The Foot Blog
Posts for category: Shoes
Thanks to all who contributed shoes during our shoe drive for Soles4Souls. Dr. Waskin and Stephanie Hathaway of Soles4Souls were on CBS-6’s Virginia This Morning to talk about how shoes are helping to wear out poverty around the world.
Bill Bevins: At Soles4Souls, they believe everyone around the world deserves a good pair of shoes. This is a global initiative that has local events planned right here in Richmond.
Andrea: The Foot & Ankle Center has teamed up with Soles4Souls and is helping them with their campaign. Joining us today is Dr. Mitchell Waskin of The Foot & Ankle Center, along with Stephanie Hathaway, the regional donations center manager at Soles4Souls. Good morning!
Dr. Waskin and Stephanie: Good Morning!
Andrea: So during the holidays, we all focus on giving and giving back. But the giving isn’t done, so tell us about the importance of this program, and how we can get involved.
Stephanie: Soles4Souls is a global, nonprofit social enterprise. We are trying to alleviate poverty and we do that through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. We will create job opportunities with those shoes, and we’ll also provide relief. So we really rely on nonprofit partnerships in the U.S. and abroad to get the shoes to those people, and also on partners that will help us collect those shoes to get to them.
Bill: Dr. Waskin, we had a chance to talk before we came on, and in America, shoes are sort of a fashion thing, or maybe something we use for our favorite sport. But shoes are a basic — even a health issue in poor countries all over the world, and a lot of people all over the world still don’t have shoes.
Dr. Waskin: Yes, in fact, we talked about a book you read that talked about people who were getting hookworm because they didn’t have shoes, and because of that they couldn’t work and they had lots of health issues. We do take it for granted that we have shoes — we have an excess of shoes in this country, but a lot of people don’t. What I really love about the Soles4Souls organization is their entrepreneurial aspect: not only do they provide shoes at no cost to people who are in need of them, they also help people start businesses where they provide shoes and clothing to individuals in need. It’s kind of like the old quote where if you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day, but if you teach him how to fish he’ll eat for a lifetime. That’s what I really liked about it, and at The Foot & Ankle Center, we’re always looking for opportunities to give back, and we saw this organization and thought it was a good opportunity.
Andrea: This is a great opportunity also to almost be part of a sustainability initiative, where you’re keeping shoes out of landfills, for example. Can you tell us a little about how you get the shoes over to those in need?
Stephanie: Sure. We’ve collected over 35 million pairs of shoes and distributed them since 2006, in 127 countries. We rely on nonprofit NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) on the ground in those countries to get the shoes to them.
Bill: When we’re talking about that many shoes getting to that many people, when the shoes go out, do you get feedback from people helping you distribute these almost immediately of the difference that’s being made?
Stephanie: Yes, we have a travel team as well, where anybody can go on a trip abroad with us, and they can distribute new shoes to people in need in these remote villages where they don’t have access to stores or to marketplaces to buy them. So, every week, we’re in another country distributing these shoes and getting those stories from people. And with the Micro Enterprise program, we can work with our NGO partners to get the stories from the people who are actually selling the shoes. One of our entrepreneurs joined us around 2014, and she had a small house — pretty much a cinderblock room — and since she started selling shoes with us, she now has a plot of land where she built a home and all of her kids are able to go to school. So, it’s really disrupting that cycle of poverty for the families that are receiving these shoes.
Bill: Great stuff. Doctor, I actually saw an episode of M.A.S.H. once when they were talking about how complicated the foot is. And they said a machine is a Tinker Toy compared to everything that has to happen in the foot. So, obviously, shoes are vital. I was looking at some of the things you were describing about shoes that I had no idea. What is a “vamp” in a shoe — because I thought that was Cher singing on the show.
Dr. Waskin: It’s a part of the side of the shoe. There are actually lots of parts of the shoe. But really what’s important in a quality shoe is, you want to look for something that is sturdy. People come into the office and ask what is a good running shoe? And they’ll bring in these shoes that look nice, and they may have pretty colors, but you press on them and they just collapse, there’s no stability. So I always tell them, when you push from the front and the back, the toe should bend a little bit and then stop. You should be able to twist it just a little bit from the back and have that stability. We’re interested here more in function than in fashion in distributing shoes.
Bill: Thank you both very much, and thank you for all you’re doing all over the world. That is fantastic.
A pedorthist is a skilled professional who provides expert shoe fitting and custom foot orthotics or shoe inserts. It's a highly specialized practice — in fact, there are only a few thousand pedorthists in the entire country. At the Foot & Ankle Center, we are fortunate to have an expert pedorthist, right here in our clinic. If you come in for custom orthotics, your feet will be in good hands with our professional pedorthist, Sarah.
Sarah grew up in Florida, but relocated to Richmond in 1992. She started her career in podiatry in 1990. Over the next 16 years, she worked in several podiatry clinics, learning all aspects of foot care. In 2006, she joined the Foot & Ankle Center and managed the clinical services.
Although Sarah found her duties satisfying, she wanted to offer more to her patients as well as her career. While juggling a full time job and her family, she completed the requirements to sit for the State Board exam in Pedorthics. This is a tough exam — more than half of those who take it fail the first time — but Sarah passed the exam on her first attempt! Sarah is now a certified pedorthist on staff at The Foot & Ankle Center.
Sarah offers knowledge, compassion and the drive to always do the best job for our patients, and we are pleased to have her as a part of our patient care team.
If you have a foot injury or deformity, difficult-to-fit feet or a medical condition such as diabetes, a custom pair of orthotics made by Sarah could make a big difference in your overall health and comfort. We encourage you to make an appointment — and see what custom-fit foot orthotics could do for you.
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In a previous blog post on custom orthotics, I discussed the importance of having your orthotics (shoe inserts) custom fitted for your feet by a professional pedorthist. Look for a pedorthist who is certified by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics.
An ABC-certified pedorthist has met rigorous educational requirements and completed a minimum of 1,000 hours of pedorthic patient care. They must also pass an intense examination, testing their knowledge of pedorthic assessment, implementation, practice management, ethics and professionalism.
By choosing an ABC-certified pedorthist, you ensure that your pedorthist is knowledgeable and experienced — and that's important when you consider how much time you'll spend standing and walking on the custom inserts they provide for you.
Choose your orthotics provider carefully. There are many types of places offering orthotics these days, ranging from drug stores and kiosks to podiatry clinics. We are fortunate at The Foot & Ankle Center to have one of the few ABC-certified pedorthists in the area right here in our clinic.
If you need to be fitted with custom orthotics to improve the functionality of your feet as you stand, walk or play sports, or if you have a foot injury or deformity, difficult-to-fit feet or a medical condition such as diabetes, we encourage you to make an appointment — and see what a difference professional, custom-fit orthotics can make in the quality of your life.
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Orthotics (custom-fit inserts you wear in your shoes) can make walking, standing, or even playing sports more comfortable for many people with various types of foot problems. How about you? Could a good pair of orthotics make a difference for you?
Here are a few situations where a high-quality, customized pair of orthotics could potentially make a big difference:
Foot Deformity: If you have bunions, hammertoes, clubfoot or other types of foot deformities, you know how challenging it can be to find shoes that fit right. At the Foot & Ankle Center, we have a staff pedorthist (shoe fitting expert) who provides custom orthotics, shoe modifications and braces to improve foot function, comfort and mobility — even for feet with these types of deformities.
Overuse Injuries: Athletes who participate in high-impact sports, such as running, are often sidelined with injuries that may improve with specialized shoes and insoles. Other conditions can also create overuse problems that custom shoes and insoles might help.
Difficult-to-fit Feet: Maybe you're one of the many people who have feet that are just hard to fit for shoes, such as a wide forefoot but a narrow heel — or your two feet may be two different sizes. Our pedorthist can modify your shoes to give you a better, more comfortable fit.
Medical Conditions: If you have diabetes, you're at higher risk for developing a foot ulceration or infection, which may become severe enough to result in amputation. About one-quarter of diabetics will develop foot problems, so protecting your feet is critical — and properly fitted and correctly constructed shoes and insoles are your best line of defense. Even patients who've had an amputation can be helped — our pedorthist can fit them with customized extra-depth shoes, and fabricate a custom insole with a filler for the missing portion of the foot. Others who may benefit from custom orthotics include people with arthritis, neuromuscular disease or post-polio syndrome.
If you have any of the conditions listed above, properly fitting shoes and orthotics could make a huge difference in your overall health and quality of life. Let our pedorthist create a custom solution for you — request an appointment today.
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One of the most effective ways to treat foot problems without surgery is the use of foot orthotics. Think of a foot orthotic as an arch support that's custom made for your foot, that you can move from shoe to shoe. Orthotics can be made to help accommodate deformities in your foot such as bunions, or to relieve pressure from painful calluses. Orthotics can also be made to control the function of your foot, to help prevent deformities — or to prevent the recurrence of a deformity after you've had surgery to correct it.
Not all orthotics are the same. We've all heard commercials for orthotics you can get from drug stores, or kiosks. If you go into a local department store, you might see one of those machines that you stand on and it provides you with an orthotic that's supposed to be custom for your foot. Well, don't believe everything that you read or see!
Let's take a look at the differences between an orthotic you might get from the drug store or one of those kiosks, versus one that's custom designed for you by an expert. But before we do that, let me show you what we do to get the mold of your foot to create a truly custom orthotic. First, we take a plaster impression of your foot, and then we'll fill this impression with plaster to make a positive model of your foot. On that model, we can mark any pressure lesions you might have, such as calluses, so we can relieve pressure on those. Plus, any deformities you have will show up on the model.
There are a variety of custom orthotics that can be made. For dress shoes, you can have a smaller orthotic made that fits well into even a high-heel shoe. For casual shoes, there's another type of orthotic that can be made, that fits fine into a walking shoe or an everyday shoe. There are also orthotics for sports, including some that are made specifically for running, and there are other types of orthotics made for other types of sports. You can also have an orthotic that's specifically for relieving pressure areas or discomfort. We often use these for our diabetic patients, by taking a device that's completely molded into the shape of the patient's foot, and then placed inside of a shoe.
Orthotics that you see at drug stores or in kiosks are nothing like the custom devices made by our staff. For example, we saw a so-called orthotic for sale at a drug store recently. It was called an orthotic, but it had absolutely no support. It had very little cushioning; and there's really no significant benefit to a device like that. Another device we saw in the drug store, supposedly for a dress shoe, was also called an orthotic, and it was supposed to give good support, but as we examined it, there was no real support. So, there are shoe inserts you can buy off the shelf that may say "orthotic" on them, but in reality, they're nothing like an orthotic that's custom made by an expert at a place like The Foot & Ankle Center.
So, as you can see, there's a difference in quality between store-bought orthotics and custom orthotics. Here at the Foot & Ankle Center, you're going to get a high-quality device that's professionally fitted by a certified pedorthist.