Flap Over Flip-Flops

Flip-flops have come a long way from their humble beginnings as a beach and pool staple. You can still get the cheap, plastic thongs at grocery and drug stores for a few bucks but you can also invest in a pair of plastic designer ones with Australian Crystals which will cost you $140 a pair! … Continue reading “Flap Over Flip-Flops”

Flip-flops have come a long way from their humble beginnings as a beach and pool staple. You can still get the cheap, plastic thongs at grocery and drug stores for a few bucks but you can also invest in a pair of plastic designer ones with Australian Crystals which will cost you $140 a pair! Due to their popularity, and relative comfort, they have migrated from the pool and beach scene to everyday wear, which includes the work place.

If a company has a dress code, chances are flip flops are singled out as inappropriate footwear. The resurgence of their popularity has become the bane of many human resource managers. Most classify their style as “beachwear”, but many employees see them as a comfortable summer accessory. But, it turns out that these beloved shoes can not only damaging to your career, but they can be damaging to your feet, ankles, and even your back.

Wearing your favorite flip-flops for a few hours at the pool or on the beach is totally appropriate. Problems arise when you wear them for 5-10 hours a day. Even though they might be the perfect compliment for your cute summer dress they are not designed to be worn for long periods of time. Most are completely flat with no support for the arch and the heel. Generally, they provide no shock absorption when you walk. Once you leave the beach, they expose your feet to a host of injuries including blisters, stubbed toes and nail injuries.

Physicians and podiatrists have been complaining for years about the medical problems that result from their excessive usage. Physicians are reporting that due to the lack of support, they can lead to foot pain and even plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the band of tissue that extends along the bottom of the foot causing extreme pain. Lack of support can cause even further damage to the alignment of the body, which is a precursor for hip and back injuries.

Other medical problems include tendinitis, ankle injuries and Achilles tendon issues due to the stretching of this tendon. Daily wear can cause shin splints because they provide no shock absorption. Additionally, if the shock from the heel strike is not absorbed appropriately from the ground it is transmitted to other parts of the body such as the lower leg, hip, knee and the back.

Do you know where your flip-flops have been? Consider that the ground is full of pathogens and bacteria that get sucked up with the motion of the “flop” and can land on your skin causing a nasty skin infection. Bacteria including fecal matter, skin and respiratory germs can also get on the walking surface of the shoe and lead to illness.

Recent studies of the popular summer footwear indicate they can harbor over 180,000 bacteria per pair including lethal germs. The presence of these germs is always there regardless of your footwear, but if you have a cut or blister on your unprotected foot it can easily turn into a serious infection.

There are some people with compromised  feet  due to other  health  reasons that should never wear flip-flops including people with circulatory problems, arthritis or neuromas. A closed toe and heel is most supportive and protective for these individuals.

Flip -flops are fun, free spirited and comfortable. Wear them with abandon in appropriate environments and for limited periods of time and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Ouch! My High Arches Are Killing Me!

People with high arches usually have many foot and ankle problems. A high arch is shaped like the letter “C”. Just the shape of the foot can cause walking difficulties for the patient. High arches are usually genetic, but can be caused by a neurological problem also.

High arch, also called cavus foot, causes rigidity in the foot and the body’s natural ability to absorb shock is hampered. Several other problems typically occur due to high arches; heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, painful bumps on the back of the heel called bone spurs, and arch pain. The way the foot is shaped and high arched feet can be surgically corrected to change the way that it lands. The arch is typically stretched in a weird way and arch tissue gets inflamed and painful. Due to the instability bunions, or knob like structures on the side of the foot, occur and can get larger. Tendons on top of the foot and ankle typically will get strained because of the structure of the foot. If you have corns or calluses on the big toe and the pinky toe this is sometimes the result of high arched feet. Your shoes can not fit as they should due to the shape of your foot.

Treatment varies from patient to patient. It is important to have x-rays to see if there is what we call spurring, or bony growths (also called degenerative joint damage), that occurs due to this foot type. Caves or high arched feet can be surgically corrected, but we usually try a conservative treatment, which is often the treatment of choice. Typically custom orthotics, which are custom casted to your feet, will provide relief for patients. Another device we use is an ankle foot orthotic, a bulkier device that completely encapsulates the foot and ankle. Shoes that don’t support a high arched foot can be a problem. We recommend that if you have a cavus foot type that you be evaluated by a podiatrist. If you have a child that has this foot type it is very important for them to be evaluated to prevent injuries further down the road. Early detection is the key to healthier and less problematic scenarios that will occur in the foot.

Copyright (c) 2010 Mitchell Wachtel DPM

Corns on Toes – An Overview

Corns are the result of dead skin that has thickened and hardened over time. Like calluses, they form naturally to protect and shield the skin from pressure, friction, and injury. They usually appear to be grayish or yellowish in color. They can be bumpy and much less sensitive to touch than the surrounding skin. While small corns and calluses on the feet of an active person are normal, they can sometimes increase in size to the point of causing pain.

Corns on the toes generally grow where toes rub together or against the sides of shoes. They have an inner core that can either be soft or hard. Commonly appearing between the fourth and fifth toes are soft corns, whereas hard corns can cover the bony area of a toe. You don’t have to worry about corns being caused by viruses or being contagious. When repeated pressure and friction is placed on any area of the skin, the skin reacts by dying and forming a hard protective surface. The only difference between soft and hard corns is that soft corns develop in areas where moisture gets trapped and softens the dead skin.

Outer pressure to the skin of the feet usually comes from footwear. Some examples are tight shoes that squeeze the foot and high heeled shoes that compress the front part of the foot. Also, shoes that are too loose allow the foot to slide around and rub against the shoe uncomfortably. Shoes with very thin soles do little to protect the ball of the foot and toes from the pressure of walking. Wearing sandals and even shoes without socks also causes friction to the skin. Sometimes your foot may rub against a stitch or a seam inside your shoe. Large and loose socks that bunch up inside your shoes can also needlessly cause rubbing.

There are other issues that could be involved in the development of corns on toes. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause the bones in the foot to shift abnormally and lead to those bones developing hardening skin as they rub against footwear. Other abnormalities such as bunions or hammer, mallet, and claw toes can also develop corns. Repeated pressure to certain areas of the feet and toes can be due to sports. An example of this would be a callus on the bottom of a runner’s foot. Having an abnormal gait, flat feet, or a bone spur can also lead to corns showing up.

Are You ADHD?

Drugs or Direction, that is the question….

Yesterday walking through the airport between an eatery and the wireless electronics store there was a big yellow sign that said something like this:

Are you distracted? Do you lose focus easily? Do you forget things? You could have ADHD, send us a text or find us on the web at (some website).

The website isn’t really their site of course. After reading the sign and looking around for a minute it hit me. What better place to try and convince people they have ADHD than an airport. Everyone is either in a hurry so they forget something, or bored out of their mind so they lose focus and are easily distracted.

Our entire society and system of marketing is based on these principles. Is everyone that buys a “keyfinder” an ADHD candidate? Who knows. What I do know is that like all things in life this was another organization looking to recruit candidates in an ideal location. Just about everyone with normal brain function is going to have some level of ADHD. If you have five Starbucks cards in your wallet or do like I do, and drink three 32 oz Diet Cokes before lunch, you might be a higher level of ADHD until the caffeine wears off.

We live in a society filled with distractions. iPods, cell phones, pocket cameras that film HD for You Tube and bright yellow signs with ADHD messages right when you are looking for your lost boarding pass all are designed to keep us distracted. Maybe they are just trying to keep us entertained and busy?

The truth is we live in a world where the absolute need for focus is almost zero. My generation and people younger than me rarely have any kind of dedicated focus. Our parents tell us “you can do anything you want to do”. If we pick something and change our mind, they just say “It’s OK dear.” To make matters worse we live in a “right now” information society. When someone calls us or texts us we are expected to answer right away.

The reality is, until we find what it is that drives us, we will always be a little distracted and out of focus. If we could each just find our true calling and put all of the rest of the distractions in a drawer we would be better off. Some of us get lucky and our parents instill that focus in us like Tiger Woods (sexting aside), and others get lucky and find their passion on their own or by accident..

After seeing a couple of pretty good accidents as a result of texting, I took a hard look at my own cell phone and texting habits in the car. Since then I have stopped answering calls for two reasons. First, I was going into autopilot when on the phone and would sometimes fly right by my off ramp or destination. Any time I saved by answering the call was then lost.

Second and more important I realized that I have so much going on, I couldn’t focus on what I was doing or what I was talking to the person on the other end of the conversation about. This is one where I needed to just take my own advice. Don’t take any calls you aren’t ready to take. If you call and I am on the road, chances are good I will forget any appointment we set or any thing I was supposed to order for you. If I take a your call in the office at the computer, then I am ready, and we both get more out of it.

While writing my book, “So, Now What?” I observed a lot of highly successful people. What I started doing was following the advice I was giving in my book as a result of those observations. I get way more done every day be being prepared to do what I am doing when I am doing it. Life is better this way. It feels slower and you have more time to do what you want to do.

Is it ADHD or lack of self discipline in a world of distractions?

Stress Fractures In Your Feet

We all know what fractures are. Many of you have probably fractured a bone or two in your lives. You jump off a high structure or you get in wrestling match with your brother and next thing you know, you have to go to the hospital because you broke a bone. The use of the term “stress” when pertaining to a fracture may be puzzling for some. The common statement heard by podiatrists is: “I do not recall any serious pain to my foot”. While they may not recall any specific traumatic event causing the fracture, the patient indeed suffered trauma significant enough to cause a fracture, it just wasn’t the type of “trauma” everyone thinks of when discussing fractures.

A stress fracture is a very small fracture in a bone, and is sometimes referred to as a “hairline fracture”. With over two-hundred bones in your body, a fracture can occur nearly anywhere but stress fractures are most prevalent in the foot. This is because the feet bear the weight of the entire body. Often times, stress fractures are related to “overuse”, usually resulting from sports, overtraining, or sudden increases in activity without proper conditioning. Athletes playing football, soccer, baseball or any intense sport can develop a stress fracture. The principle of repeatedly hitting or stomping your foot on the same general spot will increase your chances of developing a stress fracture.

A typical activity is working out on the treadmill (a.k.a. the dreadmill). As you are doing your workout on the treadmill, you’re constantly hard stepping your feet again and again–which is more intense when there is an incline and you go for a long duration. You can easily get a foot stress fracture this way. A way to reduce the chances of a stress fracture is to simulate running outside by trying the incline and the speed of the treadmill. This way you’ll constantly be adjusting how your foot strikes the ground, which dampens the stress placed on any one spot in the foot.

Due to osteoporosis, women are more prone to stress fractures than men. This is compounded by two other common conditions in women: eating disorders and irregular menstrual cycles. The two symptoms can add to the building up of osteoporosis, which is not only a condition for elderly women but can occur in early on. Now, this is not to say men aren’t also susceptible to stress fractures, because they can get them, it’s just important for women to be aware of the increased risk of stress fractures.

The long bones in the foot that go from the middle of the foot to the toes (a.k.a. the metatarsals) is the most frequent spot for a stress fracture in the foot. The heel or the location known as the navicular (which is on top of the midfoot) can also experience a stress fracture. Due to an insufficient amount of blood flow, the fractures in this bone are not easy or fast to cure.

Some common symptoms you may experience should you suffer a stress fracture are pain that starts gradually, gets worse with weight-bearing activities and slowly gets better with rest, possible swelling, tenderness to touch and possible bruising.