Ask Dr. LaVigna


Dr. Ron LaVigna is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine with over 40 years of experience

Athletes

I’m an athlete (runner, cyclist, tennis) and I am interested in preventing foot pain. I know there are a lot of different options when I am looking for insoles to put in my shoes. Is there a huge difference between them?

There is a huge range of insoles that are on the market. Some are marketed simply as an option to make your shoes feel more comfortable or eliminate foot odor whereas others make claims of doing everything from aligning your spine to giving you a foot massage with every step.

As a serious athlete, you’ll want to look for orthotic inserts that give you:

  • Strong support no matter what you’re doing.
  • Running and cycling require a firm, sturdy foundation and while you’re playing tennis, with its quick lateral motions, you’ll want something that stabilizes your heel so that your movements are quick and sharp.

I play soccer about two to three times a week. I’ve been having a lot of knee pain recently. Could it relate to the type of cleats I’ve been wearing?

It’s possible that your cleats are contributing to your foot pain, but it’s important to look at other things before zeroing in on your cleats.

Ask yourself the following Questions:

  • Do you have existing injuries in your knees that could be exacerbated by your continued soccer schedule?
  • Are your current set of cleats ill-fitting?
  • Are they stretched out and worn?

If you answered Yes then you might need a new pair of cleats.  When looking for cleats make sure you find a pair that are really firm and hug your foot properly. All the quick motions you make during a soccer game – sudden turns, quick stops and snaps of your foot and leg – really need a firm sturdy sole.

Paid your cleats with a pair of Orthera Active Orthotics for maximum control and stability.

My wife and I are retired, but we’ve always been pretty active. Lately my wife has been having less energy and it has been harder to get her to want to go jogging with me. Do you think that orthotics could give her more energy?

If she’s experiencing foot pain, she probably isn’t going to want to go on daily jogs anymore. Ask her if her feet or back are bothering her or if she feels pain during or after the jogs. If she’s always had an active lifestyle, it could be pain that’s causing her to stay off her feet. Orthotics can help alleviate some of the pain she might be feeling. Pain can be taxing. With less pain, she might experience a boost in energy. If they make her jog a little more comfortable, it’s likely that she’ll be more motivated to get out there right alongside you.

I see that Orthera’s site mentions biomechanics a lot. I’m still not sure I understand what biomechanics is and how it relates to my feet. Can you please explain it further?

Biomechanics sounds like something straight out of science fiction, but in reality, it’s just the study of your body (and other biological systems) by looking at it like a mechanical system (like a machine). By paying close attention to things like gait, strain, force and physiology together, you can look at your foot as a type of machine filled with various connecting parts. Think of your bones, muscles and tendons as cogs, gears and wires, and you can get a better idea of what biomechanics is. Fields like sports medicine, kinesiology and more are all look at the human body in the same way.

Back Pain

My wife tells me that I have lousy posture when I’m at work. She says if I don’t improve it, I’m going to look like a “C” in my old age. My Dr. tells me there’s nothing wrong with my shoulders and spine. Can orthotics help me stand up straighter?

Yes, orthotic inserts could help your posture by providing your foundation with adequate support. But you should also listen to your wife.

A 2004 University of California Berkley study found that occupations that involved excessive stooping and squatting had dire consequences on long-term posture. They found that work requiring stooped postures is strongly associated with high instances of lower back disorders.

By properly distributing weight and aligning the inner workings of your feet, orthotic inserts could relieve your body’s natural tendencies to slouch, which can cause your feet to compensate by flattening your arches and creating uncomfortable pressure.

Foot Pain

I work as a bank teller and my job requires me to be on my feet all day and wear heels. My feet have really been hurting me after work lately. Can inserts make my heels more comfortable?

For work or play, people love heels. Not only do they make your legs look great, they’re an easy way to be fashion forward even if you’re under a strict dress code. But no matter how great they look, high heels rarely feel great. Ball of foot pain, calluses and more can often pop up after hours on your feet. Most commonly, high heels cause the forefoot to collapse, meaning you’ll feel a searing, burning pain in the front of your foot. Orthotics can help your foot by more properly distributing your body weight and could help relieve the fatigue and achiness that sometimes come from heels. Think they’ll take away that special something from your sexiest heels? Don’t worry, most orthotics are so unobtrusive that you won’t even see them when they’re inside your shoes.

I do a lot of hiking and walking with my dog. Lately I’ve been getting painful blisters. What’s causing them?

The most common cause of blisters is a shoe that doesn’t fit properly—which is why you probably haven’t noticed any blisters on your dog’s feet. Many people think that they’re the result of a shoe that’s too tight, but the truth is that a loose shoe is much more likely to cause blistering. In too-large shoes, your foot has too much room to move around, meaning various parts of it (like your heel or toes) rub against the inside of your shoe repeatedly.

Using an orthotic can help stabilize your foot inside your shoe, keeping your heels and toes from moving around and rubbing the inside of your shoes. If you commonly get blisters on the bottom of your foot, you could benefit the most from an insert that not only supports your foot, but also wicks away moisture. Avoid friction inside your shoes and you’ll avoid most blisters.

I’m a type 1 diabetic. My husband recently recommended that I try orthotics for my foot pain. Do you think they can help?

One of the symptoms of diabetes is poor circulation and nerve damage in the feet, so those things can be triggers for foot pain. The American Diabetes Association suggests that you look for footwear that fits well and is made of natural materials so that they can breathe. They also recommend that you look for shoes that support your foot firmly. If your shoes don’t provide you with enough support, look for an orthotic insert that will. It’s important to wear shoes at all times, and make sure that you pay attention to your feet now that you’re experiencing foot pain and have type 1 diabetes. Consult your doctor if you have any questions or your foot pain is more than just a minor issue.

It seems like there are like a million different kinds of socks out there. I was wondering if the types of socks I wear can actually cause foot pain?

It’s true that the wrong kind of socks can cause discomfort. Socks with thick, raised seams can rub your feet if your shoes are too tight, giving you blisters or hot spots on your feet. If your socks aren’t fitting properly and bunching inside your shoes, that could cause some pain as well. Make sure that you’re wearing appropriate socks for your various activities. You wouldn’t wear thick wool hiking socks with your dress shoes just like you wouldn’t wear thin dress socks to play basketball. Wearing appropriate-fitting socks and shoes should help alleviate any pain you’re feeling, though it’s possible that your foot pain may be due to something other than socks. I recommend seeing a podiatrist to find out.

I’ve been working on construction sites for the last eight or nine years. I’ve been having some serious foot pain recently and I think it’s time to try an orthotic. Is there a big difference between the orthotics?

There is an orthotic designed for each type of shoe you might have. If you’re on a construction site, you won’t want to get the orthotics that is designed to fit in dress shoes. The orthotics designed for athletic shoes would be a better choice for you since you’re on your feet more and you need a shoe with full foot support. With a stabilized heel cup and firm support, you’ll have a more secure foundation than with a dress orthotic, which doesn’t run the entire length of your shoe.

I’ve been suffering from bunion pain. Do you have any advice for me that can help relieve some of my pain?

Bunion pain is very common. The easiest way to alleviate some of your pain is to make sure that you’re wearing comfortable shoes. Women with bunions should avoid high-heeled shoes. And whether you’re male or female, make sure that every shoe you wear has enough room in the toe for your feet. Look for wide-width shoes, too. Orthotics can help bunion pain by providing firm support to your arches, since bunions affect how your foot distributes your body weight. Pain from your bunions mainly comes from how your shoes fit, so do your best to find shoes that are cozy. If an orthotic makes them even more comfortable, then you’ve got a great one-two solution to your foot pain.

I just got diagnosed with neuroma. I’m in a lot of pain. I’m looking for anything that can give me relief and I came across your site. Can orthotics give me any relief for my pain?

Sorry to hear about the neuroma! I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that neuroma can be one of the most painful things to have to handle when it comes to your feet. Biomechanical abnormalities like high arches, over pronation and excessive bending in your toes can combine with nerve so that each step you take causes a shooting pain through your legs and feet. Orthotics can relieve some of your pain by correcting the various imbalances and abnormalities in your foot. Arch support as well as a more even weight distribution can alleviate some of your foot pain. Make sure to avoid narrow shoes or high heels altogether – they can really exacerbate any pain you feel from your neuroma.

I’m 6 months pregnant with my second baby. I have a toddler that I have to chase around as well. My feet are starting to get swollen and I feel like my balance is a bit off. Can orthotics help my balance and pain?

Congratulations on your second baby! And to answer your question, yes, orthotics can help you out with your balance. When you’re pregnant, your body goes through a number of changes, some obvious and others not as detectable. Your foot might just look swollen, but the process of carrying a baby changes the distribution of weight in your body and can affect your legs and knees as well as your feet. Common foot problems during pregnancy include overpronation, which flattens the arch of your foot and edema, which causes your feet to swell. Orthotics can support your arches and make sure every step you take is supported, so you’ll not only relieve foot pain but also prevent back pain.

I have hammertoes. Do you have any treatment advice for me that could make my feet feel more comfortable?

If you have a rigid hammertoe (one that doesn’t bend at the joint) you’re probably experiencing a lot of pain. Crests and toe splints might be good idea for you, but the most important thing to do is to get a properly fitting pair of shoes. Avoid anything with a narrow toe box, it’ll just make matters worse. Forefoot shields and toecaps are a better option if you have a flexible hammertoe. But either way, the ball of your foot is handling a lot more stress than it should, which is probably why you’re feeling pain. If your problem gets worse and not better, make sure to see a doctor.

I have been having sharp pains in my left foot. I haven’t been to a podiatrist yet but I’ve been reading a bit about plantar fasciitis. Is there a way I can tell if this is the cause of my pain?

While there isn’t a surefire way to pinpoint your pain as plantar fasciitis without visiting a professional, common symptoms include a stabbing pain during the first few steps you take in the morning or after a long period of sitting. Plantar pain is sharp and centralized in the heel of your foot. Pinched nerves and stress fractures can have similar symptoms, so to make sure you’re dealing with plantar pain, pay a visit to your doctor. If you’re diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, an orthotic insert can alleviate some of the pain you feel by more evenly distributing pressure throughout your foot.

Running/Walking

I’m a long distance runner and am currently training for my first marathon. I normally run between five and ten miles every day. I’m worried that this could be causing long term damage to my feet. Can orthotics help?

As you know, marathon training is a long process. Over time it can not only take a toll on you physically, but mentally, too. The last thing you want to interfere with your workouts, conditioning and more is an injury. While I can’t promise that orthotics will enable you to complete the marathon (that’s up to you!), orthotics can help prevent foot injuries from occurring or getting worse.

Orthotics can provide you with extra cushioning and stability, which can cut down on overpronation. In other words, orthotic inserts can keep your heel from rolling too far inward. Good luck with your first marathon!

I do a lot of hiking and walking with my dog. Lately I’ve been getting painful blisters. What’s causing them?

The most common cause of blisters is a shoe that doesn’t fit properly—which is why you probably haven’t noticed any blisters on your dog’s feet. Many people think that they’re the result of a shoe that’s too tight, but the truth is that a loose shoe is much more likely to cause blistering. In too-large shoes, your foot has too much room to move around, meaning various parts of it (like your heel or toes) rub against the inside of your shoe repeatedly.

Using an orthotic can help stabilize your foot inside your shoe, keeping your heels and toes from moving around and rubbing the inside of your shoes. If you commonly get blisters on the bottom of your foot, you could benefit the most from an insert that not only supports your foot, but also wicks away moisture. Avoid friction inside your shoes and you’ll avoid most blisters.

Hey, I’m on the track team at my school. I was wondering if orthotics could actually help me get a faster time on the 500 meter. 

An orthotic can do things that help you get to your goal, like properly align your foot, leg and spine or absorb the shock you take with every step, which can get you closer to that ideal posture and position. Orthotic inserts can also help prevent injury. So while we won’t make any promises when it comes to your performance, we will say that they won’t slow you down, and they’ll help you from hurting yourself, which means you’ll get more practice time in to get your time down.

Shoes/Boots/Heels

I work as a bank teller and my job requires me to be on my feet all day and wear heels. My feet have really been hurting me after work lately. Can inserts make my heels more comfortable?

For work or play, people love heels. Not only do they make your legs look great, they’re an easy way to be fashion forward even if you’re under a strict dress code. But no matter how great they look, high heels rarely feel great. Ball of foot pain, calluses and more can often pop up after hours on your feet. Most commonly, high heels cause the forefoot to collapse, meaning you’ll feel a searing, burning pain in the front of your foot. Orthotics can help your foot by more properly distributing your body weight and could help relieve the fatigue and achiness that sometimes come from heels. Think they’ll take away that special something from your sexiest heels? Don’t worry, most orthotics are so unobtrusive that you won’t even see them when they’re inside your shoes.

It seems like there are like a million different kinds of socks out there. I was wondering if the types of socks I wear can actually cause foot pain?

It’s true that the wrong kind of socks can cause discomfort. Socks with thick, raised seams can rub your feet if your shoes are too tight, giving you blisters or hot spots on your feet. If your socks aren’t fitting properly and bunching inside your shoes, that could cause some pain as well. Make sure that you’re wearing appropriate socks for your various activities. You wouldn’t wear thick wool hiking socks with your dress shoes just like you wouldn’t wear thin dress socks to play basketball. Wearing appropriate-fitting socks and shoes should help alleviate any pain you’re feeling, though it’s possible that your foot pain may be due to something other than socks. I recommend seeing a podiatrist to find out.

 

PLEASE NOTE: The foregoing FAQs are intended to be used for educational purposes only and not any claim about a specific product. They are also not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Orthera is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this site does not create a doctor/patient relationship. The information is provided as-is without any representation or warranty.