September 25, 2020
A Look at Foot Health with Chiropodist, JD Cowen
Although travelling to far off destinations may not be in the cards, your feet can be your passport to discovery. And from a wellness perspective, just getting outside can boost your mood, reduce stress, and shake off those cobwebs.
Marylene Vestergom, a local freelance writer and marketer, had a conversation with Jeffrey D Cowen, Chiropodist-Foot Specialist at JD Cowen Footcare to explore the importance of foot health an often-overlooked aspect of self-care that can contribute greatly to one’s health.
Marylene has generously contributed this article to the Yonge + St. Clair BIA to spotlight the impacts of footcare as well as how local practices have been responding to the challenges brought about by COVID-19.
Marylene Vestergom, for Yonge + St. Clair: Paying attention to the health of your feet should be a lifetime investment. The average active person takes around 7,500 steps a day. And by age 80, they’ll have walked about 216,262,500 steps or around 177,000 km in their lifetime. That’s equivalent to walking about five times around the Earth.
Jeffrey D Cowen: Your feet are fine-tuned instruments. One of the most overlooked parts of health care is our feet. I try to educate my patients to be more aware of them, by doing some simple checks every so often of toes, toenails, and the bottom of their feet for things like cracked skin or nails that don’t look healthy. And to seek treatment right away. Now more than ever, it’s important to invest in their feet.
MV, Y+S: Are you finding your patients walking more?
JDC: Yes. People need an outlet to keep fit and healthy – mentally and physically, and walking is one of the best remedies. But as we age – gravity is not our friend. Considering the impact our feet endure over our lifetime, it’s not surprising that those over 40 will start experiencing thinning of the fat pads in the heel and ball area. As a preventative measure, I would recommend they don’t walk barefoot on floors, especially if you have dropped arches or a bunion. Your feet have to absorb the pressure coming from the hard floors, and it can lead to more discomfort.
MV, Y+S: What are some instantly actionable tips that people can do to immediately take care of their foot health?
JDC: Here are some quick tips:
+ When buying shoes always have your foot measured. Sizes differ between brands of shoes – make sure to get the right fit. If running or walking shoes are on offer, check out a specialty store like New Balance which offers orthotic friendly options and professional fit service.
+ Shop for shoes at the end of the day when the feet are most swollen and don’t get too caught up in the shoe size — comfort is more important.
+ To prevent irritations such as blisters, avoid cotton socks, as they can trap moisture. Choose moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and spandex. And make sure the sock fits your foot.
+ Moisturize your feet to keep them supple and prevent cracks in the skin.
+ Massage your foot by rolling it over a tennis ball.
MV, Y+S: Let’s talk about your business. How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
JDC: Like many businesses in order to curb the pandemic, we were closed by the Ministry of Health. We re-opened late June, and since that time we’ve been managing a backlog of patients who went without care. This was especially consequential for high-risk patients like those who have diabetes.
MV, Y+S: How has your clinic changed?
JDC: Although I offer virtual podiatry care, it is limited, given much of what I do is hands-on and procedural based. I have however, increased my electronic communication with patients, and I try to provide follow-up care via email or phone.
MV, Y+S: What can your patients expect when they visit you? What are your COVID procedures?
JDC: My clinic is employing all Ministry of Health guidelines in terms of COVID-19 protocols, which include full mask requirements, floor distancing markers, pre-screening before a patient enters the clinic, multiple hand sanitizing stations throughout the clinic, full front desk screen shields to separate the patients from the front desk staff. Most importantly, I am only seeing two patients per hour in an effort to maintain full distancing between patients. So, I’m seeing half the number of patients per hour; subsequently, each treatment room and the waiting room is fully cleaned/wiped down in between each and every patient with anti-COVID / anti-viral disinfectants.
MV, Y+S: How have your patients been dealing with COVID-19?
JDC: My patients are certainly having a difficult time with home isolation and there is an increased struggle with mental health issues. I spend extra time with each patient to just talk with them about how they are managing and I often ask patients to email me from time-to-time, just to check in. It’s essential to keep the lines of communication open.
MV, Y+S: How long have you been in the Y&S area?
JDC: I’ve been in this area for 12 years now, and I’m looking to move my residence to the Y+S neighbourhood based on my comfort and sense of community I feel here.
MV, Y+S: What makes this neighbourhood special?
JDC: The old neighbourhood ‘old Toronto’ feel that pervades each small hub of streets, as well as, the warmth of the people that live here. It’s a slower, down to earth feel here. It’s been heartbreaking to see many businesses have been suffering. That’s why it’s great to see the Yonge + St. Clair community supporting small businesses in the area. We are open for business.
MV, Y+S: Anything else you’d like to say to the community?
JDC: It’s important we don’t take our feet for granted. The sole of the foot contains millions of nerve endings that help to transmit information to our brain on how to balance and react to our surroundings. So, addressing any underlying foot issues helps us age more gracefully. Imbalances are common, and when you add any injuries — even a blister — pain changes the way you move. Your feet are the blueprint to your well-being. If you lose mobility, your health and quality of life will be impacted. So, take care of your feet.