It’s a runner’s dream-come-true: shoes that roll up, fitting into a gym bag or a pocket with ease. It’s lightweight footwear that feels as natural as barefoot running, but without the cuts and blisters. The idea was developed by Czech inventor Petr Prochazka while planning an ultralight backpacking trip through Norway. His June 2016 Kickstarter campaign exceeded its initial $10K goal in about a month, raising over $650,000 pledged by nearly 10,000 hikers, runners, backpackers, and travelers. The Chicago Tribunenamed it one of the “internet’s favorite projects” from 2016. But the question our NYC podiatrists are interested in is, will these barefoot socks ever replace the shoe?
How much of a difference does a pair of high-performance socks really make? Just ask “true believer” and Gizmodo reader Casey Chan, who wrote: “I started long-distance running only about 1.5 years back. I just ran in generic Target cheap-o athletic socks. They were fine. For Christmas, I randomly asked for something called Smartwool’s PhD sock. They are stupid expensive for a pair of socks, but I vaguely heard they were good for long-distance trail running. HOLY COW. I only have the one pair right now, and I actually get excited on the days I go for a long run, and I find them waiting among my clan socks to wear. So comfortable, so secure, and my feet feel appreciably better. If it’s just a placebo effect, it is one hell of a placebo effect.”
NYC podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan and White Plains recommend investing in the right socks for the activities you enjoy most if you want to keep your feet free from blisters, sweat, fungus, numbness, cold, chafing, calluses, and discomfort. The following suggestions have been compiled from Men’s Fitness, Field & Stream, Complex, Runner’s World,and our own experiences.
Socks are one of those stereotypical “boring gifts from mom” we’ve all gotten in the past. But NY podiatrists say, “Not so fast—socks can be a really thoughtful and useful Christmas gift!” High quality performance socks are something people hate to spend money on for themselves, but everybody needs them.
“They make the perfect complement to a clothes purchase,” explains Dr. Mariola Rivera, DPM. “I’ll buy a sweater and a tie—and throw in a pair of socks for good measure! Or, if your family does stockings, it’s a great surprise to stuff into the toe!”
But all socks aren’t created equal. There are threadbare cheap-o socks that can be purchased by the bunch from drug stores, and then there are truly high-quality, functional socks that will withstand the years in good repair and become the wearer’s favorite pair. Today, the foot doctors at The Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan have a list of their favorite performance socks for 2016.
Having the right supports or gear often makes the difference between perfect health and a slow-healing sports injury — this is especially true of footwear. You can think of your body as a lump of clay. Think of how pliable it is at room temperature, versus sitting in a cold storage locker, where stretching would inevitably bring you to tears. When it’s chilly outside, our blood doesn’t circulate as well; it starts to accumulate around our core, to keep the vital organs warm. When we exercise, the tissues in our feet and legs call upon this blood reserve, but if our limbs aren’t properly warmed up, muscles can be pulled and tendons can tear. Cold weather slows down nerve transmissions that throw off our balance and slow down our movements as well. When you add slick surfaces to the mix, it sounds like a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, some of this year’s hottest gift-giving items and winter footgear can help you prevent cold-weather foot and ankle injuries.
Though often overlooked, sock choice can greatly affect your foot health. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine explains that the type of hosiery worn by athletes can directly contribute to the development of foot pathologies like toenail fungus, hematoma, friction blisters, hyperkeratoses, bacterial and viral infections, capsulitis, bursitis, fat pad atrophy, bunions, contusions and more. Here’s a quick guide to choosing the best socks.
With so many people preparing for autumn marathons, I think it’s a good time to take a look at how you can get your feet ready. Yes, your feet–not your diet, conditioning, or hydration schedules. According to the website for the Marathon des Sables, a staggeringly difficult multi-day 150 mile run across the Sahara Desert, carrying a backpack, in 120 degree heat (very useful training if you’re a survivalist or planning a career in counter-terrorism, but pretty much a sign of insanity in anyone else), 90% of people who drop out or visit the medical tent do so because of foot problems. So let’s see how can you make sure that your feet don’t fail you during your nice little 26.2 mile race on civilized paved roads.
It’s not scientifically autumn for a few more days, but for most people, the beginning of September marks the real beginning of the season. Although some might think of summer as hiking season, I think fall is the perfect time, when it’s still warm enough outside to avoid heavy winter coats, but just cool enough so that you’re not pouring sweat the whole time you’re out in the woods. If you live in a region where the leaves change color, it’s an especially wonderful time to hit the trails in a national park or hike up a mountain.
Of course with all that walking, your feet can run into all kinds of trouble. Let’s talk about hiking and foot problems and what you can do to avoid them.
My dog is having skin allergy problems. I caught her biting, chewing, and licking a few spots on her legs, making them bright red and angry. There were no signs of fleas, so I whisked her off to the vet, who said they’d been seeing nothing but itchy dogs lately. There’s something in the air apparently, that has led to a mini-epidemic of biting, chewing, scratching dogs.
If you have psoriasis on the soles of your feet, you may feel like attacking the itchy spots the same way as the allergy-ridden dogs of my city. What? You didn’t know you could get psoriasis on your feet? Well, indeed, then, let’s discuss.
There have been so many times in this blog when I have told you, “Look, it’s time to give your feet a break from running. Do something else for a while that won’t pound your feet as much. Try bicycling.” And that is true–biking is a great way to get your workout in while also taking some of the pressure off your feet. Provided you do it right, of course. If you do it wrong, well, guess what? You can injure your feet while biking, too.
What?!! Is nothing safe?!!
Well, yes, plenty of things are safe if you them right. As I said, if you do it wrong you’ll get hurt. So let’s find out what you can do to protect your feet while you train for the Tour De Around the Park and other feats of endurance.
“I am so grateful for having had Dr. Geldwert perform bunion surgery on both of my feet. I have complete confidence in him and continue to see him for other sports related injuries. I was cautious about having surgery for the first time, but his knowledge, patience, and skill made me completely comfortable in trusting him. And I couldn’t be any happier with the results!! When anything else feels wrong with my feet, I love that I now know to go immediately to him. He is my top choice for anyone searching for the best foot fixer/surgeon/sports doctor in NYC! Thank you, Dr. Geldwert!!!”
– J. M., Manhattan, NY
Manhattan Office 111 East 88th Street New York, NY 10128 (212) 996-1900 See map here
Westchester Office 10 Mitchell Place Suite 105 White Plains, NY 10601 (914) 328-3400 See map here
Manhattan Orthopedic and Sports Medicine 57 West 57th Street New York, NY 10019 (212) 996-1900 See map here
Dr. Josef J. Geldwert DPM, Dr. Katherine Lai DPM, Dr. Ryan Minara, DPM, and Dr. Mariola Rivera DPM serving Westchester County, White Plains, Ardsley, Bronxville, Harrison NY, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye, Scarsdale, Rye Brook, Chappaqua, and the surrounding area.
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