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).
Aristidis Veves, MD; Ewan Masson, MRCP; Devaka Fernando, MRCP; Andrew J.M. Boulton, MD. Published in Diabetes Care, vol. 12, No., October, 1989.
Aristidis Veves, MD; Ewan Masson, MRCP; Devaka Fernando, MRCP; Andrew J.M. Boulton, MD. Published in Diabetic Medicine, vol. 7, pgs 324-326, January, 1990.
Kirk M. Herring, DPM and Douglas H. Richie, Jr., DPM. Published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Vol. 80 no. 2, February, 1990.
Authors: Kirk M. Herring, DPM, Douglas H. Richie, Jr, DPM. Presented at 75th Annual Meeting of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Las Vegas, August, 1990.
A. Veves, E.M. Hay, A.J.M. Boulton; University Departments of Medicine and Rheumatology, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK, 1992.