Healthy Feet for a Healthy Life
Oh, my feet hurt! Does that sound like you? According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population has at least one foot problem annually. It may be the shoes you are wearing, or the foot pain could be the result of an underlying health problem such as diabetes or obesity. You’ll need your feet to carry you an average of 115,000 miles in your lifetime, so avoiding foot problems should be a priority.
In recognition of April as National Foot Health Awareness Month, Village Podiatry Centers’ 35 podiatrists put together tips for healthy feet that will also lead to a healthier life overall. Our podiatrists’ recommendations are:
- Inspect your feet daily with a mirror to check the bottom of your feet for injuries, cracks, peeling, or dry skin. This is especially important if you are diabetic to avoid infection or a non-healing wound.
- Dry your feet and between your toes after showering to avoid fungal infections. Then, moisturize feet and heels with a good lotion.
- Don’t leave nail polish on 24/7 which may lead to brittle nails or fungus. Take a break for several months each year to allow your toenails to recover.
- Apply sunscreen on your feet, between toes and on ankles to avoid sunburn and prevent skin cancer which often goes unnoticed in this area of the body.
- Stretch your feet, ankles and lower legs regularly and before exercising to keep the muscles strong and avoid injury.
- Keep your diabetes under control and have an annual foot inspection with a podiatrist to check for problems such as loss of circulation or loss of sensation (neuropathy). These conditions often occur unnoticed and can put you at risk for infections and non-healing wounds.
- Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise such as walking. Excess weight puts pressure on the feet leading to general foot pain, heel pain, circulatory problems and arthritis.
- If your child complains of recurring foot pain, stumbles frequently or has foot problems that makes him/her unable to keep up with peers in normal activities or sports, see a podiatrist for a thorough evaluation.
- Wear shoes with good support and a low heel. If you like to wear flats, sandals or high heels, alternate with shoes having good arch support. Make sure shoes have enough space without rubbing or squeezing toes. Use shoes inserts to provide arch support and cushion the feet.
- Replace your walking or exercise shoes every six months or 500 miles in order to avoid foot and heel pain when the inside of the shoe begins to wear and lose support.
- As you age, your feet flatten, getting wider and longer. Most likely you will not wear the same size shoe your entire life. Have your foot measured periodically for best fit.
- Don’t go bare footed in public places where you may suffer cuts leading to infection, contract athlete’s foot fungus or plantar warts on the bottom of your feet.
- If you suffer a toe, foot or ankle injury, seek medical attention from a podiatrist. Untreated injuries can result in bones not healing properly causing recurring pain, limited mobility and development of arthritis in the affected joints.