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Happy Feet Make Happy Groomers

Join Melissa Verplank for some great tips about grooming footwear! Just like finding the right pair of shears, good shoes are crucial when in the dog grooming industry. Melissa shares some of her favorites.

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Melissa: Hey guys. Melissa here, and today I want to talk to you a little bit about one of the really important parts of our body, and that is our feet. You’re going, “Yeah right. Feet, Melissa. What about our hands?” I know. As groomers, our hands are so critical to what we do, but I’m going to tell you what. I have had hand problems throughout my career, and I’ve also now having feet problems for the past couple of years, and I will take a hand problem any day over a foot problem, because if you don’t have your feet feeling good, you can’t do much else. You can’t be active, and you certainly can’t stand for long periods of time with any type of comfort.

So I want to talk to you a little bit about maybe how to better take care of your feet. This is definitely a situation where do as I say, not as I did, because way back in the day when I was standing for hours at a grooming table, I was in Mobile in the summertime, didn’t have good air conditioners, and one of the most comfortable things for me was to just be barefoot. So I was grooming barefoot. I know. Crazy. Luckily I never had clippers or scissors drop on my feet, and I never had a problem with embedded hairs.

But bottom line, down the road, as I’ve aged, and now I’m in my mid to late fifties, my feet are taking a beating. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I play with horses as well quite a bit, and over the years I’ve been stepped on more than I care to admit, and probably had more broken bones in my feet, due to the horses. But it adds up to now I definitely have foot problems, and today I really battle plantar fasciitis. I’ve had it in both feet, I’ve been able to get over it, but it is a bear, it’s frustrating, and it’s extremely painful to the point when you first get out of bed, and anybody that’s had plantar fasciitis knows this, that it hurts the worst in the morning and getting out of bed can be really, really painful. For a time period, I’ve even had crutches right beside my bed because I absolutely could not put weight on my foot.

So I want to talk to you a little bit about taking care of your feet, getting those good shoes, good support shoes on your feet and using them. But just like shears, there’s a big difference between what’s going to feel good to me and what’s going to feel good to you. And just as with shears, I always encourage you to try shears on at trade shows, find out how they’re working, because there’s a lot of different styles of shears, there’s different shears for different purposes, shoes are no different. So I really encourage you to get into those shoe stores and try shoes on, take them for a test spin around the store, around the mall, whatever it may be, and find something that is a good fit for you.

And because I say something is a great shoe, it might be a great shoe for me and really comfortable and solve my problems, but it might not work necessarily for you. So get out there and take a look at what’s out there, but today I just want to share with you some of the shoes and some of the things that I have found that have really helped support me and allow me to maintain an active lifestyle. And it is between shoes and inserts, and back when I was first dealing with all of this, I went to the specialist and he said, “No more cute shoes for you.” Well, he was right, and I was certainly not looking forward to dealing with strictly orthopedic style shoes, and over the years I’ve been able to find some things that, okay, I can’t wear high heels anymore, but they’re still relatively attractive and they’re really comfortable and offer great support.

So I do have a very wide foot, and as I said, I deal with plantar fasciitis. I don’t have the longest foot. I wear about a seven, seven and a half shoe size, and like I said, I’ve been dealing a lot with plantar fasciitis, so I am looking for a lot of arch support with the shoes that I look for. One of the first shoes that really solved a lot of my problems was Vionic. And the Vionic, I have these slippers, and this is what I will get into first thing in the morning.

What I love about it is it has a really deep heel cushion. It has good arch support. I like the fact that, it’s black so you really can’t see very well, but it’s a slide on shoe, so you can wear it with socks or barefoot. It also has a rubber sole on it, so if I am running outside real quick, I can wear these if I’m just going out for short amount of times, but for the most part these are what I wear in the house and they are super comfortable. I wear them for when I first step out of bed, and if I’m working in the house, they are what are on my feet all day.

I am definitely a sandals kind of a gal in the summertime. Vionic also has a great sandal type shoe. These are my old ones. I’ve almost worn them out. I’m really due for a new one, but I mean, relatively stylish for a orthopedic type shoe. Again, a really deep heel bed, good arch support, great cushion all the way through the shoe. Good treads on the underside. I have walked long, long days in these shoes. Ann Arbor Art Fair. Anybody that’s in Michigan knows, the Ann Arbor Art Fair, knows how much walking on concrete that is. These shoes have gotten me through that.

Another sandal that I really love is the OluKai, I think is what you call it, and these come in a lot of different colors. Again, a good supportive heel bed, nice arch support, good cushion all the way through the shoe. Love this shoe. Can walk for hours with this shoe, and again, comes in a lot of different styles.

Now for work, you’re going to be looking at something that’s probably going to cover your toe. These are a clog that I actually got at a dog grooming trade show, and I love this shoe. It’s got really nice support all the way through. It’s got a little bit of a heel, but not too much of a rise, so I can actually wear them and not feel like I’m going to fall off the shoe. One of the things that I love about their clogs, and they’ve got good tread resistance here, and they have an insert that you can either, use their insert, which has got pretty nice support in it, great cush, or you can put in your own insert, whatever’s going to work well for you.

Most of the time what I see groomers working in is tennis shoes of some sort, and I was at a trade show recently, and one of my followers, Martin, you know who you are, suggested this after he watched me speaking and he knew that I was having some issues with my feet. He could tell that I hurt. And he said, “Melissa, have you ever tried Ohka?” I’m not sure if I’m saying that right. It is O-H-K-A and it is actually a running shoe. And right after that trade show I went out, I searched out a shoe store that had these and I bought myself a pair. Definitely a little on the pricey side, but so worth it. Oh my gosh. I feel like my feet are on pillows or on clouds. It is a running shoe, but for anybody that’s standing for long hours at a time and needs some good support, I cannot wait to get up in the morning and put these shoes on. I love them. I can’t believe how much they have helped me.

And some of the other tennis shoes that people really like, New Balance puts out a nice one. Vionic also puts out a nice tennis shoe with great support. There’s a lot of different ones out there. Merrell, some people like Merrells. Other people like Keens. Again, you’ve got a lot of different styles and brands out there that are going to help you and give your foot the stability that you need to be able to stand for a long period of time and not break your foot down. It’s also going to play up through your back as well. If your feet are comfortable, your back is comfortable.

A couple other things that I just want to say before I close this out is if you don’t want to go for the full shoe, sometimes inserts work really well, and I’m going to tell you I started with these. These are Power Steps, and there are two different types of inserts. What I am finding with my inserts is I like something that’s got a little bit more solid on the underside and it’s a little bit more molded. There’s still some flexibility in this, but it’s pretty solid. I look for inserts now that have got the great arch support. I also look for inserts that have got heel cushion and a lot of times, I have another one here, these two are Power Steps and this one is a Walk hero, and the Walk Hero has got not only some heel cushion but also has cushion here and good cushion through this part as well.

And these are going to fit into any shoe. So here, just beat up tennis shoes, but this is just a cheap shoe. I’m not even sure what the brand is, but it’s been used a lot, and I have worked with the insole, the Power Step in these tennis shoes. It’s worked really, really well. The New Balance, somebody suggested this shoe to me. I tried it, didn’t particularly care for the inserts, put in one of my power step inserts, and this shoe has worked really well for me. I do live on a large acreage and it gets muddy. It’s nasty. And so I have my Muck Boots that I love, and I’ve ended up putting my Walk Hero insert into this boot, and it has allowed me to walk all over the property with relative comfort.

So those are just some ideas. But take care of your feet. Like I said, I have had hand issues. I’m just really prone to any kind of inflamed tendon, tendonitis, whether it be my feet, my hands, my elbows. I don’t know why. I work with that through diet, and that’s a whole nother issue or topic to talk about, but take care of your feet, because if your feet feel good, you’re going to feel good. You’re going to be able to do a better job. You’re going to be able to focus on what you’re doing at the grooming table, and longterm, if you want to be at this for quite a while, you need to learn to start taking care of yourself a lot earlier than probably I did. But even if you hurt now, there’s definitely some solutions. Get out there. Find something that works for you and stick with it. So good luck finding something that allows you to stand all day on your feet and do what you love to do, which hopefully is grooming a whole lot of puppies.

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