Teachers, Stand on Your Own Two Feet!

According to several studies, the average person takes between 6,000 and 10,000 steps per day, but if you’re a teacher, it can feel like a million.  The rigors of being in front of eager minds all-day, walking, standing and speeding along the halls, can take its toll.  Many of our teachers are in early and stay late participating in extracurricular responsibilities, making for a very long day on their feet. These “occupational hazards” result in of a variety of foot ailments, such as heel pain, arch pain, tendonitis and neuromas.


Heel pain, sometimes referred to as heel spur syndrome, often causes pain on the inside bottom of the heel, primarily in the morning or after periods of sitting or rest. Arch pain, also called plantar fasciitis, is an inflammation of the ligament on the bottom of the foot called the plantar fascia. The classic symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain in the arch with the first few steps in the morning and gets worse throughout the day. Tendonitis, an inflammation of a foot tendon, causes a variety of pains in various locations. Tendon pain tends to increase with use throughout the day. A neuroma is a “pinched nerve” in the ball of the foot, causing numbness, tingling and or burning on the ball of the foot and into the toes, typically the 2nd, 3rd or 4th toes.  These conditions are commonly the result of lack of appropriate foot support and “abnormal” foot mechanics.


The more immediate treatments for these painful conditions are aimed at reducing pain and inflammation. This can be accomplished via a combination of oral anti-inflammatory medications, ice, stretching, physical therapy, immobilization or cortisone injections. However, more often long-term treatment is brought about by the use of custom-made foot orthotics.


Orthotics are custom shoe inserts that are intended to correct abnormal foot mechanics or an irregular walking pattern. They perform functions that make standing, walking and running more comfortable and efficient.  I prescribe orthotics as a conservative approach to many foot problems, resulting in a highly successful, common and practical treatment option.  Orthotics improve foot function, minimizing stressful forces that can ultimately cause foot deformity and pain. Foot orthotics fall into three broad categories: those that primarily attempt to correct foot function, those that are protective in nature, and those that combine functional control and protection. Orthotics are available in different styles, depending on your activities, shoe type and lifestyle.


Foot pain is not normal. If you are experiencing foot pain to any degree, it is worth a visit to find out if custom foot orthotics can help your ailing feet.



“A teacher affects eternity: they can never tell where their influence stops.” – Henry Adams


                                        Dr. Vincent Giacalone

Dr. Vincent Giacalone

Podiatric Medicine & Surgery

466 Hook Rd., Suite 24D, Emerson, NJ 07630

Phone: 201-261-0500


Orthotics are shoe inserts that are intended to correct an abnormal, or irregular, walking pattern. Orthotics are not truly or solely “arch supports,” although some people use those words to describe them, and they perhaps can best be understood with those words in mind. They perform functions that make standing, walking and running more comfortable and efficient, by altering slightly the angles at which the foot strikes a walking or running surface. Dr. Giacalone prescribe orthotics as a conservative approach to many foot problems or as a method of control after certain types of foot surgery; the use of orthotics is a highly successful, practical treatment form. Orthotics take various forms and are constructed of various materials. They are concerned with improving foot function and minimizing stress forces that could ultimately cause foot deformity and pain. Foot orthotics fall into three broad categories: those that primarily attempt to change foot function, those that are primarily protective in nature, and those that combine functional control and protection.

Rigid Orthotics

The so-called rigid orthotic device, designed to control function, may be made of a firm material such as plastic or carbon fiber, and is used primarily for walking or dress shoes. It is generally fabricated from a plaster of paris mold of the individual foot. The finished device normally extends along the sole of the heel to the ball or toes of the foot. It is worn mostly in closed shoes with a heel height under two inches. Because of the nature of the materials involved, very little alteration in shoe size is necessary. Rigid orthotics are chiefly designed to control motion in two major foot joints, which lie directly below the ankle joint. These devices are long lasting, do not change shape, and are usually difficult to break. Strains, aches, and pains in the legs, thighs, and lower back may be due to abnormal function of the foot, or a slight difference in the length of the legs. In such cases, orthotics may improve or eliminate these symptoms, which may seem only remotely connected to foot function.

Soft Orthotics

Soft orthotic devices helps to absorb shock, increase balance, and take pressure off uncomfortable or sore spots. It is usually constructed of soft, compressible materials, and may be molded by the action of the foot in walking or fashioned over a plaster impression of the foot. Also worn against the sole of the foot, it usually extends from the heel past the ball of the foot to include the toes. The advantage of any soft orthotic device is that it may be easily adjusted to changing weight-bearing forces. The disadvantage is that it must be periodically replaced or refurbished. It is particularly effective for arthritic and grossly deformed feet where there is a loss of protective fatty tissue on the side of the foot. It is also widely used in the care of the diabetic foot. Because it is compressible, the soft orthotic is usually bulkier and may well require extra room in shoes, or prescription footwear.

Semi-rigid Orthotics

The third type of orthotic device, semi-rigid, provides for dynamic balance of the foot while walking or participating in sports. This orthotic is not a crutch, but an aid to the athlete. Each sport has its own demand and each sport orthotic needs to be constructed appropriately with the sport and the athlete taken into consideration. This functional dynamic orthotic helps guide the foot through proper functions, allowing the muscles and tendons to perform more efficiently. The classic, semi-rigid orthotic is constructed of layers of soft material, reinforced with more rigid materials.

Orthotics for Children

Orthotic devices are effective in the treatment of children with foot deformities. Most podiatric physicians recommend that children with specific deformities be placed in orthotics soon after they start walking, to stabilize the foot. The devices can be placed directly into a standard shoe, or an athletic shoe. Usually, the orthotics need to be replaced when the child’s foot has grown two sizes. Different types of orthotics may be needed as the child’s foot develops, and changes shape. The length of time a child needs orthotics varies considerably, depending on the seriousness of the deformity and how soon correction is addressed.

Other Types of Orthotics

Various other orthotics may be used for multidirectional sports or edge-control sports by casting the foot within the ski boot, ice skate boot, or inline skate boot. Combinations of semi-flexible material and soft material to accommodate painful areas are utilized for specific problems. Research has shown that back problems frequently can be traced to a foot imbalance. It’s important for Dr. Giacalone to evaluate the lower extremity as a whole to provide for appropriate orthotic control for foot problems.

Wear shoes that work well with your orthotics.

Bring your orthotics with you whenever you purchase a new pair of shoes.

Wear socks or stockings similar to those that you plan on wearing when you shop for new shoes.

Return as directed for follow-up evaluation of the functioning of your orthotics. This is important to making certain that your feet and orthotics are functioning properly together.

Dr. Giacalone has been trained specifically and extensively in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of foot disorders.  Dr. Giacalone has been board certified by The American Board of Podiatric Surgery since 1995 and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. He also practices at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City.  Dr. Giacalone performs surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in Hackensack, HUMC @ Pascack Valley and Surgicare Surgical Center in Oradell.