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Comfortable shoes don’t have to be ugly

Confucious said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But if taking that single step causes pain or discomfort, it’s time to pay more care and attention to your feet.

When should people be concerned when it comes to their feet?

“Pain is a good indicator,” Robin White says. “Don’t ignore pain in your feet, ankles, or lower legs.”

White, a certified pedorthist, has been caring for Sudbury and area patients for 20 years. Trained primarily in the biomechanics—or normally functioning—of the foot, pedorthists are governed by the College of Pedorthics of Canada.

Four certified pedorthists work at White’s office at 1942 Regent St. S. Through consultation and assessment, they can help to alleviate foot problems in people of all ages. They can also create a custom orthotic—a brace that fits in the shoe—and adjustments to shoes that help maintain mobility.

“What makes us unique is our own, on-site lab where we can design a product that’s specific to the individual needs of the patient,” says White.

When should people be concerned when it comes to their feet?

“Pain is a good indicator,” he says. “Don’t ignore pain in your feet, ankles, or lower legs.”

As people get older, they often experience a wide range of conditions and diseases—from rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, to leg vein problems, bunions and hammertoes. Seniors can also susceptible to unusual or excessive callousing. These are the body’s responses to undue pressure on the feet.

Callouses can be treated, White says, but unless the source is addressed, the callouses will return and continue to be painful.

According to BioPed’s newsletter, Healthy Steps, other conditions that could benefit from orthotics or specialized footwear include: repetitive-motion injuries from gardening, sports—or old sports’ injuries, as well as flat feet, high arches and Morton’s syndrome, where the first toe is shorter than the second.

Patients with diabetic ulcers, wounds and fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot,-can also benefit from specially designed orthotics and footwear. Reducing pressure on these ulcer or wound sites can assist in the healing process, says White.

He advises people to consult with their physician who can, in turn, refer them to his office.

There is no fee for a consultation and assessment, which takes about 45 minutes. Clients pay only for the shoes, adjustments and/or orthotics that are made for them.

There are no charges for follow-up visits.

Orthotics can be placed in pretty much all footwear depending on the patient’s condition and the orthotic itself.

Custom-made orthotics cost about $425. While comfortable footwear starts at around $100 without orthotics, they can provide some benefit.

“It costs you $100 to fill up your car,” he says. “(Therefore) it makes sense to spend $100 on shoes that will last you two or three years.”

There’s no need to give up fashion in order to wear orthotics, adjustments or specialized footwear. “You don’t have to wear ugly orthopedic footwear to be comfortable,” White says. “There’s been big strides in the industry in the last 20 years.”
Properly fitted footwear can provide even weight distribution, reduce pain in the lower back, as well as improve one’s overall posture, he says.

“Once you’re 40, 50, 60, it starts catching up to you,” he says, stressing the importance of foot care for baby boomers.

“Footwear needs to be stable and secure and help with balance. As we age, we lose some of our soft fatty tissue on the bottom of our feet, and they become more sensitive. You only get one set of feet and you have to look after them.“You don’t have to suffer,” he says.

White’s work has personal rewards, as well. “It’s a very gratifying profession. Once I had a client from North Bay—an elderly lady who had undergone 11 different surgeries on one foot, centred around the forefoot. We provided her with an orthotic with a rocker sole. It off-loaded so much pressure, she started to cry and said, ‘This is the first time I’ve walked in 15 years without my foot hurting’.”

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