Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Outdoor Winter Activities

Many people enjoy staying inside during the winter. They are content with their hot cocoa, a good book and a warm blanket. Other people get a little taste of cabin fever during the snowy winter season. Winter is a great time to be outside. The air is crisp, snow is abundant and you can withstand the weather with a little preparation. For those of you looking for opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors with your family in winter, try some of these ideas:

1. Skiing/Snowboarding. This has become the great winter classic recreational sport. There are many places to do this activity as a day trip, and most offer rentals and lessons for beginners. If you have never had the opportunity to go, you should plan a trip. You can also cross country ski in areas where hills are less abundant. The Hancock county parks district offers cross country ski rentals at Riverbend Park just outside of Findlay.

2. Ice Skating. Winter is a great time to participate in this long-time favorite. And if you live around a pond, you can participate in this sport outside (make sure that the ice is thick enough first). You can also play hockey on the newly frozen ice. Don't have skates or hockey equipment? Have everyone bring a broom and use a tennis ball to play broomball. The rules are like hockey, but it is played on foot and not skates.

3. Turn your favorite sport into a winter activity. Bundle up and play your favorite sports in the snow. Try replacing white colored balls (like baseballs and golf balls) with colored versions or tennis balls. This may change the game, but so will the snow. Play golf in your neighborhood with designated holes (like a lone tree or fire hydrant) and treat shoveled areas like roads and sidewalks as water traps. Shorten the field in games like football or soccer since the snow will slow you down. The snow also makes for a great workout. Try jogging cross country in the snow, but expect to tire easier and travel shorter distances.

4. Have an organized snowball fight. Give each team a set time to prepare (5 minutes to just make snow balls or a half hour to rig a fort) and then: ready, set, throw! You can organize your games with rules and boundaries, and you can play in rounds. Perhaps getting hit means you're out for that round. You can even set up a dodge-ball size court where everyone has a ball (since you can pick them up and make them).

5. Go sledding. In an area like Findlay that may require a little travel, but it is well worth it. The reservoir is a favorite local sledding hill. The whole family can enjoy sledding, and fresh snow makes it even more fun. Don't want to invest in a sled? Get creative. Trash can lids work great, and even large pieces of cardboard can do in a pinch. Inner tubes are a popular favorite. Perhaps you like to take one swimming and it can double for sledding as well.

6. Nature walks. Don't be afraid to explore nature just because of the weather. Prepare adequately for the weather and hit the trails. Animals are still out to be observed during the winter, you can be too. There are even unique finds in nature during winter, like deer antler sheds. Many people like to feed the local wildlife at feeders over the winter. This is a great way to see birds and other animals up close, and you may get a few surprise visitors to your feeds (like deer or wild turkey showing up at your bird feeders). Just remember that once you start stocking a feeder you need to continue to do so throughout the winter. Animals remember where food is and disrupting their pattern may cost them valuable time that they could spend searching for food elsewhere.

7. Camping. Yes, although a little more extreme, camping is still fun in winter. The weather adds a challenge which many outdoor enthusiasts love to face. If you aren't prepared to face a winter backpacking or tent camping trip, take your RV (or rent one) or find a campground which offers cabins for rent. That way you can avoid the cold of the outdoors by warming up near a fire or a heater. And when you're ready to brave the elements again, you can bundle up and face them on your terms.

8. Yard work. Shoveling is a necessary part of the winter season, but it is also good exercise. Don't hesitate to tackle those few outdoor chores, they may end up being good for you, and they certainly get you out of the house. You can turn chores into games or competitions and involve your children in them. Perhaps give them equal sized lengths of sidewalk to shovel and see who can do it in the least amount of time.

9. Snowmen. Building snowmen is an old favorite. Pushing the balls through the snow until they get big enough to make a snowman or snow woman can be serious work, but the end result is rewarding. Your snowman's style can be as unique as your own. You don't have to dress your snowman in clothes. Try fashioning his nose and other features out of food items for local wildlife to enjoy. You can use grasses and other plants to fashion clothes for your person. Try making a completely green snowman whose melting will benefit the ground he once occupied.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keep this in mind when buying shoes as gifts...

To help busy parents with shoe choices, foot and ankle surgeons recommend some simple guidelines to prevent or minimize possible foot problems from inappropriate shoes, such as painful ingrown toenails, blisters, heel pain and flat feet.

When choosing kids’ shoes, size and shock absorption are the key considerations, especially if your child has flat feet that can worsen from improper fitting or worn-out shoes. Also, a child’s foot can grow a size or two within six months, so it’s critical to allow room for growth in the toe box—about a finger’s width from the longest toe. Snug shoes put pressure on the toes, causing ingrown nails. The nail compresses and grows down into the skin. According to, the ACFAS consumer website, infection can occur when an ingrown nail breaks through the skin.If there’s pain, redness and fluid draining from the area, it’s probably infected. The ingrown nail can be removed in a simple, in-office procedure. Don’t try to remove a child’s ingrown nail at home; this can cause the condition to worsen.

Tight-fitting shoes also cause blisters, corns and calluses on the toes and blisters on the back of the heels.

Never buy shoes that feel tight and uncomfortable in the store. Don’t assume they will stretch or break in over time.

Conversely, shoes that are too loose can cause problems, too. If a shoe is too loose, the foot slides forward and puts excessive pressure on the toes.

Parents should carefully inspect both new and old shoes to check for proper cushioning and arch support. Shoes lose their shock absorption over time, and wear and tear around the edges of the sole usually indicate it’s worn out and should be replaced. If a child keeps wearing worn-out or non-supportive dress or athletic shoes, it elevates the risk for developing heel pain, Achilles tendonitis and even ankle sprains and stress fractures.

A good tip for parents when buying new shoes: The toe box should flex easily and the shoe shouldn’t bend in the middle of the sole.

For children with flat feet, parents should buy oxford, lace-up shoes that have enough depth for an orthotic insert, if necessary. Unfortunately, there isn’t much choice for kids with flat, wide feet. They need shoes with a wide toe box and maximum arch support and shock absorption. Slip-on loafers aren’t right for them.

Please contact Dr. Vail if you have questions about buying the correct shoe for your child. 419-423-1888 or

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thinking of a Holiday Gift?

Before you buy your best friend's newborn a pair of cute baby shoes...keep this in mind:

It is ill-advised to force a child to walk. When physically and mentally ready, the child will walk. Comparisons with other children are misleading, since age for independent walking ranges from 10 to 18 months.When a baby first begins to walk, shoes are not necessary indoors. As a toddler, walking barefoot allows the youngster's foot to grow normally and to develop its musculature and strength, as well as the grasping action of toes. Of course, when walking outside or on rough surfaces, babies' feet should be protected in lightweight, flexible footwear made of natural materials.

If you have any questions or concerns about what appropriate footwear to provide for your child, please call the office to set up an appointment (419-423-1888).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Educate Yourself!

If you're looking for information you can trust about kids and teens that's free of "doctor speak," you've come to the right place. KidsHealth is the most-visited site on the Web for information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years.On a typical weekday, more than 500,000 people visit KidsHealth. One of the things that makes KidsHealth special is that it's really three sites in one: with sections for parents, for kids, and for teens.

KidsHealth is more than just the facts about health. As part of The Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media, KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No More Winter Ho-Hums...

Kids - here is an excellent way to express your creative side and CHASE AWAY THE WINTER BLUES!

Make a fun T-shirt full of real footprints and a special message. A great gift idea!
Instructions: Simply step into a shallow dish with fabric paint in it and then step on the t-shirt. Once the footprints are dry, use a permanent marker to write your message!

Happy Feet...

Happy Feet...

= Happy Kids...

= Happy Kids...

= Happy Family!

= Happy Family!