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If you’re like me, you wait until the last minute to finish, or even start, your Christmas shopping. It’s easy to become flustered and panic. Or you can ask for a little help from your friends, which is what I did. I reached out to one of my favorite communities, our Twitter friends. I received advice from some of our favorite health and wellness experts like @ArthritistAshley who tweets about chronic pain, RA, and OA. I chatted with Dr. Mo aka @FitInMyHeart and @GirlGoneHealthy, excited by their unique suggestions. @RunnerLuis, our favorite Before & After Icon, shared several of his best workout/running gift ideas. A few tweets later, I created a last minute Christmas list full of fun and practical ideas for everyone on your list—from teachers to mom to colleagues at work. And in true holiday spirit, I’m paying it forward and sharing with you. I hope you’ll find inspiration, motivation, and maybe even a little something for yourself. Thanks to all of our Twitter friends for their excellent suggestions and helpful holiday tips. 

Cleaning Service Gift Card. “Cleaning your home can be a chore for anyone, but is especially difficult if you live with pain or illness. Consider giving a gift card for a cleaning service or offer services to help a person who may need it this holiday season. A clean home for the holidays is a happy home!” ~Ashley Boynes-Shuck.  Connect with Ashley  on Twitter @ArthritisAshley and Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arthritis-Ashley/140748292608472.

Indoor Cycling Bike. @IronMikeStone didn’t hesitate when asked what his ideal Christmas gift would be. “It’s the Must-Have new training bike.” If you’ve followed the Le Tour De France, you’ll remember seeing commercials with Lance Armstrong working out on a bike like this—it’s the official training bike of the Tour, made by Pro-Form. Be sure to check out Mike’s Triathlon, Fitness, & Motivational Blog.

Aromatherapy Hot/Cold Packs. Podiatrist Rose Caillier, @FootScribe, offered this great suggestion for a favorite gift. She suggests using these for neck, shoulders, feet, and ankles. We took her advice and found this great deal at Brookstone: n•a•p® 2-Piece Lavender Aromatherapy Set.  You can learn more from Rose at www.footscribe.com.

i-Tunes Gift Cards. “I love i-Tunes gift card so I can build up my running playlists.” ~ @RunnerLuis

GU Pure Performance Energy Products. Luis is a marathon runner and hates running out of GU. He suggests buying a box for that special running someone.

Running Undies. Athletic underwear are made of wicking fabric to prevent chafing. “My best gift one year was running undies. They were awesome, and I use them multiple times a week.” Our favorite spot for finding great running undies for men and women is Lululemon. Luis offers health and weight loss advice on Fat Free Life, and he writes a blog at Muddy Runner.

Blender, Food Processor & Juicer Machine. @GirlGoneHealthy recommends this as the perfect gift. “It’s perfect for health nuts or those just starting!” ~ Tera Norberg. And after talking with Tera, we searched and found a great all-in-one product by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck.  Tera features articles about healthy food on her blog Girl Gone Healthy.

Fitbit. “Oh yes, you know what I recommend? A Fitbit. It’s a $99 investment in #LifeLoveANDHealth. It is like having a personal trainer with you at all times. There is also a wonderful community to cheer you on!”  ~ @FitInMyHeart, aka, Dr. Mo, a Florida Podiatrist. For fun, motivation and education check out Dr. Mo’s website at www.FitInMyHeart.com.

Sleep-N-Heel Night Conditioning Heel Sleeves. Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey N. Bowman, recommends the Heel Sleeves for conditioning dry, cracked skin. Visit www.HoustonFootSpecialists.com for more on ordering this product.

Gift Grab Bag. Our friends at AARP Magazine went out of their way this season to create an amazing Holiday Gift Guide specifically tailored for, well, everyone—the fitness enthusiast, the Gardner, the great outdoors enthusiast, pet lovers, and the list goes on. Not only are the gift ideas fun and creative, did we mention they’re all under $50? Now that’s a reason to celebrate! Rather than pick one, we recommend grabbing a warm latte, a fluffy croissant, and curling up with the mag as if it were a good book.  

Body Media Fit Core Armband: http://www.bodymedia.com/Shop/Armband-Packages  @BrooklynFitChik is always up on the latest & greatest in health & wellness and she’s giving us some of her top picks she hopes will find their way under her own Christmas tree this year.” I have the slightly bigger version but would love this sleeker version. Easily one of my favorite workout products that keeps me on track. LOVE!”

Nordic Track 3-in-1 Foal Roller: http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/gifts-under-75?page=5 “My IT Band has it on her wish list.” ~ @BrooklynFitChik

Sorel Tofino Boots: What more can we say about footwear that’s comfy and fashion forward? Maybe we should leave that to someone else who says it best . . . “Because I am worth it!” ~ @BrooklynFitChik. Be sure to visit Margo’s website at www.BrooklynFitChick.com.

Holstee Manifesto Poster. Embrace motivation & inspiration each and every day with words to live by. Did we mention that it’s eco-friendly too? Yep, that’s why Holstee is one of our favorite companies—inspiring a little Happy in our day—as they use sustainable materials and processes. And they have some of the coolest products around.

Happy Feet Insoles. What Gift List would be complete without a quick nod to our fabulous massaging insoles? Trust us, Ole’ Saint Nick himself couldn’t get through Christmas Eve deliveries if he didn’t wear his Happy Feet Insoles all year long.  Or at least that’s what we believe . . . and isn’t that what Christmas is all about? www.happyfeet.net.

 Happy Holidays from the Happy Feet Team!

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Guest Blogger: Dr. Jeffrey N. Bowman

I frequently get asked by my patients, “Why did I develop this rash on my foot?”  More often than not, they have Contact Dermatitis.  Contact Dermatitis is inflammation caused by direct skin contact with an irritating substance or allergen (allergic reaction).  This is different from an allergic reaction to medications.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis, the most common type, results from direct skin contact with acids, soaps, detergents, leather dye, or other chemicals and does not require a prior sensitization.  The reaction often resembles a rash or burn. Allergic Contact Dermatitis is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction that appears 24-48 hours after the exposure.

The reaction varies from a mild irritation and redness to open sores or very small blisters and may vary in the same person over time.  A history of any type of allergy increases the risk for this condition.
The diagnosis is usually based on the skin appearance and a history of exposure to a new product, such as soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, or other irritant.  Treatments include removal and avoidance of the offending agent, topical corticosteroids or in severe cases oral steroids.  If you see this or something unusual, you will want to contact your physician right away for treatment.  Contact Dermatitis is quite common but if left untreated can lead to infections or other problems.  Quick treatment is a key to getting rid of the problem. 

To learn more about foot health, you can visit Houston Foot Specialists. You can also connect with Dr. Bowman on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Jeffrey N. Bowman, DPM, MS
Houston Foot Specialists
Past President, Texas Podiatric Medical Association
Board Member, Texas Podiatric Medical Association
Houston, Tx. 77043

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I’ve never had an ingrown toenail. However, I know all about the pain, the redness, the aggravation and so on. My husband’s side of the family fights ingrown toenails on a regular basis—it is hereditary, you know. And my mother-in-law went as far as having her toenails removed. Ouch! I don’t think the rest of the family will be following in her, well, footsteps anytime soon.

Here are a few of the known causes of ingrown toenails and some tips for relief:

  • Improper Trimming. Cutting nails too short will most certainly cause an ingrown toenail every time.
  • Wearing Improper Footwear. Don’t try and squeeze your foot into a shoe that doesn’t fit properly. This isn’t a fairy tale and you will pay the price.
  • Fungal Infections. Give your toes and feet a little extra TLC once a week. Take a moment to notice any redness, irritation or points of discomfort.
  • Cutting Toenails Too Short. Enough said.
  • Exercise and Sports. If you’re an avid soccer player, kicking up a storm all over the field, it is quite possible that you can cause trauma to your toenails. Certain sports are known to cause foot irritations. If you feel pain, there is nothing to gain—see your doctor immediately.
  • Heredity. Passed down from generation to generation, ingrown toenails are known to dangle from the family tree. So if mom or dad have ingrown toenails, be aware that you may be next in line.

Although I’ve witnessed my husband performing light surgery on his ingrown toenails more than once, it is not recommended. You can make matters worse by trying to cut out the growth, causing infection. Soaking your feet, in many cases, can help alleviate the pain. If ingrown toenails become a common occurrence, you should visit your family physician.

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Gaga has the Grammys, Firth has the Oscars, and Happy Feet has the Choice Awards. Recently selected as a Choice Awards product winner, Happy Feet shined at this year’s National Hardware Show.

A recent comment from NRHA’s vice president Scott Wright stresses the significance of this award, “New products are the lifeblood of the industry. The Retailers’ Choice Awards program recognizes the top products each year at the National Hardware Show® that demonstrate strong sales potential at retail. The award also creates a strong bond between retailers and manufacturers due to the fact that retailers choose the winners.”

Other winners at this year’s show included College Duck Tape from Duck Tape, 360 Grill from Blacktop and Ready-to-eat meals from GoPicnic. Key elements of chosen winners include products that display innovation, great sales, and business potential for retailers.

“We are very proud to have been chosen for this award. As a made in America product we are always striving to keep our work force pain-free and comfortably on their feet for as long as they need to be,” says Annette Salamone, Vice President of Marketing, Happy Feet USA, Inc. “We look forward to The Hardware Show each year.  The attendees are a group of hard-working, on their feet, individuals and it makes us happy to be able to put smiles on their faces.”

Read more about the “latest and greatest” products, like Happy Feet Insoles, in the Hardware Retailing July issue.

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New York City is the land of walking. It is pretty impossible to get around the city without walking daily. If you’re a New Yorker, you probably don’t even think about it until you have visitors come to town and they’re complaining after walking only a fraction of the distance that you don’t even think twice about.

I have been a New Yorker for almost 25 years now, and I am still amazed at how many people I see walking the city streets in high heels! It is because we’re talking about NYC that I say people” instead of “women” :-).

As a fitness trainer and body worker, I cringe when I see these high-heeled lovelies walking block after block in their stilettos.  I get sympathy pains all the way up to my neck. People do not realize just how connected their feet are to the rest of their bodies.

Of course, nothing makes your legs look more gorgeous than a pair of fabulous heels, so it’s not surprising that people make the sacrifice. Fortunately, there is a way to counteract the stiletto damage.  Stimulating specific points on the feet with direct pressure, you can mobilize the joints and rejuvenate them with essential fluid. And not only can you increase the ease of mobility in your feet, you can improve the neural connection between your feet and the other systems of your body.

Ok, you’re thinking . . . can you please give me some more details about how to make this happen. What I’m describing is the MELT foot treatment, specifically, position point pressing with the MELT balls on your feet. I have been a MELT instructor for quite a while now, and I continue to experience amazing changes with my clients after only 20 minutes of MELTing their feet.

Everyone needs to stimulate the tissue in their feet, not just stiletto wearing New Yorkers! Some of the specific changes that MELTing your feet can solicit are:

– reduced foot pain

 -balanced arches

 -reduced low back pain

 -reduced leg tension

 -reduced pressure in the head

 -over time, breathing capacity, jaw pain, migraines, gut issues and common foot dysfunctions improve

Go to meltmethod.com to learn more about the method, and where to find an instructor near you. You will be so happy when you learn how to MELT your feet! And then you will learn to MELT the rest of your body, and hydrate your connective tissue! But be warned – you will very likely become addicted to feeling fabulous and pain-free – with or without your stilettos :-).

Denise Raimi has been working in the health and wellness industry as a fitness trainer and body worker for over twenty-five years. She is a Pilates teacher, a Body Rolling and Body Logic practitioner, and a MELT instructor. As a nutritional cleansing coach, Denise has been able to help her clients reach their optimal performance levels by working on their health from the inside out. She has helped many people make dramatic, positive changes in their lives.

You can follow Denise on Facebook and Twitter. Visit her website at DR-Cleanse.com for invaluable resources and information on cleansing and optimal health and wellness.

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Your wedding day should be remembered as one of the most treasured moments of your life. But all too many brides-to-be ignore the impact of wearing uncomfortable attire, more specifically shoes, while tying the knot and then toasting the night away.  But you can make a vow to enjoy your reception from head to toe. As one new bride suggests, “it makes way more sense (and is way more fun) to change shoes between ceremony and reception than to change dresses.”

Catherine Fletcher married Adam, the love of her life, this past April. From start to finish, Cat donned the wedding planner hat, or veil in this case, and planned out every tiny detail, right down to the homemade cookies—a beloved Italian family recipe handed down for generations—placed on all the reception tables.  A marriage of romance and practicality, The Fletcher wedding day event appeared effortless, a flawless, lovely, and comfortable celebration for everyone, including the bride, who fluttered around the reception like the belle of the ball.

For the actual wedding, Cat wore a stunning pair of hot pink heels. “I originally bought the pink ruffled heels when I thought I was going to be wearing a much simpler dress,” Cat says. “I felt like I needed something to dress it up with. Then, even after my dress choice changed, i couldn’t walk away from them because they were just too spectacular, and how often is it that you get to wear the loudest shoes that you want without anyone saying anything to you about it? I wanted something that was bright, fun, and sexy all at the same time.” She stole the show in those shoes.

After walking down the aisle, hand in hand, with her new husband, Cat changed into her second set of wedding shoes—her reception flats, you know, just a simple pair of Vera Wang slippers. “For the reception, I knew that I was going to be doing a lot of walking (to greet all of the guests) and dancing,” Cat says, “so I wanted to be comfortable. My dress also made me feel like a Cinderella princess, and the Vera Wang shoes with the crystal encrusted peep toe were the perfect blend of modernity with the classic image of a glass slipper.”

“As far as foot care, Aubrey and I went to have drinks and pedicures the day before the wedding as a special Matron of Honor and Bride date. It was very relaxing–a great way to de-stress and take the time to remind yourself what this whole big party is really about.”

Photos courtesy of Erin Kate Photography.

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June Guest Blogger: Ashley Boynes

Living with arthritis is a pain in the….well, everywhere…but many people who live with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, etc., tend to have a lot of trouble with their feet. It’s no wonder that those of us with chronic pain have tortured tootsies – many of us are on our feet all the time! But, it also depends on the shoes that we wear.

A recent piece of arthritis research showed that the shoes we wear can actually be contributing to rising levels of foot osteoarthritis! A poll in the UK claims that high heels can be blamed for increasing and/or worsening arthritis. They are facing an “arthritis crisis” and want to point the proverbial finger at fashionable stilettos, kitten heels, and other forms of high-heeled shoes, claiming, “the footwear alters the body’s posture and increases pressure on the foot, ankle, and knee joints.” The study also showed that ¼ of women wear high heels daily or at least frequently, and, when it comes to working out or being athletic, that 77% of  both men AND women do not wear shoes specifically designed for the sport that they are participating in. Naturally, this can cause increased risk for strains and injuries that can increase one’s risk for arthritis, too!

I’ve written a blog post on the topic of shoes before – I’m obsessed, with fancy, fashion-forward footwear, and yet, as irony would have it, I have RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and OA (osteoarthritis) pretty badly. It is quite disappointing for me not to be able to wear my gorgeous high heels on a daily basis. I’ve come to terms with it, though, and on a usual basis wear more casual shoes – sneakers, flats, etc. to prevent further damage to my feet, ankles, and knees. I save the heels for weekends and special occasions (against the advice of my doctors, who say I shouldn’t be wearing heels at all….shhh!)

To be honest, don’t follow my example. The best kind of shoe for an arthritis sufferer to wear is a supportive shoe with a shock-absorbent sole to help minimize stress on the joints. Your shoes should not put you at risk for falls or twisted ankles. Flat shoes or shoes with only a slight elevation are preferred. Your rheumatologist or physical therapist should be able to point you in the right direction.

For days when your “dogs are barking” consider foot massage, foot acupressure, yoga, or insoles to help promote foot health and comfort! Treat your feet to pedicures now and then, remember to stretch and exercise your toes, and check out products such as foot spas, or Happy Feet therapeutic massaging insoles.  Thank your feet for helping you walk through life and all of its struggles on a daily basis!

Remember: “The ultimate dance, the dance of life, is performed best and longest on healthy, happy feet.”

– Ashley Boynes a.k.a. “Arthritis Ashley”

BIO: Ashley Boynes, also known as “Arthritis Ashley,” is a writer best known for her inspirational self-help and health advocacy work in the chronic illness and arthritis communities. She blogs for the Arthritis Foundation’s Mid Atlantic Region and Let’s Move Together initiative, and moderates the Rheum to Grow Facebook page for young adults with rheumatic diseases. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 10, she is now 27 and in addition to the RA also lives with osteoarthritis, lupus, and celiac disease, as well as recently undergoing brain surgery for Chiari malformation. Ashley encourages living a positive and healthful lifestyle of overall wellness. Her interests include volunteerism and advocacy, social media, pop culture, the arts, philosophy, fashion, animals, and the Steelers. Soon to be married, she resides in Pennsylvania with her fiancé Mike, pug Maggie May, and new kitten, Jack-Jack. In addition to health blogging, Ashley also writes fashion and events pieces for Maniac Magazine, and is working on a novel.

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