Dr. Berg's Foot Facts

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Woman in pink tennis shoesAs we shelter in place, most of us are stuck at home and unable to participate in many of our usual activities. Without gyms or swimming pools to go to for recreation and exercise many more of us are turning to walking. A great thing with all the lovely weather we’ve been having. Unfortunately, a lot people are calling my office because they’ve suddenly developed heel pain.

During our telemedicine appointments I’m finding that there are three main culprits to this Covid-related problem. People are walking much more than usual. When folks are at home they’re going barefoot more often. And finally, many people are wearing flip flops because the weather has been so nice.

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do at home to help with a case of heel pain.

Wear Supportive Tennis Shoes

It’s important to wear supportive tennis shoes or a supportive sandal when walking if you’re experiencing heel pain. To get a better understanding of why people are suddenly developing heel pain, let’s look at how the foot works. To work well, the feet need to bend at the ankle and at the ball of the foot, not in half. Shoes need to support the feet in the same way. They should allow you to bend at the ankle and at the ball of the foot, not in the middle. When the shoe is twisted from side to side it should be fairly firm. The heel counter in the back of the shoe should also be firm.

Instead people have been coming in wearing shoes with mesh and squishy soles. Shoes like that bend in half right with little pressure and can easily twist when wrung out like a rag. This type of shoe provides little support. Instead of the shoe propelling you forward you’re going to spend more time on the heel.

To make sure you’re getting the right support from your shoes, test your shoes to be sure they’re supportive enough.

Instead of Going Barefoot At Home Wear These Sandals Instead

People who are experiencing heel pain or are prone to developing it shouldn’t go barefoot at home. And even flip flops won’t provide you with the support you need. Instead try a shoe or sandal that has some degree of stability. I recommend Crocs, Merrills, Tevas, or Keens.

Reduce Your Inflammation

The pain in heel pain comes from inflammation. Along with all the other tips I provide here, you must do something to bring it down. In the office, I could give you a cortisone shot or provide you with MLS laser therapy. But at home there are some things you can do to treat the inflammation yourself.

First, use Biofreeze. It can provide temporary relief of heel pain.

Ice can also be very beneficial in bringing down the inflammation. Take a water bottle and put it in the freezer. Use is to massage the bottom of your heel while you’re watching television. Use it for 10 minutes and then remove it for 10 minutes and then begin again.

Add Over-the-Counter Shoe Inserts

Finally, adding an over-the-counter insert to the shoe can help prevent your feet from rolling inward or pronating, a problem that can increase your chance of developing heel pain. You might wonder why you’d need to do that with a brand, new pair of expensive tennis shoes. That’s because the insert that’s provided by most shoe companies does not provide sufficient support even if the shoes pass the support test in the video link above.

To demonstrate what I mean, start by taking the insert out of your tennis shoe. When you look inside you’ll notice that it’s totally flat on the bottom of the shoe. Now take the arch support and roll it up from the bottom to the top. If you can easily roll it you’ll understand why it can’t possibly provide the support you need if you have heel pain or you’re prone to it.

The over-the-counter inserts I recommend are Powersteps. These inserts bend at the ball of the foot, not in the middle, and they have a cushioned heel that’s slightly elevated. The combination of these factors can stop you from overpronating relieving stress on your arch. Superfeet are also effective, although Powersteps are little more shock absorbing. Sole Supports are also helpful.

Of course, many people who’ve had heel pain in the past have tried over-the-counter inserts and haven’t gotten much, if any pain relief. If this is true for you, you’ll need to come into the office so I can make you a pair of custom orthotics.

Reduce Your Calf Tightness

The other factor that plays a major role in developing heel pain is tightness of the calf. During two telemedicine appointments, I observed patients walking who also had hard heel strikes and very tight calf muscles. A tight calf doesn’t allow your ankle to bend properly. When that happens the force goes into the foot and adds to the heel pain. It’s imperative to do proper calf stretching to alleviate this problem. Check out our website for more information about how to stretch your calves.

Use A Heel Lift

Finally, a small heel lift can raise your heel just enough to relax the calf muscle temporarily while you’re working to get the inflammation down. I recommend a firm heel lift such as Adjust A Lift. It’s peels apart to provide you with just the right amount of lift. I usually recommend a quarter of an inch. This along with the over-the-counter supports will likely diminish your heel pain.

If these self-care treatments don’t work, please call our office at 206-368-7000 to set up an appointment by telemedicine or in person.

For more information about how to treat heel pain, download our eBook, "Stop Living With Stubborn Heel Pain".

In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly.  You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading! Sign up today!

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

Follow Dr. Berg on FacebookTwitterand Pinterest.

You've done your best to follow social distancing recommendations. You stick to the six feet rule between you and other people outside of your household. But now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending we all wear face masks when out in public, it's been a bit of a scramble to get on board.

Maybe you're lucky and you have someone in your family who's made you a mask. Or perhaps you got one from your neighbor down the street. Regardless there are some important things to know about the right way to make a mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

While everyone and their mother out there are touting the best ways to make a mask, I always go to the best source to get my information. And that source is the CDC. Fortunately they've provided guidelines for how to do it yourself in case no one in your immediate vicinity has that capability or the mask you received doesn't meet the following specifications.

Your Mask Must:

  • Fit snugly and comfortably against the side of your face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Be made with multiple layers of cotton fabric (tea towels or hand towels you have in your kitchen work well)
  • Allow for unrestricted breathing
  • Be able to be washed in the laundry and dried without damage or change to the shape (a shape change could affect how securely it fits to your face)

Warnings: Face masks should never been put on a child under age 2, anyone who already has problems breathing, is unconscious or would not be able to remove the mask without assistance.

Click here for three different patterns for masks; one is made with a sewing machine and the other two are no sew options using either a T-shirt or a bandana.

Having pain in your feet or ankles? If you're reading this during the coronavirus pandemic, call us at 206-368-7000 and we'll set up a telemedicine appointment. In some cases you may need to be seen in the office. Learn more about what we're doing to protect our patients and other information about Covid-19.

Otherwise call us today at the same number for an in person appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than two weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

For more information about foot and ankle problems, download our eBook, "No More Foot Pain."

 
By Dr. Rion Berg
March 31, 2020
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

woman stretching on the groundNo one is immune to anxiety particularly in this unprecedented time. Thoughts about the safety of parents, grandparents, friends and yourself can mushroom, causing sleepless nights--further fueling anxiety. At a time when you want to preserve whatever reserves you have and shore up your immune system, increased stress does just the opposite. Learning to reduce your stress is essential.

But what can you do to help yourself and those around you cope more effectively? Turns out there’s plenty you can do to decrease your anxiety and stress levels.

Reduce Your TV and Social Media Time

Even in the best of times watching less of the 24-hour news cycle is best practice. And then of course there’s Facebook and Twitter. Nothing fuels your anxiety like picking up your phone every 30 minutes to check the stock market or the latest post or tweet about the virus. Start small. Start by cutting back the number of times you look at your phone by 10%. And then every few days cut back by another 10%. Also, make sure you don’t look at your TV or phone an hour before bedtime.

Practice Mindfulness

One of the best tools for reducing anxiety is practicing mindfulness. If you’ve been meaning to develop a mindfulness practice or learn to meditate there is no better time than now. Fortunately, there’s been an explosion of apps, CDs, and videos to help you do it more easily. One that my wife and I use at bedtime is Calm. This app contains many wonderful meditations and stories to help you calm down. Another easy-to-use app is Headspace which bills itself as a meditation and sleep tool. If breathing shallowly is your issue, try the Breathe+ app recommended by Dr. Brad Lichtenstein of Seattle at The Breath Space. Set it for four breathes in for every six breathes out.

Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

It’s not only your hands that need better hygiene right now. Good sleep depends on it. Sleep is problematic for many of us in times of high stress. Here are some important tips:

  • Maintain a consistent routine – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid caffeine – it’s OK to have caffeine before noon. But avoid it after that. Keep in mind that chocolate and tea also contain a lot of caffeine. Sorry chocolate lovers!
  • Minimize alcohol intake – alcohol can contribute to sleep problems.
  • Go outside in the morning – to help with your circadian rhythm your body needs light. Not always easy in this cloudy part of the world. But even diffuse light is helpful. Go outside for at least 20 minutes.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment – people sleep best in cool, dark, and quiet environments. Also, make your bed more inviting by changing your sheets regularly and putting out your best comforters and pillows.
  • Exercise – exercising at least 30 minutes a day can help improve sleep.
  • Reduce Your Exposure to Blue Light – according to the Sleep Foundation blue light from your phone and computer screen can delay the release of melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep. To help reduce the blue light from your devices, download an app like F.lux onto your computer and set your phone to dim automatically in the evening.

Get More Exercise

Meet a friend and walk, making sure you keep your social distance of six feet. Want to give your whole body a workout, trying Zooming a yoga class. Online classes are available at Two Dog Yoga here in Lake City or at 8 Limbs Yoga. If you’re a runner, just make sure you have supportive shoes. Check out “How to Buy the Best Running Shoes”.

Eat Well Balanced Meals

Although many of us resort to eating comfort foods during times of stress, try to balance that out with healthy meals. It’s fine to eat an occasional meal from Dicks if you’re healthy, but a steady diet of fat, sugar, and alcohol will not help your immune system function at its best. Stick to lots of fruit and vegetables, chicken, and fish. Crack open a cookbook or dive into recipes on the internet. Cooking from scratch is always healthier. Consider your local restaurants offering take-out. And not just pizza. Order from your local Vietnamese, Thai restaurants, or other familiar places that serve low fat food. Plus, it’s important to support your local businesses at this time.

Share Important Moments With Friends and Family (Yes, Over Zoom)

A friend just told me she participated in a Zoom birthday party. Someone else I know is reading books to his granddaughter over the internet. Some families are planning to do their Passover seders remotely. The possibilities are endless. Don’t have a gathering to attend? Set up a Zoom session with family or friends just to talk. This is particularly important if you live alone.

Revisit or Try and New Hobby

Recently I wrote a blog, "10 Fun Activities to Do At Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak". Spending time engrossed in activities that are creative and stimulating is much better than watching TV or playing endless video games on your computer. Revisit hobbies you’ve done in the past but haven’t had time for. Pick up your old guitar and belt out a few cherished tunes, finish your scrapbooking project, or pick up your knitting or needlepoint. All of these can bring satisfaction you forgot long ago. Or with the miracle of YouTube you can learn a new hobby. For those who know me, I love to sing. I recently stumbled across a fellow in England, Gareth Malone, who runs The Great British Home Chorus. It’s loads of fun!

And then there’s the professor teaching about The Science of Well Being through Yale. You can access this course for free online. Over 1 million people are enrolled.

Take Action

The best way to get out of your head and stop your anxious thoughts is by taking action. Whether that’s sewing masks for your local hospital. Calling friends who are isolated to check on them. Or taking groceries to your neighbors who are shut in. Any of these activities is good for your head and your heart.

Practice Gratitude

Yes, the stock market is down by 1/3 and you may have had your work hours cut. But there is also a lot to be grateful for. Developing a gratitude practice is the first in a list of strategies named by author Sonja Lyubormirsky who wrote the groundbreaking book, The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want. She says, “Expressing gratefulness during personal adversity like loss or chronic illness, as hard as that might be, can help you adjust, move on, and perhaps begin anew.”

Finding the silver lining in this crisis is important. I’m in awe of all the wonderful things people are doing to help others.

Stay safe!

Having pain in your feet? If you're reading this during the coronavirus outbreak, leave a message at 206-368-7000 and we'll retrun your call and set up a telemedicine appointment.

Otherwise call us today at the same number for an in person appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than two weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

For more information about foot and ankle problems, download our eBook, "No More Foot Pain."

 

 

By Dr. Rion Berg
March 24, 2020
Category: Heel pain
Tags: Untagged

woman walkingAh, spring is in the air. With the great weather and no gym to go to, many people are starting to walk. Walking is great for many reasons. But now it’s particularly important in helping reduce the stress we all feel as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, people who walk at a moderate pace regularly have a lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

Perhaps you walk all the time and it’s no big deal to dive into your kicks and walk a 3-5 miles. But for people who’ve taken it easy all winter or participated in other forms of exercise, increased walking can cause problems with the feet, ankles, and back.

Conditions like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis can flare up and low back pain can occur due to imbalances in the feet. Bunions and neuromas which have been silent all winter can become aggravated.

So how can you counter these problems?

Increase Distance Gradually

Your best friend might want to walk a 5K, but if you’ve been swimming or riding a bike as your main form of exercise, walking that far could be problematic. You’re best off increasing your distance gradually – experts suggest no more than 10% a week. Not sure where to start? Think about the farthest you walked last summer and then back off by 25% before increasing by 10%. Always ask your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Check Your Shoes for Wear and Buy New If Necessary

Your shoes are your best protection when it comes to cushioning your feet and preventing foot and ankle problems.

First, take your tennis shoes and flip them over. Is any part of your sole more worn down more than the others? If so, you need a new pair of shoes.

When you look for new shoes comfort and support are the two most important factors. How will you know? You can only tell by trying and testing. Since the pandemic is going full force you’ll likely only be able to order online. Zappos is an excellent choice because returns are so easy. Once you get your shoes, test them for support. Here’s my video for how to do that.

Add a Pair of Over-the-Counter Inserts

Many of us need more support than any built-in shoe insert will provide. That’s because a large percentage of us are either pronators (roll our feet inwards) or supinators (roll our feet outwards). An over-the-counter insert can help provide a little bit of support in this area. So go ahead and buy some. They’re relatively inexpensive and will last about 6 months with regular wear. I recommend Powersteps.

Get Your Orthotics Checked

You may already have a pair of orthotics if you have flat feet, pronate, or you’ve had plantar fasciitis. But when was the last time you had them checked? Although they should last 5-7 years that doesn’t mean they still work for you. It’s a good idea to have them checked annually, but particularly if your weight has changed, they feel a bit uncomfortable, or you notice uneven wear on your shoes.

Do Dynamic Warm-ups

A special kind of warm-up called "dynamic warm-ups" are great for getting your body ready to walk and prevent foot and ankle problems.  Make these warm-ups part of your daily walking ritual.

Try Yoga to Improve Foot and Ankle Strength and Flexibility

Want to help your feet and ankles even more? Check out these yoga exercises for your lower extremities. Yoga can also build awareness of how you’re walking. Currently our local Lake City yoga studio, Two Dog Yoga is offering classes on Zoom.

Having pain in your feet? If you're reading this during the coronavirus outbreak, leave a message at 206-368-7000 and we'll return your call and set up a telemedicine appoinment. 

Otherwise Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an in person appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

For more information about foot and ankle problems, download our eBook, "No More Foot Pain".

In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly.  You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

Follow Dr. Berg on FacebookTwitterand Pinterest.

man wearing snorkelAs we hunker down during this time to avoid getting exposed to COVID-19 it's time to figure out how to stay engaged and entertained at home. Yes, you can always stream videos on Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu or rent videos from your local video store in Seattle's northend (Reckless Video and Scarecrow Video). But after awhile, it sure would be nice to do something other than watch the boob tube.

After culling the internet and recalling from my childhood some of the things I used to do with my family and friends to have fun, I've come up with the following top 10 ideas.

Idea One - Board Games

Board games, board games, and did I mention board games! One of my old time favorites is Monopoly. "Do not pass go, do not collect $200." But I also love a great game of Scrabble and now there's Bananagrams for a fast paced word game, Boggle, and many others.

Some other great options are Pictionary, Cranium (invented by a Seattleite), Sequence, Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza.

Idea Two - Plays

Much to the chagrin of some of my family members I love to act goofy. Note the photo of me in this blog. And what better way to display my goofiness then to put on a play with my family members. Of course I would play the wackiest role and let the others play the straight men. Using a flip chart or just a big piece of paper tacked to the wall, brainstorm ideas about possible characters and situations. Gather up props from around the house. Get your phone ready to record for a hilarious play back and then let the creative juices fly!

Once you're done, post the video on Facebook.

Idea Three - Table Topics

I got this idea from Toastmasters, the public speaking organization. Table topics are 1-2 minute speeches given extemporaneously and are often based on a particular theme. One person is the table topics master and everyone else gets the chance to speak when called on. The table topics master comes up with questions geared for the audience. For ideas about questions, check out 365 table topic questions.

Idea Four - Cooking Show

Does your family love to cook? Why not pretend you have your own cooking show and film it. Get everyone involved from kids to adults. You can even challenge another family to do the same, then upload your shows on Facebook and see which one gets the most Likes.

Idea Five- Music Night and Karaoke

Many of you know I love to sing and play my guitar. Michele plays the harp. We had a grand old time on our recent trip to the San Juan's playing together. Even if you don't play an instrument, you can always karaoke using Playstation or your Wii.  Break out your best or worst singing voice.

Idea Six - Read A Great Book Aloud

You may not have stocked up on books before the libraries closed but you can still download them from the Seattle Public Library and off of an app called Libby. Of course you can read alone for your own pleasure or read out loud with your family. So this is geared to the whole family try rereading one of the Harry Potter books or an oldie but goodie, The Hobbit. Pass the book around and get the whole family involved.

Idea Seven - Visit a Museum--Virtually

Now you can tour some of the best museums and artworks in the world virtually using the Google Arts and Culture site. Check out an up close and person view of Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night where you can actually see his brushstrokes. Or experience 360° videos to 3D printed sculpture to amazing historical sites. Visit Arjuna's Penance in Mahabalipuram in New Delhi, India to see the elephants and ancient peoples carved into a stone wall.

Idea Eight - Prepare Your Vegetable Garden Bed

Sugar or snap peas can be planted in your garden right now, but you can also prepare your soil for later spring and early summer planting. Here's how to do it according to Swanson's Nursery. After choosing a proper site that gets plenty of sun, add at least 2-3 inches of compost to your existing garden soil and dig it in down to 6 inches. If you are starting with a brand new raised bed, fill it with a mix of 75% potting soil and 25% compost. Add fertilizer before you start planting to give your vegetables the nutrition they require.

Idea Nine - Make a Collage

Do you have a bunch of old magazines lying around? If you do, you have most of the necessary ingredients for a making a collage. All you need is some poster board or large sheets of paper and some glue and you can go to town. Go through your magazines and pick out photos, words, or other items that you're drawn to. Raid your gift wrap box and pull out scraps of paper you may want to incorporate into your design. Torn scraps of paper can often look fantastic on a black background. Arrange them any way you like and glue down on your board.

Idea Ten - Have A Picnic in Your Living Room

It's too early for an outdoor picnic but it's not too early for an indoor one. Since it's a picnic, choose a menu based on what you would serve if it was a warm, sunny day in Seattle. Think potato salad, 3 bean salad, hamburgers, hotdogs, BBQ chicken, and ice cream. Or if you want go more gourmet, look up some recipes on line at Bon Appetit, Epicurious, or Allrecipes. Be sure to include a beautiful blanket for everyone to sit on. Enjoy!

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

For more information about foot and ankle problems, download our eBook, "No More Foot Pain".

In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly.  You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

Follow Dr. Berg on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.