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Foot Health Blog

Find expert articles from physical therapists and podiatrists to help understand, diagnose, and treat different foot health issues such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, flat feet, and more.
A backshot of a woman balancing on a log in nature, showing good walking posture
TreatmentsStop Your Walking Posture From Hurting YouHave you ever considered how your walking style might be affecting your health? The truth is, the way we walk, or our gait, plays a significant role in our overall well-being. An improper alignment of the body while walking, often referred to as poor walking posture, can lead to a myriad of health issues, including muscle imbalances, joint pain, and postural misalignment. Identifying the Signs of Poor Walking Posture Poor walking posture can be a result of various factors such as sedentary lifestyles, weak core muscles, improper footwear, or past injuries. Common signs include rounded shoulders, forward head position, uneven weight distribution, excessive arm swinging, and dragging or shuffling feet. If you're experiencing discomfort like lower back pain, knee pain, or foot pain while walking, it's time to take a closer look at your posture. Did You Know?Your walking speed can influence your posture. Walking too fast can cause you to lean forward, while walking too slowly can lead to slouching." » Check out our selection of the best insoles for walking all day Why Is Your Gait Important Your gait, or the way you walk, is a crucial factor in maintaining a healthy walking posture. The gait cycle describes the cyclic pattern of movement that occurs during walking. It consists of two phases: the stance phase and the swing phase. The stance phase constitutes approximately 60% of the total gait cycle. It begins when your foot first touches the ground and ends when the same foot leaves the ground.The swing phase makes up around 40% of the gait cycle. It begins when the foot first leaves the ground and ends when the same foot touches the ground again. A walking gait analysis can help identify any asymmetries or unique movements that may be causing discomfort. Addressing these issues promptly is essential to prevent them from worsening over time and leading to serious complications. Improve Your Walking Posture Ready to improve your walking posture? Here are some practical tips to help you achieve a more comfortable and healthier walking experience: Choose the Right Footwear: Shoes with inadequate arch support can strain your knees, back, and neck. Opt for shoes with lower heels and a spacious toe-box for everyday wear. They help maintain neutral foot alignment and reduce discomfort.Incorporate Exercise into Your Routine: Stability, strengthening, and core training exercises, along with specific physiotherapy exercises, can enhance your stability and correct posture. Strengthening exercises target the muscles of the legs, core, and back, enabling them to better support your body.Consider Using Insoles: Insoles can correct abnormal walking patterns by aligning the feet in a normal position during standing, walking, or running. They also improve gait symmetry and provide additional support and cushioning.Take smaller steps: A longer stride length can throw you off balance and affect your walking posture. Taking shorter, controlled steps allows for better balance and stability and reduces the impact on your joints.Engage your arms: Proper arm movement is a part of good posture. Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and allow your arms to swing naturally. This should coordinate with the opposite leg swing, helping to maintain balance and rhythm. Quick Tip: Try to keep your head up and look forward while walking. This simple adjustment can help align your neck and spine, improving your walking posture. » Is Morton's neuroma giving you trouble? Check out the exercises that can alleviate foot pain The Path to Pain-Free Walking Improving your walking posture is essential for maintaining overall musculoskeletal health. By making these changes, you can enhance your walking posture and reduce discomfort. Custom orthotics, such as those offered by Upstep, can provide an ideal way to ease pain while walking. Don't let pain hinder your enjoyment and mobility. Take the first step towards pain-free walking and improved posture with Upstep's custom orthotics today!
An athlete massaging foot - returning to running after foot fracture
TreatmentsOvercoming Foot Fractures: Returning to Exercise SafelyFoot fractures can happen to anyone, but athletes are particularly prone to this injury. A foot fracture occurs when one or more bones in the foot break or crack, due to trauma, overuse, falls, or twisting of the foot. Stress fractures are the most common type, and they occur when repetitive stress on the joint causes a small crack in the bone. The symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness. Generally, it takes about 6 -8 weeks for the foot fracture to heal. However, it may take 3-6 months for all the symptoms to resolve. During this time, treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Ice therapy and non-weight-bearing exercises are recommended for treating foot fractures. Here are some tips on when to safely return to exercise and how to begin the exercise. How to Return to Running After a Stress Fracture If recovery is not complete, there's a high risk of re-injury. That's why it's essential to implement a return-to-running program after a stress fracture. Your stress fracture is considered healed when you can walk without any pain. Once you reach this point, you can incorporate resistance exercises into your recovery program to rebuild your foot strength. Many people who suffer a stress fracture can return to running or jogging within 6-8 weeks. The key is to understand that recovery is a gradual process that requires patience and careful attention to your body. Here are some tips to keep in mind when trying to get back to running after a foot fracture: Begin with low-impact exercises: While you may experience some pain in the foot or ankle after starting or returning to a new exercise regime, you should avoid any exercise that increases your pain. You can start with low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, or swimming to gradually reactivate your muscles and build your strength and endurance without overwhelming your foot.Set incremental goals: Establish goals that help you gradually increase the intensity of your exercises. Begin with jogging in place before progressing to short, slow jogs on flat, even surfaces. Later, you can increase the intensity by extending your running time, speed, and distance while paying attention to your body. Eventually, you can progress to exercising on uneven surfaces.Strengthen your foot: Prolonged immobilization can lead to atrophy of the foot muscles. Plan to strengthen the foot using various isometric exercises like standing on one foot, standing on your heels, or slowly shifting weight to the balls of your feet. Pay attention to the level of pain you feel and report it to your doctor if it hurts.Provide supportive shoes: Choose a comfortable pair of running shoes that stabilize your foot, cushion it, and provide proper arch support during exercises. Avoid old or worn-out shoes that may affect your gait and increase the risk of re-injury.Pay attention to your body: Your body's response to daily activities determines how much you can do. If you notice any pain or discomfort in your foot, adjust your recovery program accordingly. Sometimes, you may need to reduce the intensity for a period or take a break and consult a medical professional for advice. Reclaim Your Fitness While working through recovery, custom orthotics are another treatment option to consider, as they can help prevent further injury by supporting the foot. Medical-grade insoles like Upstep custom orthotics are designed to fit the foot specifications by professional podiatrists using high-quality materials. They're comfortable, keep the foot in alignment, and provide optimal support while you perform your daily activities.
Two surgeons and a patient in an operating room.
TreatmentsPros & Cons of HyProCure—Can You Fix Your Foot Deformity?Flat feet are generally asymptomatic. However, it sometimes results in painful conditions in the foot, ankle, leg, and knee. When this happens, curing the pain from flat feet becomes the goal. In treating the conditions associated with flat feet, there are many treatment methods. They include NSAIDs, ice, physiotherapy, orthotics, and surgery. While there are several surgical approaches, more people are opting for HyProCure by the day. HyProCure is a minimally invasive surgery to correct any misalignment between the heel and ankle bones and improve arch height. The innovative process repositions the ankle bone on the heel. Subsequently, a titanium stent is attached to stabilize the motion of the ankle bone over the heel, thus improving ankle motion. How Does HyProCure Work? HyProCure works by restoring the stability of the ankle bone and its alignment with the heel bone. Instead of using an insole for flat feet, a titanium stent is inserted into the ankle area to control abnormal foot motion and stabilize the ankle. The stents come in different sizes, and the most appropriate size for the individual is selected during the procedure based on the arch profile and degree of control needed. Once implanted, the stent remains permanently in position without becoming less effective. It may become necessary to remove the implant only if there is a problem with the soft tissues absorbing the stent. Benefits of HyProCure Among the treatments for flat feet, the HyProCure procedure poses significant benefits. Some of the most important are discussed below: Gait Correction Overpronated feet and overpronated ankles commonly occur with flat feet. When the heel and ankle bones are aligned through HyProCure, the overpronation associated with flat feet is corrected. Consequently, the body weight rolls naturally forwards during walking. Alleviates Pain With overpronation, there is additional strain on the structures of the feet, causing pain and discomfort. The more the overpronation, the more the pain. HyProCure reduces the pressure on the plantar fascia, heel, and posterior tibialis tendon. It redistributes the pressure on the feet, alleviating pain and discomfort in the kinematic chain. Simple Procedure HyProCure is minimally invasive and can be performed quickly with the patient experiencing very little pain during the process. Post-operative healing is also generally quick. Provides a Permanent but Reversible Solution HyProCure provides a permanent solution to the problem of flat feet, removing the need for orthotics. However, if needed, it is also reversible. Disadvantages of HyProCure Despite its benefits, there are also several disadvantages associated with using HyProCure because of its invasive nature (even though minimal) and the effect on the body. The most common ones are outlined below: Infection Most surgeries come with the real risk of infection to the surgical site. Sometimes, a deep infection can occur with HyProCure, warranting an incision, drainage, and implant removal. Prolonged Pain Though minimal, the HyProCure procedure is not without pain. There may be pain and tenderness for the first few months after the surgical procedure. In some cases, the pain may even extend for up to six months and beyond. Wrong Size of Implants HyProCure stents come in specific sizes. As such, the surgeon may trial size the stent to know which will fit appropriately. As a result, there may be overcorrection or under-correction warranting another additional surgical procedure after swelling and inflammation have subsided. For whatever reason the under-correction or overcorrection occurs, this is more pain, waste of resources, and time on the patient’s part. Sprained Ankle Syndrome Initially, the stent may place some stretch on the ankle ligaments temporarily, causing pain and discomfort when walking. In most cases, the ligament should adjust to the stress with supportive shoes, NSAIDs, bracing, and taping. However, if there is no improvement within six to eight months, it may become essential to remove the HyProCure. Displacement of Implant Sometimes, the stent may become displaced post-operatively. Usually, this occurs within the first four weeks after the surgical procedure. The displacement can become problematic if it is significant and may require a second surgical procedure to reposition it. Whatever the cause, the displaced implant can make HyProCure a source of significant pain and discomfort. Should You Use HyProCure? While HyProCure can fix your foot deformity, it also has its disadvantages. You should consult a medical professional before deciding on a course of action.
A physical therapist holding their patient's toes as they do exercises with a stretch band.
TreatmentsRecommended Treatments for Reversible Peripheral NeuropathyNeuropathy is the altered sensation (numbness, burning, tingling) and pain caused by nerve damage or dysfunction. Neuropathy occurs frequently and is one of the common causes of burning heels. An estimated 25% to 30% of Americans have neuropathic symptoms. Neuropathy typically affects the extremities (hands and feet) and is therefore a significant cause of foot pain. Neuropathy must be treated before it leads to permanent nerve damage. Depending on the cause, it may also be reversible. Apart from its idiopathic cause, other possible causes of neuropathy include diabetes causing burning feet, direct trauma, medications, poisoning, inherited and autoimmune disorders, alcoholism, abnormal vitamin levels, and vascular problems. Let’s consider some of the reversible causes of neuropathy in more detail and possible ways to treat them. Causes of Neuropathy That Can Be Reversed Current research evidence suggests that nerve damage is partly reversible. While this doesn't apply to all causes of nerve damage, some can be reversed before they cause permanent nerve damage. These causes include: Vitamin deficiency: Appropriate levels of vitamins E, B1, B3, B6, and B12 are necessary for healthy nerves. Neuropathy occurs when there is a deficiency. By increasing your vitamin uptake and meeting the recommended minimum levels, neuropathy reverses.Alcoholism: Chronic alcoholism depletes thiamine levels and other essential nutrients necessary for healthy nerve function. Reducing alcohol consumption before it causes permanent nerve damage can also cause neuropathy to reverse.Infection: Certain infections like chicken pox and shingles cause neuropathy. If the infection is brought under control quickly, reversing neuropathy becomes possible.Tumor: Where neuropathy is due to nerve compression by a tumor, removal of the tumor will relieve the neuropathy and cause a reversal. How to Treat Reversible Peripheral Neuropathy Home remedies for burning feet may help in minimizing the symptoms of neuropathy. For example, those with diabetic neuropathy will find relief as they gain control over their blood sugar levels. However, when it comes to reversing neuropathy, it may take more than regular treatment. Treatments you can administer at home include: Medication: Several nerve supplements or drugs to treat underlying medical conditions may cause neuropathic pain relief. Medication work best in concert with other treatment approaches.Dietary changes: Where neuropathy results from nutritional deficiency, a dietician may recommend an eating plan incorporating meals that will improve your nerve health. Physical therapy: A physiotherapist can prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises that help address discomfort and stiffness relating to neuropathic pain. Treatments a doctor can administer include: Cortisone injections: Using ultrasound, you can deliver cortisone injections directly to the location of nerve injury resulting in relief.Laser therapy: Laser therapy can trigger the healing of nerves and even tissue regeneration. It can also reduce nerve swelling and increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to any affected nerve.Nerve ablation: Using radio frequencies, you can target specific nerve fibers and bundles causing neuropathic pain with an electric current. The electric current effectively shuts off signals from that specific nerve causing neuropathic pain while the rest continue to function appropriately.Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to decompress a pinched or irritated nerve. The reason for the compression may be a tumor, a herniated disc, or even a fractured bone. Nerve decompression restores normal nerve function and is essential as long as permanent damage has not occurred to the nerve. It's worthwhile to note that no single treatment approach will work for everyone. Treatment must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. However, for most people, combining methods is the best way to treat neuropathic pain and to get quick results before complete nerve damage occurs. When Should You See a Doctor for Peripheral Neuropathy? If you notice any tingling or burning sensation in your hands or feet, you must seek prompt medical attention. Always be cautious of self-diagnosis. Neuropathy may signal a debilitating condition, so prompt diagnosis and treatment remain the best option for managing it. Your medical provider will help you determine the reason for the pain, any underlying causes, and the best line of treatment. Conclusion Neuropathy is reversible, provided there is no permanent damage to the nerve yet. While paying attention to the reversible causes of neuropathy, also pay attention to the possible treatments. You can start with the home remedies, but also seek advice from your healthcare provider on other treatments. By doing this, you will not only curb your pain but improve your quality of life.
Woman in sports kit sitting on running track and clutching her foot
TreatmentsTreatments for Plantar Plate TearsThe plantar plate is the fibrocartilaginous ligament in the ball of your foot that supports the toe joints and keeps them in place. When there is repetitive overloading of the head of the metatarsal, a plantar plate injury can occur. What Is a Plantar Plate Tear? A plantar plate tear is a common injury that affects the forefoot. It refers to the tear of the plantar plate ligament and is most common at the second toe. Sometimes, it may be confused with a plantar fascia tear which is direct damage to the small fibers of the plantar fascia. However, the two affect different structures though they may cause similar symptoms. The repeated trauma causes the connective tissue running across the toes to stretch or tear. These plate tears can cause pain and swelling in the ball of the foot, dislocation, and even toe deformity, making walking difficult. In this article, we'll discuss various causes and risk factors of plantar plate tears, their symptoms, treatment, and duration of recovery, depending on the treatment. Symptoms of a Plantar Plate Tear A plantar plate tear is a common cause of forefoot pain in athletes, yet, it's often misdiagnosed. To receive prompt treatment, it's essential to recognize the symptoms. Aside from causing forefoot pain, it may also cause a burning, tingling, or numb sensation between the toes and on the ball of the foot after standing for a long time. Shortly after the tear, there may also be swelling and redness at the top of the foot. Causes and Risk Factors of Plantar Plate Tears Any action that places the ball of the foot under considerable strain repeatedly can cause a plantar plate tear. Some of these factors include: Ill-fitting shoes or high-heel shoes.Having a long second metatarsal bonePresence of a bunion or a hammertoeBarefoot walkingHigh-impact activities like dancing, running, and jumping.Gait abnormality (e.g. rolling feet inwards while walking)Repeated bending of the toesCortisone injection What Happens if a Plantar Plate Tear Goes Untreated? Plantar plate tears can be a significant source of foot pain. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to recover without intervention because it occurs in degenerate tissue. Correct diagnosis and treatment are essential to managing forefoot pain. While conservative treatment will cause full recovery in patients with mild tears, a surgical procedure may be necessary for more advanced tears. Without treatment, plantar plate tears could cause significant pain and deformity of the foot. It could also cause midfoot pain, hammertoes, crossover toe deformity, arthritis, and other debilitating foot conditions. Home Treatments for Plantar Plate Tears When a plantar plate tear occurs, treatment is necessary to guarantee a good prognosis. In the acute phase, conservative treatment is very effective. The home treatments include rest, ice, taping, splinting, orthotics, and padding. Generally, the goal of intervention at this point is to relieve pain, promote healing, and remove any activity or force that can lead to deformation. Approaches can include: Medication Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help in managing pain. However, these are not as effective in the acute phase of plantar plate tears. Toe Splints or Pads A toe splint keeps the toe in its proper position while healing occurs after partial tears. You can splint the toe in a basket weave fashion. While toe splints maintain the alignment of the toes and prevent deformity, toe pads reduce physical irritation and pressure on the ball of the toes, easing pain and discomfort. Toe Taping Taping is the initial treatment for plantar plate tears. The aim is to keep the toe in a plantarflexed position while limiting dorsiflexion during walking. To do this, tape the affected toe downwards in a basket weave fashion. Shoe Modification Ideally, you should be deliberate about the type of shoe you wear as it can impact the healing process. The best shoes for plantar plate tears should have a strong metatarsal pad, a deep toe box, a cushioned sole, and a supportive arch. These components will help to immobilize the plantar plate and relieve any pressure and pain from plantar plate tears. Custom Orthotics A metatarsal dome or bar can be designed to support the front of the foot and assist in preventing deformity. More specifically, custom orthotics redistribute body weight, redirecting the weight away from the ball of the foot to the foot arch. As such, they keep the pressure off the injury when walking, allowing healing to occur. » Still deciding if custom orthotics are right for you? Check out our review of Custom Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis and order a pair today. Immobilize in a Moon Boot A moon boot, otherwise known as a Controlled Ankle Motion (CAM) boot is an orthopedic boot for treating and stabilizing sprains, fractures, and tears in the ankle or foot. It can be used to immobilize the feet after a plantar plate tear to allow healing. Unlike casts, Moon Boots can be adjusted, reused, and even removed. In some cases, it may be used for as long as 6-8 weeks. Running with a Plantar Plate Tear Running overloads the plantar plate. As such, it may worsen a plantar plate tear, leading to permanent damage and making it more painful. However, it may be impossible to stay away from running completely as an athlete. In that case, orthotics may be used to cushion the effect and redistribute the body weight to the foot arch. Also, exercises like lunges, calf raise, and box jumps must be avoided as they can worsen a plantar plate tear. Exercises for Treating Plantar Plate Tears While there are dangerous exercises for plantar plate tears, there are also exercises that may be performed for treating the tears. These exercises will aid in the healing of the plantar plate and promote faster recovery from foot injuries. However, exercises can only commence after the initial pain has resolved. The goal of the exercises is to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot. Some of the exercises that are effective for plantar plate tears are: Toe Push-Ups This exercise will strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles. To carry it out: While in a standing position, place your feet flat on the floor.Slowly glide up your greater toes, increasing your medial foot arch in the process.Repeat as much as 200-300 times daily. Lesser Toes Flexion Exercise Like the toe push-up, the lesser toe flexion exercises strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles too. Place a resistance band around your lesser toes keeping your hand firmly at 90 degrees.Slowly flex your lesser toes against the resistance band while keeping the force from the band constant.Once lowered, hold and then slowly lift the toes back up.Repeat 10-15 times for the foot. If the foot lowering becomes too easy, increase the resistance by pulling the band tighter. Balance Exercises Using a Wobble Board Begin by standing on the wobble board with your feet hip distance apart.Stand upright and maintain a neutral spine, focusing straight ahead.Shift your weight so the board edges can’t touch the floor.Hold that position for 30 seconds. Calf Raises Calf raises may be considered if the pain has subsided in the ball of the foot, and you can use the highest resistance band on toe flexion. Perform calf raises for plantar plate tear as follows: Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a stair or step.Push your heels up as far as you can.Slowly lower the heels until your heels are just below the top of the step or stair. Return to the starting position once you feel a stretch in your calf muscles. What Is the Plantar Plate Tear Recovery Time? The healing time depends on the severity of the tear and how prompt treatment begins. Generally, you can expect that you should have returned to normal activities after 3 months. However, sometimes it may take up to 6 months for swelling to resolve. When to Consider Plantar Plate Surgery Surgery may be considered in both chronic and severe cases of plantar plate tears. For example, a stiff toe or a toe that remains painful and deformed after non-conservative treatment are both indications for surgery. There may also be a need to realign the toe and stabilize the joint. Depending on the aim, the doctor may employ different surgical techniques to repair the plantar plate tear, correct the toe deformity, and relieve pain. The method depends on the extent of injury to the plantar plate ligament, cause of tear, time from onset of injury, presence of a toe deformity, and general structure of the foot. Your medical provider will advise you on the best course of action Plantar Plate Surgery Recovery Time Following surgery, the patient will not be allowed to bear weight on their foot for a recommended period of 4-6 weeks. The foot must be allowed adequate time to heal. If you start weight-bearing on your foot too early, it may increase the chances of re-injury. Additionally, changes in your foot structure may require you to get new orthotics to reduce the impact of activities on your foot.