Smart Choices Help Prevent Achilles Pain

When you run your hand up the back of your ankle, you’ll notice your Achilles tendon, a tough, rope-like band of tissue that runs up the back of your leg and connects your calf muscle (gastrocnemius) to your heel bone.

Low Impact Activity - Swimming
Give your Achilles tendon a rest by alternating high-impact activities like running with low-impact exercise like swimming.
When healthy, this important tendon helps you walk, run and jump. However, when it’s damaged through overuse it can cause pain and tenderness after exercise.

Known as Achilles tendonitis, this condition can affect anyone, but there are several factors that can put you at risk. These may include, but are not limited to factors such as, being male or middle aged or having flat feet, diabetes or high blood pressure.

However, there are several things you can do to help prevent this painful foot condition from recurring or occurring, including:

  • Listen to your body. Remember: Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury, so take it easy, avoid activities that can put undue stress on the tendon and if you do experience pain, take a break.
  • Slow down. Increase your activity level gradually. Achilles tendonitis is most common in runners who quickly increase their speed or distance and “weekend warriors” who are only active on the weekends.
  • Choose the right footwear. Look for shoes that provide good shock absorption through extra cushioning for your heels and a firm arch support. Consider adding inserts for added protection. Let our experts at Foot Solutions help you find the right footwear or arch support for your needs.
  • Work on strengthening your calf muscles through heel drops to help your legs handle the demands of your favourite activity.

Prevention

To learn more about how to prevent Achilles tendonitis, visit us at http://footsolutions.com/pain_solutions/achilles-tendonitis/

Keep Shoes Looking Great

When you spend good money on a beautiful, well-made pair of shoes, you want to be sure that you can enjoy them Woly Combi Proper Cleaning Productsseason after season. To prevent early retirement to the footwear graveyard our experts recommend the following steps to keep all of your favourite shoes looking their best.

  • Give your shoes a rest. Allowing them a day off now and then lets them dry out naturally (preventing odour build-up, as a moist footwear environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria) and helps protect the leather.
  • Use unvarnished shoe trees, such as those made of cedar. Varnished shoe trees are better looking but the unvarnished type does a better job of absorbing moisture and helps shoes return to their proper shape.
  • Never put a pair of wet shoes near a heat source like a radiator or heat vent. Heat may dry the leather too quickly and leave it brittle, causing it to crack.
  • Use a shoe horn to help protect the heel counter of your shoes as you slide your feet in. However, be sure to check that you can slide into the shoe easily without the aid of a shoe horn prior to purchasing them at the store. This ensures that the footwear provides ample of room for your feet.
  • Find the best shoe repair shop in the area and have any repairs done as soon as you notice a problem. Repairs may include, resoling, stitching or simply the replacement of a broken lace (also available at your local Foot Solutions location).

For Shoe Repair in Vancouver, may we recommend:

Tony’s Shoe Repair (Kerrisdale)woly-marke-uebersicht-motiv
6041 W Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6M 3X2
(604) 263-0699

Elan Shoe
2572 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3G8
(604) 677-5013

Your Feet Deserve Respect

Not only are your feet two of the hardest working parts of your body, they are also two of the most complex.

Teacher - On Your Feet All DayPicture this. Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 different ligaments and scores of muscles and tendons. When all these elements work together smoothly your feet will form a stable base for your body and let you move more comfortably and easily.

However, when something goes wrong, every step can be painful. Which is why we recommend you treat your feet with the care and respect they deserve.

To keep your feet looking and feeling their best, keep this in mind:

  • Give your toes ample of space inside your footwear. Trying to cram them into narrow, pointy shoes is a recipe for foot pain, bunions and hammer toes.
  • Stay away from high heels. If you must wear them, make sure your feet are well supported through the arch and offer additional padding at the ball of the foot. For every inch of heel height, you raise the pressure on the balls of your feet. For example, a 1″ heel increases pressure by 22%. Wearing a 2″ heel will increase pressure by 57% and a 3″ heel will increase it by 76%. (HINT: If you absolutely must wear high heels somewhere, wear comfortable shoes to and from the event and change into heels at the last possible moment.)
  • Remember that size counts, and that not all footwear fits the same. You may encounter large variations in size across brands. Have your feet measured as they often get a bit larger as years go by.
  • Replace when needed. Even shoes that fit perfectly will wear out eventually. Once that happens you can’t count on them to provide your feet with the cushioning and support they require, and it’s time to say good-bye.
  • Give your feet a break. Reducing your weight will help lessen stress on your feet – one more good reason to do your whole body a favor by staying (or getting) slim.
  • Want to learn more about getting your feet in tip-top shape? Seek out the advice from a Foot Solutions pedorthist to prevent future foot and footwear challenges.

Fall Prevention Through Better Shoes

Footwear can play an imperative role in fall prevention through the improvement of balance and foot comfort. Read on to learn more about shoes and their inherent abilities in pain reduction and balance.

Pain Reduction

As we age our feet change. Not only do they get longer, wider and often flatter, but many of us will also suffer Xsensible Allure Velcrofrom toe deformities, such as hammer toes, mallet toes, bunions, hallux valgus and more. These deformities can make it challenging to find the proper fit and often will require modifications to footwear, such as stretching, cutouts and heating, to name but a few.

Other alternatives, such as extra depth footwear, are designed to increase space around the forefoot and thus help prevent friction and pressure that may result in blisters, sores or in the case of the diabetic foot, ulcerations (open wounds). With the introduction of nylon fabrics and the invention of the stretchable shoe, many shoes can now also be heat molded to reduce pressure where needed.

Better Stability

There are several options to help improve balance and stability through footwear. We recommend you choose low EtonicMinado heeled footwear with outflares (soles that flare outwards), to decrease lateral (sideways) movement, and a base wide enough to accommodate your feet. With most shoes offering removable insoles, the best way to check that you are choosing the right width and length is to remove the insole and stand on it whilst in the shop. Your toes and feet should not overlap the edges of the insole and you should have at least a finger width of space at the end of the insole.

If dress shoes are needed for everyday use, choose shoes with a wedge, as opposed to an offset heel. If an offset heel is a must, be sure to select a heel with a wider base as opposed to a stiletto heel. This will ensure better support and prevent nasty ankle sprains. Also, stick to heels that aren’t higher than an inch, in order to prevent excessive pressures on the forefoot.

Arch Supports & Orthotics

Custom Foot OrthoticsIn certain cases shoes may require custom-made or off-the-shelf inserts to reduce pressure on the plantar (bottom) aspect of the foot. They help prevent excessive inward or outward rolling of the foot and improve toe function that may be impeded by a collapsed arch. Preventing the foot from excessive side to side movements through the use of supports can also improve balance in individuals suffering from instability, Parkinsons, Charcot Marie Tooth disease or foot pain.

Arthritis

Arthritis can occur in any of our 300+ joints and feet are very often affected. Most often our clients will experience pain in their big toe joint, as well as the midfoot, ankle and toes. Much of the pain can be remedied through better footwear that helps prevent joint motion and thus reduces pressure on the area of discomfort. To prevent pressure on the big toe joint, in case of limited range of motion, we often recommend rocker soled footwear to help prevent flexion of the painful joint, thus preventing missteps that may lead to falls. Midfoot pain is usually best addressed through arch support.

In general we recommend that if the shoe feels comfortable on the first try, wear it.

About the Author

Christian Johannsen is a Certified Pedorthist at Foot Solutions in Ambleside (West Vancouver) and Kitsilano (Vancouver). For additional information or to schedule an appointment or home visit, please contact him at (604) 925-2282 or (604) 267-7463.

The Great Outdoors – Walking for Stress Relief

The leaves are turning colour and the air is getting crisper. Fall can be the perfect time to enjoy a walk in the park, on the beach or down a winding country road. That kind of walk has even more benefits than you may suspect.

Hiking VancouverWalking in a natural setting can help ease stress and lift your spirits, and studies show that it can help you sleep better, boost your memory and even help you be more creative. Best of all, getting up and out into the great outdoors is just plain fun. Just remember to bring along your favourite walking boots or shoes.

Chances are your favourite places to walk are the parks and trails nearby. But if you’re looking for a more demanding adventure, check out some of our favourites:

1. Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge
A favourite, this hike takes you through the lush forests of North Vancouver and is kid and dog friendly. From the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge parking lot head across the suspension bridge and then left towards the Seymour Demonstration Forest for a serious stair climber workout. Then loop back across the pipeline bridge and along the river.

2. The Stawamus Chief
Located less than an hour North of Vancouver the Chief is a great upper and lower leg workout that can easily compete with your gym’s stair climber. Tackle the first peak for a beautiful view over Howe Sound or take on the challenge of all three peaks to break a serious sweat.

3. Crown Mountain
Looking for a challenge bigger than the Grouse Grind, yet delivering breathtaking city and mountain vistas? Your Crown Mountain adventure, best tackled in the summer and early fall, starts at the base of Grouse. After tackling the Grouse Grind head North towards Goat Mountain. From Goat ridge head West down a steep trail and then back up the other side to enjoy the breathtaking views of Crown Mountain.

4. Hollyburn Mountain
An intermediate trail in the North Shore mountains, this trail can also be accessed with snow shoes during the winter season. The mountaintop offers wonderful vistas of the Lions, Howe Sound and the city.

5. Mount Cheam
A 90 minute drive from Vancouver, trail head access is a more challenging aspect than the hike itself. A 4×4 vehicle is recommended to gain easy access to the trail head. Stop by Mount Cheam in August for a colourful display of wildflowers.

We want to know. What brand of shoes is making your outdoor activities extra special?

How Healthy Are Your Feet?

FeetA recent article in the Wall Street Journal addresses many of the foot complaints we see on a daily basis at our stores. Feet aren’t meant to hurt, yet many of us walk and stand long hours in shoes that have little to no support, apply too much pressure on the forefoot, or lack the stability or cushion required to reduce stress on ankles, knees and hips.

Have you checked your feet lately?

Feet are usually ignored until they hurt so much they can’t take another step. Checking your feet for red blemishes after slipping off your shoes can make you aware of first signs of foot abuse. Red marks on feet require attention, as the additional pressure can result in blisters, corns, circulation troubles or ulcerations (in severe cases where neuropathy causes lack of feeling in the foot). Oftentimes this type of pressure requires nothing more than a stretch at the spot of pressure. However, on other occasions a wider shoe may be necessary to reduce pressure on the feet.

Callousing

Calluses will appear on the bottom of the foot. These are usually not much cause for concern if they take up the entire ball of the foot or heel. However, rough skin may make your significant other cringe when playing footsie under the table. Use creams (such as FootLogix or Gehwol) to help soften the skin and restore its elasticity and suppleness.

Calluses that are specific to a small area of skin on the ball of the foot may cause pain when walking, as the pressure from the hardened skin will apply pressure on the bone located beneath. This may require orthotics, metatarsal pads or cutouts to relieve the pressure and prevent the callous from reappearing over time.

Ingrown Nails

Are your shoes too short? Shoes that are too short or narrow at the toe may cause nails to grow into the skin when used over extended periods of time. We recommend buying shoes that offer at least a finger’s width of space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe (test when standing). When dress footwear is required for work look for shoes with a square toe box to increase space for toes.

Not sure about the bill of health of your feet? Stop by your nearest Foot Solutions location for a free foot assessment or leave a comment or question below.

Standing On Your Feet All Day?

Standing in one place for hours at a time can be exhausting and hard on the feet. Here are some strategies you can use to keep the Nurse, Doctor, Retail, Warehouse, Staffpressure off:

  • Try to walk as much as possible, as opposed to standing still in a single position
  • If walking is not an option, lift one leg at a time and rotate the ankle
  • Don’t wear high heeled footwear, as it shifts your weight on the balls of your feet
  • Invest in an anti-fatigue mat or an area carpet to improve cushioning at your work station
  • From time to time slip off your shoes, stand on your tippy-toes, then return to a full weight-bearing position, flex your feet and wiggle your toes
  • Shift your body weight from one foot to the other or try standing with one foot in front of the other

Stop by your local Foot Solutions store to learn how sole-soothing inserts and footwear can help relieve achy feet, knees and back.

Our 5 Secrets to a great footwear fit

If you’ve ever had to walk a distance in too small or too large a shoe you can appreciate that finding shoes that fit right is the first step to getting more out of life. Having a shoe that doesn’t restrict your foot’s movement not only reduces the likelihood of corns, blisters and hammer toes, but also helps to reduce tension further up, including the knee, back and knee. This isn’t to say that the footwear should be extremely sloppy on the foot. A snug fit around the ankle is important for stability and is just as important for a proper footwear fit as a roomy toe box is for the health of your toes.

High Five TipsThat’s why we think you should know that …

  1. Feet Change over time. In fact your size can change significantly as you grow older or after pregnancy.
  2. The Left and Right Foot Don’t Always Match. Most people have one foot that’s larger than the other by at least 1/2 a shoe size.
  3. Don’t go by marked sizes, as they can lead you astray. Sizes can vary from one brand to another. Go by how the shoe feels, instead.
  4. Shoes Don’t Stretch, at least not without a little help from a mechanical shoe stretcher. Do not ever buy shoes that feel too tight and assume they’ll stretch to fit you over time. You’re unlikely to walk far enough in them to make them stretch enough to be comfortable.
  5. Be sure that your toes have enough space at the end of the shoe and can wiggle freely. We recommend at least 1 finger’s width of space between the longest toe (this isn’t necessarily your big toe) and the end of the shoe. Not sure if you have the right amount of space? Remove the insole from the shoe, line up your heel and put your full body weight on your foot before you check spacing.

Still unsure on how to properly select the perfect walking shoe? Post your questions below or come see us at Foot Solutions in Kitsilano.

What Shoe to Get? A guide to selecting the best training shoe for your sport.

When it comes to selecting athletic footwear for an activity, not all sports shoes are made equal. Before buying new trainers it’s important to consider the different types of athletic shoes available to today’s fitness enthusiast. Footwear has come a long way from its humble beginnings of wraparound leathers (similar to a moccasin) worn by early Mesopotamians circa 1600 to 1200 BC. Athletic footwear companies nowadays focus on improving overall foot health, designing footwear that not only protects joints and feet from impact, but also ensures that common injuries such as ankle sprains are mitigated, all the while ensuring that the foot is well supported throughout the walking cycle. Let’s have a look at the different types of fitness footwear available today and how you can ensure you’re stepping into the perfect fit.

Cross-Training Shoes

Cross-training shoes are multipurpose shoes that can be used for a variety of sports. Their soles are often firmer than the average running shoe, as they’re designed to provide better stability during activities that require a lot of side stepping action. Most cross-training shoes will feature leather uppers with an additional reinforcement or strap across the ball of the foot, to prevent excessive sideway shifting of the forefoot. You may like these shoes if you’re looking to participate in a multitude of sports, including, but not limited to, aerobics, badminton, squash, tennis, volleyball, weight-lifting or aerobics.

Running Shoes

Running shoes are designed for forward motion. They feature a thick sole, especially at the heel, to reduce impact on your heel at ground contact. Their uppers are made of mesh, primarily to reduce the weight of the shoe and improve breathability. Running shoes are not recommended for racquet sports, as they don’t offer the forefoot stability a cross-training shoe or actual racquet (tennis) shoe can provide. If you have ever played racquet sports in your running shoes you probably remember how easily your feet slid over the edges of the shoe. When it comes to choosing a neutral (cushion), stability or motion control shoe it is important to note that recent studies have shown that neutral and stability runners are least likely to cause injury in runners.

Walking Shoes

Walking shoes can be running shoes. However, a true walking shoe tends to feature a leather or similar upper to improve water resistance, keeping your feet dry when it’s pouring outside. Although walking shoes can be used for cross-training activities, they, just like running shoes feature a thicker heel area for shock absorption. With the heel higher off the ground, the likelihood of ankle sprains is increased during side stepping activities.

Barefoot Running

Barefoot running has garnered a lot of media attention as of late, with the lightweight features of this running footwear appealing to young and old alike. These trainers feature little to no padding (Vibram Five Fingers) in their soles to keep the foot as close and as in tune with the ground reaction forces as possible. Due to their low sole these shoes can be used for a multitude of sports, including running, walking and weight-lifting. However, barefoot running does require you to make changes to your running style and it is usually recommended to go through a break-in period prior to making this type of footwear your everyday choice. The lack of strength in the heel counter makes this footwear less suitable for racquet sports or activities requiring a lot of sidestepping action.

Now, keeping in mind the type of activity you most participate in, there is one last thing you should always remember when buying shoes. If the shoe feels great in the store, buy it.

What are your favourite athletic footwear brands? Let us know in the comment section below.

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