About Sock Doc

I launched this site on March 9, 2011 to educate athletes about injury and overtraining prevention and (natural) treatments as well as to help them sort through various treatment therapies, fitness trends, claims, and products they are bombarded with every day. The goal is to help every person live a longer, healthier, and fitter life while becoming a faster, stronger, and more efficient athlete.

The Sock Doc “Disclaimer”
Sock Doc is a thinking-person’s website. The views here are not your typical “the research says this” or “everybody does it this way.” Though I find a lot of research interesting, my research lab is my treatment room where everyday I get to see how individuals are functioning, or dysfunctioning, and how to correct and improve their health and fitness faster than most can comprehend. It’s 100% holistic. It’s mental and physical work; I’m not behind a desk recommending exercises or dietary changes based simply off what I read in a research publication, and I sure as hell am not offering expensive, problematic orthotics, useless stretching, or conventional therapies that don’t work. My expertise is figuring out WHY a person has a health issue and how to correct it and prevent it from happening again. If you’re looking for the same-old type of treatments or advice, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Why are you called the Sock Doc?
I am called the Sock Doc because I only wear socks or go completely barefoot in my office while treating patients. I don’t wear shoes as most all other doctors and people in general do all day long at work. Most warm days I’ll leave my house barefoot, drive to my office barefoot, and remain barefoot while treating patients.

Are you really a doctor?
Yes, I don’t just play one on the internet. I am a chiropractic physician, but not the typical chiropractor you may have been to or heard of. I use various holistic methods to get a person healthy again and back on their road to fitness. I have been trained in the fields of functional neurology, biochemistry, acupressure meridian therapies, applied kinesiology, and dietary and lifestyle-modification methods. If you could sum up in a few words what I do, the most apt definition would perhaps be “complementary medicine,” or “holistic health care.”  I don’t use the word “alternative” because for me, my family, and many of my patients, this type of health care is not alternative; it is the only one we follow. Merging functional neurology and nutritional biochemistry into mainstream natural health care is the essence of what I do. As a chiropractic physician, my interest is in the entire body – a body that is constantly changing from an infinite amount of external and internal stimuli it receives every day. Doctor means teacher. That is my job – to teach you how to live a healthier life and sort through all the propaganda out there.

So you’re not a foot doctor, but what’s the big deal with the feet?
The Sock Doc is not just about the feet. It’s not even just about structure and one’s muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. It’s about the health of the entire body and listening to signs and signals your feet, as well as the rest of your body, may be giving you to tell you how well you’re doing, or perhaps how well you’re not doing. Healthy people have healthy feet. They don’t need a supportive, cushioned shoe. They can walk barefoot comfortably. They don’t need their feet rubbed at night, (though it is nice!). Health means different things to many people. Many people see their family general practitioner and are told during their annual physical that they’re healthy because no disease can be found. Yet they often can’t walk more than ten minutes without pain or having to stop to catch their breath. Many wake up every day with achy joints and need coffee to get going and then a drink or pill to get them to sleep at night, as well as other medication to keep their cholesterol or blood pressure “in check.” This is not health.  The World Health Organization states, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” though I think it’s safe to say very few adhere to this definition; we’re a lot unhealthier than we think.

Yes, I’m saying that if you’re taking any drug for any reason you’re really not healthy, despite what you’d like to believe. Sure I realize that some people are on certain medications to keep them alive and others take them so they don’t kill themselves, or someone else. I am not against these types of drugs. The same goes for antibiotics and other similar medications that can get someone out of a crisis situation quickly so their health can be restored sooner, rather than later. But don’t kid yourself – if you’re taking a pill to sleep at night, or one to help you get through the day, or one to alter your hormones or mood, or one to lose weight, or one to lower your cholesterol, or one to stop your heartburn, or one to relieve pain – you’re not healthy – despite what the man or woman in their high-clad shoes with the “Dr” in front of their name  is telling you.

Who are your typical patients?
The range of people who come to me for care include software engineers, professors, housewives (and their kids), professional hockey players, professional dancers, and athletes and coaches from Duke and the University of North Carolina. I see endurance type athletes such as runners, cyclists, triathletes, and other types of athletes ranging in different abilities. Many of my patients travel from other states to see me in my office. I’m often the guy who they end up seeing after all the other conventional and usually over-priced treatments have failed. Read some coach and athlete testimonials.

Why don’t you wear shoes?
While there’s no substitute for going barefoot, socks are the next best thing. The feet are the foundation upon which you rely on all day long. Each foot is home to approximately 7,000 nerve endings and the information they receive and pass on to the rest of the body is anything less than extraordinary. When your foot feels the ground, (or whatever is below it, including any footwear), the thousands of touch receptors in the nerve endings feed back to the rest of the entire nervous system. Since your nervous system runs your entire body, any foot impairment, dysfunction, injury, pain, or improper footwear can not only hinder you directly, (such as lower leg function and balance), but your entire health. Yet so many stand in shoes for eight to sixteen hours a day?

What is your philosophy and how are you different than other doctors?
I’m much more interested in the cause of the health problem or injury than just merely addressing its symptoms. I like to tell patients I’m going to diagnose the health process that has gone awry, not just the symptoms. For example, an aching knee might be due to something else taking place, distant to where the actual pain is felt in the knee. An imbalance of the muscles of the leg and foot could be the cause of knee pain in one person; for someone else, the knee hurts because of improper footwear; or for another sufferer, the knee pain might be associated with too much stress from a poor diet and overtraining. Compared to conventional therapies which offer treatment of the symptoms via drugs, surgery, and physical therapy, dealing with the cause provides a more effective, faster, and rewarding remedy, not to mention it’s often much less expensive. You’d be surprised how quickly injuries and other health problems can be resolved when they’re dealt with on a cause-oriented, individual level. It’s a very patient-individualized practice!

Why not just see a foot doctor such as a podiatrist?
If your foot hurts then a doctor of such is very skilled at looking at that foot and addressing only that foot. Typically orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and certain therapies are prescribed, such as stretching. Despite the lack of evidence that any of these therapies address the true problem (of the foot), they are still the way things are done. Stretching may provide temporary relief to plantar fasciitis, a NSAID might reduce pain and inflammation, and an orthotic might lend support to any already dysfunctioning area, but none of these therapies will treat the root cause. When was the last time a podiatrist looked at your other (normal) foot? Or even perhaps more importantly, when was it he or she examined the opposite upper body limb? Or how about those 2” heel shoes you walked in on?

What is your own athletic background?
I have competed in 20 Ironman races as well as countless other triathlons, as well as bicycle races and running races – trail and road. I am a six-time qualifier and finisher of the Ironman Hawaii World Championship Triathlon.  I’ve been an All-American Triathlete twice, in 1997 and 2004. Currently I’m focusing on trail running and MovNat training, and I am a MovNat Certified Trainer. With my experience training and racing competitively for over 20 years, I have unique qualifications and insight as both a competitive athlete and a doctor. So yes, I talk the talk and walk the walk.

How often do you get injured?
I’ve been injury-free since my Ironman career began in 1996. Not too many people have trained and competed in 20 Ironman races and can say they haven’t had one injury to speak of. I’ve completed 16 of those IM races – I dropped out of four during the run portion for reasons such as dehydration, conditioning, and just having a really bad day.

Have you ever been injured?
Over 20 years ago when I started running competitively in high school, and then after I began racing triathlons in college, I followed the running shoe fads and wore whatever over-supported shoe promised to make me run faster. I was a heavy heel striker, quickly destroying the back of running shoes, moving onto a new pair every two to three months. I overpronated, or so I was told, so custom orthotics and shoes with motion-control devices soon filled my closet. Then along came the injuries, which I was often told was what all athletes get – “It’s normal and to be expected.” I had ITB frictional syndrome, shin splints, heel pain

, heel spurs, knee pain, side stitches, and so on. Taking ibuprofen and using DMSO was a daily ritual, until I got tired of people not wanting to be near me due to the distinct sulfur smell of DMSO reeking from every pore of my body – rotten milk and old lasagna don’t make a great deodorant.

But then around 15 years ago while I was still in college, I got interested in racing flats – really the only minimalist shoes back in the mid 1990s. I wore flats from Nike and Saucony because they were light, and the thinking was: lighter shoes made you faster because you were carrying less weight, not because I knew there was any injury connection. Soon I would realize there was more to running than just the shoe’s weight. Wearing them in 10K road races and the 10K part of the Olympic-distance triathlon was not all that uncommon, but when I started wearing them in longer races – half-marathon distances – I was warned by coaches that I better be careful.

Around the same time I also began using a heart rate monitor, and not just wearing it to see how high my heart rate could get but actually using it to train and recover properly. I remember wearing it shirt-less during my days training under the hot Miami sun – the strange looks from others was common – and the mold that grew on the transmitter back then if you didn’t clean them well was enough to make some within a few feet consider a Hazmat suit.

Interestingly though, the injuries started to subside. Not only that, but new injuries didn’t appear. I was getting faster and able to train longer and harder, eventually moving my way up to racing several half-Ironman distances each season. I soon qualified and raced in the Hawaii Ironman in 1996.

Should I go barefoot or just wear socks in the office like the Sock Doc?
Is there a sign at your office saying “shoes required”? Probably not. At least kick them off at the desk. It doesn’t matter if you’re a runner or not, because you were born to be on two [bare] feet, not high heels or motion-control devices. I’ve promoted going barefoot for years. It’s o

ne of the things I advise most patients to do whether their aliment is in the foot itself or elsewhere, such as in the knee, hip, lower back, or even neck or shoulder. Who can benefit from going barefoot? Everybody. And not just multi-sport athletes and runners. Who can benefit from wearing built-up shoes with supportive devices and extra padding? Very few, and only perhaps to get them out of short-term crisis mode. Your nervous system runs your entire body, therefore going barefoot can not only improve lower leg function and balance, but your entire health.

How quickly do you get people healthy and back into their exercise or racing routine?
There’s no magic pill to your health program. It takes more than a few hours a week and you don’t get to eat anything you want all day long once a week because you need to be rewarded. It’s a lifestyle change, one that you will always reap the rewards from – that of good health. Yes it takes consistency and commitment, because nobody ever got very far and stayed there on minimal effort. But it doesn’t mean it’s difficult. It’s not a wheat grass diet and walking barefoot to work in snow exercise program. It’s a lifestyle change – a lifestyle adaptation. That being said, it’s not uncommon for someone who has been dealing with a health issue or injury for years to see dramatic (and permanent) changes after a very short time – often within the first or second appointment.

How can I set up an appointment or ask you questions about my health problem or injury?
Feel free to post your question in the Forum section or as a comment under the appropriate post section. So if you have a question about shin splints ask it as a comment under that post. If you’re not sure, you can start a Forum thread. For office appointments and phone consultations with me – click here.

Do you know of a doctor in my area who practices similarly as you do?
Over the past year or so I have begun teaching other doctors my assessment and treatment protocols. Like myself, their background is in chiropractic. They follow my philosophy of truly holistic health, an organic diet, and a minimalist/orthotic-free lifestyle. See the Sock Doc Referral List here.

Do you have a real name?
Yes. Sock Doc is not on my driver’s license. It’s Stephen (Steve) Gangemi and you can learn more about my practice as well as a lot more information about health and fitness that is not contained on this site by clicking here.

You can also find me on Google Plus:Steve Gangemi

Comments

  1. Linda Wiese says:

    Hi Dr Steve

    I am having trouble deciding whether I over-or-under pronate and I’m hoping that you can help. Years ago I was told by a podiatrist that I overpronate and I was given orthotics. Running with the orthotics was agony so I stopped using them. I tend to buy shoes that feel comfortable but this time round, being older and with developing knee pain, I thought I should work out what my feet are doing.

    My arch is normal. I wear down the outer heel edge of all shoes that I wear. I do catch myself at times standing on the outside edges of my feet. So far, everything suggests over-pronation. I’ve now checked the wear on my favourite runners and all the outer edge from toe to heel is worn – a sign of under-pronation! I’m confused.

  2. Melanie Jones says:

    Hi! Where can I go to find a doctor like you in the Los Angeles area?

    • Hard to say. I don’t refer much unless I personally know the doctor because there are so many different techniques, therapies, and philosophies out there. I suggest you ask around for a doctor or therapist who looks at the entire individual – not someone who is going to treat just your symptoms and treat you like someone else with the same problem. Applied kinesiologists (most are chiropractors in the US) view the body this way, but they are a diverse group. Rolfers and structural integration therapists are also a great group to check out.

  3. Karen Linsmayer says:

    I would like to know what your thoughts are about Prolotherapy. I have had two appointments and my foot does seem improved. What about chiropractic for feet. I just find that no matter what you tell the Chiropractor, they all do the very same treatment, and never touch the feet.

    • I don’t use prolotheraphy because I am not licensed to do so and personally I think there are better therapies – so I’ve never referred a patient out to have it done.

      Correct, a lot of chiros don’t understand the importance of the feet, some even never have you take your shoes off :(

  4. ElwinRansom says:

    I injured my knee by simply going down to the squat position about 9 weeks ago. My knee popped on the inner soft fleshy part and I experienced significant pain and swelling for about a week. An xray revealed no issues, and the swelling and pain went completely away after about 5-6 weeks. However, I still have soreness and stiffness and the knee “feels” unstable at times – especially descending stairs. Any insights or advice?

  5. Love your web site – alot of great info! I have a question about foot orthotics. I get alot of heel pain when running and have very high arches. I was fitted for shoe inserts and have helped my heel pain but now I have a terrible shin splint. What is a good balance for me? Suppose to be running in a half in key west next weekend and worried I will not be able to run!!! I am in my 50 but feel like I am in preety good shape. Please advise!!!!

    • Thanks Judy. Lots of info on this site on orthotics. They simply support your problem and create new compensations, which is why you now have shin splints. Arch height (or lack thereof) is no reason to wear orthotics.

  6. Just found your site and I can tell I am going to spend a lot of time here. I have a couple of things going on that have been nagging me for a long time. One – I have very tight adductor and hip flexor muscles. I am tender after every run. I used to be able to run daily, but this soreness prevents me from doing so. I strength build twice a week so not sure if weak muscles the issue. I also have a glute – hamstring thing going on. That has been present for four months. I have been told it is an overuse injury and that there might be some nerve stuff in the mix. I have decreased mileage, started swimming, received clinical massages, and am presently seeing a sport chiro – he does active release therapy. I would love to get this resolved – I miss running pain free! Any suggestions?

  7. Hello Soc-Doc!

    I recently found your website and I was hoping that you could offer some advice. I practive heated vinyasa yoga and I am also an instructor. I have been suffering from tendonitis in my right knee and quadricep. I have seen an ortho, and have had MRI’s and X-rays, and nothing is showing other than IT band syndrome and tendonitis. I have been to physical therapy with little results as well. I do not want to take anti-inflammatory meds, so I began using natural spices, such as tumeric. I have noticed that my joints in general have started to feel “achy” and sore. I have modified my yoga practice, but I truly love it and want to practice for life! Do you have any suggestions for tendonitis and joint pain? I was also told that sugar could be a trigger for inflammation, which I crave, but try to eat only dark chocolate, 88% because of the low sugar content. I would really appreciate any advice that you could offer me! Thank you!

  8. Thank you so much for suggesting the videos, they were very helpful!
    I have been under an unusual amount of stress ove the past 6-8 months, so I believe that my adrenal glands are suffering. I know that my cortisol levels are high and I have been craving and eating more sugar than I ever would have in the past. I actually crave ice cream, cookies, etc, I guess they are serving as comfort foods. However, I know they are actually impairing my ability to heal.
    Do you have any suggestions for the sugar cravings? Supposedly there are supplements out there, but I wasn’t sure of the effectiveness? I am planning on doing the two week test, which you suggested in your article. I pretty much live off of meat and veggies, (and too much sugar lately), so it should not be too difficult. I was curious if butter is allowed during the two weeks? It stated cheeses, but nothing soft and I wasn’t sure if butter was included in the avoid list of foods.
    One more question, what are your thoughts on reflexology? I know that you mention trigger points, is this also accupressure? I was considering trying both reflexology/foot massages as well as accupressure. Can you please offer any insight on these? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I truly appreciate your help! If you accept donations, please let me know. I would be more than willing to donate and help in any way. I think this website will help so many people! :)

    • Yes try the 2WT but if the stress is super high still it won’t be easy until you deal with that issue first.

      Reflexology is like any therapy – depends on the therapist more than the therapy.

  9. Hi! I can’t believe I just now discovered your website! If I lived near your clinic I would probably run to see you, but I live in Dallas, TX. Is there anybody here around the area you would recommend? Thanks!!!

  10. Hi There, I ,like the others, have also just discovered your sight. It came to my attention via your video, addressing lower back pains/ siatic nerve pain, piriformis, and gluteal muscles.

    First, I just want to say thank you. Your video gave me far more information than I received from both my current orthopedic doc, and pt. I have a much better understanding of what is causing unbelievable pain from my hip joint, tail bone area, ham string, etc. I have not been able to sit for several months now, and have not been without pain for far too long. Sleeping through the night is not possible.

    I have a question: I have a neuroma at the ball of my right foot between the 3rd and 4th toe bones. It’s often excruciating, making it difficult to put any pressure on my foot by the end of the day. This has been a problem for many years. is it possible that the issue with my right foot, could be casuing unnecessary stress to my left side of the lower back, piriformis, and hamstirng? Both the doc and PT think that this is nonsense.

    Do you have an opinion, perhaps info that you could direct me to? It would be much appreciated.

    I am a realtively healthy person – Active, healthy diet (alkaline and acid balance).However, I do have celiacs ( am gluten free as a result) and Crohn’s Disease (for which I am on medication).

    • Sure the foot can affect the low back & hips and vice-versa. You should look for a doc or therapist who understands how to assess & treat the entire body.

  11. Johan Theron says:

    Hi
    I have significant pes planus (I have basically no arch, x-rays shows flat line of metatarsal bones) since age 10. I use to run quite fast but could never run or jog very far without getting severe pain in my knees, hips and feet. For years I did mountain biking till I fell and cracked my shoulder. I thus started running for exercise. I have read some things about barefoot running and minimalistic shoes. I bought New Balance Minimus 1010 for trail and 3090 for road. They have 4mm and 6mm heel drop respectively. I have only started exercise 2 weeks ago and does about 4-5 km every second day currently. My aim is to go to zero heel drop over time. With these shoes I have had no problems of yet. I know it is difficult to answer details without evaluating someone, but I live in Cape Town South Africa. Two questions:
    1. Would you agree with the current choice of shoe?
    2. Would it be wise to go to zero with pes planus?
    Regards
    Johan

    • Sure those shoes are fine if they’re working for you and yes absolutely you can get to zero drop regardless of your arch. Read my article “Lose Your Shoes”.

  12. I love your web site and have learned so much. I have retrocalcaneal bursitis or pump bump and a high arch and was wondering if you could recommend what kind of shoes I should be wearing. Thanks!

  13. Hi Sock Doc,
    I very recently stumbled upon your youtube video on treating plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. I suffer from both in both my feet. Since I watched your video I have been trying to walk barefoot (with socks as I dont like to get my feet dirty) as much as possible at home. I do feel quite comfortable by walking bare feet but I do have a lot of pain in my heels and was wondering if that would reduce if I continue this process. I don’t want the pain to get worse and I’m wondering if this is the right procedure for heel pain as well. I also saw the toe curl excersise in your video and I’m wondering if this would also help in reducing the heel pain as I do have bone spurs in both my feet. Please advise. Thanks!

    Regards,
    Nalina

  14. Laurence Sher says:

    Hi Doc,

    Thank you for the incredibly informative info.
    I was hoping you can give your opinion on an issue i have. i live in South Africa and its not that we dont have incredible doctors and physicians here but you seen unbelievably knowledgable.

    Ok. I am a very active person on my feet. Only when i sit down i have a constant dull throbbing sometimes pain running through my right glute down to the top of my hamstring , almost where it feels the hamstring starts, then to my knee , where there is no pain as such. Its really dull pain that drives me a bit nuts.

    I can also ‘pop’ my knee and hip if i move in a certain way and only on this side of my body. Back issues do run in my family. Could you please direct me either way whether you suspect a Piriformis , Sciatica or Psoas issue.

    Your reply would be much appreciated Sock-Doc

    Best regards!

  15. Hi Sock Doc! I listen to you all the time on Trailrunner Nation podcast. I am glad to know there are doctors out there like you! I wish I lived closer to your practice and I’m hoping you can help me.
    I am an Olympic distance triathlete who recently has not been able to run. I have been suffering from a burning in my lower calves/Achilles tendon area that makes me have to stop and walk every couple minutes. It’s so weird. I suffer through short runs (3 miles) only to end up with what feels like strained calve muscles and it takes me a week to recover. Training season is starting and I can’t even run a 5k.
    None of my other athlete friends have ever experienced this. Do you have any idea what this could be?
    Can’t run and miserable!
    Thank you!

    • Check out the Achilles Tendonitis Video to start.

      • Heidi Hammer says:

        Thanks for the reply, I watched your video and will give that a try. I’ve never had soreness or pain in my heel or Achilles, but the pain is right where my two clave muscles meet and a little to the upper outside my leg as well. I do notice a straining/stretch feeling in the underside of my foot for the first couple miles. I was a figure skater in my younger years and have a lot of muscle and am very strong. Of course everyone tells me that I have tight calves and to stretch,stretch, stretch! So I’ll be stopping that right away! It almost feels like circulation as if my calves aren’t getting enough blood, if that makes sense. I noticed that if I walk for a mile or so before running it is much more tolerable. It seems to take me forever to warm up, like 3 miles! (Not sure what that is all about, but it drives me nuts!) Everyone I train with just takes off and runs cold, I cant seem to do this. I am definitely not an over-trainer, and have a pretty strict paleo diet as I am insulin resistant. I recently discovered that I was iron deficient and also had low levels of potassium and magnesium, so I have been supplementing for those hoping it would help, but nothing yet. I have SUPER flat feet, wear Nike free run shoes, spend most of my time barefoot (in socks) at work and at home. I will follow your video advice and see if that helps. Any other insight would be greatly appreciated!!!
        8-)
        Thanks so much!!!!
        Heidi

  16. I just want to share with folks that my 15 year old is an elite soccer player that has worn orthotics for the last four years. Originally they were made for him, then the last two years he’s used off the shelf versions. He recently told me that he didn’t feel he needed to use them in his cleats. The first soccer game he played without them his knee went out on him at the end of a game and he thought it was just sprain after making a cut and foot planted. We didn’t think twice. He played the next week and when he landed on that same leg after jumping for the ball, he collapsed to ground five minutes into the game. He tore his meniscus and ACL. I wish I could turn the clock back but I believe not using orthotics or taking the time to ween off of them had something to do with his injury. I’m not one to share my life stories on the Internet, but if there is a parent out there reading this blog or a doctor that can explore this theory or use this information, maybe it could prevent serious injury.

    • I believe prescribing orthotics for a child is one of the worst things you can do for their overall sense of proprioception, balance, and development. So when I child has been wearing them for years, especially during puberty, those muscles have most likely never properly developed the stability and strength they would have otherwise. So you can’t just ditch them without proper rehabilitation, as I show in the Foot Strength Video and through the proper weaning process as I discuss in “Lose Your Shoes”.

  17. Melissa Guillory says:

    I appreciate your website. We’re so ‘specialized’ today, and it’s refreshing to see someone who treats the whole person not just the injured part. As a veterinarian, it can be very deceiving to just look at the injury or complaint, when oftentimes the source is else where, and the complaint is just the manifestation of the primary problem! for all the good information and tips. I currently have been dealing with dorsal foot pain over the past 8 months. On xray, and CT, there is evidence of osteophytosis in my metatarsal joints. I subsequently have a burning sensation on the top of my foot when doing speed training or running in excess of 15 miles. Knees, etc feel fine. I suspect it may have something to due with orthodics when I was younger to correct an inward pronation or ‘pigeon-toed’ stance. I’ve switch too a more minimalist shoe, Brook’s pure series, which has helped to a certain extent, as the ‘pronation’ shoes I’ve used before seemed to make things worse. I’m worried about aggravating the osteophytosis. Is there an avenue you would recommend me to explore to address this?

  18. Zoe Pierson says:

    Finally, someone who understands why I’ve always hated shoes! How exciting! And thanks for the advice to keep working on the muscle imbalances rather than take the usual “wear supportive shoes”, “try orthotics” advice.

    I am not an athlete (I was a dance dilettante in my youth), but in recent years I ended up working, sitting for 60 hours a week. Then 1.5 years ago I did a hyperextension injury of my ring finger to shoulder and down the back; the finger appeared the worst injured, but it ended the 60 hour week while I recuperated. 6 months after injury, something triggered severe systemic inflammation (might have been orthopedic remodeling, perimenopause, a virus or a “perfect storm” combo); 5 months after that very slow recovery, suddenly, I woke up not flattening my low back for the first time in years, and since then, I’ve ended up rehabbing several soft tissue injuries (ripping hip muscles and ligaments, ankle sprain with stress fracture on the outside of the shin, the other ankle’s sprain, a light knee sprain, a low back injury probably rooted in the hip’s injury) which occurred 15-20 years ago in relatively quick succession, and Ive been slowly undoing compensatory habits decades in the making compounded by bad desk work posture.

    Sock-Doc videos are very helpful to me in explaining why, right now, my posterior tibialis is acting up – found a trigger point – thanks, doc! Why the inside of my left leg is so weak – yes, I was under a whole lot of mental stress, and sure enough the inside of my left knee is quite tender – thanks again, doc! Now I just have to find out if Sock-Doc has a rib cage video so I can figure out why, now that I’ve activated my external obliques and the upper back/neck muscles, a spot on a lower rib complains. Onward!

    And yes, being barefoot is the best! My poor toes have always struggled to figure out what’s going on when they’re trapped inside shoes ;)

  19. Carlo Longano says:

    Your article, Ban Orthotics, just doesnt make sense because if you practice what you claim you are a practitioner in then you would recommend orthotics.
    You obviously have no understanding of the biomechanics and function of orthotics. It seems that you
    Wrote the article to “throw the cat amongst the pigeons” to see what the response would be.

    Carlo Longano
    Podiatrist
    Cape Town, South Africa

  20. Your website is very interesting. I can appreciate your opinion of orthodics. I am 35 years old and have just recently had trouble finding comfortable shoes of any kind. most of the running sneakers I try press on my arches and cause me pain. When I try on new shoes they feel lumpy inside or too hard. I have been most comfortable in flats. It seems that when I try “souped” up shoes with support my feet really start to hurt and burn. Right now my heels are burning and on each foot towards the inside just before the start of my arch towards the heel I have one quarter size lump on each foot that is forming that hurts whenever pressure hits it. They seem like they could be calluses but I really dont know what they are. A friend of mine suggested they may be swollen ligaments that are knotted and said that I may have to wait for the swelling to subside before continuing my search for new shoes. I’m at a complete loss. I just can’t find anything comfortable and all the foot Dr’s want to do is push orthodics, which I can say from experience seem to be a joke. My husband wears them and his feet are worse. He has calluses built up on the balls of his feet that he never had before he started wearing inserts. I do wonder if my thyroid condition or my Graves disease has anything to do with my feet. Seems like after I got the hyperthyroidism I have had anything ranging from skin, vision, nervous system problems, etc. Any thoughts?

    thank you!

  21. Sock Doc,

    I just read a few of your articles and am looking for some help. I’m a 43 year old male that has always been active. Unlike my wife though, I have never been a runner. In August of 2012 I realized my cholesterol was a bit over 200 so I began running during my son’s soccer practices a couple of times a week for three miles each time. I really enjoyed listening to the music and challenging myself to increase my pace each time. Ok, so in December my wife loved me so much she signed us “both” up for a half marathon. I wasn’t about to not rise to the challenge, but I also didn’t start increasing my mileage until about six weeks before the race. I noticed that during my longer practice runs that the balls of my feet hurt (especially since the longer runs were on concrete and not the grass I was used to running on). After I finished my second 10 mile practice run (only a week before the race) my feet really hurt. Again, I wanted to run the actual race and did so in the time I had wanted (under an hour) though I did push myself. However, after the race I could barely walk for about three days. I thought it was only temporary, but weeks and months passed and the pain was still there. Any time I stepped down and landed incorrectly, or walked on the tile, the balls of my feet felt like they were being stabbed by a sharp knife.

    Finally, after months of complaining my wife made me go see a podiatrist. After all, she got me into this mess (just kidding). He took x-rays and said the good news was that I didn’t have stress fractures or something else (I forgot the name). He basically said the bunions were causing me to overpronate and because of that the balls of my feet were working too hard or something along those lines. He suggested over the counter orthotics that he had at the office. To be fair, he did say I could by them elsewhere if I wanted. He told me to break them in but didn’t say why. They did such a good job alleviating the pain, I wore them for two days straight. The next morning I woke up with such a bad backache I felt like I had lifted a piano! I called him and he told me he has thrown out a few backs over his career and that I really just needed to break them in.

    Without examining me, do you know what I might have and how can I treat the problem and not just the symptom? I would like to run again but have been terrified to even attempt. Should I keep wearing the orthotics until the pain subsides? Will the pain subside? I have a 5K bet with a friend coming up in November that I would love to keep :)
    I have never had pain in my feet before this long run and never during the short runs (that I was aware of)

    Thanks so much for any advice!!

  22. From one SocDoc to another…. :)

  23. Teri Eskuri says:

    Hello, I watched some of your videos but still can’t decide what is causing foot/ankle, leg/knee pain in me and my two kiddos. Just this week we were at our Chiropractor and she because we were out of alignment quite a bit and she noticed the shoes we were wearing were flat and not very supportive she mentioned that we should get some dr sholls inserts to help give support. WE found some different inserts at the store and tried them at first they were nice and cushioning but after wearing them a little yesterday and a couple hours at work today I noticed increased pain in feet, and legs/knees so I removed the inserts and just wore the shoes without them instead. That lead me to research if inserts should hurt and I came across your website. Normally I trust the recommendations of my chiro, so now I am a little concerned. We are in MN so clearly can’t come to your office to be checked out. What are you best suggestions, of course at this point I will be returning the inserts ! Thanks so much Teri

    • Best I can offer you is to check out the Healthy People = Barefoot People Article and the other articles on this site. As you know, I am always 100% against inserts, especially for kids.

  24. Hi i would like to try going barefoot too.

    However i am concern about feet getting dirty and i know that we should not wash our legs right after some walk or so.

    What are your advises on when to wash legs and etc.?

  25. Hi DR. Steve
    I read your article on insoles and though I agree with you, that they work in the short term to alleviate pain and once you remove them, your body has to readjust to the movement their inexistance has cause, I have an un solved dilemma. When I was 9, I had a car accident that shattered my left heel and broke all my toes. I had to have two casts for a long period of time after which there was no therapy. My ligaments and tendons were very fragile and the following year, I fell and broke my right foot. Two other casts later and no therapy again I started relying on my right foot more than the left because the latter was stiff as a rock. 30 years later, after many torn ligaments from “walking”, I find myself with all kinds of pain in my feet, knee, hips and shoulders (occasionally). I have seen all kinds of specialists who focused on all parts of my body. Some big ones suggested surgery of course but they said it would diminish my feet strength by 70% after being immobilized in bed for two years….one for each foot. Now, I am not a doctor but I’m pretty sure losing 70% of my strength when I am walking now! working out, living….etc is not a good deal! After two years of hearing crazy ideas that ranged from breaking my feet, cutting my muscles…etc, I decided to do nothing and live with the pain until recently. I saw my chiro and told him about my hips and knee and he suggested insoles. We found out my right foot is shorter than the other. I have been wearing them for 3 weeks now and they are helping tremendously, I feel a huge difference, I stopped wearing a knee brace….every day, I feel a difference. However, like you I think that they are good for a short term fix but they are not going to lengthen my right foot, realign my hips or alleviate my extreme pronation. When I’m wearing them, I can conquer the world. When I take them off I break down in ruins. What would you suggest in a situation such as this one? I would really appreciate your opinion as I feel that I have exhausted all my options and I’m too young to be feeling like an old decrepit lady! :( please help!

  26. Hi Dr Steve,
    I have midfoot arthritis. I love walking 4 miles a day which has become an impossibility. Any thoughts/suggestions! My podiatrist has suggested orthotics.
    Thank you….Alexa

  27. I just wanted to thank you for all the time you’ve spent on this website, sharing your vast amount of knowledge. I’ve spent a few days already reading, and I’m not done! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Have a fantastic day :)

  28. Jessica says:

    Hello!

    I’m so glad that I found your site! I’ve been a medical mystery for the past four months. I haven’t been very active for medical reasons, but went on a hike in January. I ended up hiking over five miles. My feet felt fine at the time. The next day, I couldn’t walk. After MRI’s, x-rays, sonograms, etc, I was told that I have bone marrow edema, bursitis in just about every bursa in my feet (feels like rocks when I walk, but no neuroma’s) swelling of tendons/tissues in every metatarsal, sesamoiditis, basically just swelling in everything. I’ve been working from home for over four months and still can’t stand on them for more then about 30 minutes a day. The bones feel like they are going to snap! I have a feeling it was because I stayed off my feet 100% for the first six weeks and they got very weak. Then, I was in two walking boots/casts and crutches for another six weeks after.

    They are a mess and they swell like crazy and I have lumps all on the bottom which feel like rocks. I am on an extremely strict “healing diet” with no sugar, high fat (200g fat per day), moderate protein, with only carbs from veggies. I am 26 and a healthy weight now, but was underweight in the past. My bone density scans were -.8. I’m also doing acupuncture and have refused all injections, medications, and don’t even ice them because I know that inhibits the healing facts that cause them to swell.

    My questions for you are: 1. Even though they are miserable to walk on even a few minutes per day, should I still force myself to do it. The bursa swell even more when I do so. 2. Do you recommend that I start physical therapy?

    I feel like I have to do something other then the acupuncture I started. It’s been four months with no improvement :(. Unfortunately, I cannot afford a consult with you at this time, so I would appreciate any help. I miss walking!

    Thank you so much if you actually read all this :)

    ~Jess

  29. I found your website by looking up the cons of static stretching. In the meantime, I found out that you like to go barefoot! Yeehaw! I don’t feel so dumb anymore. I get made fun of for that you know, and my dear family says I am messing up my feet and my daughters feet by allowing her to go barefoot as often as possible, too. Yet neither of us have the foot problems that tend to run in the family. I must say though, I do love a good leather cowboy boot.

    Not too long ago on my universities campus I saw one of the track *stars* jogging barefoot around campus and then I saw someone else doing it as well. Is this a new trend or something?

  30. Hello,

    I am a triple jumper and have the frustrating issue of shin splints. I just can’t seem to get rid of them, after reading/watching some of your articles and videos I will try some of your methods. I have been massaging my calf (and area where I have my shin splints) and it doesn’t seem to make a difference :( could there be a reason for this? I don’t have tight calfs but i do have tight quads/IT bands and after watching your trigger point video I’m thinking maybe they could be contributing to my shin spints?
    I was a gymnast before jumping and I never had a problem with injuries and now my shins wont leave me alone!
    Would you be able to give me some tips/advice on what I can do to get rid of them?

    Thanks..Laura

  31. Hi Dr Steve
    Do you have experience with post partum injuries? My baby is 4 years old now and I’m still suffering pain and spasms (on the sides of the abdomin) and I feel that lower back and knee pain and heaviness that woman have close to delivery. I tried physio therapy but the focus was on closing a diastasis recti and that helped a little bit but I don’t think in addressed the main problem.
    I really wish that I can go for a bike ride with my kids and not suffer all night from pain.
    I thought this is part of the natural changes that come with delivery but I feel that I will develop arthritis soon!
    I really want to enjoy an active life style but the pain is depleting my energy and desire to go and exercise and play with my kids.
    Do you have any thoughts or helpful tips on where to start?
    Thanks

    • Yes – but really you need to find a doc who can go through all those muscles and figure out where the problem is and how best to fix it. Typically postpartum the psoas are the most affected.

  32. Hi Dr. Steve –
    I am a 43 year old femaile and exercise enthusiast. I do a variety of activities (yoga, pilates, spin, run, etc.) – I did my first 1/2 marathon last October and felt great in training and running. I have a pretty clean diet – very high vegetable consumption, fish, some dairy, some whole grains, and I do enjoy coffee (which I drink black), red wine, and chocolate but I am good at moderation – my degree is in nutritional sciences so I am very careful to get enough protein. I am in great shape physically but have a very stressful sales job, my finances are pretty tight, and I have 2 12 year old dogs – 1 of which, especially, has some major health issues so, I definitely have some significant stress in my life.
    Anyway, last Friday, I went out for a run and felt arch pain in my left arch for the first time in my life. I honestly thought my sock may have been bunched so I ran 6 miles at a normal pace and felt pretty good but once I stopped and took my running shoes and socks off, the pain was almost unbearable. I rolled it, massaged it, etc and by the end of the day it felt pretty good. It felt pretty good all weekend and Monday – I had pretty much forgotten about it so, this morning I was planning on going for a 4 mile run and the minute I started, the pain was back. I made it about a mile and then felt like I couldn’t run another step.
    I really like your approach but am not even sure if I have PF….I don’t really feel any spots on my shin or calf – the inner arch is tender to the touch.
    Full disclosure, I did have some knee pain in the spring of this year in the same (left) leg but that resolved with traditional PT exercises, stretches, etc.
    I would love any advice you could give me – I LOVE running and don’t want to give it up.
    Thank you,
    Nancy

    • I think you may need to evaluate your gait and see if something is causing your knee to be an issue there, and now affecting your foot. Check deep soleus and tib posterior.

  33. Kathy Poling says:

    Hi Dr. Steve,
    What is your opinion of cross friction therapy on injuries, ie. achilles tendon?
    Also, would you know of any Drs. like yourself in Southern California?
    Love this web page and have recommended to others!
    Thanks!
    Kathy

    • Check out my trigger point post. I stay off of injuries so for Achilles issues I’d typically go to the soleus and I don’t necessarily think that the therapy needs to be “cross”.

  34. Hey Sock Doc,
    I’m 52 years old and jog a few times a week on a hard-surface track. My feet are weak (no doubt from overly supportive shoes and orthotics) and malformed (sizable bunions, severe over-pronation, fallen arches, etc.) Moreover, I’ve suffered everything from post-interior tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis the last three or four years (in fact, I’m suffering a bout of the latter in my left heel as I type). But my question is this: I’m thinking of scrapping the orthotics and overly supportive shoes for more minimalist types BUT I’m an urban dweller and don’t have access to softer, natural surfaces (beaches, trails, fields, etc.) to run on, so: are minimalist shoes okay for something as hard as even concrete?

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