Just about anyone who feels they need some type of additional support for walking or running is a good candidate for orthotics, especially if you are seeking immediate pain relief or looking to prevent a wide variety of common foot problems.

Orthotics can help restore your ability to walk, run, and jump by reducing pain and swelling while also increasing the stability of unstable joints and providing better arch support. They can also ease problems in other parts of the body, such as the back and hips

These orthopedic devices are made of lightweight materials that range in complexity from simple shoe inserts bought over-the-counter to custom-made devices that require impressions, casting, and computer technology to create.

A plaster mold of a patient's foot to be used for the creation of a custom orthotic.
A plaster mold of a patient’s foot to be used for the creation of a custom orthotic.

Over-the-counter orthotics can serve the needs of some people adequately, but in many cases a custom-made orthotic is required for optimal pain relief. It’s important to remember that over-the-counter orthotics are made for a very general foot type while a custom orthotic is specifically made to match the contours of your feet precisely and designed for the way you move.

The quality and durability of the materials, coupled with the custom molding process, contributes to a higher price tag for custom orthotics, but their durability and comfort often outweigh the cost. Like most things in life, when purchasing orthotics, you get what you pay for.

Unlike its over-the-counter cohort, a custom-made orthotic can only be manufactured after a podiatrist has conducted a complete evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs, so the orthotic can accommodate your unique foot structure and pathology.

At Delray Beach Podiatry, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, uses biomechanical analysis and joint movement testing to assess whether or not a patient is in need of a custom-made orthotic.

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While ACL injuries captured the most headlines during the NFL preseason, it’s important to remember that the area just south of the knee can be just as vulnerable. The feet and ankles were under heavy fire during the 2015 preseason as numerous players went down with Achilles tendon injuries and ankle fractures. In some cases, players got lucky and will have the opportunity to return at some point during the upcoming season. For a handful of others, however, the diagnosis was far more grim.

Here are the five worst foot and ankle injuries of the preseason:

WR Kevin White (Chicago Bears)

White underwent surgery on his left shin in August to repair a stress fracture after rest and therapy had failed to cure a nagging shin pain that initially surfaced during Chicago’s organized team activities in June.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 draft, White, who is currently on the physically unable to perform list, will reportedly be sidelined for a minimum of six games and could end up missing the entire season. According to Bears general manager Ryan Pace, the 22-year-old receiver had a rod inserted into his tibia to stabilize the injury.

“You guys can look; there are a lot of NFL players with that,” Pace told ESPN. “We’ve got one guy on our team that has that right now [Marc Mariani]. So it just stabilizes it and it ensures that you’re good. You don’t have to worry about it again.”

DT Arthur Jones (Indianapolis Colts)

Jones underwent surgery on Friday to repair torn ligaments in his ankle that he sustained on Aug. 29 in a preseason game at St. Louis. The 29-year-old defensive end has been placed on the team’s injured reserve list and will miss the entire 2015 season. The injury comes as a considerable blow to the Colts, as a fully healthy Jones was expected to play a pivotal role in the team’s run defense.

“You don’t want to see anybody get hurt, especially a guy that missed some time a year ago,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano told the IndyStar. “It gets frustrating for players, for the coaches. You got one of your key cogs in your defense. You’ve got to have him out there. We’ll deal with it as it comes.”

The Colts signed Jones to a five-year, $33 million contract in 2014 in an attempt for him to be their run-stopper, but has played in only nine games with the franchise because of injuries.

OT Menelik Watson (Oakland Raiders)

The Raiders received some unfortunate news on the eve of their 2015 campaign when it was announced that Watson would miss the entire upcoming season after rupturing his Achilles tendon during a 30-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

“He was having a great camp for us and really playing well,” Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio told the SFGate. “Good young man. He’ll bounce back, but big setback.”

A second-round pick (42nd overall) of the Raiders in the 2013 NFL Draft, Watson started nine games last year and was projected to the be Week 1 starter at right tackle in Oakland this year.

“I will be back stronger than ever that’s a promise. Main thing is supporting the team right now,” Watson wrote on Twitter. “To the Raider Nation I love you so much. There is NO I mean NO fanbase like ours. Thank you for all the support.”

While it’s more than likely that Watson will return to the field at some point next season, there’s no guarantee that he will be able to play at the same level he once did. Once an Achilles tendon ruptures, it is usually never back to 100 percent again. In a recent medical study, it was discovered that 36% of NFL or NBA players sustaining an Achilles tendon rupture never return to pro sports, and those who do usually take about a year before they are playing competitively. Additionally, players who do return typically have a decrease in their power of about 50% and only play for an average of 3-4 more seasons.

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Labor Day weekend is upon us!

The holiday marks the unofficial end of summer, giving South Floridians one last chance to head outdoors and hit the beach before we all start to pretending that 70 degrees is far too chilly to go for a swim. Whether you’re catching some waves or heading to a party in the park, we’re here to make sure that your feet survive the weekend!

Here are several tips to keep your feet out of harm’s way:

Pack the Sunscreen

If you’re going to be in the sun for hours on end, be sure to apply sunscreen to your exposed skin, including your feet. It’s not uncommon for people to forget their feet when applying sunscreen, leading to painful sunburns that leave you wearing sandals to work the following week. It is important to re-apply sunscreen every few hours and to let it sink in before getting wet.

Avoid Going Barefoot

While going barefoot at the beach is alright — I mean, who wants to be the person playing volleyball in socks and sandals? — it’s important to protect your feet the moment you leave the comfort of the sand. The same goes for those attending picnics in backyards and local parks as rocks, hidden debris and other potential hazards can be hiding in the grass and pose a danger to exposed feet.

Prevent Ankle Sprains

Whether you’re playing volleyball or just going for a walk along the shore, ankle sprains are a common injury threat for beachgoers. This is largely due to the fact that your feet have to permanently adjust to an ever-changing surface. There’s no exact way to prevent an unfortunate ankle sprain at the beach, so just remember to take things easy while being active on sand.

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The Oakland Raiders received some unfortunate news on the eve of their 2015 campaign when it was announced that starting right tackle Menelik Watson would miss the entire upcoming season after rupturing his Achilles tendon during a 30-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

“He was having a great camp for us and really playing well,” Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio told the SFGate. “Good young man. He’ll bounce back, but big setback.”

A second-round pick (42nd overall) of the Raiders in the 2013 NFL Draft, Watson started nine games last year and was projected to the be Week 1 starter at right tackle in Oakland this year.

“I will be back stronger than ever that’s a promise. Main thing is supporting the team right now,” Watson wrote on Twitter. “To the Raider Nation I love you so much. There is NO I mean NO fanbase like ours. Thank you for all the support.”

While it’s more than likely that Watson will return to the field at some point next season, there’s no guarantee that he will be able to play at the same level he once did. Once an Achilles tendon ruptures, it is usually never back to 100 percent again. In a recent medical study, it was discovered that 36% of NFL or NBA players sustaining an Achilles tendon rupture never return to pro sports, and those who do usually take about a year before they are playing competitively. Additionally, players who do return typically have a decrease in their power of about 50% and only play for an average of 3-4 more seasons.

So what lies ahead for Watson in his road back to the gridiron?

Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, has dealt with numerous Achilles-related injuries throughout his lengthy tenure in medicine and has offered some insight into what Watson’s recovery process may be like.

“A lot depends on where the tear is,” said Dr. Goldbaum, whose main office is located in Delray Beach, Florida. “Did it come off the bone? Did it go a few centimeters above the bone? Was it a complete rupture? Was it a partial rupture?

“In young, healthy athletes, the tendency to heal from surgical procedures is the best there is for any human body. The post-operative care is critical. The physical therapy is critical. But a healthy return is very possible.”

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Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk is on schedule in his rehab from ankle surgery, general manger Ken Holland told MLive on Tuesday.

Datsyuk, 37, had surgery to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle on June 26 and will be re-evaluated in mid-September by Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed the procedure in Charlotte, N.C.

“Right now, all the news I’m getting is positive,” said Holland. “I think he’s on schedule. The doctor told us it was a minimum of three months to heal. Does he get the green light to skate lightly or will he be held back for a period of time?”

In an interview on Russian television last month, Datsyuk said it might be “four or five months” after surgery before he returns to form, meaning he expects to make his 2015-16 debut in either in late October or November or at the earliest.

Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a board certified podiatrist with over 30 years of experience, has treated numerous tendon-related injuries during his lengthy tenure in medicine and speculates that Datsyuk’s estimated recovery time indicates that he likely suffered a peroneal tendon injury.

A peroneal tendon rupture is a complete tear in one of the two peroneal tendons on the outside of the ankle. These tendons attach two muscles (peroneus longus and peroneus brevis) to the bones of the ankle. These tendons lie in a groove on the side of the ankle and are injured most often injured while competing in multi-directional sports that require sudden, explosive muscle contractions.

“When he’s skating, it’s multi-directional,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “He’s not just going straight; he’s frequently stopping and turning which puts a lot of stress on the tendon, especially on the insertion point.”

Datsyuk, who notched 26 goals and 65 points in 63 regular-season games, was bothered by the ankle injury late last season and missed eight of the Red Wings final 14 games. And although it might be an unpopular opinion in today’s play-through-the-pain culture, Dr. Goldbaum speculates that Datsyuk’s attempt to tough it out likely only served to exacerbate the issue.

“When you injury something, you’ve got to get off of it and you’ve got to let it rest,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “He played through it. Sometimes you can, but even when it’s wrapped, if it’s that bad of an injury you have to rest.”

In terms of a likely recovery process, Dr. Goldbaum notes that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is being used more frequently for its effectiveness in the treatment of injuries. PRP is plasma that contains more platelets than what is typically found in blood. These platelets contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries. This process has become especially popular in recent years with famous athletes like Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal using PRP to treat their injuries.

“We take the patients blood and we spin it,” Dr. Goldbaum said of the PRP process. “We take out the plasma part, which has all of the growth factors, so we can get it to heal faster. I’m not sure if they used that with (Datsyuk), but that’s a big deal today.”

While an exact diagnosis of Datsyuk’s injury remains unknown, a peroneal tendon rupture would make senses given what we do known and, if he has undergone PRP treatment, a speedy return is more possible.

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

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