your feet pretty may start to feel like more of a priority. Here are some tips for dealing with common cosmetic foot problems safely.