Take care of them and they’ll take care of you. Who? Your feet. We walk them, run them, and kick them up if we have to. We also put them through a gang of wear and tear with the types of shoes we wear. Ouch!
Pedicures and home spa days are the closest some of us come to pampering our dogs. That’s if we do anything at all besides scrubbing them in the shower. In the interest of foot problems in the present or future, let’s examine a few things that contribute to poor foot health.
Daily Flat Wear To counter walking around in high heels all the time, women alternate with wearing flats. The problem is that they don’t provide much cushiony support for the arch, ball, or heel of the foot. This can lead to heel pain or even tendonitis. If you know you will be doing significant walking, opt for an athletic shoe or another style that offers shock absorption for your feet. That goes for men and dress shoes as well!
DIY Foot Surgery
Okay, home surgeons: put the drill and razors down. Ingrown toenails, blisters, corns, hammertoe, and calluses should be addressed properly. Working on these foot aberrations yourself could lead to much bigger problems. If you have tried home remedies or bought an OTC treatment that hasn’t helped, it’s time to seek the help of a professional. That’s means a doctor, not your nail salon.
Besides catching sweat, socks act as a buffer to the friction between your bare foot and your sneaker (or shoe). They can help with preventing blisters and the growth of toe fungus. If you are looking to prevent odors and excessive moisture, choose socks made with fabric that control moisture. Also ensure you’re wearing the right type for your shoe and activity (e.g. running, walking) so that they offer the best support.
Ignore Hygiene or Pain Many times, sore feet and infections can be prevented with proper hygiene. Trimming toenails straight across prevents ingrown nails. Cleaning debris under the nail can cut down on infections, and scrubbing in between the toes can prevent athlete’s foot. Follow up with moisturizing. Swelling, discoloration, pain, or cracked feet may require medical attention. If you’re unsure of the cause, visit a physician.
Going Barefoot on Hard Surfaces
Who doesn’t love the freedom of being barefoot? Well, sorry to say that walking barefoot on certain surfaces can thin out the padding on your feet, leading to a couple of painful conditions. You have fat pads on the balls and heels of your feet.
When walking on hardwood floors, tile, stone, or cement, it can contribute to fat pad deterioration (as can weight gain and hormones). To prevent what’s essentially fat loss in your foot (good fat!), wear thick socks or slippers when walking on hard surfaces to help absorb shock.
Bound to the Same Size
When we become adults, we know our shoe size and buy shoes confidently. But did you know your size can fluctuate due to factors like age, weight changes, and hormones? The Cleveland Clinic explains that our feet tend to get wider and longer as we age, but deformities like hammertoe can affect how shoes fit too.
It’s recommended to measure and check your foot size every couple years or so, or after your body undergoes a big change. You could be surprised if your foot pain disappears by simply going up a size!
Flip Flop Devotion As stylish and comfortable as they are, flip flops do not provide the proper support for your tootsies. This is for folks who wear them everywhere, all the time. Occasional stints at the pool, gym, or beach aren’t going to maim you, but long term wear can do it. You have to watch out for infections, injuries, clumsiness leading to injury, or issues like tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
Wearing Footwear that’s Too Small, Tight, or Just Plain Bad
You may have heard about the pitfalls of wearing high heels or pointy-toed shoes all the time, but some people are guilty of squeezing their feet into shoes that are not built for them. It if doesn’t fit, just quit. Over time, the wrong type of footwear can cause deformities in your toes or bone.
On top of that, toe cramps, ingrown nails, fallen arches and other serious foot issues could be inevitable. To ensure your toes have wiggle room, give yourself a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the top of the shoe.
Sticking to One Pair of Soles
Podiatrists will tell you not to rely on one pair of shoes alone. Besides rocking shoes that look like they’ve gone through a wood chipper, you should also avoid wearing the same shoes every day, for every task. Your feet muscles can get stressed out if they’re being used in the same way all the time.
Rotating your shoes can give them rest, as well as allow different parts of your foot’s anatomy to work. Additionally, it will give your shoes a chance to air out.
For serious and recurring foot problems, check in with a podiatrist or other specialist to rule out major medical issues like diabetes. With a few minor changes, you can step in comfort and avoid suffering foot agony.
Are you guilty of doing some of the above mentioned things? Are you living with ongoing toe or foot problems? How do you nurture your feet? Tell us in the comments!
The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine