Foot Health and Warm Weather Recreation
When summer comes, it's time for outdoor activities. Whether you enjoy hiking and backpacking, beach and water sports, or tennis, baseball or softball, it's important to take care of your feet.
Learn about how to choose footwear and keep your feet healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.
Protect and take care of your feet, whether at the beach, the lake or the pool.
How to protect your feet from the demands of these popular sports.
September is Healthy Aging Month
Join IPFH in Supporting Healthy Aging Month and ICAA’s Active Aging Week
IPFH recognizes the importance of Healthy Aging month and the International Council on Active Aging's Active Aging Week, both in September. Be aware that healthy feet will help you stay active at every age. For optimal foot health, follow these tips and view videos on this website.
Healthy Aging Month
Healthy Aging Month is an annual observance to help focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. The main objective is to encourage local Healthy Aging events that promote taking personal responsibility for one's health... physical, social, mental and financial health. Find out more by clicking here.
International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)’s Active Aging Week
September 23 – 29, 2012
During the last week of September, in seniors centers and retirement communities, parks and health clubs, nature preserves and dance halls, there will be many opportunities to choose an active life. These include healthy lifestyle presentations for diabetes, arthritis, and other conditions; nutrition and lifestyles presentations; brain fitness presentations; group exercise and strength training; and lots of other opportunities to get active and healthy.
IPFH is a partner of ICAA.
Click here to learn more about Active Aging Week activities and scheduled events.
Click here to go to ICAA’s web site and find resources on how to create an Active Aging Week Event.
In this section, you will find the first comprehensive study of foot health in the United States and an updated study which were sponsored by IPFH and conducted by the NPD Group, a respected market-research firm. We will be posting other surveys and studies in the future.
In this section, you will find white papers that explain the theory and practice of preventive foot health, and why such an approach is critical now. In addition, the original hypothesis that inspired the concept of skin / soft tissue management is detailed. More white papers will be posted in the future.
Educational Partner Articles
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Health Care Professionals
Welcome to the Professionals section of our site. In this section, IPFH provides detailed articles on the rationale for Preventive Foot Health: What it Means for Patients; key concepts related to preventive foot health, including skin/soft tissue management; and an integrated approach to selecting shoes and padded socks that fit and other articles related to the foot and its vital role in mobility and function.
This website also features a Resources section that contains abstracts and full-text versions of the peer-reviewed studies that provided impetus for the founding of IPFH, results of the 2009 and 2012 IPFH/NPD foot health surveys, IPFH white papers, a glossary of foot-related terms and other foot-related research.
Educational Video Gallery
In this section, you will find videos on all aspects of preventive foot health and on specific foot conditions. Use the Filter by Category section to see certain types of videos, such as those related to preventive foot health, or select All to see the entire gallery.
Thank you for contacting us. Your comments are being reviewed by our preventive foot health experts and you will receive a response shortly.
Ask The Experts
This is the Ask The Experts section. Click here for our Disclaimer.
Scientific Advisory Board
IPFH in Action
Our website it currently being updated. Articles in this section are coming soon. Please check back.
IPFH in the News
Our website it currently being updated. Articles in this section are coming soon. Please check back.
- James L. Throneburg, Founder
- J. Lynn Thorneburg, President
- Robert P. Thompson, Executive Director
- Terrence P. Sheehan, MD
Latest Press Releases
- James L. Throneburg, Founder (Download jpg)
- J. Lynn Thorneburg, President (Download jpg)
- Robert P. Thompson, Executive Director (Download jpg)
- Terrence P. Sheehan, MD (Download jpg)
To learn more about IPFH and/or arrange interviews, please contact:
Institute for Preventive Foot Health
Welcome to the Media section of our site. Here you will find the IPFH press kit and press releases, as well as links to news related to feet. To learn more about IPFH and/or arrange interviews, please contact:
Institute for Preventive Foot Health
Institute for Preventive Foot Health
Here is a list of the Educational Partners helping to raise awareness about the importance of preventive foot health.
The generous support from following Sponsoring Partners allows IPFH to extend its reach, participate in research, and develop additional educational materials.
Welcome to the Partners section of our site. Here you will find information on our Educational Partners, who are helping to raise awareness about the importance of preventive foot health. We also acknowledge our Sponsoring Partners, whose generous support allows IPFH to extend its reach, participate in research, and develop additional educational materials.
Glossary Of Foot Terms
Following are terms related to the foot and to preventive foot health. Please see the Foot Conditions section for details on specific foot problems.
How to Choose a Foot Health Professional
Following is a list of the types of practitioners who care for the feet and manage foot problems and their key areas of expertise:
- Podiatrist (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, or DPM) – Diagnoses, treats and helps prevent foot diseases and conditions. May also provide toenail care and maintenance and works with people with diabetes and other medical conditions who have foot issues. May perform surgery and often prescribes special footwear.
- Orthopaedic Surgeon (Orthopedist, Orthopaedic Physician) – A medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and correcting issues with the musculoskeletal system. Corrective measures may involve surgery. Many specialize in the foot and ankle.
- General Practitioner, Family Physician or Primary Care Physician – A medical doctor who diagnoses and treats a variety of medical problems in patients of all ages. May not have specialized knowledge of the feet, but can make referrals to an appropriate foot specialist.
- Foot Care Nurse – Specializes in the care of the feet, and often provides general foot care, nail care and basic diabetic foot care.
- Certified Pedorthist (C.Ped) - Trained in the manufacturing, fitting and modification of foot appliances and footwear. Does not diagnose, but often takes prescriptions or recommendations from medical practitioners to develop footwear solutions for specific problems.
- Certified Orthotist (CO) – Specializes in providing mechanical devices to support or supplement weakened or abnormal joints or limbs.
- Certified Prosthetist (CP) – Specializes in the replacement of missing limbs and other body structures with manufactured substitutes.
- Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist (CPO) – Combines the two disciplines of the orthotist and prosthetist.
Tips for choosing the right foot health practitioner:
- If you have unidentified foot pain, or foot pain that you suspect is coming from a particular location, see a podiatrist or orthopaedic surgeon, especially if the pain is particularly severe or persistent. You may have to get a referral from your primary care physician.
- If your feet have patches of red, or streaks of redness and swelling, see your doctor and/or a podiatrist.
- If you have an ingrown toenail, especially if the area around the toenail is swollen and appears to be infected, see a podiatrist or a foot care nurse.
- If you have any severe trauma to the foot due to a fall or other accident, and you suspect you may have a broken bone, strain or sprain, see an orthopaedic surgeon. If the injury is severe, go to a hospital emergency room.
- If you get a cut, laceration or puncture wound in your foot, see your doctor. If the injury is severe, go to a hospital emergency room.
- If you have been given a prescription for special accommodative or corrective footwear—for example, inserts or orthotics—by a podiatrist, orthopaedic surgeon or physician, see a certified pedorthist, orthotist or prosthetist.
- If you need gait analysis, help with proper sizing, fitting and selection of footwear—including activity-specific shoes and padded socks--or custom modifications to inserts/orthotics or shoes, see a pedorthist, podiatrist, or orthotist.
- If you have an amputation and need assistance choosing, fitting or adjusting a prosthetic, see a prosthetist or an orthotist/prosthetist.
- If you have diabetes, and especially if you have neuropathy (loss of sensation) in your feet, see a podiatrist regularly in addition to your regular medical professionals. Team care has proven to be the best approach for managing diabetes.
- If you’re not sure which type of foot health practitioner to consult, talk to your doctor and get a recommendation or referral.
In 1989, the first study using a specific type of padded sock was published. That study documented the benefits of those padded socks in reducing pressure in the insensitive diabetic foot. This research was followed by seven other key studies that confirmed the benefits of these particular padded socks for preventing blisters, reducing pressure and pain, and enhancing circulation. These studies are summarized below.
IPFH now refers to the padded socks, donated by Thorlo that were used in these pivotal studies, as clinically-tested padded socks. The Institute continues to fund and sponsor research that enables us to learn more about the feet and footwear for both preventive and therapeutic purposes.
Welcome to the Resources section of our site. Here you will find examples of ground-breaking studies that prompted the formation of IPFH; results of surveys documenting the scope of foot problems in the United States; IPFH white papers and links to other reliable websites that provide information on foot conditions and treatment.
Welcome to the Caregivers section of our site. The number of people caring for family members with chronic conditions has risen dramatically in recent years. Much of this “informal” caregiving centers on ensuring that aging parents take their medicines as prescribed, follow special diets if needed, and see their doctors regularly. However, it increasingly includes encouraging older family members to stay as active as possible to help maintain mobility and function and prevent further deterioration—and this means making sure that their feet are as healthy and pain-free as possible.
In this section, IPFH provides family members with information on how to care for someone else’s feet—the basics, what to do and not do, and signs and symptoms that may require a visit to a doctor or foot-health professional. For information on specific foot conditions—including those especially relevant for people with diabetes and/or arthritis—visit our Foot Conditions section. Tips on caring for children’s feet are included in the Foot Care Essentials section.
Arthritis: Foot Concerns
Welcome. In this section, you will find articles written specifically for people with arthritis whose feet are at risk for various foot conditions. You will learn why and how arthritis may affect your feet—and overall health and wellbeing—and what you can do to prevent and manage foot-related issues, maintain your ability to function and enjoy the best possible quality of life. Recent research has demonstrated the benefits of physical activity for people with arthritis. Untreated foot problems can prevent you from gaining the full benefits of such activity.
Diabetes: Foot Concerns
Welcome. In this section, you will find articles written specifically for people with diabetes whose feet are at risk for various foot conditions, as well as amputation. You will learn how diabetes puts your feet—and overall health and wellbeing—at risk and what you can do to prevent and manage foot-related issues, maintain your ability to function and enjoy the best possible quality of life.
Key to preventive foot health for people with diabetes is daily foot care. If a family member or friend is helping you, refer him/her to Caring for Feet of People with Diabetes in our Caregiver section.
Foot Conditions By Activity
Foot Conditions A-Z
Learn what causes many foot conditions and how to prevent/treat/manage them.
Welcome to the foot conditions section of our site. Here you will find information on a wide variety of foot conditions, from blisters to plantar fasciitis to tarsal tunnel syndrome. To learn more, browse Foot Conditions A-Z or search for specific problems.
Also try our Foot Pain Self-Assessment Tool, which can help you identify possible foot problems that you may want to discuss with your doctor.
If you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes or arthritis, you are especially vulnerable to specific foot conditions and even to limb loss. Click on these links to learn more about foot concerns related to diabetes and arthritis.
Foot Care Essentials
If you’re like most people, you think of your feet only when something goes wrong: your foot hurts, you get athlete’s foot, a blister or some other foot problem. But it’s important to practice good foot hygiene every day, whether you sense a foot problem or not. Our feet are the foundation of our mobility--keeping our feet in the best possible shape maximizes our ability to walk, work, do chores and engage in recreational sports and activities.
It’s especially important to take care of your feet if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, which puts feet at risk for amputation, or arthritis. And, although many foot problems tend to surface as we age, by taking care of our feet when we’re younger, we can prevent or reduce the chances of foot problems later in life.
In this section, IPFH offers information on all aspects of caring for your feet and your family’s feet, as well as an integrated approach to selecting and fitting padded socks and shoes to ensure the best fit.
Officers and Staff Directory
The Institute for Preventive Foot Health (IPFH) is a non-profit private foundation committed to raising awareness about the importance of caring for the feet through education, research and the identification of methods demonstrated by clinical research to prevent, treat and manage painful conditions and diseases affecting the feet, mobility, functional status and quality of life.
According to the 2012 National Foot Health Assessment conducted for IPFH by The NPD Group, Inc., a respected national research organization, a staggering 78 percent of adults in the United States have experienced foot pain or foot problems in their lifetimes. These problems are serious enough to interfere with a person’s ability to work, exercise or enjoy a full, healthy lifestyle. Click here to see the original landmark assessment completed in 2009.
Foot problems often increase with age. By age 50, the average person will have walked or run 75,000 miles, primarily on hard, unnatural surfaces (for example, concrete, asphalt and hard floors). Over time, this contributes to the breakdown of the skin and protective fat pads that support the balls, heels and toes of the foot, which we refer to as skin/soft tissue(s) of the foot.
IPFH was founded to help educate and inform people about ways to reduce foot pain, or eliminate it altogether, through proper foot care, footwear and biomechanics.
About Preventive Foot Health
Preventive foot health is a proactive approach to wellness that focuses specifically on your feet as the foundation of mobility. Preventive foot health is necessary in all sports and activities, as well as in daily work and home life. It is a critically important practice if you have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and circulatory disease where small problems can turn into both limb- and life-threatening conditions.
Origin of the Institute
From 1989 through 1993, seven groundbreaking clinical studies were conducted by medical doctors and podiatrists related to major conditions that negatively affect the human foot, including diabetes (causing neuropathy and ulceration), arthritis (causing pain), and blisters. These studies used a special type of sock that we now call clinically tested padded socks, which have been shown in peer-reviewed, published clinical studies to provide preventive foot health benefits related to the skin/soft tissue(s) of the foot.
When properly selected and fitted, as part of an integrated approach, with the right shoes (and inserts or orthotics if needed), clinically tested padded socks have been shown to significantly reduce the two forces that cause breakdowns of the skin/soft tissue(s) of the foot. Those two forces are called pressure and shear.
Reducing pressure and shear for people with diabetes protects against foot ulcers, thereby reducing the risk of foot infections and amputation. Reducing pressure and shear for people with arthritis helps relieve foot pain. Reducing pressure and shear for people who pursue physical exercise and sports activities protects against blisters. We call the use of clinically tested padded socks fitted properly with appropriate footwear the practice of skin/soft tissue management of the foot.
The padded socks used in the clinical studies referred to above were designed for testing and donated by the THORLO Company, makers of the Thorlos® brand athletic socks. The revelations that came from these seven clinical studies motivated Jim Throneburg, owner of THORLO, to found IPFH and foster its educational and research mission.
IPFH was founded by James L. Throneburg, owner of THORLO, Inc., based on knowledge gained from groundbreaking clinical research conducted with novel padded sock designs donated by THORLO. Both Throneburg and THORLO, Inc. continue to provide financial support for IPFH and to initiate collaborative efforts with its educational partners: the Amputee Coalition and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA).