A Pain Free Life Can Increase Longevity

bunion-foot-painImproving the mobility of your body, doesn’t only help maintain your quality of life, studies now show that it also increases longevity. We all know that walking is good for us, but in order for it to be most effective you also must enjoy it, both mentally and physically.

”A decline in walking ability is a major predictor of health problems.” -reported HealthDay.

To help you get back to an active lifestyle we’ve listed below several small changes you can make in your daily routine to help you increase your life expectancy. Not only will they make you feel better, but adding them to your everyday will strengthen your heart and speed up your metabolism. A sedentary lifestyle, whether work induced or self-imposed, due to painful or uncomfortable feet, has a high metabolic cost. Here are four ideas to lower your metabolic cost today!

1. Be sure not to sit for more than an hour straight. At some point during each hour of work get up and walk for as little as five minutes. In a recent study the University of Indiana found, “it only takes one hour of sitting to cut off blood flow in major leg arteries by up to 50%. This damages your feet, legs and prevents proper circulation to your heart.” Now, are you ready for the exciting part? “The team found that subjects who took a five-minute walk once an hour did not cut off circulation. They want to be clear, they do not mean the subject had less restriction…They didn’t have any restriction of their arteries. The subjects walking pace was just 2 mph., you don’t even have to break a sweat to benefit.”Washington Post. Now be sure to have comfortable shoes that make walking easy enough to want to do every hour, and the benefit of increased blood circulation will help lower your metabolic cost with this one simple step. Compression socks can also be added to help improve blood flow through your feet and legs.

2. Wear shoes that make walking fun and painless. Be sure to support the feet not only when they’re hitting the pavement, but also when they are hitting the beach in sandals or hard wood floors at home. Most people know to select running and walking shoes that support the arch of the foot. This encourages improved weight distribution in the footwear and helps to absorb impact. It is not as obvious when it comes to selecting sandals, even though people walk many miles in their sandals during the summer. Even dress shoes can be made more comfortable with custom inserts or off-the-shelf arch supports. At Foot Solutions our highly trained and certified staff uses the most advanced state-of-the-art technology to perform a foot and gait analysis, as well as 3-D measurements of the foot. If your feet feel good, you will walk more and lower your metabolic cost.

3. When walking be sure to maintain a good posture – this will encourage your body to pull strength from your core. To do this, lift the body from your centre and focus in front of you when walking, instead of down at your feet. A more upright posture makes walking easier on your body, in preventing compression of the lungs and reducing stress on the back and feet, due to improved biomechanics. This will help you feel lighter on your feet, and lighter means lower metabolic cost. For an added benefit, include Nordic Walking poles in your routine to help improve posture, walking gait and strength.

4. Love to move your body. Attitude is one of the few things we can control. To improve the benefits of your workout or walking routine, take charge of your thoughts about walking. If the mind thinks it is doing something pleasurable, and the body is pain-free and able to enjoy the walk, the metabolic cost will be low. Walk outdoors and engage your senses, look at the scenery, listen to the birds and don’t forget to smell the roses. “Many of our expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be INCORRECT and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us.”The New York Times 1/7/2015

Have any other simple tips to lower your metabolic cost? Comment below.

10 Tips for Finding the Right Shoes

Ever have trouble finding the right shoes? In this month’s post we discuss ten tips to finding the appropriate shoes for your foot type. Five of these tips apply to everyone and five more will apply to those with more serious foot concerns, such as diabetes or plantar fasciitis.

What to look out for when choosing your favourite pair of shoes

1. Shoes need to match the shape of the feet. A pointed toe box is not suitable for most feet, but especially a wide foot, as it squeezes the toes together, cuts off circulation and may even apply pressure to nerves that run between the metatarsal bones.

2.To allow for good stability, footwear should make as much contact as possible with the ground. A sole that flares out is better for stability than a sole that flares in (a sole found on most women’s dress footwear on the market to date).

3. Footwear materials play an important role as well. Synthetic linings that don’t breathe contribute to a warm, damp environment for the foot, which can lead to blisters, fungal infections of the skin and toes, or in general just a stinky shoe. Synthetic materials are seldom a good alternative for the upper part of a shoe as they are not as forgiving as leather. They can’t be stretched to improve fit and therefore won’t improve the comfort of the shoe over time. Good shoe designers pay attention to put the leather together in a way that will allow the shoe to stretch in the same direction as the foot, from side to side.

4. It’s best to shop in the afternoon, after your foot had some time to naturally expand (swell). This will ensure you buy the proper width, and do not feel the balls of your feet being squeezed as the day goes on.

5. Feet were meant to walk on soft, natural surfaces, but nowadays are mostly subjected to hard firm surfaces such as concrete or asphalt. As a result shoes should provide a decent amount of shock absorption and cushioning. A proper shoe construction, such as a steel or plastic shank, is critical to ensure proper support through the midfoot. A firm heel counter ensures the foot doesn’t slide off the shoes platform and keeps the foot in better alignment.

More Tips for Feet in need of Help

6. If you suffer plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick tissue that spans the bottom of the foot, we recommend a supportive, stable, yet cushioned shoe. A firm forefoot rocker sole can help prevent flexion of the toes, therefore preventing overstretching of the plantar fascia. In many cases orthotic intervention, such as an arch support or a heel lift, is necessary to counteract excessive pressures on the tissue.

7. Forefoot problems, such as bunions, hammer toes, and ball of foot pain, require a higher, wider toe box and a shock – absorbent sole. Rocker soles can also help prevent pressure on the forefoot in reducing the flexion of the toes.

8. Arthritic conditions of the midfoot, causing excessive movements in the midtarsal joints, can be painful. To relieve pain the shoe requires strong stability and support to allow the whole foot to make contact with the floor. Oftentimes this condition requires some additional support inside the shoe from an orthotic or an arch support.

9. The goal of diabetic shoes is to accommodate the foot to eliminate any areas of excessive pressure, both on the top and bottom of the feet. Many shoes are made of soft leathers, such as deer skin, which more easily adapt to a changing foot. Some shoes are made of heat-moldable, stretch uppers and can be washed to improve hygiene. Their more seamless uppers present fewer opportunities for skin aggravation and the light coloured insoles allow users to check for open wounds, to ensure immediate medical attention.

10. Last but not least, consider this. If the shoe doesn’t feel good on your foot, leave it at the store. There is no such thing as a break-in period.

Do you remember the time when you’d pull up to a gas station and the attendant would wash the windows and check the tires, while pumping your gas. We need to relearn the value of taking good care of our tires and of our feet, because both will get us to where we want to go. Allow our highly trained, expert certified staff assist you in finding the right shoe for you.

To learn more about proper fit, please watch this episode of the FootGeekz:

Protect Your Feet: Metatarsal Fractures May be Caused by Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a silent disease until you have a fracture, and this can happen to men, women and younger adults, with Stress Fracture of 2nd metatarsal bonepreexisting conditions or from unknown reasons which are generally referred to as idiopathic, like, idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis. Common osteoporotic fractures occur in the spine, hip, wrist and ribs. However, weak bones can also cause foot fractures at any age since these bones are exposed to a tremendous amount of weight bearing activity.

The foot and ankle are made up of 26 bones. When you have a fracture in this area it can be caused by repetitive activities and can be common in those who participate in sports. Since our feet must support our body weight they are weight bearing bones that are susceptible to forces that are exerted on them while walking, running and jumping.

Here’s a list of the most common types of foot fractures—which are in the metatarsals—that could occur from repetitive activities and sports.

  • Acute fractures can be caused by dropping a heavy object on your foot or from a sports injury. Acute fractures also occur from twisting the ankle, which pulls on the ligament attached to the bone and removes a piece of the bone. Dancers and athletes are likely to have these types of metatarsal fractures.
  • Stress fractures generally occur from overuse or repetitive injury. As the name implies, this type of fracture occurs from constant stress experienced by the bone in repetitive activities where a hairline break occurs.

What are the different types of metatarsal fractures?

  • Open metatarsal fractures have broken skin above the broken bone.
  • Displaced fractures are those where the bone is no longer in line, as they were before the fracture. These types of fractures may need surgery to realign the bone using pins and plates.

The most common symptom of a metatarsal fracture is continuous foot pain that can diminish to localized pain over the third and fourth metatarsal. The following list will help you treat this.

How do you treat these types of fractures?

  • Rest
  • Immobilization
  • Ice
  • Elevation
  • Surgery

How are metatarsal fractures identified?

Like many types of fractures, metatarsal breaks may not show up on traditional x-rays in the early stages. Half of all metatarsal fractures will not show up on an x-ray and you may need to have a bone scan to view it and to see what type of fracture it may be. If you have a bone scan you’ll probably be given a small amount of radioactive dye through the vein in your arm, and this will illuminate the fractured bone in your foot making it easier for the doctor to see.

If you have osteoporosis be sure to employ safe movements while doing repetitive sports to protect your feet from this type of fracture.


Guest Blogger: Pamela Flores, patient educator & Digital Health Writer

Pamela FloresPam is a patient educator and digital health writer who has worked for Remedy Health Media on their osteoporosis web site since 2008. Pam is also a group leader and moderator with the National Osteoporosis Foundation Inspire online community since 2012, answering questions and guiding members who are newly diagnosed with bone loss.

Twitter: @phflores

The Art of Shoe Fitting: Past to Present

The search for a comfortable pair of shoes isn’t new. The first detailed shoe sizing system was introduced in 1688 in England and then in 1880 in America.

By the 1920s, the much talked about (among our more mature clientele), shoe-fitting fluoroscopes were introduced to shoe stores to help shoe-fluoroscopedetermine fit. The customer would place his or her feet in the opening of the fluoroscope, while remaining in a standing position. They then were able to look through a viewing porthole at the top of the device down at the x-ray view of their feet and shoes. To them the bones of the feet were clearly visible, as was the outline of the shoe.

However, the shoe fitting fluoroscope did have its disadvantages, because the fit of a shoe is also very dependent on the flesh size of the foot. Unfortunately a two dimensional device cannot fit a three dimensional foot. For centuries, shoe fitters have sat on fitting stools and palpated the foot. They understood that their attention to the customer’s foot and gait would guide them to the supportive needs of each individual’s foot. Fifty years ago, there was not a shoe store in town that customers could walk into and pick a shoe off the shelf and walk out. All shoe stores had fit experts to help guide customers every step of the way.

Today fitted shoes are a lost art, as people pay little attention to their evolving feet, and many order online. Everyone knows that children’s feet change in size and shape over time, but few note that an adult’s feet do too. You may be unaware that the cells in your feet completely replace themselves every five years. Change is inevitable, so don’t keep squeezing into the same size you have worn for 20 years, take a realistic look at the tangible facts and seek expert advice for your body’s valuable foundation.

Valentines for Your Toes

ValentinesForToesDo you ask a lot of your toes? Have you ever put them at risk by going barefoot? Do you jam them into shoes that like to pinch them on occasion or all of the time? Give them a chance this Valentine’s Day and treat them to a roomy toe box.

Barefoot Walking

Though walking barefoot has its benefits, allowing your toes to escape the confinements of everyday footwear and giving your feet a natural strengthening benefit, today’s toes and feet aren’t as hardy as those of our barefoot crazed ancestors. They’ve been protected from the environments for some 15,000 years and when exposed to nature may get cut, bruised or stubbed. With your toes being confined to footwear on a regular basis they aren’t as resilient to the forces of nature. The ground pressure forces may put undue stress on the balls of your feet (metatarsal heads), causing them to get inflamed or calloused. To prevent excessive pressure try to move your barefoot activities to more natural terrain such as grass or sand and stay off hard surfaces such as concrete or hardwood.

If you’re suffering from Diabetes and Diabetic Neuropathy, exposing your feet and toes to the environments may result in them getting infected, which may lead to amputation. Therefore it is always important to cover up, even when the allure of a barefoot beach walk or pool day is extremely tempting. Be sure to check your feet for cuts or bleeding at the end of every day, and seek immediate medical attention should you experience any signs of infection (redness or skin that feels warm to the touch).

Tight Shoes

Toes like freedom. They love to spread, but snug and restrictive footwear can cause them to develop callouses, corns, blisters or worse. They may end up overlapping or hammered (no, they don’t get tipsy), and in some cases they may even get turfed. Turf toe is where your toe gets jammed into the end of the shoe, causing the first metatarsal joint (or big toe joint) to be compressed, causing inflammation and pain. So how do you prevent your toes from experiencing any of the above?

Why Should I be concerned about space?

By giving your toes ample freedom in the toe box, as well as a thumb width of space between the longest toe and the end of your shoes you allow your toes to spread. This in turn helps to improve balance, reduces stress on the side of the nails (hence preventing ingrown nails), prevents toes from overlapping and reduces stress on your skin (therefore preventing corn and callous formation). This is not to say you should throw out all of your fancy, snazzy shoes. By all means, wear them. Just limit the time you spend in them to a few hours a week or special occasions.

Want to learn more about a specific foot problem you’re experiencing? Check out our nifty guide to foot pain solutions here. Click on your specific foot issue and learn more about symptoms, as well as treatment options. Have more questions, post them below or visit us in store at Foot Solutions.

Are your feet keeping you from exercising your heart?

FebruaryIsHeartMonthHappyValentinesIt’s February, national heart awareness month. Not only is it time to start thinking about how you will treat your sweety on February 14th, but you may want to revisit your current fitness achievements for 2015 to be sure you keep your heart healthy & strong for years to come. Did you decide to start eating healthier or increase your activity level in 2015? Well, how’s that going (comment below)?

Feet Hurt?

If you’re on track with your exercise plan, may the force be with you! However, if you’ve seen a gradual decline in your exercise program, your feet may be holding you back from achieving your fitness goals. Perhaps it’s your work shoes that are holding you back. Tight, restrictive footwear may cause your body and feet to feel fatigued at the end of the day, not wanting to take another step. Overpronation may leave them stressed and unhappy, causing you to experience calf muscle fatigue, arch fatigue or even back pain. Not sure what’s going on with your tender tootsies? Stop into your local Foot Solutions for a complimentary foot and shoe assessment and have our experts point you to tootsie bliss.

Resistance Training for Increased Calorie Burn

Excess weight may be putting undue pressure on your feet, knees and hips. Adding resistance exercises to your workout routine can help build muscle strength, which in turn will help increase calorie burn. Don’t want to hit the gym? Consider adding Balance Walking poles to your walking routine. Not only do Nordic poles stimulate 90% of the muscles in your body, studies have shown that they improve posture, reduce pressure on knees, feet and hips and when used during your lunch break will increase productivity during the afternoon lull at the office. If that isn’t enough information to convince you to give this activity a try, join our walking club for a complimentary introduction to Nordic Pole Walking here and see for yourself.

Want more inspiration on leading a healthy & active lifestyle? Join us and many other healthy organizations & businesses at the annual Wellness Show at Canada Place February 13-15, 2015.

Be a Better Loser – Five Weight Loss Strategies

Shedding weight isn’t only good for your overall health, it is also great for your body. Any significant weight loss will help reduce stress on feet, knees and hips, especially if those parts of your body are afflicted with Arthritis. It is also particularly important if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes to keep your blood sugar levels in check. But, there’s no question losing weight is no easy task.

Experts suggest these five weight loss strategies to help you stay on track:

  • Set reasonable long term goals. Overly ambitious goals only set you up for failure.
  • Be sure to set realistic weekly weight loss goals and keep track of how you’re doing.
  • Plan each week’s workout routine in advance. Add it into your calendar to be sure to stick to it. Have a personal trainer help you design an appropriate routine, to make sure you don’t insure yourself in the process.
  • Have a friend join you on your quest to better health so you can share winning strategies and motivate each other.
  • Consider a Vegan diet to help shed unwanted pounds. Seek advise from dietitians before drastically changing your diet.

Guest Post: Strength Training for Balance

Balance is the ability to maintain the body’s position over its base of support (i.e. one’s feet) when standing still or moving. When a person begins training to improve balance, it is important to address strength deficits in all the muscles required to remain upright and still, and then move on to muscles that provide dynamic movement (i.e. actions, such as walking and running). The muscles involved in maintaining upright posture and resisting the forces of gravity are the shins, calves, buttocks, thighs, lower back, and stomach muscles.

  • Calf raise: try lifting on to your toes while your heels come off the floor. This is a great way to train the calves
  • Toe taps work the shins. You can also try walking on your toes, and then walking on your heels for 30 seconds each, to train both balance and the muscles around the ankle joint
  • Standing leg lifts work the outer thigh muscles. Hold on to a sturdy chair or a wall, and lift your leg out to the side

A crucial component in balancing well also includes strengthening the muscles in the mid-section. These are often referred to as the “core” and new research points to the importance of these muscles in controlling “postural sway”, especially in older adults. A systematic review of research for falls prevention published in the journal Sports Medicine (Sports Med. 2013 Jul;43(7):627-41) suggests that strengthening the trunk muscles is more crucial than other areas for improving balance, the ability to perform daily tasks, and preventing falls in seniors.

  • Wall plank: To work your core muscles, position yourself against a wall with your elbows bent and forearms in contact with the wall. Step back from the wall so that you are balancing on your forearms. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Keep your trunk engaged, and do not arch your lower back.
  • Floor plank: A more challenging plank is performed on the floor. Position yourself on your feet (or knees) and forearms. Make your body flat as a plank from head to feet. Keep your trunk engaged (tight) and do not let your lower back arch.

Research suggests that both core strength training and Pilates can be used either as an alternative or an addition to balance and resistance training programs for falls prevention.

Kate Maliha, MA (HKin) has a Master’s degree in Human Kinetics and has conducted aging research at the University of British Columbia. She is the Director of Love Your Age Fitness Inc.(http://www.LoveYourAge.ca), a fitness company specializing in the exercise needs of seniors.

Kate MalihaTwitter: http://twitter.com/seniorbalance (@seniorbalance)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Love-Your-Age-Fitness-for-Older-Adults/441406279327581
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/LoveYourAge/
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Diabetes: Walking, Weather Or Not

Walking is one of the best ways to up your fitness game, especially when you add in walking poles to help you burn additional calories. It can help you lose weight, sleep better, improve your mood and, if you have diabetes, even help lower your blood sugar. To be honest Weather-WalkingNoMatterWhatit’s just about the best activity to get your body moving, until the day you discover it’s just too hot or too cold or too wet outside.

This gives you the option of braving the conditions (as our Scandinavian friends like to say “There is no bad weather, just bad clothes”) and thus head out anyway; or, if that’s too much to ask, you may give the below options a go:

  • Jump on a treadmill. It’s not the most exciting option, but it will keep you warm and dry and you can break a good sweat, especially if you use the uphill function. Add a TV into the mix and catch up on your favourite flicks from Netflix while you walk.
  • Find an indoor running or walking track. This can get boring, so be sure to bring along a friend or family member, an audio-book or your favourite music playlist.
  • Go window shopping. Lots of malls offer early hours for walkers. Add some additional work to your walking workout by adding some stairs.
  • Bring along a pedometer that keeps track of your steps and challenge yourself to walk a little bit farther every day.

Of course, whatever strategy you choose, you should invest in good, comfortable walking shoes that fit right and give your feet plenty of support. So rain or shine, a trip to Foot Solutions is a good first step for walking poles and shoes.

Diabetes: 6 Tips to Help you Protect Your Feet from Injury or Infection

If you’re suffering from diabetes, you know how important it is to protect yourself from the serious complications it can cause. This includes keeping your blood sugar under control and following your doctor’s advice about diet and exercise.

ShowYourFeetSomeLove-NationalDiabetesMonthAnd, it means paying special attention to your lower extremities, especially your feet.

You may be aware that diabetic neuropathy (a common side effect of diabetes) can make your feet less sensitive, which can result in injuries going undetected. Diabetes is often accompanied by poor circulation, making it more difficult for those injuries to heal.

Here’s how to protect your feet from injury or infection:

  • Do not go barefoot, not even in the house.
  • Never wear shoes without socks or stockings.
  • Inspect the interior of your shoes before you put them on to make sure there are no foreign objects, rough patches, pebbles or sand that could injure or irritate your feet.
  • Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters or other irritations.
  • Be sure not to use hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet, as this may result in burns.
  • Wear shoes in the gym, pool or public locker room to protect yourself from athlete’s foot and other fungi.

Finally, to keep your feet feeling good day after day, you’ll want to treat them to shoes that fit perfectly and give you plenty of support. That’s where Foot Solutions can help. With our large selection of shoes to comfort and protect diabetic feet and our carefully trained fit specialists we are able to help you find the perfect pair.

Connect with your regional Diabetes office here.

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