Learn more and contact a licensed professional for assistance
They’ve got their own TV shows, websites, and Instagram accounts: Tiny homes have reached celebrity status. Find out what they are, what’s involved, and if one might be right for you.
SEVEN BIG BENEFITS TO GOING SMALL
What exactly is a tiny home? While there is no formal definition of what one is, the generally accepted definition is a single dwelling unit that is 400 square feet or less. While each of these dwelling spaces is unique and frequently custom-built to the needs and requests of the residents, these small houses include all the typical comforts of home—sleeping area, food-preparation area, storage, and basic utilities such as electricity and water—just on a much smaller scale.
While many tiny homes are stand-alone small but permanent structures with foundations, often technically referred to as accessory dwelling units (ADU), other tiny homes can be transported or even built with attached trailers, frequently referred to by the acronym THOW, standing for “tiny houses on wheels.”
The overall tiny-house movement has been around for a long time, but rising modern housing costs, an inadequate supply of affordable housing, and increased media attention have all combined to help these increasingly appealing homes go mainstream. In addition to these big-picture reasons for their increased popularity, there are several large benefits to going small, and Money Crashers outlines seven of these major reasons:
- Lower expenses—At an average cost of $23,000, a tiny home costs less than 10 times as much as a traditional full-sized home at $272,000 (and even less than an average new car). Those household savings can allow owners to save more, spend more on things they value such as travel, or simply work less.
- No mortgage—Most people can’t afford to buy a home without a mortgage, adding to long-term costs. However, nearly 70% of tiny-home owners own their home free and clear, compared with just 29% of traditional homeowners.
- Less energy use—Tiny homes cost less up front and are much more inexpensive to maintain. What’s more, you can consider taking your tiny home entirely off the grid with solar electricity and other environmentally friendly energy and utility solutions.
- Freedom of placement and movement—Tiny homes have small footprints and can be sited on minimal plots of land. And if you go THOW, you can often take your entire home with you.
- Low maintenance—Less to clean means fewer chores, leaving tiny-home owners more time for work, hobbies, and other priorities.
- Green living—Tiny homes require much less material to build and much less energy to live in, reducing your impact on the environment.
- Simpler life—With less household room for less random stuff, tiny home-owners’ belongings constitute what’s most important to them.
NOT-SO-TINY THINGS TO CONSIDER
While tiny homes offer a simpler lifestyle, there are some more complicated considerations possible residents should think about prior to going all-in. U.S. News & World Report offers some food for thought for those considering their own tiny homes:
- Where will you put it?—Will the tiny home be on an existing lot with a larger home, in a rural area, or on wheels in an RV park?
- ADU or THOW?—Are you staying put or going mobile?
- Who will live in it?—Will the tiny home be for one person, a couple, or an entire family? And don’t forget about pets!
- Can you try before you buy?—Considering renting vacation cabins of various sizes and designs to see how you like living in a small space. Camping is another way to determine what you really need to get by.
- How about the outdoors?—Porches, decks, and room to roam outdoors become more important when your indoor space is limited, so be sure to think about those key areas as well.
- What’s your motivation?—If your tiny-home motivation is strictly to save money, investigate other alternatives as well: In some areas, buying or renting an existing house or apartment may be cheaper. Before you commit to living in a tiny home, know it’s a financially sound decision and you’re doing it for the right reasons.
- Have you thought about utilities?—If you park your THOW in an RV campground, you likely will have access to electricity, running water, and sewage disposal, but if you build or park on your own land, how will you handle sewage disposal, water, power, and internet access? Consider the cost of incorporating utilities into your tiny home when crunching the numbers on housing expenses and hammering out logistics.
- Do you know the codes?—Building codes exist for a reason, as do the codes for recreational vehicles. Any tiny home needs to stand up to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, or the stress (and cost) of towing it on the highway.
LICENSED PROFESSIONALS CAN HELP
Now recognizing them as “an essential component of California’s housing supply”, our state recently passed legislation to encourage construction of tiny homes, specifically ADUs. However, as with other permanent housing types, tiny-home building codes and permitting requirements are defined and overseen by local agencies and jurisdictions. So before you start pouring concrete in your backyard for that tiny-home foundation, consider contacting a professional for assistance: Licensees of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ California Architects Board can help you plan your dream home—tiny or otherwise—and licensees of the Contractors State License Board can build that dream into a reality, while ensuring all building codes, permit requirements, and safety standards are followed. To check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Find out about their many benefits and contact licensed professionals for assistance
They provide shade, shelter, and beauty: Trees enhance our lives and communities in so many ways that it’s difficult to calculate their true value for ourselves and our world.
However, there’s a way you can find out how much that tree in your yard is worth, not just in terms of money, but also in the bigger picture. The free National Tree Benefit Calculator lets you enter details—location, species, and size—about individual trees around you, giving you an idea of both the economic and environmental value your trees provide on an annual basis.
For instance, using the calculator, a single 10-inch-diameter London planetree at the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) headquarters provides an annual overall monetary benefit of $94, factoring in property-value and curb-appeal increases, energy-use reduction, air-quality improvements, stormwater and erosion reduction, and pollution decreases. And that’s just one tree!
If you want even more information about the values and benefits of trees, the Arbor Day Foundation has nine reasons why you should plant them:
- Fight climate change—Wish you could do more than recycling and reducing your carbon footprint to combat climate change? Trees have you covered. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb harmful carbon dioxide, removing and storing the carbon and releasing oxygen back into the air.
- Clean the air—Trees don’t just absorb carbon dioxide. They also absorb odors and pollutants like nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and ozone. It’s estimated that one tree can absorb nearly 10 pounds of polluted air each year and release 260 pounds of oxygen.
- Prevent soil erosion and rainwater runoff—During heavy rains, water runoff finds its way to streams, lakes, and wetlands, creating the potential for flooding. It also picks up and carries pollutants along the way. But trees’ leaf canopies help buffer the falling rain and their roots hold the soil in place, encouraging the water to seep into the ground rather than run off.
- Have fun gardening—Gardening can be intimidating for newbies because there are so many variables. Which plants and flowers should you put next to each other and which should you separate? Which bloom in the summer and which bloom in the fall? When you’re dealing with trees, there’s none of that: Just choose a spot and you’re good to go.
- Save money—Trees conserve energy in summer and winter, providing shade from the hot summer sun and shelter from cold winter winds. With trees standing between you and the elements, you’ll spend less on your energy bill to heat and cool your home.
- Increase your home’s value—Studies of comparable homes with and without trees show that, if you have trees in your yard, your home’s value increases by up to 15%.
- Attract and support wildlife—Trees provide nesting sites, food, and shelter for birds, squirrels, and other wild neighbors.
- Improve your mental and physical health—A view of trees in urban areas has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and even the crime rate. In addition, tree-filled gardens on hospital grounds have been found to speed healing in hospital patients.
- Create a legacy for your descendants—Trees can live hundreds of years, so when you plant one, you’re giving a gift to your children and grandchildren. It’s a symbol of your commitment to the environment and the beauty of the world around you that will live on far beyond your own lifetime.
Check out resources for free neighborhood trees and, to incorporate trees and other outdoor elements to their—and your—best advantage in a landscape, contact a professional licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Landscape Architects Technical Committee; for assistance with tree pruning and upkeep, contact a tree service contractor licensed by the Contractors State License Board; to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Know the basics and call a licensed professional for plumbing help
With holiday-season cooking and baking about to get underway—and with even more people preparing meals at home as part of “coronacoping”—it’s a good time to remember what not to put down your kitchen (or any other) sink.
According to Real Simple magazine, here are 10 things that never should never go down the drain:
- Grease and oil—The next time you cook bacon, think twice before you pour the grease down the drain, where it can cause a clog in your pipes.
- Coffee grounds—Before you pour out leftover coffee or wash out your coffee maker, scoop out and dispose of any coffee grounds. Even if there aren’t a lot left, if you have a habit of pouring them down the sink every morning, they can build up in your plumbing.
- Uncooked rice—Rice expands in water, so just imagine what happens when you pour extra rice down the drain and then turn on the water.
- Flour and dough—When baking, always scrape excess flour or dough into the trash can before you wash the bowls, measuring cups, or egg beaters at the sink. Otherwise, you’ll risk clogging the drain with a messy goop.
- Eggshells—Even if you have a garbage disposal, eggshells should never be put down the sink because the membrane of the shell is known to cause clogs. Instead, throw them in the trash or consider composting them.
- Medications—When you pour medicine down the drain, it enters and pollutes waterways. But there are several different options for safe disposal: Check with your local pharmacy, which may have a medical waste disposal unit or pre-addressed envelopes that let you mail in the medications for incineration. Also, be on the lookout for U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-sponsored National Drug Take-Back Days annually each April and October.
- “Flushable” wipes—They may say “flushable,” but that doesn’t always mean these wipes will disintegrate easily, and they can be particularly difficult on older plumbing systems. Simply throw these away with your regular trash.
- Cleaning products—To avoid water pollution, never pour harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia down the drain. Instead, contact your local hazardous household waste collection center for their drop-off schedule and procedures.
- Paint—Depending upon how much leftover paint you have, there are a few options for safe disposal—but pouring it down the drain is never one of them. If it’s a small amount, simply open up the lid and allow the paint to dry out before throwing it away (do this outside to avoid fumes). But if you have half a can left, try mixing it with kitty litter and allowing it to dry, turning it into a solid before disposing of it. If you have more paint, contact your local hazardous household waste collection center.
- Chemicals—Pesticides and other chemicals should not be put down the drain. Again, your local hazardous household waste collection center can guide you on proper disposal.
And don’t forget that chemicals include chemical drain cleaners, which have been found to be dangerous to people, plumbing, and the environment. If your drain’s clogged or if you need any other plumbing help, contact a licensed professional for assistance. The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board (CSLB) licenses contractors in California, including those with specialty plumbing licenses. Find out more about licensed contracting professionals and their many services at www.cslb.ca.gov and check a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Make a healthy difference this month and all year long
If you look around this month and see more men sporting moustaches, there’s likely a good reason behind it. November is increasingly known as “Movember”—“m” for “men” or “moustache”—a monthlong recognition of men’s health issues.
A MOVEMENT FOR MEN’S HEALTH
Movember began in Australia in 2003 when a group of male friends decided to fundraise for prostate cancer research by growing mustaches. The idea was such a hit with the dozens of men who participated that the friends formalized the annual concept and, just a few years later, established an official charity. Today, there are official Movember campaigns in more than 20 countries including the United States, raising research funding as well as awareness of men’s health issues.
While the concept began with a specific focus on prostate cancer—which is the second most common cancer in men worldwide—the awareness campaign has grown to cover a broad range of men’s concerns like testicular cancer, mental health, and healthy living.
NINE HEALTHY THINGS GUYS CAN DO
The Mayo Clinic has nine things men can do to make a healthy difference during Movember and all year long:
- Don’t smoke—If you do smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and chemicals, like those found in some working environments.
- Eat a nutritious diet—Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit foods high in saturated and trans fats, and foods with added sugar and sodium.
- Maintain a healthy weight—Losing excess pounds—and keeping them off—can lower your risk of heart disease as well as various types of cancer.
- Get moving—Exercise can help you control your weight, lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, and possibly lower your risk of certain types of cancer. Choose activities you enjoy, such as tennis, basketball, running, or brisk walking. All physical activity benefits your health.
- Limit alcohol—If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. That means up to two drinks a day if you are age 65 or younger and one drink a day if you are older than age 65. The risk of various types of cancer, like liver cancer, appears to increase with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly. Too much alcohol can also raise your blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Manage stress—If you feel constantly on edge or under pressure, your lifestyle habits may suffer—and so might your immune system. Take steps to reduce stress, or learn to deal with stress in healthy ways.
- Drive safely—Vehicle accidents are another common cause of death among men. To stay safe on the road, wear your seat belt, follow the speed limit, never drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substances, and don’t drive distracted or while sleepy.
- Visit the doctor—Don’t avoid the doctor or wait to visit until something is seriously wrong. Your doctor is your best ally for maintaining health and preventing disease. Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations if you have health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, and ask about preventive care like cancer screenings, vaccinations, and other health evaluations.
- Talk to a mental health professional—Suicide is another leading men’s health risk, and an important risk factor for suicide among men is depression. If you have signs and symptoms of depression, talk to a mental health professional. If you are contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or call 911.
Department of Consumer Affairs’ allied health, behavioral sciences, and psychology licensees are dedicated to helping men—and all Californians—live their healthiest lives. To check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Related Reading: With Screenings, Colon Cancer Is Preventable
In 1983, President Ronald Regan designated November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In a cruel twist of fate, he later developed Alzheimer’s and courageously battled the disease which has afflicted more than 47 million people worldwide. In the United States alone, there are more than 5.7 million people living with Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association states that Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death and is the only cause among the top 10 that can’t be prevented, cured, or slowed. To help raise awareness to this growing epidemic, The Alzheimer’s Association works to educate the public about Alzheimer’s disease, its magnitude, the care options for those affected, as well as help raise money for medical research. One of the biggest public awareness campaigns sponsored by The Alzheimer’s Association is Walk to End Alzheimer’s which is the world’s largest event that benefits Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Walk to End Alzheimer’s is held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide. Due to the pandemic, this year’s event wasn’t a big in-person gathering and instead consisted of small teams of family and friends joining to contribute to the cause.
According to hopkinsmedicine.org Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It often progresses to the point where it affects daily activities and functions.
Many, including health care professionals, consider Alzheimer’s one of the cruelest diseases as it robs people of their memory resulting often with them not even recognizing the loved ones who are caring for them during their time of need.
While it’s true that Alzheimer’s disease most commonly affects older adults, people in their 30s or 40s are susceptible to it as well. When Alzheimer’s disease occurs in someone under age 65, it is known as early-onset (or younger-onset) Alzheimer’s disease.
Almost five percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease have the early-onset form. Many of them are in their 40s and 50s when the disease takes hold.
While there is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s or other related dementias, the Johns Hopkins Medical Website (hopkinsmedicine.org) provides a list of things you can do that can help to reduce the risk of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. They include:
- Physical Exercise
- Maintaining A Healthy Diet
- Heart Healthy Behaviors
- Increased Mental Activities (Games, Puzzles, and various Social interacting activities with others).
Medical researchers continue to conduct important studies in the aforementioned areas to learn more about their effect on those suffering from Alzheimer’s. The Johns Hopkins Medical Website also states that experts don’t know the root cause of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease other than it is triggered by proteins in the brain that damage and kill nerve cells. For most people with early-onset Alzheimer’s the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
SOME OF THESE EARLY SYMPTOMS ALSO INCLUDE:
- Forgetting important things, particularly newly learned information, or important dates
- Asking for the same information again and again
- Trouble solving basic problems, such as keeping track of bills or following a favorite recipe
- Losing track of the date or time of year
- Losing track of where you are and how you got there
- Trouble with depth perception or other vision problems
- Trouble joining conversations or finding the right word for something
- Misplacing things and not being able to retrace your steps to find it
- Increasingly poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work and social situations
- Changes in mood and personality
- Severe mood swings and behavior changes
- Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
- Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
- Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
- Severe memory loss
Doctors can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease through cognitive tests of memory, problem solving, and other mental skills and through CT and MRI scans of your brain. These methods allow doctors to see just how much damage there may be to the brain. Researchers are also working to develop biomarkers in the body that will enable them to track and or diagnose the disease much more quickly.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website at http://www.alz.org.
If you need to see a doctor about Alzheimer’s disease, be sure they are licensed. You can check a physician’s license by visiting the Medical Board of California’s website at http://www.mbc.ca.gov.
Give technique a try and contact a licensed professional for pet health and well-being needs
While the limpid love of puppy-dog eyes is given a lot of play—and research—a new study says the eyes have it when communicating with your feline friend.
As just published in Nature/Scientific Reports, the first-of-its-kind study shows it’s possible to build rapport with a cat by using a blinking technique with them. By narrowing your eyes and then slowly blinking, humans appear to become more attractive to cats in a manner similar to when humans use genuine smiles with each other.
Study researchers ran two different experiments, each featuring more than 20 cats from several different households. In the first experiment, psychologists showed owners how to slow-blink when interacting with their cats; in the second experiment, researchers unknown to the cats either kept neutral expressions or slow-blinked at the cats.
The researchers found:
- Cats were more likely to slow-blink at their owners if their owners had slow-blinked at them, compared to when the owner was present in the room but not delivering a slow-blink stimulus.
- Cats were more likely to slow-blink when an unfamiliar experimenter slow-blinked at them, compared to when an experimenter maintained a neutral expression.
- Cats preferred to approach an experimenter after the experimenter had slow-blinked at the cat instead of when experimenters maintained a neutral expression.
“This study is the first to experimentally investigate the role of slow-blinking in cat-human communication,” said study lead author Professor Karen McComb of England’s University of Sussex School of Psychology, who is both an animal behavioralist and a cat owner. “It’s a great way of enhancing the bond you have with cats: Try narrowing your eyes at them as you would in a relaxed smile, followed by closing your eyes for a couple of seconds. You’ll find they respond in the same way themselves and you can start a sort of conversation.”
Want to incorporate them into your home or yard? Contact a licensed professional
They were elemental in the midcentury modern design movement, but they’re making a major comeback in the new millennium: breeze blocks, the pierced cement blocks that circulate air, soften light, and offer structural security and patterned privacy.
If you look around, more likely than not, you’ll see examples of breeze-block structures in your community. Many structures still stand—especially in warm Southern California—while countless others fell following the trend’s end in the 1970s. But architects and homeowners are rediscovering breeze blocks’ many benefits and incorporating them into today’s homes and gardens.
BEAUTIFUL AND FUNCTIONAL
While versions of screening elements made from wood or masonry have been around for centuries in many cultures, the 20th-century breeze-block trend kicked off in hot and sunny Brazil. That’s where in the 1920s a group of engineers—Amadeu Oliveira Coimbra, Ernesto August Boeckmann, and Antônio de Góisof—created the “cobogó” (named after a combination of the first two letters of each of their last names), an architectural element that allows for filtered sunlight and natural ventilation.
Elsewhere in the Americas around that same time, renowned U.S. architect Frank Lloyd Wright was experimenting with concrete-block construction—which he called “textile blocks”—for his cutting-edge structures, his idea being to create a beautiful and literal building block that people could easily use to construct modular homes.
The cobogó trio’s idea and Wright’s building-block experiments began to gain massive followings when their concepts started hitting the international arena, like when Brazilian architects Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer put the cobogó front and center for millions at the 1939 New York World’s Fair Brazil Pavilion, and U.S. architect Edward Durell Stone’s breeze-block-covered 1959 American embassy in New Delhi, India, caused a sensation.
With highly visible and award-winning structures like these setting the trend, breeze blocks became a hot architectural ticket. They even became so popular that many local breeze-block factories started sprouting up throughout the United States to save on shipping costs and logistics. But trends by their nature are temporary, and after the element’s design reign during the 1950s and 1960s, the breeze-block saturation began to sway homeowners in other directions in the 1970s and beyond.
Consigned to kitsch in the later part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, breeze blocks are getting another look from today’s architects and homeowners for the very reasons why they were developed and became so popular in the first place:
- Inexpensive—Just as they were 50 years ago, breeze blocks are still relatively inexpensive compared to other building materials like stone, with the blocks themselves costing a few dollars each.
- Functional—Originally created in the decades before air conditioning, structurally sound breeze blocks allow for shading and air circulation while maintaining security and offering different levels of privacy based on the blocks’ designs.
- Beautiful—With many designs to choose from, breeze blocks’ textures look interesting on their own, but they also create their own patterns when sunlight moves through them and are especially striking when lit from behind at night. Blocks can be left in their natural state, or they can be stained or painted. They can be used indoors or out, and have an attractive ability to blur the line between the two when the blocks’ perforations offer glimpses of greenery or sky, or even have plants and vines growing through them.
If you want to bring a little mid-century magic to your home or garden, consider bringing breeze blocks back. To plan and implement a retro-modern project in your home or garden, contact an architect or landscape architect licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) California Architects Board or Landscape Architects Technical Committee; for help with breeze-block installation, contact a contractor licensed by DCA’s Contractors State License Board; check professionals’ licenses at https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Reduce worry by using licensed moving professionals
We all know moving is stressful, but just how stressful is it? Well, according to a new survey, moving is more traumatic than many life events, including divorce.
After polling 1,000 Americans who had moved in the past three years, the survey found that 45% of respondents said moving is more stressful than going through a breakup or divorce (44%), getting married (33%), or having children (31%).
Key stress factors identified by respondents that put moving at the top of the list included packing (48%), sorting what to keep and what to get rid of or donate (47%), and finding a mover (24%).
But one more response sheds light on how to possibly reduce moving stress: Of those surveyed who did their last move on their own, 43% said they would never do it again, while 94% of those who hired professional movers for their last move (578 respondents) said it was worth every penny.
“Using a professional mover, as indicated by the survey results, can eliminate a significant amount of stress related to moving because you are working with professionals experienced in safely prepping furnishings for transport and getting belongings from the truck to the new residence safely,” said Kevin Murphy, vice president and general manager of North American Van Lines, which conducted the survey in conjunction with OnePoll.com.
For an extra level of stress reduction, consumer protection, and peace of mind, use professional movers who are licensed and regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Household Goods and Services (BHGS). Check out helpful moving tips and more at https://bhgs.dca.ca.gov, and to check professionals’ licenses, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Find out about hazards and contact licensed professionals for assistance
What’s the most dangerous place in your home? The kitchen, with its capacity for fires and burns? How about the garage, with its tools and appliances? You may be surprised to find out that bathrooms are actually where most at-home accidents and injuries—and even fatalities—occur. Learn more about what to look out for, and what you can do, to help keep all ages safer in the bathroom.
BATHROOM SAFETY FOR ALL AGES
- Showers and floors—For both children and adults, use nonslip suction mats or rubber decals in the bottom of your tub or shower to prevent falls, and use a nonskid bath mat on the floor for firm footing when entering and exiting the tub or shower. Benches are helpful for older adults so they can safely sit while showering.
- Toilets—Households with young children should install lid locks on all toilets to prevent drowning; homes with older adults should install a toilet-seat raiser to prevent falls.
- Bathtubs—Children should never be left alone in the bathtub, or even when there is water in the bathtub, due to drowning danger, and an adult must always be present, even when older siblings are helping or supervising; grab bars specifically made for bathtub safety, not towel bars or racks, installed around bathtubs provide additional stability for adults getting in and out of the tub.
- Medicine cabinets—With children in the home, any medicines kept in the bathroom should be stored in a locked cabinet, including over-the-counter medications, in their original bottles, which should have childproof caps.
- Countertops—Keep all countertops clear of items such as razors; all electric appliances like curling irons and hair dryers should be kept unplugged when not in use and stored out of the way.
- Faucets and water heaters— To prevent scalding and burns for all ages, set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees and, if you don’t already have one, install single-lever faucets to mix hot and cold water together.
CONTACT A LICENSED PROFESSIONAL FOR ASSISTANCE
Many of these bathroom-safety improvements can be done by anyone for no or low cost. However, if you have questions or need assistance, contact a licensed professional for assistance. Licensees of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board are happy to help make your home safer; find out more about these professionals at https://cslb.ca.gov, and check a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Study finds commonly used ‘toe springs’ could harm overall foot health
Those comfy kicks you’re wearing could be setting you up for foot conditions down the road, according to a new Harvard University study.
Take a moment to take a look at your shoes: If you see the toe area of your shoes bending slightly upwards, your footwear has what is called a “toe spring.” This feature allows the foot to roll forward while walking in an effort to make the motion more comfortable.
However, as published in Scientific Reports, researchers took on toe springs in a first-ever study and found that, the more curved a toe spring is, the less power the foot inside the shoe needs to exert pushing off the ground while walking. That means foot muscles are weakened by doing less work, making them more susceptible to medical conditions like plantar fasciitis: a very common, hard to heal, and painful inflammation on the bottom of the foot.
Researchers had 13 participants walk barefoot and in four pairs of custom-made sandals on a specially designed treadmill equipped with force plates and an infrared camera system to measure how much power is put into each step. Each pair of sandals had varying degrees of toe-spring angles—from 10 degrees to 40 degrees—designed to mimic the stiffness and shape found in commercially available shoes. Data showed that the propulsive force generated by the metatarsophalangeal joints (where your toes connect to the rest of your foot bones) decreases as the curve of the toe spring on the specially made sandals increased.
“It stands to reason that if the foot muscles have to do less work, then they’re probably going to have less endurance given that many thousands of times a day you push off on your toes,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of biological science, noting the research group plans on doing further research to explore possible needed shoe improvements. “These small differences in muscle work likely add up to substantial differences over time when considering that the average individual in industrialized countries takes 4,000 to 6,000 steps per day; thus, habitually wearing shoes with toe springs could inhibit or de-condition the force-generating capacity of intrinsic foot muscles.”
Are your shoes helping or harming you? Are you experiencing pain when you walk or run? If you have questions about the best footwear for you, as well as overall foot and ankle health, the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Podiatric Medical Board of California licensees can help. Find out more about these professionals’ services, education, and licensure at www.pmbc.ca.gov, and to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.