Happy Feet


Get a leg up on the competition and show off your foot skills!

By Don Levine, PT, DPT, FAFS

The marketing and PR committee would like to challenge you to show off your feet! Okay, maybe not your feet, but how about your clients’ happy feet? April is Foot Awareness Month, making this a great time to spread the news about our profession’s expertise in improving mobility and decreasing foot pain. Whether you work with athletes, baby boomers, or geriatric clients, physical therapists (PTs) have much to offer. Revisiting a subject from last year, the committee will also give you some ideas for hitting a home run with your community’s baseball and softball programs. So, let us swing for the fences and get those feet moving!

April Is Foot Awareness Month

PTs need to spread the word that we are experts in the care and prevention of foot pain and dysfunction. To quote a phrase from the well-known continuing course by the American Physical Rehabilitation Network, “When the feet hit the ground, everything changes.”

How true! Who understands the entire chain of events that occur better than a PT? We are trained to see how the foot interacts with the body and how the rest of the body interacts with the foot. Talk about a leg up on our competition! We know our expertise and abilities, but do our consumers?

Just the Facts

Knowing the issues helps us to spread our message. Foot health is a large topic, so we will focus on a few areas where our profession can make an impact:

Ankle Sprains

  • The American College of Sports Medicine estimates that 25,000 Americans suffer from an ankle sprain every day, and studies have shown that 40% of ankle sprains are misdiagnosed or poorly treated leading to chronic ankle pain and disability.1,2
  • 40 to 45% of ankle injuries are sports related.2
  • 85% of ankle sprains are inversion sprains.
  • Risk factors include sports participation and prior injury.3


  • Ankle fractures account for 9% of all fractures.4
  • Ankle fractures are more common in younger males and older females.5
  • Risk factors include participating in high impact sports, using improper sports equipment, working in certain occupations, and cluttered or poorly lit homes.4
  • Individuals with osteoporosis and neuropathy are at increased risk for ankle fractures.4

Plantar Fasciitis

  • Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain.6
  • The causes and risk factors include excessive pronation or flat feet, high arches, tight calves, poor footwear choices, being overweight and standing, running or walking on hard surfaces.6

Severs Disease / Calcaneal Apophysitis

  • This inflammation of the growth plate in the heel is painful, but temporary, and has no long-term effects.7
  • It occurs during growth spurts, typically between 8 and 15 years of age.8
  • Causes are improper footwear, sports with hard foot impact, prolonged standing, and overuse during exercise.8

The PT’s role in the care and prevention of these common foot and ankle injuries varies based on the treating population, but expect these disorders to walk, limp, or crutch into your clinics.

Make an Impact on Your Current and Potential Clients

Educate! Foot health topics can be relevant to your different market segments, including geriatric, pediatric, and sports. Tailor your educational efforts to these groups by posting information in your clinic, on your website, and on Facebook. You might also tweet valuable bits of information.

Consider sharing the following

  • Provide home safety checklists for your older adult clients, as well as to local senior centers.
  • Post information about the dangers of poor footwear choices along with some recommendations.
  • Develop a flyer that describes Severs Disease with some sample stretches and deliver it to local little leagues, soccer, and lacrosse youth teams.
  • Do not forget your referral sources. Marketing materials, such as flyers describing the benefits of PT for plantar fasciitis, can be dropped off at your referring physicians’ offices. Primary care physicians are often looking for direction to help their patients, especially those with “cranky diagnoses” like plantar fasciitis.

Advocate! Safety first! Seek to partner with organizations that are making your community safer. Senior groups, businesses and schools frequently have committees or departments that focus on safety.

Participate! Get out there! Provide lectures to senior centers, youth coaches, businesses, and schools. Look for sponsorship opportunities like soccer tournaments and road races to highlight your business. Spread your knowledge and share your expertise.

Swing for the Fences

Pitchers and catchers reported for practice in February, and the rest of the position players have begun to prepare for Opening Day. It’s a beautiful thing that plays out in towns all over America. Baseball and softball are big business. Is your practice part of the game? Last February, in Impact, we provided an article, “Spring is Sprung. Marketing and PR Home Runs.” We offered information on organizations such as STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention)9. Let us review some of the ideas that we provided for your practice:

  • Coaches’ Clinics
    Provide local youth coaches with a clinic that educates them on common injuries in youth baseball.
  • Partner with Little League!
    Teaming up with your local Little League organization will open up your practice to a large segment of the community. Organizations will be more responsive if you sponsor a team. Look for even more opportunities by volunteering to serve on the board. Every board needs a safety officer!
  • Provide pre-season conditioning programs to local school and youth teams to ensure peak performance and decrease injuries.
  • Develop a flyer for pediatricians on common baseball and softball injuries and share the benefits of physical therapy for this population.
  • Contact local media with stories about the rise of sports injuries seen in our youth and offer to be interviewed to discuss ways to slow this epidemic.
  • Combine these two topics and discuss Severs Disease in this population and provide education in order to decrease its prevalence.
  • Depending upon where you live in the country, winter will be ending soon, and people will start to move their activities outdoors. Expand your reach within your community by establishing your expertise in the areas of foot care, baseball, and softball. The marketing and PR committee hopes that you will take some of these ideas and run with them. Remember, you can’t hit a home run if you don’t swing!


    Don Levine, PT, DPT, FAFS, is chair of the marketing and PR committee and co-owner of Olympic Physical Therapy with five locations in Rhode Island. He can be reached at dlevine@olympicpt-ri.com.


    1. Gray. G. When the Feet Hit the Ground, Everything Changes. Sylvania, Ohio: American Physical Rehabilitation Network; 1984.

    2. Ibrahim V. Maeyler Z. Panagos A. American College of Sports Medicine. Website. http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/anklesprainstemp.pdf. Accessed December 15, 2013

    3. Chong, C. Website. http://orthopaedic.com.sg/recurrent-ankle-sprains-ankle-instability-treatment-ankle-sprains. Accessed December 15, 2013.

    4. Mayo Clinic. Website. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/broken-ankle/DS00951/DSECTION=risk-factors. Accessed December 15, 2013.

    5. Bugler KE. White TO. Thordarson DB. Bone and Joint. Website. http://www.boneandjoint.org.uk/content/focus/ankle-fractures. Accessed December 15, 2013.

    6. Web MD. Website. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/plantar-fasciitis-topic-overview. Accessed December 15, 2013

    7. O’Brien K. Kids Health. Website. http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/bones/severs_disease.html. Accessed December 15, 2013.

    8. Heyworth. B. Children’s Hospital. Website. http://www.childrenshospital.org/health-topics/conditions/s/severs-disease. Updated 2012. Accessed December 15, 2013.

    9. Stop Sports Injuries. Website: http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org. Accessed December 15, 2013.

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