Pondering Pedicures…is it better to look good or feel good?

Whether you’re getting ready for a romantic evening out, or looking ahead to when sandal days are back again, treating your feet to a pedicure can help you look and feel your best—as long as you keep foot health front of mind.

“It’s important to ensure your pedicure is done properly, whether you’re doing it yourself at home or enjoying a professional treatment in a nail salon or spa,” says Sarah Neitzel, DPM, a podiatrist at Peninsula Podiatry and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

APMA offers some pedicure pointers to help you love how your feet look and feel:

  • Start with a good soak in warm water for at least five minutes. Soaking will help soften calluses and prep feet for removing dry, rough skin. To exfoliate, use a pumice stone or foot file. “Never use a foot razor to remove dead skin, and ban your pedicurist from using one on you,” says Dr. Neitzel. “It’s too easy for a quick slip-up to cause permanent damage or lead to serious infection.”
  • Shave your legs a day or two before your professional pedicure, but not the day of. Shaving can cause minor abrasions and fissures in the skin, allowing bacteria to enter while your feet soak or the nail technician handles your feet. A little bit of stubble won’t bother her at all.
  • When doing a home pedicure, use toenail clippers with a straight edge and cut nails straight across. Avoid other cutting tools, such as manicure scissors, as they can increase the risk of ingrown nails. Use an emery board to smooth and round nail edges.
  • For salon pedicures, bring your own tools; shared tools can spread bacteria if they haven’t been cleaned properly. “If you do not have your own tools, ask to see where /how the salon sterilizes their tools between clients. An autoclaved new set of tools for each patron is best,” says Dr. Neitzel.
  • Never permit a nail technician to cut or trim cuticles, which protect nail beds from bacteria. Instead, use a rubber cuticle pusher or liquid remover to gently push back cuticles just a little bit. Use a wooden or rubber manicure stick—never metal or anything sharp—to clean beneath nails.
  • Remove polish after it’s been on for a while. Keeping nails polished for extended periods may promote fungal growth. Leave toenails polish-free for a few days between pedicures. If you find white crusts or yellow discoloration on your nails between pedicures, make an appointment with your podiatrist to evaluate you for nail fungus.
  • After your pedicure, don’t walk around in flimsy flip-flops, especially the ones salons sometimes give customers before they leave. They don’t provide adequate protection or support for your feet.

You can also look for foot-friendly products that have earned APMA’s Seal of Acceptance or Approval by visiting www.apma.org/seal. Podiatrists have evaluated these products and found them to be beneficial to foot health.

Finally, never put up with foot pain. “Discomfort and pain that last longer than several days could be a sign of a more serious problem or infection,” Dr. Neitzel adds. Seek treatment from a podiatrist—the foot and ankle expert.

Sarah Neitzel DPM, is a podiatrist at Peninsula Podiatry in Silverdal, WACall 1 (360) 286-0404 or visit www.PeninsulaPod.com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.


Beyond the backpack: Back-to-school shoe-shopping tips to keep kids healthy and parents happy

For parents faced with kids’ changing tastes and opinions, navigating back-to-school shopping can be a harrowing process. Buy him the wrong backpack, and he’ll be the uncool kid on the bus. Pick out the wrong jeans for her, and she’ll be shamed by society. While neither scenario will cause kids any real harm, there is one area of back-to-school shopping where a wrong move could have health ramifications for kids—shoe shopping.

Foot health is directly related to overall health, no matter your age. Proper footwear is essential to foot health, so it’s important for parents to ensure kids go back to school with a good foundation on their feet. Shoes are one of the most important back-to-school purchases parents will make.

Children’s feet change and grow with them, and parents may find they need to update their kids’ shoes and socks every few months to accommodate this growth. Shoes that don’t fit properly can irritate the feet and affect how well a child walks, runs, and plays.

APMA offers parents some advice for finding shoes that are good for kids’ feet and also live up to their exacting tastes:

  • Always buy new—never used—and never hand down footwear. Sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete’s foot. What’s more, children’s feet are as unique as they are. A shoe that fits one child comfortably may not fit another child as well. Plus, shoes that have been worn tend to conform to the foot of the wearer and may be uncomfortable for anyone else to put on.
  • Test the shoe before allowing a child to try it on. Check for a stiff heel by pressing on both sides of the heel counter; it shouldn’t collapse under the pressure. Bend the shoe with your hands to ensure it will bend with your child’s toes; it shouldn’t be too stiff. Try twisting the shoe; it should be rigid across the middle and never twist in that area.
  • Go shopping together. Shopping with your child ensures you can have his or her foot measured professionally, and that your child can test the shoe for a proper fit, give you his or her opinion of it, and learn from you the finer points of buying a good shoe. Kids who learn how to select a comfortable, supportive shoe may be less likely to make wrong footwear choices as adults, which could save them a lot of discomfort.
  • Remember to shop for shoes later in the day when feet are at their largest, and always buy for the larger foot. Having your child’s feet measured will help identify which foot is larger. Additionally, remember to have your child wear the type of socks or tights he or she will most likely wear with the shoe.
  • Avoid buying shoes that need a “break-in” period. Footwear should be comfortable right away. Once the school year is underway, keep an eye on your child’s shoes—active kids may wear out footwear faster than adults. Be vigilant for signs of irritation, such as your child always wanting to remove one or both shoes. The footwear may no longer fit properly, especially if it’s been a few months since you bought the shoes.

Finally, be sure children wear shoes that are appropriate for their activities. If your daughter plays sports, she should wear a good athletic shoe designed for that sport. If your son is a runner, he’ll need a good running shoe.

For daily wear when kids do a lot of walking, choose a good, supportive shoe. Keep sandals, flip-flops, and heels for occasional wear only.

If your child complains of foot pain or experiences an injury, take him or her to a podiatrist. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat ailments of the feet.

Sarah Neitzel, DPM is a podiatrists at Peninsula Podiatry in Silverdale, WACall 1 (360) 286-0404 or visit www.PeninsulaPod,com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.


Flip-flop fiascoes to sunburned toes: Tips for avoiding summer foot woes

Relaxing on the beach, hiking through the mountains, trekking around a new city, or just keeping up with all the kids’ summer activities—however you spend summer vacation, your feet will carry you through it all. During the course of these adventures, your feet may endure stubbed toes, miles of walking, hot sand, and possibly even some sunburn. So be kind to your tootsies, and take note of these tips for protecting your feet from summer heat.

To help steer clear of foot problems, follow these tips:

  • Walk barefoot as little as possible. Going shoeless exposes your feet to sunburn, plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other infections, and increases the risk of injury. Wear shoes or flip-flops around the pool, to the beach, in locker rooms, and even inside your hotel room, as infection-causing bacteria can linger in carpets and on bathroom tiles.
  • Just as you rely on sunscreen and drinking plenty of water during the summer, these practices also help your feet. Apply sunscreen on your whole foot, especially the tops and fronts of ankles. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help minimize foot swelling caused by the heat.
  • Dont forget that walking on hot sand barefoot can actually cause blistering burns to the bottoms of your feet. For those of us with neuropathy or who just aren’t able to feel their feet, this can be an especially dangerous situation. Take care to wear some foot wear while on the sand
  • Always pack an extra pair of shoes, especially if you expect your feet will get wet.
  • Take along a foot-care kit that includes sterile bandages, antibiotic cream, an emollient-enriched cream, blister pads, and an anti-inflammatory pain-reliever.
  • Avoid a flip-flop fiasco. Ditching heavy boots and wearing lighter footwear is one of the great joys of summer. But be aware that not all types of footwear are good for your feet. Flip-flops, in particular, can cause problems such as heel pain, arch pain and tendonitits.

During warmer months, many podiatrists treat more foot problems, and they can often be traced back to the wearing of flip-flops. You don’t have to give up wearing flip-flops altogether; certain types offer a superior amount of stability and support than others.

So, what’s considered a bad flip-flop? Flip-flops with soles that bend and twist freely offer no support or stability. Choose flip-flops that bend only at the ball of the foot and that provide arch support, which cushions the foot and provides stability. High-quality soft leather for the thong part of the flip-flop will help you avoid blisters. Your toes or heels should never hang off the edge of the flip-flop. Throw away flip-flops that are old, worn, cracked, or frayed—no matter how much you loved them last season.

Finally, never wear flip-flops for doing yard work, playing sports, or taking long walks. Do wear good, supportive flip-flips at the pool, beach, or in public places. Your feet will take you to a lot of cool places this summer. Keeping them safe and comfortable can maximize the fun during your next warm-weather adventure.. If you have further questions about what makes for a “good flip flop”, or have experienced any of these summer foot woes already, call Peninsula Podiatry for an appointment today. We will get you up and enjoying the sun again.

Sarah Neitzel, DPM, is a podiatrists at Peninsula Podiatry in Silverdale, WA. Call 1 (360) 286-0404 or visit www.peninsulapod.com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.


Orthopedic surgeon shares stage with rock star client

Foo Fighters front man David Grohl recently made headlines when he invited his foot doctor to the stage to sing for fans of Fenway Park. Dr. Lew Schon has accompanied Grohl on tour since early June when the accident occurred.

 


The features that make you run

Why don’t your toes break when you take a step? What is that arch in your foot actually for? How does your Gluteus Maximus, play a role in stopping you from falling over when you walk? The Perfect Runner along with the Smithsonian Channel highlight all of the great features in our hips, legs, calves, feet, and toes that make us so unique from all other species on the planet.


5 Signs of Foot Trouble in Kids

Five Signs Your Child May Have a Foot Problem

At Peninsula Podiatry, we strive to educate our patients of all ages, and children are no exception. With children recently going back to school and starting new schedules, it is easy for foot and ankle problems to go unnoticed. Often, signs of a problem may be subtle and children are not able to describe to adults what is bothering them. However, because their feet are growing and changing, it is more important than ever to keep an eye out for some of these early warning signs, as stated by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

“1. Your Kids Can’t Keep Up with Their Peers

If children lag behind in sports or backyard play, it may be because their feet or legs are tired. Fatigue is common when children have flat feet. The muscles in the feet and legs tire easily because the feet are not functioning as well as they should.

2. Children Voluntarily Withdraw from Activities they Usually Enjoy

If they are reluctant to participate, it may be due to heel pain — a problem often seen in children between the ages of 8 and 14. Repetitive stress from sports may cause muscle strain and inflammation of the growth plate, a weak area at the back of a child’s heel.

3. They Don’t Want to Show You Their Feet

Children may feel pain or notice a change in the appearance of their feet or nails but don’t tell their parents because they fear a trip to the doctor’s office. We encourage parents to make a habit of inspecting their child’s feet starting at a young age. Look for any changes such as calluses, growths, skin discoloration, or redness and swelling around the toenails.

4. Your Child Often Trips and Falls

Repeated clumsiness may be a sign of in-toeing, balance problems or neuromuscular conditions.

5. The Child Complains of Pain

It is never normal for a child to have foot pain. Injuries may seem minor, but if pain or swelling last more than a few days, have your child’s foot examined.”

If you’ve noticed any of these signs in your child, call Peninsula Podiatry for an appointment at 1 (360) 286-0404, to assess these complaints and if needed, to initiate treatment early.

For more information on foot conditions visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.


New Years Resolution: A New Year Fitness Routine!

Seems everyone rings in the new year with goals of self-improvement, usually involving beginning a new fitness routine. But before you hit the treadmill or elliptical in January for the first time in months (or years), give some thought to your hard working feet. Otherwise, you may find yourself asking “How something so good for me can hurt so bad?” Here at Peninsula Podiatry, we would like to present a few considerations before you hit the gym in this new year:

1) Are your shoes brand new or really old? Believe it or not, NEITHER is ideal for jumping right into a fitness routine! Brand new shoes need to be broken in, which is done best by gradually performing more and more light activity. Try walking around your grocery store or the neighborhood a few times before you try running in them. At the opposite end of the spectrum, comfortable older shoes are not always best either when it comes to really increasing your fitness routine. Old, worn out shoes may not be supporting your feet enough, which can quickly lead to tendonitis and foot pain.

2) Are your shoes the right size? To determine if your shoes are the right size, you should be able to feel two finger widths between your toes and the end of your shoes when you are standing. Your heel should not easily slip out of the shoe and the sides of your shoes should comfortably hug the sides of your foot. If your shoes are too large, your feet will slide around in the shoe, causing blisters and pain. If your shoes are too small, you can cause damage to your toenails and pressure points. Taking care to ensure proper fit is vital before you start working out.

3) Are your shoes appropriate for the activity you are doing? There are many different types of shoes. Shoes for walking, shoes for running, shoes for biking, shoes for hiking, and all serve to help your foot function in different ways. Remember, not all “tennis shoes” are created equal. If you are unsure what brands to buy, talk to your foot doctor or visit a running store for more information.

4) Do I REALLY have to stretch? Yes. Yes. Yes. The biggest mistake we all make is thinking that we do not really need to stretch before and after a workout. Even if you are just planning an extended walk for that day, it is important to stretch your major leg muscle groups prior to doing so. Even holding a stretch for 30 seconds, 3 times each will help prevent future injury and pain. Additionally, make sure you hydrate well during and after any workout to ensure your muscles have enough water to recover. Often, painful muscle cramps are our body’s way of telling us it needs more water!

With these simple precautions, you should be able to avoid most major foot complaints that begin with new workout routines. Start your new year off on the right foot!


Parents have enough to worry about! A Back-to-school shoe-shopping guide

Dropping off your child for their first day of school always carries such a weight for parents; how will this school year be different for your child? Did your child keep up enough with their reading over the summer? Did you remember everything that they needed on their back-to-school lists??

For parents faced with kids’ changing tastes and opinions, navigating the back-to-school process can be harrowing. Likely, the school year will start off without a hitch and your child returns home with excitement for the upcoming year and classes. But there is one area of the back-to-school process where a wrong move could have health ramifications for kids—shoe shopping.

Foot health is directly related to overall health, no matter your age.  Proper footwear is essential to foot health, so it’s important for parents to ensure kids go back to school with a good foundation on their feet. Shoes are one of the most important back-to-school purchases parents will make.

Children’s feet change and grow with them, and parents may find they need to update their kids’ shoes and socks every few months to accommodate this growth. Shoes that don’t fit properly can irritate the feet and affect how well a child walks, runs, and plays.

APMA offers parents some advice for finding shoes that are good for kids’ feet and also live up to their exacting tastes:

  • Always buy new—never used—and never hand down footwear. Sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete’s foot. What’s more, children’s feet are as unique as they are. A shoe that fits one child comfortably may not fit another child as well. Plus, shoes that have been worn tend to conform to the foot of the wearer and may be uncomfortable for anyone else to put on.
  • Test the shoe before allowing a child to try it on. Check for a stiff heel by pressing on both sides of the heel counter; it shouldn’t collapse under the pressure. Bend the shoe with your hands to ensure it will bend with your child’s toes; it shouldn’t be too stiff. Try twisting the shoe; it should be rigid across the middle and never twist in that area.
  • Go shopping together. Shopping with your child ensures you can have his or her foot measured professionally, and that your child can test the shoe for a proper fit, give you his or her opinion of it, and learn from you the finer points of buying a good shoe. Kids who learn how to select a comfortable, supportive shoe may be less likely to make wrong footwear choices as adults, which could save them a lot of discomfort.
  • Remember to shop for shoes later in the day when feet are at their largest, and always buy for the larger foot. Having your child’s feet measured will help identify which foot is larger. Additionally, remember to have your child wear the type of socks or tights he or she will most likely wear with the shoe.
  • Avoid buying shoes that need a “break-in” period. Footwear should be comfortable right away. Once the school year is underway, keep an eye on your child’s shoes—active kids may wear out footwear faster than adults. Be vigilant for signs of irritation, such as your child always wanting to remove one or both shoes. The footwear may no longer fit properly, especially if it’s been a few months since you bought the shoes.

Finally, be sure children wear shoes that are appropriate for their activities. If your daughter plays sports, she should wear a good athletic shoe designed for that sport. If your son is a runner, he’ll need a good running shoe.

For daily wear when kids do a lot of walking, choose a good, supportive shoe. Keep sandals, flip-flops, and heels for occasional wear only.

If your child complains of foot pain or experiences an injury, take him or her to a podiatrist. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat ailments of the feet.

Sarah Neitzel, DPM is a podiatrist in Silverdale, WA.  Call (360) 286-0404 or visit www.peninsulapod.com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.


Foot Care Advice for New Moms and Babies

Few things in life are as darling as a newborn’s little feet, and most new moms take great joy in counting 10 tiny, perfect toes. But foot health can be a source of anxiety for both new and expectant mothers, who may wonder about the best ways to care for their baby’s feet, and how to cope with changes in their own feet.

Pregnancy creates many changes in the body and can even affect the size of a woman’s feet, and even though newborns aren’t walking yet, it’s understandable that mothers may have some concerns about how to best take care of their baby’s feet.

The discomforts of pregnancy are common and well-known, ranging from back pain and frequent bathroom trips to feet that are swollen and sore.  Additionally, it’s not at all unusual for a woman to gain a shoe size while pregnant.  Increased weight puts more pressure on the foot, the arch flattens a bit, and the foot elongates. Just a quarter-inch increase in foot length is enough to prompt a change in shoe size.

While it’s probably impossible to completely avoid foot challenges during pregnancy, moms-to-be can take steps to minimize them:

  • Control weight gain. Weight gain is inevitable and a healthy part of pregnancy, however it is also the most likely cause of foot expansion. Do your best to follow your obstetrician’s guidelines for how much weight you should gain throughout the pregnancy.
  • Avoid high heels. Sure, you see celebrities accessorizing their baby bumps with stilettos, but a lower heel during pregnancy will relieve pressure on the foot. Also, lower heels will provide you with greater stability during a time when newly gained weight might throw off your balance. It’s easy to find plenty of pretty, stylish lower heels—1 to 2 inches in height—that will look and feel great while you’re pregnant.
  • Comfort and support should be key considerations any time you choose footwear, but they are even more important for pregnant women. With extra weight and pressure on your feet for nine months, you need a shoe that provides support and cushioning. Avoid thin-soled shoes (including flip-flops and ballet flats); look for shoes with thicker soles and plenty of cushioning inside the shoes. Whatever shoe you choose, it should bend only at the ball of the foot, and you should never be able to twist the sole or bend it anywhere else.

While it’s common for women’s feet to enlarge during pregnancy—and remain that size even after delivery—generally that size increase occurs only with a first pregnancy. So you shouldn’t worry that your feet will continue to grow with subsequent pregnancies. Instead, many new moms will worry about their new baby’s feet.

The good news is, as long as the baby’s feet are healthy at birth, most newborns won’t require special care for their feet.  Caring for your baby’s feet is much like caring for the rest of his or her body.  Don’t worry if your baby’s feet look discolored or wrinkled or even have flaky, peeling skin when he or she is born. After nine months in protective fluid within the womb, they’re bound to look a bit different from yours. Your pediatrician will look for any obvious abnormalities of your baby’s feet and legs and will let you know what to do if he or she finds any cause for concern.

Use baby nail clippers to keep your child’s toenails trimmed, cutting straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. Be sure to thoroughly dry baby’s feet after a bath, and choose soft, anti-microbial socks that don’t wrinkle or bunch to keep those little feet warm and protected.

When your baby starts to walk, bare feet are best inside the house as he or she learns the finer points of getting around. Outside, put him or her in a lightweight, flexible shoe made of natural materials.

If foot problems run in your family, have your child examined by a podiatrist when he or she begins to walk. Your podiatrist can inspect your child’s feet to ensure they’re growing normally.

Sarah Neitzel, DPM, is a podiatrist at Peninsula Podiatry in Silverdale, WA. Call (360) 286-0404 or visit www.peninsulapod.com to make an appointment.  Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.


My heel hurts! When to get help and why we ignore the pain

Summer months bring about a plethora of different shoes that we convince ourselves are the most comfortable option to air out our feet. Those flip flops are all too tempting to wear on a sweltering day for a trip to the grocery store or to go for a long walk. While there are sandals that can be supportive to our feet, most of us don’t spend the money on sandals and instead opt for the flatter (and more affordable) flip-flop. And now that summer is over, our heels hurt. Symptoms like pain upon first getting up to walk in the morning or after sitting. Then it becomes pain throughout the day…

We ignore this heel pain as simply being something that will resolve over time now that we are no longer wearing those flip flops we knew were not good for us. And why wouldn’t it resolve, the bad shoes are long gone, right? Unfortunately, that assumption is why most people allow their heel pain to persist far longer than they should.

The truth is, heel pain after wearing any type of shoe without support under your arch could be your body’s response to a condition called Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a long rubber-band like structure that connects from your heel out to your forefoot. When there is support under your arch from your shoes, that rubber-band is well supported and not kept fully stretched and tight. When we wear flat-bottomed shoes without supported arches, that poor band is stretched to its maximum every time you step down. After repeated abuse, the band starts to pull from your heel bone, causing inflammation and pain. Most people experience symptoms like pain upon first moving after sitting or waking up because the rubber-band was relaxed while you were inactive, then when you step down, BOOM- the band is over stretched again and pulls from the heel! This is a cycle that can persist and get worse over time.

There are many options for treating this condition and a podiatrist is the best person to help get you back on your feet, pain-free. Many conservative treatment options are available, and should be guided by your physician to ensure you are approaching this problem in the most effective way. Stretching exercises, icing, massage, proper shoegear, cortisone injections and physical therapy are some of the treatment strategies your physician may suggest. Ultimately, some patients who allow this condition to go untreated may end up requiring surgery to address this problem. I always recommend to my patients if they think there may be a problem with their foot, it is always prudent to seek help sooner than later.

Heel pain is a widespread problem that affects many summer-shoe-wearing patients, but there is no reason you must suffer the pain of those summer shoes all winter!

For more information on Plantar Fasciitis, click on our information page: https://peninsulapod.com/heel-pain-plantar-fasciitis/

For information on other causes of Heel Pain, visit our interactive “Where Does it Hurt” page, and click on the area of your foot that hurts: https://peninsulapod.com/where-does-it-hurt/