Blisters or Bliss: Choosing the Best Hiking Boots

The winter months are prime time for mountain trekking and adventure – whether you prefer the rainforests of the Gold Coast Hinterland, or the snowfields of New South Wales, Victoria or New Zealand.

what to look for in hiking boots

As a trekking enthusiast from way back, as well as a local podiatrist, I know firsthand the difference that a good pair of hiking boots can make: blisters, or bliss!

The Best Hiking Boots

The best hiking boots for you, may be completely different to what your mate wears.

And there are so many different types to choose from – trail boots and mountaineering boots; high cut, low cut, mid cut; leather or synthetic.

So here are a few tips to help you determine the best hiking boots for your needs.

How Will You Be Using Your Hiking Boots?

If you prefer shorter walks on well-constructed paths, a low cut hiking shoe should meet your needs.

Heading out for an all day hike with a lightly loaded backpack? Then a mid-to-high cut day hiking boot should provide you with the perfect combination of support and flexibility.

If a 2 week trek through rugged terrain is more your speed, look for backpacking boots with stiffer midsoles, and a high cut, as they offer superior support and protection. These will also serve you well if you are hiking in snowy and icy conditions, as crampons work best with rigid soled boots. However they do take a while to break in – something that is best achieved gradually, before you set off on your next trip!

The 3 Main Components of Hiking Boots

1 – The sole: While it’s certainly not the only component to consider, start by examining the sole of the boot. The lug pattern will determine your traction and grip – the greater the spacing, the better the traction and mud dispersion. Also, look for a heel brake on the outside back corner of the boot. Good boots will have a heel zone separate to the rest of the boot, to provide grip particularly during steep descents.

2 – Midsole: The midsole, like the middle child, is often overlooked. The midsole provides cushioning and support; if you are hiking longer distances and over more difficult terrain, a firmer midsole made of polyurethane will give your ankle and foot more support, and less fatigue. For less strenuous hikes, a midsole made of EVA will be comfortable.

3 – The Uppers:  Again, your choice of upper material will depend on how you will be using your hiking boots. In rain and snow you will truly appreciate waterproof membranes like Gore-tex; leather may be the best option for challenging terrain; while synthetic might be a more affordable option for the casual hiker.

what to look for in hiking boots

Getting the Best Fit

If you are investing in a pair of good hiking boots, here are some tips to help you get the best fit possible:

  • A good boot should fit your foot snugly, without being tight – you should still be able to wiggle all your toes, in the toe box.
  • It’s best to time your boot fitting for afternoon or evening, as our feet tend to swell over the course of the day.
  • If you wear orthotics, make sure you bring them to the fitting, as well as the socks you are planning to wear when hiking. From a podiatrist’s point of view, the style and fabric of Injinji toe socks not only optimises your foot’s biomechanics, it also creates a more comfortable – and less sweaty – environment within your boots when hiking.
  • Take your time – Walk in the boot around the store, and on different angles and gradients (if at all possible) to test how your foot is sitting in the shoe. Check if the seams, stitching, or any other areas are rubbing on your foot, and that there is sufficient width.
  • When it comes to length, your toes should not touch the end of the toe box: your longest toe should be a thumb width from the end of the toe box.
  • Your boot lacing technique can help or hinder the fit. If you have narrow heels for example, the heel lock technique will stop your toes sliding forward in the shoe when descending, preventing you from bruising and damaging your toe nails.

Breaking in your Boots

Finally, make sure you break in your boots before heading off the beaten track. Hiking shoes with their lower cut and softer midsole may be comfortable from the very first wear, but the more rugged models usually take time to soften and conform to your feet. Just remember that the breaking in process does not convert a poor fit into a good fit.

hiking boots for Overland Track in Tasmania

Looking for Hiking Boots?

At Trevor Lane Podiatry, our footwear range includes a European brand called Ecco, with styles including hiking shoes and back country leather high boots. I have worn a high cut Ecco hiking boot in Gore-tex, the Expedition, on hikes in the Snowy Mountains, Europe, and the Overland Track in Tasmania, and highly recommend them.

If you live in the Redlands, Trevor Lane Podiatry is your local podiatrist clinic. We’d love to assist you with choosing the best hiking boots for your needs, boot lacing techniques, and preparing for your next hike or overland adventure – so call us today on 3207 4736 or make an appointment 24/7 via our secure online booking system.

Symptoms of Limb Length Discrepancy

How can you tell if your legs are different lengths? And why does it matter?

Although most of the population naturally have a difference in the length of their limbs (1), it is usually slight, and not likely to require any treatment. It is only if you notice symptoms such as a head tilt, shoulder dip, limping, or a variation in shoe sizes, these may be worth investigating with your local podiatrist.

limb length discrepancy symptoms

But what most people don’t realise, is that injury and/or surgery can also cause limb length discrepancy.

Limb Length Discrepancy Symptoms

Should limb length discrepancy develop following these circumstances, it may result in pain in the:

  • lower back;
  • buttocks;
  • running down the back of the leg;
  • in, or on the outside of the knee;
  • ankle;
  • foot.

There may even be an increased risk of stress fractures (2).

These problems arise because the differing leg lengths increase pressure on the nerves in the lower back, which innervate the foot.

The Impact of Injury or Surgery

While surgical interventions such as hip or knee replacements, ligament or tendon repair, may fix one problem, these procedures – and aids such as crutches and moon boots – can affect the length of your limbs.

The simple ankle sprain is also a common culprit. We often see clients many months afterwards, reporting that although the sprained ankle is now healed, it still doesn’t feel quite right. The incredible forces placed on the site during the injury have caused joints to pop out of alignment. As a result the individual begins walking differently to compensate, without even realising it – upsetting the body’s natural balance.

It can take a full 6 to 12 months for the body to recover from surgery or injury. In the meantime however, our body has compensated and while we may have completed the rehabilitation process, all of a sudden something else is getting sore. The lower back, the ball of the foot, or the outside of the knee are suddenly causing pain! But why?!

All of these problems may affect your limb length, and ultimately, your body’s balance.

Treatment for Limb Length Discrepancy

Following injury or surgery, the connection between the foot and brain – and vice versa – can be lost.

In order to improve your body’s balance and reconnect that neurological pathway, at Trevor Lane Podiatry we may use treatments such as:

However we can only assess what else was interrupted during that healing process, by physical examination, digital gait analysis or other diagnostic imaging, once you’ve recovered from the initial bruising, swelling, stitches, crutches, boots etc.

Sometimes there are other factors which may be at play, meaning that podiatry treatment may not be suitable. At these times your local podiatrist may refer you to another allied health care practitioner such as a chiropractor, osteopath, or physiotherapist. While your podiatrist plays a key role in a complex overall picture, the aim is to work in conjunction with other health services to ensure the best possible result for you as the client.

If you have recovered from a physical trauma, but now experience pain in your feet, lower limbs, or lower back, you can click to book an appointment online or call Trevor Lane Podiatry on 3207 4736.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1232860/
  2. http://www.podiatryinstitute.com/pdfs/Update_2011/2011_35.pdf

Are Thongs Bad for your Feet?

Depending on your age or where you live, you might know them as flip flops, jandals, BBs, pluggers, or thongs.

Whatever you call them, one of the most common questions we hear in our podiatry clinic is:  “Are thongs bad for your feet?”

Australians Love Their Thongs!

Here in Australia, our climate means that we appreciate convenience, coolness, breathability, and comfort, in our clothing and footwear choices.

Add to that our casual lifestyle and love of the beach, and you can see why thongs could almost be part of our national costume!

are thongs bad for your feet

But is our love of thongs actually doing us harm?

Common Problems with Thongs

Some people have trouble tolerating thongs over long distances or periods of time. This is usually because their calves are tight and shorter than normal, or they have less flexibility in their lower back. This is not the fault of the thongs, rather, it’s the individual’s unique anatomy.

We often see clients at our podiatry clinic, complaining of sore feet after taking a couple of weeks’ holiday. They may even blame it on their thongs, saying things like:

  • “The feeling between my toes makes me feel ill”;
  • “I had to claw with my toes to grip my thongs”;
  • “I think I alter my walking pattern in thongs, maybe that’s why my feet are sore?”.

In fact, the culprit is not so much wearing thongs, but rather, the sudden change in footwear.

In the working world, we tend to wear more supportive shoes such as steel cap boots and lace ups, t-bar or mary jane styles.

However when we are on holidays, we suddenly switch to thongs – and our muscles, ligaments and tendons are not conditioned to this completely different style of footwear. Our feet have to work harder when we walk in thongs, which can lead to muscle strain and pain.

Should I Wear Thongs?

Wearing thongs comes down to things such as your individual:

  • Fitness;
  • Lifestyle, and activities – wear enclosed shoes, with cushioned soles, and preferably lace ups that have been scientifically proven to give you the most support, if you are planning a big day of walking, for example;
  • Health – some diabetics have little to no feeling in their toes and feet, so we recommend closed in footwear to protect them from injury;
  • Mobility and flexibility;
  • Lower limb mechanics;
  • And of course, personal style choices.

Today’s Thongs

In days gone by, thongs were just flat pieces of rubber with straps – even now, if you can bend your thong in half in your hand, more than likely it is not doing much for your feet.

Are thongs bad for your feet? Like so many things in life, moderation is key. If you wear thongs a lot, make sure they are good quality ones. Look for a sturdier make, and for features such as molded arch contours, or a cup in the heel to stabilise and support.

At Trevor Lane Podiatry, we understand that wearing thongs is part and parcel of our great Aussie Aussie lifestyle, so we stock Orthaheel thongs for men, women and children, as well as Vionic Beach.

And here’s a little secret – you don’t have to be afraid to mention thongs at our podiatry clinic – because our podiatrists wear them sometimes too!

3 Surprising Reasons to See a Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a health professional concerned with treating ailments of the feet and lower limbs (although some still refer to them by the outdated term, chiropodist – which is still in common use in the UK).

reasons to see a podiatrist

Both “podiatrist” and “chiropodist” come from the Greek word “pod” – meaning “foot” – which forms the basis of our English words tripod, podium and antipodes, etc.

It comes as no surprise then that if you have problems with your feet – eg an ingrown toenail, corns and calluses, or a sprained ankle – a trip to your local podiatry clinic is a good idea.

However, you may be surprised by these three more unusual reasons to see a podiatrist:

1 – Back Problems

Our bodies are made up of a complex network of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. No one body part works in isolation; which is why if you suffer from back pain, a podiatrist – somebody who can diagnose and treat conditions affecting your feet – may be able to help.

If you are experiencing lower back pain, it could be that there is a problem with the structure and function of your feet – which is causing you to walk in a particular way, resulting in additional stress on your back.

As we age, years of poor biomechanics in our feet begin to take their toll and although we may never have had a problem before, all of a sudden we are plagued by backaches.

Conversely, if you are suffering from pain and discomfort in your feet, the culprit could very well be a problem in your back! The connective nature of the body means that you are experiencing what is known as “referred pain” – a problem with your back, is causing the symptoms in your feet.

2 – Diabetes

What does the level of glucose in your blood have to do with your feet? And how could a podiatrist possibly help?

When your body has problems with producing and maintaining your glucose levels, it can affect your feet in the following ways:

  • Diabetes can damage delicate nerve endings, causing reduced sensation in the feet. Have you ever had a blister develop when wearing a new pair of shoes? Ouch! A person with diabetes however, may not actually feel or even notice the blister. Although this sounds like a good thing, it can be dangerous especially when combined with the second side effect of diabetes, which is …
  • Reduced blood flow to the extremities. This means that a blister on your foot will take a lot longer to heal, increasing the risk of infection and serious problems.

For these two reasons,  your doctor will refer you to see a local podiatrist if you are diagnosed with diabetes.

3 – Before you take up running or a new sport

Yes, podiatrists treat injuries and ailments of the feet and lower limbs. Why would you see one before any damage is done?

It all comes back to that old proverb, “prevention is better than cure”.

Running and some sports (eg netball, football) place an incredible amount of force on the feet and lower limbs – a hard surface, speed, and sudden changes in movement and direction can all take their toll.

With 52 bones in your feet, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles – you can see why there is a lot of potential for damage!

Your podiatrist can give you information and advice – from choosing the best running shoes for your needs, to warm up exercises – to help you reduce your risk of injury.

Although problems with your toes, feet and ankles are the most common reasons to see a podiatrist, this article details some of the more unexpected ones.

At our Redlands podiatry clinic, we treat each patient as a whole person, rather than just a foot! Call for an appointment on 3207 4736 or book a Redlands podiatrist online now.

What Age do your Feet Stop Growing?

People are often curious to know: At what age do your feet stop growing?

The story of how our feet grow and develop throughout our lives is quite fascinating – even if you’re not a podiatrist!

Rapid Growth in the Early Years

The long bones in our feet start to grow, and our toes start to form long before we are born – in the third or fourth month of gestation.

During the first year of life outside of the womb, our feet are primarily influenced by hereditary factors, as well as applied pressures – which is why it is important not to constrict your baby’s feet with socks, booties or shoes that are too tight or rigid.

Between birth and the age of 4, our feet double in length, with growth of up to 10mm per year. So if it feels like your child is outgrowing their shoes long before they wear out, this is why!

By the age of 10, about 90% of girls have completed the majority of their foot growth, compared to about 80% of boys. This means that even though your child may still be at primary school, they are likely already wearing “adult” sized shoes.

There are noticeable changes to foot length between 9 and 11 years of age.

As the school years are a critical time in the growth and development of feet, it is a good idea to read our guide to children’s school shoes and/or have them professionally fitted (a service we provide at our Redlands podiatry clinic, in addition to stocking a range of quality shoes).

when do your feet stop growing

When do our Feet Stop Growing?

Feet usually stop growing a few years after puberty. In girls, the “normal” age for feet to stop growing is around 14 years, while in boys, it’s around 16.

However the final closure of growth plates in the feet occurs between 18 and 20 years of age.

Although technically your feet stop growing when you are a teenager, in actual fact your feet will change size throughout adulthood.

How Feet Change During Pregnancy

A classic example is what happens to women’s feet during pregnancy, when shoe size can change as much as half a size or more. This is due to:

  • Pregnancy hormones relaxing the ligaments in the body in preparation for birth; and
  • Increased body weight, which in turn reduces the arch height, thereby increasing the foot length and width.

There may also be some fluid retention which leads to swelling.

How your Feet “Grow” in Adulthood

As you get older, your foot shape and size will continue to change even though growth has finished. This is because your feet will flatten out and elongate with age – it’s estimated that most people over the age of 40 gain half a shoe size every 10 years or so!

Weight also impacts on the size and shape of your foot. So if at the age of 20 you weighed 80 kilograms and wore a size 9 shoe, chances are slim that you will able to fit the same shoes when you are 50 years old, and weigh 100 kilograms.

It’s important not to get hung up about the actual number or size on the box, next time you need to buy shoes; instead, concentrate on finding the best fit. Not only can brands be sized differently, but as you can now see, the size and shape of your feet can fluctuate as well.

And remember – if you have any concerns about how your child’s feet are growing and developing, you can always make an online booking or call our Redlands Podiatry Clinic on 3207 4736 to make an appointment.

What is Digital Gait Analysis?

We have seen great strides (pardon the pun!) in the technology available to podiatrists over the past couple of decades.

digital gait scanner

We are all living longer and want the best possible quality of life – and modern technology can play a role in achieving this.

As part of our commitment to providing our clients with superior foot care, our Redlands podiatry clinic is equipped with the latest technology. By using a computerised gait scanner for example, we can conduct digital gait analysis to identify and prevent any potential issues, before they have a chance to negatively affect your mobility, health and wellbeing.

Digital gait analysis is particularly valuable as it can help detect potential long-term issues, which can arise due to conditions such as:

  • diabetes;
  • differences in limb length;
  • or even seemingly minor biomechanical flaws in your foot, ankle or leg.

What is a Computerised Gait Scanner?

The computerised gait scanner captures information about your gait (the way you walk) –  far more than can be seen by just observing you as you walk down a corridor.

This innovative diagnostic tool is comprised of around 4000 sensors, with a scan rate of approximately 300 frames per second, providing the podiatrist with a wealth of information that would otherwise be missed by the naked eye.

By capturing approximately one million points of data, acomputerised gait scanner allows your Redlands podiatrist to assess the actual pressure on specific areas of the sole, through each of the three stages of gait:

  • The heel strike phase;
  • Mid-stance – when your foot is directly on the floor and your body is directly above your foot; and
  • The toe off stage.

In years gone by, podiatrists had to rely on looking at the sole of your foot, and wear and tear on your footwear, to indicate any biomechanical flaws or problems.

Now, digital gait analysis can reveal any signs of overload in a particular area before it becomes a problem, and is particularly useful for a number of reasons.

digital gait analysis

Identifying Over Use Injuries

A lot of the conditions we see in our Redlands podiatry clinic are due to over use.

Over use does NOT mean that the client has done too much or too little. Rather, it may be that there is a biomechanical flaw in the way that the foot works in conjunction with the ankle, knee and back, and over time this repetitive strain, stress and excessive load takes its toll.

As a result that particular structure or affected area of the body becoming fatigued; when fatigue occurs, the chances of injury increase; and then the quality of life starts to decline.

Digital Gait Analysis for Diabetics

Digital gait analysis is just one of the ways a podiatrist can assist diagnosed diabetics, whose poor circulation and reduced nerve sensitivity can lead to a number of foot problems.

With our computerised gait scanner, your Redlands podiatrist can actually assess the loads under the various points of the sole of your foot. We know what is considered a normal load for a particular area on your foot – based on your foot size, the shoe that you’re wearing, the surfaces you’re walking on, and most importantly, your body weight.

If we diagnose overload, we can potentially prevent ulceration of the sole of the foot. Digital gait analysis allows us to detect any problems at a very early stage – long before you will even notice them – so we can prescribe an insole, orthotics, padding or shoe modification, to reduce that excessive load and prevent future complications.

We can help diabetic patients even when they have developed an ulcer, as we can still measure the load and then design a device or innersole specifically for that client’s foot, and their individual biomechanics. This will assist the healing process, reduce the risk of infection, and the risk of amputation – which not only has a huge impact on the patient’s life, but also places great strain on our health system.

Digital gait analysis is a valuable tool in the hands of a trained podiatrist. If you have any concerns with your feet or lower limbs, please make an appointment at our Redlands Podiatry Clinic, by calling 3207 4736 or you can book online.

Meet our Redlands Podiatrists

We might be slightly biased, but we reckon we have three of the best podiatrists in the Redlands at our clinic!

This month, we thought we’d spill the beans so you can find out what they get up to when they’re not providing expert foot care.

Principal Podiatrist Trevor Lane

Redlands podiatrist Trevor Lane

Having worked as a Redlands podiatrist for over 20 years, Trevor’s area of special interest is the correlation between the feet, legs and lower back.

He is particularly passionate about the science of biomechanics, and helping athletes to understand it as well, so that they can perform better in their chosen sport.

Trevor loves outdoor pursuits like camping, fishing, skiing, hiking, and surfing, and has participated in local team sports such as touch football and indoor soccer.

Redlands podiatrist Trevor Lane at the snow

When not on an outdoor adventure, our principal podiatrist loves spending time with his family – cooking up a storm in the kitchen or on the BBQ, relaxing outside in the garden, walking the dog, or riding his bike.

Nina Hunter

Our designer extraordinare, Nina has a passion for fashion, and an eye for detail.

female podiatrist Redlands Nina Hunter

Even though she’s a true people person, she can’t help but show off her love for animals – and she’s a foodie at heart.

Nina chose podiatry over a life in nursing and has never looked back.

Her colleagues at our Redlands podiatry clinic will tell you that Nina is friendly no matter what, and is never grumpy. And even if she was, she wouldn’t show it! She always has a happy face, and is in good spirits.

She is a good listener and always has great suggestions to make things better around the clinic.

Nina is partial to iced chocolate drinks, or in fact anything chocolate – and goes to the gym regularly to keep fit – maybe to compensate for her chocolate indulgences!

In her spare time, Nina loves spending time with family and friends, the outdoors, watching comedy and drama movies, and losing herself in a good book.

Lachlan Whitwell

Lachlan has always loved the sciences and nature, originally planning to become an ecologist or zoologist.

Redlands podiatrist Lachlan Whitwell

After a stint volunteering at the museum in the Arachnology department, Lachlan realised he much preferred to see animals alive and in their natural habitat, than in jars.

So Lachlan chose podiatry instead, and we are very glad he did! As a podiatrist he enjoys the opportunity to combine science, problem solving, and helping a wide range of people.

Lachlan likes to unwind with a good nature documentary, or by going bush walking, particularly with his fiancée or other friends. He cherishes the times when he can drop off the map for a while, either camping or overseas.

Eventually Lachlan hopes to do some not-for-profit health care work in the Pacific or Asia, but in the meantime, he “scratches that itch” with his involvement in Rotaract, which helps out communities in need – from local schools to refugee camps in Cyprus.

Lachlan is studying online for a Graduate Diploma in Psychology, which he feels will benefit his practice now, and may present some interesting opportunities in the future.

We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our foot care team a little better – and remember, you can now book a Redlands podiatrist online, or call us today on 3207 4736.

Looking for a Podiatrist with Online Booking?

This month’s foot care tip is a little bit different to the normal.

It’s about how at our Redlands podiatry clinic, we are constantly looking for ways to improve, and better help our patients.

So we are excited to announce the launch of our online booking system, which allows you to make an appointment 24/7!

Redlands podiatrist with online booking

New Online Booking System

Now it’s even easier for you to book to see a podiatrist, for those times when your feet are in need of some expert attention.

Even if you are a brand new client at our podiatry clinic, you will love the ease and convenience of being able to make a booking online.

No matter what time of the day or night, you can make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists. You can choose a time and day to suit you, and even pick your podiatrist.

Book Online Now

Your Security Matters

Ensuring the security of your information is important to us, which is why we have invested in one of the best online booking software packages.

When you book online with our Redlands podiatry clinic, you should notice two things:

  1. the green lock symbol in the address bar;
  2. and the URL which starts with “https://”.

Make sure you always look for these two signs whenever you are making a payment online, or entering sensitive information such as your date of birth, passwords, and physical address.

signs of a secure online booking system

If you can’t see the green lock symbol, and the URL doesn’t start with https:// – do NOT enter your information, as the website is not secure and you are at risk.

The Best Podiatrist in Redlands?!

It’s no secret – at Trevor Lane Podiatry, we strive to be the very best podiatrist in the Redlands.

After all, we have not only been providing foot care in the Redlands for over 20 years, we:

  • are the only Redlands podiatry clinic providing foot mobilisation technique to help you achieve a full range of movement following injury;
  • use the latest technology (such as computerised gait scanning) in the diagnosis and treatment of any foot problems;
  • have both male and female podiatrists available;
  • stock a range of quality footwear, from school shoes to running shoes and even thongs, designed to support your feet in style and comfort.
  • are proud to offer friendly, personal service including professional shoe fitting;
  • regularly share helpful foot care tips here on our website;
  • and offer a secure online booking system.

So next time you need to come to our podiatry clinic, you can make an appointment quickly and easily using our new online booking system 24/7, or by calling 3207 4736 during business hours.

When Your Podiatrist Recommends Orthotics

What are orthotics and how can they help?

Orthotics are devices which are placed into your shoes, and are designed to adjust your movement pattern and so reduce discomfort and strain – perhaps in your feet, perhaps elsewhere in your body.

3d foot scan for orthotics

They may be used to treat a range of conditions:

  • to aid recovery from a sports injury;
  • to compensate for a difference between your two feet;
  • to prevent problems in the future;
  • or to relieve pain in your feet, knees and even your back (see my earlier article about podiatry and back problems).

There are orthotics for plantar fasciitis, orthotics for bunions and arch support, orthotics for heel pain, orthotics for running, orthotics for diabetics, knee orthotics, ankle orthotics, toe otthotics and orthotics for flat feet, to name just a few.

Seeing a Podiatrist about Orthotics

Before prescribing orthotics, your podiatrist will conduct a thorough assessment, and have an in-depth discussion with you, to gain vital information about:

  • your feet and how you walk. At our Redlands podiatrist clinic, we use the latest technology, including computerised gait scanning.
  • your weight;
  • your age;
  • your usual shoe style;
  • the surface you spend most of your day on;
  • your medical history (including any injuries);
  • your lifestyle.

Discussing Orthotics with Your Podiatrist

These are all taken into account so your podiatrist can recommend the best orthotics for your needs.

  • Will an over-the-counter orthotic suffice – or do you need custom-made?
  • What material should your orthotic be made of?
  • What will best suit your usual shoes and your lifestyle?
  • Is budget a concern?

What Type of Shoes Do you Wear?

Considering the combination of shoe and orthotic is critical.

The design and style of your everyday footwear has a direct influence on the type of support your podiatrist will recommend for you.

For example, if you work in a professional office and usually wear court shoes or dress shoes, this will restrict the size of the orthotic; whereas running shoes or kids school shoes allow for more design choices.

As a Redlands podiatrist for over 20 years, I know that orthotics that fit with your preferred shoe style are incredibly important. They may not be the most supportive device available – but experience tells me that the best results are gained when you actually wear your orthotic!

Another tip if you need orthotics: when purchasing shoes, look for those with removable liners, as this allows greater choice and selection of orthotics.

Cost of Orthotics

Orthotics range in price greatly, depending on the material type and functionality. The more expensive orthotics are custom-made, have more function, and offer the best quality in terms of technological innovation and material choice.

However once again, there needs to be a balance between offering a client the best orthotic for their condition, and what they can actually afford. Your local podiatrist should help you with a solution that ticks all the boxes: a good shoe, a good orthotic, and a good fit with your budget.

Type of Materials

Orthotics are usually made from materials such as EVA foam, polypropylene plastic, and carbon fibre, depending on whether it is a functional or accommodative orthotic device.

Different brands use different trade names for these materials, so a good podiatrist needs to be familiar with the various names and their equivalents, in order to prescribe the best orthotics for your needs.

orthotics Redlands

Functional Orthotics

Functional devices are often used for conditions which affect the body above the foot – such as ligament injuries; knee strain and lower back problems.

The more rigid the material, the further up the body you get the effect. Being more rigid, they have greater impact on the plane of movement which has excessive – or restricted – motion, and is therefore causing problems.

These rigid materials – eg polypropylene and carbon fibre are thinner; and because they are custom-made, functional orthotics generally cost more.

Your weight affects the thickness and rigidity of the material chosen for your orthotic. For example, for individuals less than 80kg, a 3mm polypropylene will generally be chosen; those weighing 100 kilograms will require a 4mm device; while heavier individuals will need 5mm.

Accommodative Orthotics

Accommodative orthotics are made of cheaper and less functional materials such as EVA foams and are usually molded to the entire length of the boot. Although they are cheaper, they are bulkier, meaning your shoe choices will be more limited.

Commonly prescribed for clients with Diabetes, Charcot’s, or high arch feet, they primarily provide comfort contouring of the foot.

They are most useful in treating problems in the feet themselves, while functional orthotics help with further up the body.

Why is Discussion about Orthotics so Important?

If you are unhappy with your orthotic, feel you have not been offered material choice, or don’t know why a specific recommendation has been made, I urge you to go back to your local podiatrist and to find out.

The staff at my Redlands podiatrist clinic know that the keys to achieving the best outcomes in the shortest possible time frame with orthotics, are making sure the client:

  • understands the reasoning behind their orthotic type and material,
  • is happy from an economic perspective.

We have found that this results in clients being more likely to adhere to their treatment program (which likely includes exercises as well as orthotics), thus achieving less pain, faster healing, and better quality of life.

If you have any questions, feel that you might benefit from orthotics, or would like to check out our range of orthotic-friendly shoes, call us today on 3207 4736.

Podiatry and Back Problems

It may seem strange to think of somebody going to a podiatry clinic, when they actually have a problem with their back.

After all, podiatry is the branch of medicine which diagnoses and treats issues related to the lower limbs – heels, toes, feet, ankles and knees.

And yet I see many patients complaining of heel or leg pain, for example, only to discover that the cause is primarily a back problem.

podiatry and back problems

The Connection Between Podiatry and Back Problems

When I was in Cubs and Scouts years ago, we used to sing about how the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone, and so on.

We thought it was just a silly song, however in over twenty years of podiatry practice I have come to realise just how much truth it holds: the body is indeed a series of connective tissues, bones, nerves and systems, that all work in harmony with each other.

So when a patient is experiencing pain in the heels or legs, it may in fact be something called “referred pain”. That is, although they may not have pain there, it is actually a back problem which is causing the symptoms in their feet, knees or legs.

Conversely, lower back pain may actually be related to poor biomechanics of the feet. In such cases, a podiatrist may be able to address the back pain, by prescribing certain shoes or orthotics that improve your overall body balance.

How the Legs and Back are Linked

The lumbar region at the base of the spine consists of five vertebrae, which play a really important role in how we use our lower limbs.

So when a client presents at our podiatry clinic with pain in both heels, we not only check for conditions such as spurs, ligament or tendon damage – but we also need to consider the body as a whole.

It is extremely rare for a patient to have an identical injury in the same location on both feet at the same time. Instead, we usually find that there are lower back issues, or other pathologies such as:

  • thyroid disease;
  • osteoarthritis;
  • limb length discrepancies;
  • scoliois (curvature of the spine).

These conditions can put pressure on the nerves, which then refer that pain to whatever they innovate. The lumbar region, for example, refers pain to your legs and your feet.

A Whole of Body Approach

This is why a good podiatrist needs to assess your whole body, and not just your lower limbs.

Whatever we do to your lower limbs impacts on your hips, your back, and right up to your neck. When we treat foot pain, we don’t want it to cause an increase in lower back pain or headaches, instead!

So in addition to looking at your foot type, the surface you stand on, your shoes and how they are wearing – your podiatrist should also check things like:

  • Your body’s symmetry: are your legs the same length? Are your hips and buttocks level? Are your shoulders level or dropped to one side?
  • The condition of various muscles: are they tight, or weak?

Because of the way the various parts of our body are connected and impact on each other, there are times when we need to refer a patient to other allied health care professionals.

At our Redlands podiatry clinic, we have a great working relationship with some of the local physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and the like, to ensure the best of care for the whole of your body in these particular situations.

The Problem with Growing Older

could your back be causing your leg pain

No body is perfect and we all have alignment imperfections. However as we grow older, our body’s ability to deal with these alignment anomalies starts to falter, so symptoms start to appear.

Patients often ask me: Why now? When I was younger I never had this problem!

And that is exactly my point – the body is no longer coping with or compensating for a certain twist in the back, a short leg, a bow in the bone, etc.

So next time you visit our podiatry clinic, don’t be surprised if as well as considering your fallen arches, or sore achilles tendon, we also assess your whole body alignment.

At our Redlands podiatry clinic, we treat each patient as a whole person, rather than just a foot! Call today on 3207 4736 for an appointment, if you are experiencing foot or leg pain.