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It’s easy to take your feet for granted. They allow you to walk, run and get from point A to point B. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, most Americans will have walked 75,000 miles by the time they turn 50.
Many people experience poor foot health but do not take action until they have a major problem. It is estimated that between “75% and 80% of the adult population have some form of foot problem”. In general, women suffer more than men due to their footwear choices. Following these tips can help improve your overall foot health.
1. Get the right fit: Wearing shoes that are too big or too small can cause a number of problems. Big shoes tend to cause blisters, but small shoes can lead to serious long-term problems such as corns, bunions, and other deformities which may require surgery. It can also lead to less serious, but very uncomfortable, issues such as ingrown nails and metatarsalgia. While not all men wear properly fitted shoes, women are at a much higher risk. Studies have found that nine out of every ten women are wearing shoes that are too small.
2. Wash your feet: You may not think of washing your feet as part of your daily shower routine, but you should. Doctors recommend washing your feet daily with a mild soap, being sure to wash between the toes when you bathe. After washing, dry feet completely.
3. Cut your nails properly: One of the most common causes of ingrown toenails is trimming nails too short or rounding them. This can allow for the skin on either side of the nail to fold over, leading to infection. By cutting your nails to the proper length, you can avoid painful ingrown toenails.
5. Moisturize: when the sensitive skin on your feet becomes dry, it can cause some painful complications such as cracked heels. Applying a thick moisturizer regularly over your whole foot (avoiding the space between toes) can “provide a seal over your skin to keep water from escaping and your skin from drying out.” If you have extremely dry cracked heels, you may need to exfoliate them to remove dead skin and apply oil to the driest areas if lotion does not help.
6. Wear good socks: Wearing socks that help keep your feet dry and changing them regularly are an easy way to promote good foot health. Feet have over 250,000 sweat glands, making them a perfect warm, moist environment for bacteria to thrive. By wearing moisture wicking socks, you not only are preventing the growth of bacteria, but also helping discouraging smelly feet.
7. Limit time wearing shoes that hurt your feet: You don’t have to get rid of all your cute sandals, but limiting the time you wear shoes that hurt your feet can have long term benefits. High heels are bad for your feet and spine and are the most common cause of foot pain in women. Other shoes that you should limit wearing include flip flops, pointed-toed shoes, flats with no arch support and shoes that have become worn out.
8. Protect against infection: While it may seem inconvenient, you should always wear shoes in communal areas where bacteria and fungus are likely to thrive. This would include public pools, locker rooms, gyms and even hotel rooms. If you are going to use a public shower, always wear shower shoes. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot may be on the floor and by protecting your feet in communal areas, you are reducing your risk of infection.
9. Foot Exercise: Exercising your feet can not only improve their health, it may also prevent injury, according to Harvard Medical School.Your foot exercises should focus on improving flexibility and strength. Examples of good foot exercises include ankle rolls to improve your range of motion and rolling a ball under your feet to work your plantar fascia. More examples of good foot exercises can be found at the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society’s website.
10. Inspect your feet: At least once a week you should thoroughly inspect your feet, checking for bumps, bruises, cuts, sores, cracked skin and pain. Checking for issues regularly can help you treat issues quickly and prevent additional problems.
While these tips can help promote good foot help, if you experience persistent or serious foot problems it may be time to see a doctor. Revere Health Orthopedics is the premier provider of orthopedic specialty care in Utah. We have a number of doctors specializing in foot and ankle health. To learn more, visit Revere Health Orthopedics’ website.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.