The Benefits of Toe Socks

Have you ever worn socks with toes?!

If you’ve ever lived in a snowy climate, you’ll know that wearing gloves (where each finger is encased in a separate sleeve) is much more practical than mittens (where only the thumb is separated from the fingers).

And yet – a lot of people have never heard of, let alone considered wearing, toe socks!

I’ve been sharing lots of tips for happy feet here on the website – from basic foot care, to knowing what to look for in running shoes. This month, we’re going to look at the role of the humble sock, and in particular, the benefits of toe socks.

why wear socks?

Why Wear Socks?

Wearing socks is as important as choosing the correct footwear, for the health and wellbeing of our feet. I know, I know – socks just don’t look appealing with all types of shoes!

However, if you are participating in any type of sport or physical activity, wearing socks with your shoes is essential. Here’s why:

  • We have numerous sweat glands in our feet, so socks are primarily worn to absorb sweat;
  • Socks not only help keep us (and our shoes) dry and comfortable – they also reduce our exposure to the bacteria which causes Athlete’s Foot;
  • And if that’s not enough to convince you to wear socks and shoes next time you go for a walk or run – they prevent foot odour as well!

When it comes to sports and performance, not all socks are created equal. Because I work with many clients with a keen interest in active and outdoor pursuits, I often find myself recommending toe socks (also known as finger socks, digital socks and glove socks). They’re not just a crazy fad from the 70’s and 80’s – toe socks actually have many benefits!

Toe Socks Benefits

toe socks benefits

1 – Moisture management. By having each individual toe wrapped, the foot will be dryer and more comfortable than in traditional socks – which is especially important if you are hiking, running, or participating in any form of sport. Plus, it will reduce the likelihood of problems such as infections and odour.

2 – Prevent Blisters. If you are are keen on running or hiking, you are likely wincing as you read this! The good news is, toe socks reduce the friction caused by your toes rubbing together, or against your shoes – and that means less chance of blisters developing.

3 – Sensory Feedback. Traditionally, distance runners wore toe socks to prevent blistering but also to provide them with valuable “sensory feedback”. The connection between our brain and our foot (and vice versa) is strengthened as toe socks provide much more sensory stimulation, than when all the toes are clumped together in one little bag. This is important as it allows the runner or athlete to focus their attention to a proper toe push-off phase, during their strike.

4 – Total Foot Utilisation. Even if you are not into sports, toe socks ensure that your toes are properly aligned and splayed so that your body weight is distributed evenly. This allows your entire foot to be engaged as you walk. Toe socks optimise the biomechanics of your foot, and the sensory loop between your foot and brain.

When you visit your local podiatrist with any foot concerns, they will not only assess the appearance of your foot, and your biomechanics perhaps through the use of a digital gait scan, but also your choice of socks and footwear, so that they can make specific recommendations for your individual needs.

That’s why we now stock Injinji Toe Socks at our Redlands podiatry clinic.

Introducing Injinji Toe Socks

The design and construction of these socks is second to none.

In addition to  a seamless design for maximum comfort, Injinji toe socks keep your feet dry and cool thanks to a mixture of quality materials:

  • Cool Max – a moisture management fibre with wicking properties;
  • Nu Wool – a non-itchy Australian merino wool, which provides temperature and moisture control; and
  • Lycra – a flexible material with bio-directional stretch, for comfort and durability.

The Injinji range includes socks for different activities, eg running, hiking, work and business, each with different padding, thicknesses etc; and in various styles such as crew socks, knee highs and no show socks.

There is even a range of compression socks, perfect for boosting circulation in diabetics, and to relieve muscle fatigue in active people.

So next time you visit our Redlands Podiatry Clinic, ask us about whether toe socks would be of particular benefit to you!

Foot Health Tips: Your Essential Guide to Basic Foot Care

After more than 20 years as a podiatrist, I’ve seen many sad, neglected and abused feet – so here are my top 10 foot health tips – your essential guide to basic foot care!

foot health tips and basic foot care tips from a local podiatrist

Why am I providing these Foot Health Tips?

As a podiatrist and foot care professional, I know that these basic foot care tips are the best recipe for happy feet … and ankles … and knees … and legs … and hips … and back … and so on!

Perhaps you remember the old song:

Your foot bone’s connected to your ankle bone;
your ankle bone’s connected to your knee bone;
your knee bone’s connected to your thigh bone;
your thigh bone’s connected to your hip bone … etc

In fact, your feet aren’t just connected, they bear the weight of the rest of your body.

This is why foot problems can impact areas further up the skeletal and muscular system, such as your knees, hips, back, etc. If your feet are sore, your body will compensate and place undue strain on other areas.

Sad, neglected and abused feet may contribute to unnecessary pain and suffering, so here are my top ten tips to promote foot health and hygiene, for all the family!

10 Basic Foot Care Tips

1 – Wash your feet every day with soapy warm water.

You don’t have to soak them; just give them a couple of minutes’ wash. Make sure you dry well between the toes to prevent infection, which is particularly important with our Brisbane climate. With all that heat and humidity, moisture trapped between the toes provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and infection.

2 – Cut your toe nails straight across.

Don’t go down at the edges, or you run the risk of ingrown toenails.

3 – Moisturise your feet regularly.

I recommend using a good quality cream such as sorbolene with Vitamin E. Tea tree oil is also great, as it has anti-fungal as well as moisturising properties.

4 – Remove dry dead skin.

Tackle rough and cracked heels, calluses, or any other patches of dry dead skin, with a pumice stone or similar.

basic foot care

5 – Limit wearing of high heels where possible.

If you wear heels to work every day, at least take a good pair of running shoes and change into them for the walk to and from the bus or train, or if you are stepping out at lunch time.

6 – Shop for shoes in the afternoon.

Our feet swell throughout the day, so what seems a perfect fit first thing in the morning will likely pinch your feet by nightfall. By trying on shoes in the afternoon, you can guarantee a comfortable fit.

7 – Change your socks daily.

We can perspire up to ¾ to 1 cup of sweat a day – solely (excuse the pun) through our feet! And please, wear socks in sports shoes. Let your sock be the sponge, not your shoe, otherwise the bacteria living on your sweat will create “stinky shoes”.

8 – Rotate your footwear.

You don’t have to be Imelda Marcos – whatever activities constitute 80% of your week, have at least a couple of suitable pairs on rotation. Use them on alternate days, and leave the pair you aren’t wearing in front of a window, or somewhere they can dry out.

9 – Preventing infection.

Avoid fungus or plantar warts by wearing flip flops or thongs in communal areas – think swimming pools, amenities blocks when camping, motels, etc.

10 – Finally, your feet should be comfortable.

If you are experiencing foot pain and discomfort regularly, this is NOT normal, or just a sign of ageing and your local podiatrist may just be able to help you find relief, as well as prevent it from developing into a chronic long term problem.

If you have any questions about foot health, pain and injuries, you can make an appointment at our Redlands podiatry clinic today on 3207 4736 or you can book online

How Often Should a Diabetic See a Podiatrist?

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, suddenly your calendar will fill with appointments for a whole team of health professionals such as a dietitian, optometrist, endocrinologist, and podiatrist, as well as your GP.

Some will help you to manage your condition, while others aim to prevent some of the complications which commonly arise. For example, as a diabetic, your risk of developing foot problems rises significantly due to two common features of the disease:

  1. Reduced blood flow to the feet – which means any sores or other problems will take longer to heal; and
  2. Reduced sensitivity of the nervous system – which means the diabetic individual may not even notice blisters, pain or sores developing on their feet and lower limbs in the first place.

How often should a diabetic see a podiatrist? At least once a year to prevent complications like foot ulcers.

How Often Should a Diabetic see a Podiatrist?

Due to this increased risk of foot problems, it is recommended that diabetics visit their podiatrist for a diabetic foot assessment regularly; the frequency depends on the type of diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes – for those with type 1 diabetes, a diabetic foot assessment every six months is advised.
  • Type 2 diabetes – the risk is slightly less for those with type 2 diabetes, so an annual checkup is usually recommended.

While podiatry services in Australia generally aren’t covered by Medicare, as an individual with a chronic health condition you may be able to access a rebate if you have a referral from your GP.

What’s Involved in a Diabetic Foot Assessment?

As part of a diabetic foot assessment, your podiatrist will check:

  • The blood flow to your feet by recording the pulse rate in two places – on the top of your foot (the dorsalis pedis), and the inside of the ankle (tibialis posterior). Should there be any concerns about reduced blood flow, your GP will be notified and you will need ultrasounds and further investigations.
  • Your podiatrist will also check the sensitivity of the nerve endings in your feet. While you have your eyes closed, you will be asked to identify different sensations, such as sharp, blunt, hot, or cold. While most people take these sensations for granted, the nerves can be damaged by diabetes.

You can see why it’s really important for diabetics to take extra care of their feet: The decreased nerve sensitivity means that as a diabetic, you may not feel and therefore notice any sores or other problems; and the reduced blood flow means that the body’s healing ability is impaired.

As a result, if left unnoticed and/or untreated, sores, ingrown toenails and other problems may lead to infection.

Infection can cause serious health complications, such as ulcers and even the possibility of amputation of toes or feet.

regular diabetic foot assessment could prevent the need for amputation

Is There a Diabetes Podiatrist Near Me?

At our Redlands podiatry clinic, we offer personal diabetic foot care to help you manage the risk of complications, by providing you with education and support around:

  • Foot hygiene and cleanliness;
  • Daily foot examination, to check for visual signs of broken skin, punctures, cuts and wounds, because you may not feel or notice them otherwise;
  • Cutting toenails correctly, to reduce the risk of cuts and infection;
  • Footwear. This is crucial for diabetics, as poorly fitting shoes can lead to blisters, corns, calluses and worse. At our Redlands podiatry clinic we can provide guidance on the type of shoe and features to look for; we even offer a professional shoe fitting service and stock a range of quality footwear.

Regular appointments with your local podiatrist, in conjunction with the care of your GP, dietitian and other allied health professionals, will ensure that any potential problems associated with your condition can be detected as early as possible – when they are far easier to treat.

If you have ever wondered, “Is there a diabetes podiatrist near me?” – then call our Redlands podiatry clinic today on 3207 4736 to organise a diabetic foot assessment. 

Sports Podiatry

Sports podiatry focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of injuries to the feet and lower limbs, sustained during sports and other physical activities.

When you consider that a quarter of the bones in our entire body are located in our feet you can easily understand why they might be more susceptible to injury.

sports podiatry brisbane

Add to this the fact that sport and other high impact activities can subject our feet to loads and forces of up to 10 to 15 times our body weight, it’s easy to see how serious damage can occur – from a sprained ankle, to black bruised toenails, hamstring strains, and painful foot fractures.

As a keen enthusiast of activities such as surfing, hiking, skiing, bike riding, touch football and indoor soccer myself, I have developed a particular interest in the field of sport podiatry.

Common Sports Injuries

At our clinic in the bayside suburbs of Brisbane, we see a lot of clients suffering from sports injuries. Here are five of the most common:

1. Sesamoiditis

How can something as small as your toes, cause so much pain?!

The sesamoids are two small bones beneath the joint of your big toe, within the tendons; sesamoiditis is the name given when there is an inflammation in these bones.

High intensity physical activities like jumping, lunges, or activities with a heavy push off or loading – like what you’d do at boot camp style training – can all lead to a flare up of sesamoiditis.

If you are experiencing a painful big toe following this sort of strenuous activity, it is important to visit a podiatry clinic for diagnosis and treatment. Serious long term damage can result if the bones have fractured, or blood flow has been disrupted.

2. Stress Fractures

Sports and exercise can also cause stress fractures – tiny hair like fractures in the bones – usually in the five long metatarsal bones of the foot. While you can’t see if the bone is fractured, you may notice symptoms like swelling on the top of your foot, and pain when walking.

Stress fractures are associated with repetitive activity, or a sudden increase in training level and intensity. Other factors may include ageing footwear, an unforgiving training surface (eg concrete, tar, grass, artificial turf). People suffering from reduced bone density – osteoporosis – are at a much greater risk of foot fractures.

The good news is, stress fractures usually heal on their own, following periods of rest and reduced activity. However it is still wise to consult with a podiatrist with a special interest in and understanding of sports podiatry.

3. Turf Toe

This painful injury occurs when the forefoot catches on the ground (usually grass or artificial turf) while you are in a forward motion, causing the toe to bend upwards, outside of the normal range of movement. Ouch!

Your podiatrist may recommend wearing footwear with a stiffened toe box, toe strapping, and/or reduced activity, for a period of time.

4. Plantar Fasciitis

Foot pain which improves over the course of the day, is generally caused by plantar fasciitis. Patients often report that the first couple of steps out of bed in the morning are the most painful.

Although plantar fasciitis is common in runners, dancers and people who jump, it also affects people with reduced flexibility (eg those born with a reduced calf length).

While high heels are not the usual footwear associated with the field of sports podiatry, we sometimes see this condition in women with a high heel habit. It often develops in flight attendants for example, after years of wearing heels at work. This is because over time the calf muscles shorten to adapt to the heel height – and the calf becomes so tight that it is no longer possible to wear flat or low heels. This places additional strain on the arch of the foot, resulting in plantar fasciitis.

Your local podiatrist can prescribe treatment such as ice, heat packs, exercises, and specific footwear.

5. Black Bruised Big Toenail

most common sports injuries

If you have been shocked to find a black bruised big toenail when taking off your shoes after a day of hiking or a game of netball, this is a sign that either:

  • The shoe doesn’t fit properly, and your toes are repeatedly knocking on the toe box.
  • Or, your feet are moving forward in the shoe. Generally patients with this problem have a narrow foot, and a lacing technique called a heel lock helps to pull the foot back into the rear two thirds of the shoe.

Often seen in runners, hikers, snow skiers and tennis players, a black bruised toenail is caused by a bleed under the nail (called a hematoma). It can be quite painful, so it’s a good idea to visit a podiatry clinic, where they can relieve the pressure under the nail.

Eventually the damaged nail will come away, but it may take as long as 6 to 12 months to fully recover.

Sports Podiatry Brisbane

If you live in the Redlands or in the south-east of Brisbane, make an appointment at our Birkdale clinic on 3207 4736 for any concerns relating to sports podiatry. 

Using digital gait analysis we can pick up any potential problems with your biomechanics, advise on the most supportive footwear, as well as recommend strengthening exercises and other preventative strategies.

And if you do have the misfortune to sustain a sporting injury – whether you are a professional athlete, enthusiastic amateur or just enjoy kicking a footy around the backyard – we can assist you with techniques like Foot Mobilisation Therapy to get you back to what you love to do!

Does My Child Need Orthotics?

While we can definitely help with kids orthotics at our Redlands podiatry clinic, the fact is that flat feet are relatively normal in young children.

And yet when parents bring their child to our podiatry clinic, it is often due to concerns about flat feet and whether orthotics are needed. So I would like to set parents’ minds at ease – it is usually not until your child is five or six that orthotics may be considered.

Most babies appear to have flat feet, and it is only when the child starts to walk that their arch begins to develop. Even after that, the soles of a child’s feet may look flat, but this does not necessarily indicate a problem.

does my child need orthotics

Is it a Case of Flat Foot or Excess Pronation?

The term “flat foot” is a fairly broad term covering a number of foot alignment issues.

True flat foot is a condition where the longitudinal arch of the foot has not yet developed normally; however excess pronation can also make your child’s foot look flat, and cause parents to worry.

“Pronation” describes the natural inward rolling movement of the foot and ankle when they are in motion (eg walking, running). At times it can roll in excessively – and so you might hear it called excess pronation. As the child walks or runs, excess pronation causes:

  • the arch of the foot to flatten;
  • the fore foot to splay outwards;
  • and the ankle to pull upwards.

In a true case of flat foot there is no change in the arch contour (ie it remains flat), regardless of whether the child is standing or sitting.

A pronated foot on the other hand, will seem flat when the child is standing, but there is a fully developed arch profile when the child is seated.

Excess pronation is quite common in children from birth up to about age eight or nine, and is not usually painful. (Important note: if your young child is complaining of aching legs, that they can’t sleep due to leg pain, or have been pleading for you to rub their legs to give them some relief, this merits further investigation for hidden pathologies.)

It happens because bone grows faster than soft tissue, creating a (temporary) muscular imbalance. The child’s foot subsequently pronates to compensate; in some children, it might result in knock knees or bow legs for a time.

There are other factors which may contribute to a change in the arch of the child’s foot – such as limb length discrepancies, or curvature of the lower back.

When are Kids Orthotics Likely to be Needed?

By the age of five or six, your child’s foot bones have positioned themselves, and all they have to do is grow and get bigger.

At this stage if the arch does not appear to be developing, it’s worth visiting your local podiatry clinic to find out if orthotics may be of benefit. Before making a diagnosis we will likely send your child for x-ray and/or ultrasound, to make sure there’s no congenital abnormalities (eg bony fusions, ligament or tendon damage, non-development of particular structures).

kids orthotics

In a true case of flat foot, there is no arch – so there is no point in using an orthotic to support an arch that does not exist. In this case, it would simply hurt the patient.

We find that in the majority of cases, children visiting our podiatry clinic are presenting with excess pronation. Treatment for this condition may include advice on footwear choices, exercises, or possibly orthotics.

What sort of Orthotics?

Should your child need insoles or orthotics, there are two types to consider: off the shelf, or customised.

Off the shelf are cheaper, but provide only a certain degree of correction. If there is a marked deformity, a podiatrist will have no choice but to prescribe custom orthotics, because one foot is functioning quite differently to the other.

You can find out more about the different types of orthotics and what is involved, in this post.

If you live in the Redlands, Trevor Lane Podiatry is your local family podiatry centre – so if you have any concerns about whether your child needs orthotics, you can book an appointment now using our secure online booking system.

My Sprained Ankle Still Hurts After 3 Months!

I often encounter clients that say things along the line of: “My sprained ankle still hurts after 3 months!” or; “Ever since I had that sprained ankle, my foot has never been quite the same”.

sprained ankle still hurts after 3 months

Usually, they are having difficulties with things like wearing high heels or climbing stairs, or perhaps while exercising eg squatting or trying to get a good calf stretch – all because the ankle feels like it is “stuck”.

A sprained ankle is one of the most common sporting injuries, particularly within certain sports such as touch football, netball and basketball. Watching my daughter play netball one weekend recently, I noticed several players experience this terrible traumatic event.

When we sprain or roll our ankle, our immediate reaction is to catch our breath from the pain.

Often it will seem to swell up before our very eyes, or the area will become quite bruised over the next few days, making it quite clear that we’ve sustained some sort of ligament or muscle damage.

But My Sprained Ankle wasn’t even that Bad!

For others, however, there may be no visible signs of injury and they may be able to walk normally pretty much straight away, not realising the damage that’s been done.

It’s only further down the track they gradually realise that their ankle just hasn’t been the same ever since –  3, 6, 12, or even 18 months afterwards!

There are two main reasons why these individuals are experiencing pain and discomfort so long after they sprained their ankle:

  1. Twisting, rolling, or spraining your ankle places incredible abnormal forces on the bones and joints in your foot and surrounding structures. With 26 bones and 43 joints in the foot, there is a lot of potential for something to go wrong!
  2. Spraining your ankle can disrupt the neurological pathway connecting your foot to your brain. Normally, we don’t need to think about being able to walk; our brain automatically knows the position of our feet, and how to move them. However, an ankle sprain can interrupt these messages between the brain and foot.

As a result, the individual begins to realise that the ankle is still hurting months after the event.

In the immediate aftermath of rolling or spraining your ankle, applying ice will help to reduce swelling and bruising – if it is particularly painful, x-rays may be called for determine if there have been any foot fractures. For many people, a day or two of resting the ankle may well be all that is required to get them back to normal.

If Your Ankle Still Hurts After 3 Months

If pain or discomfort persists however, further treatment may be required. You may find yourself limping in high heels, struggling to sit on the ground with crossed legs, or or even experiencing secondary problems such as sore knees and lower back pain, ever since you injured your ankle.

Fortunately, there is a treatment option: Foot Mobilisation Therapy, a fairly recent development in the field of podiatry. It is a simple process incorporating gentle traction or stretch, while placing the joint through the normal range of movement.

your local podiatrist

The foot mobilisation technique allows the joint to simply realign itself. Sometimes, the patient may be lucky enough to hear a click or a pop when this happens, though not always. It’s not painful, and the pop or click does not indicate any form of damage – rather, that full range of movement in the joint has been restored.

Treatment for Persistent Ankle Problems

At Trevor Lane Podiatry we are proud to be the first (and currently only) podiatrist in the Redlands providing Foot Mobilisation Therapy.

Once the ankle joint has been gently persuaded back into place, the focus is on restoring the electrical pathways between brain and foot (and vice versa). Your podiatrist may apply kinetic tape, to remind your body how the foot is supposed to function; and you may be prescribed certain exercises to help you regain balance and muscular strength in the affected foot and leg – for example, stretches using a resistance band (or theraband).

Suffering with a sore ankle for several months following a sprain, isn’t something you should just “put up with”, or dismiss as part of “old age”.

If you are suffering any pain or difficulties with movement in the months following an ankle sprain, call for an appointment today on 3207 4736. Although this type of podiatry treatment is not covered by Medicare, at Trevor Lane Podiatry we strive to keep our fees affordable for all.