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Healthy Athletes adds Fit Feet as new service

Having the right shoe size is essential for success in track & field and many other Special Olympics sports.

What do SOMO athletes do in between competition at state games? Perhaps they’ll grab some food to refuel, or visit with friends, or maybe receive a general foot exam.

Thanks to the development of the Healthy Athletes program, our athletes now have the opportunity to improve their health in an environment that is focused on the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

At the State Summer Games in May, our Healthy Athletes program was in full swing.  Dentists, audiologists, physical therapists, and other health professionals volunteered their time to make sure our athletes were in tip-top shape to compete.

New to SOMO’s Healthy Athletes program is Fit Feet. A group of specialists – including podiatrists, Mizzou athletic trainers, and shoe store employees – completed nearly 150 general foot exams for our athletes.

Dr. Scott Foster of Columbia had been looking for a philanthropic opportunity at the same time SOMO was searching for a podiatrist to help lead the Fit Feet team, so he readily agreed to join.  With another podiatrist, he traveled to Boston for Fit Feet training and orientation.  Once at the State Summer Games, the Fit Feet team discovered a variance of issues surrounding the foot health of our athletes.

“The main issue seemed to center around shoe size and shoe type. Many of the athletes had the wrong shoe size and many had the wrong type of shoe for their sports,” Dr. Foster says.

These findings were very important because they negatively affect more than just an athlete’s performance.

“A shoe too big may slow them down, make them move awkwardly, and cause blisters or irritation from the foot moving too much in the shoe,” Dr Foster added.  “A shoe too small will also cause blisters and be uncomfortable, slowing the athlete down. Prolonged use of shoes too small may also lead to deformities such as bunions and hammertoes, which is a common deformity with individuals who have intellectual disabilities.”

These findings have led to many athletes getting the right shoes for their feet.  Connie Hinds, a member of the team Unstoppable Dawgs, talked about the effects of her experience with Fit Feet.

“I got the right shoe size now,” she says. “I wear a 6.5. I feel a lot better!”

Christopher Thebo of the Power Punch Bunch adds, “I would do it again.  They were very nice.”

Sounds like a win-win to us.  Healthy Athletes means happy athletes, and that’s what we’re all about.

To support the Healthy Athletes program or volunteer your time at an upcoming Healthy Athletes screening, email Diannah White.