The intricate workings of the various bones, muscles, and ligaments of your feet, ankles, and lower leg make this section of your body susceptible to injury, disease, and other conditions. However, with proper preventative care, you can take an active role in protecting your feet, ankles, and lower legs.
Education is the key to maintaining good podiatric health. By understanding your specific foot care needs, including the best way to exercise your feet, ankles, and legs, you can reduce the chance of injury.
Review the following information to be better informed and to become proactive in improving your podiatric health:
Exercise can lead to improved overall health. From reducing the chance of heart disease and stroke to decreasing stress, exercise can help all facets of your physical and mental health. Proper exercising techniques can also reduce pain in your feet and legs.
Learn more about keeping your feet healthy through exercise:
Before you start a new exercise regimen, you should consult your doctor. Also, if you injure yourself while exercising, contact your doctor for treatment.
ANKLE BRACES AND SUPPORT
An ankle brace is often used to treat a twisted or sprained ankle. When an ankle is sprained it may swell, become stiff or tender, and may be painful to walk on. An ankle brace wraps around the ankle and uses compression to reduce swelling. It also provides stability by supporting the surrounding ligaments and muscles. An ankle brace is usually worn for a few weeks after a sprain, to help the foot function effectively while the ankle heals.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN ANKLE SUPPORT
There are a few things to look for when choosing an ankle brace. For a mild sprain, an elastic bandage that wraps around the ankle may be all that is needed. Such a brace will compress the ankle to reduce swelling; however, it will not provide much support. For more severe sprains, additional support is necessary. In this case, look for a brace that completely surrounds the ankle and has a strap or laces that allow you to adjust the tightness of the brace.
ISSUES CREATED BY IMPROPER FIT
It is important to find an ankle brace that fits properly and provides the right amount of support and compression. If an ankle sprain is mild, avoid using an ankle brace that is too restrictive. If the ankle is not able to move enough after a mild sprain, it may become weak and recovery will take longer.
Similarly, if an ankle sprain is severe, it is important to choose a brace that compresses the ankle and limits movement. If the ankle is able to move too much after a severe sprain, it may cause more damage and take longer to heal. Therefore, a brace used to treat a severe sprain should completely surround the ankle and have straps so the tightness of the brace can be adjusted. This will ensure that it provides enough stability.
If you're not sure what type of ankle brace will be most beneficial for you, consult your doctor.
BEST WALKING PRACTICES
Walking is a good form of exercise with many health benefits, including:
- Boosting energy.
- Helping to strengthen your bones.
- Helping your heart circulate more blood and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your organs.
- Reducing stress, which can produce a more restful night's sleep.
Doctors often recommend walking for 30 minutes, three times a week. However, if you have health problems or have not exercised in quite some time, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a walking exercise regimen.
TIPS FOR PROPER WALKING
- Proper footwear: The first key to proper walking is wearing comfortable shoes. Walking shoes should have arch support and allow enough room for the toes to wiggle, but they should not pinch or rub. Socks should be worn to protect the feet and keep them dry. Synthetic socks are best because they dry quickly and keep moisture away from the foot. Some socks also have a padded heel for additional support.
- Warm up: When beginning a walk, it is important to warm up by walking at a slow pace for the first five minutes. By allowing your muscles to warm up prior to starting a more rigorous pace, you can reduce your risk of injury.
- Walking posture: Throughout the walk be sure to maintain good posture and breathe naturally. Your neck and shoulders should be relaxed and your torso should be upright with abs tightened and elbows at 90 degrees. Keep your arms close to your body and swing them forward and backward, but do not let your hands cross your body as this will slow you down.
- Proper stride: When you walk, your heel should make contact with the ground first and you should roll your weight through the center of your foot to your toe and then push off from the toe to take your next step. Try to keep an even stride and a steady pace. You can increase your speed, but do so gradually. When increasing your pace, focus on using the flexibility in your hips to take quicker steps as opposed to longer strides.
- Cool down: Be sure to finish your workout with a cool down by walking at a slow pace for about five minutes. A cool down can help to prevent muscle soreness and injuries.
- Pain awareness: If you feel pain at any time during your walk, slow down or stop walking until the pain subsides. Do not fight through the pain, as it may be a sign of an injury and continuing to walk can make the condition worse. If the pain persists or is severe, contact your doctor.
AFTER-WALK HOME CARE
After a walk, it is important to take a few minutes to stretch. Stretching can help to improve flexibility and prevent injuries. If your feet are sweaty, either change into a clean, dry pair of socks, or wash and dry your feet. Also, be sure to check your feet for any blisters or sores you may have gotten while walking, and treat them appropriately.
If your feet are swollen, soak them in warm water for five minutes and then in cool water for another five minutes. This should help to relax the feet and reduce swelling. For sore or tired feet, a foot massage can help relieve tension. Lotion can also be applied to prevent dry skin.
For more information about proper walking techniques or foot care, consult your doctor.
COMMON EXERCISE RELATED FOOT PROBLEMS
Although regular exercise is necessary for attaining optimal overall health, exercising can cause a number of foot problems. Without stretching adequately, wearing suitable footwear, and maintaining proper form while exercising, you risk injury to the tendons, muscles, bones, and skin of your feet.
Fortunately, while many exercise-related foot problems can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, they can be healed with proper treatment. If you have a foot injury or condition caused from exercising, a skilled podiatrist can provide the necessary treatment to return or improve foot functionality.
TYPES OF EXERCISE RELATED PROBLEMS
Common exercise-related foot problems include:
- "Policeman's Heel" (injury to the heel bone caused by a sudden impact).
- Foot- and toe-bone breaks and fractures (full or partial breaking of the bones).
- Morton's Neuroma (pinching of the nerves between the toes).
- Athlete's Foot (a fungal skin infection).
- Blisters (friction burns to the skin).
- Bunions (enlargement of the soft tissue and bone inside the ball of the big toe).
- Metatarsalgia (inflammation of the toe joints).
- Plantar fasciitis (injury of the arch-of-foot tendon).
- Turf toe (injury to the ligaments of the big toe).
- Arch pain.
- Ball-of-foot pain.
- Forefoot pain.
CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS OF EXERCISE FOOT PROBLEMS
Many exercises, particularly high-impact ones such as contact sports and jogging, place great stress on your feet and legs, thereby increasing the risk of injury. Foot injuries may occur suddenly (i.e. toe sprains) or over time (i.e. tendon problems caused by repetitive movements).
The following factors can increase the likelihood of exercise-related foot problems:
- Failing to alternate between more- and less-strenuous exercises (thereby increasing stress on the foot tissues).
- Failing to stretch properly before and after exercising.
- Wearing shoes that do not provide proper exercise support.
If you experience any of the symptoms of an exercise-related foot problem, including pain, tightness, and/or heat in the foot or toes, and difficulty standing or walking, call your doctor right away.
TREATMENT FOR EXERCISE RELATED FOOT PROBLEMS
Treatment for an exercise-related foot problem depends on the cause and type of problem. Generally, tendon and bone problems are stabilized with a splint, bandage, or cast, thereby allowing the foot to heal. Your doctor will usually treat skin problems with a topical medication. Nerve problems may require surgery or another treatment.
If you believe you have an exercise-related foot problem and would like to learn more about your treatment options, contact your doctor for the information you need to make an informed decision for your health.
TECHNIQUES FOR MAINTAINING HEALTHY LEGS
Keeping your legs healthy and functional is a key component of maintaining overall podiatric health. By stretching your legs properly and regularly, you can help prevent strain and injury to the leg muscles, tendons, and joints. Leg stretches can also minimize problems caused by structural defects of your feet and legs (i.e. inward-turned ankles). Whether you are seeking to prevent a leg injury, treat a leg condition, or maintain the flexibility of your legs, stretches can help you reach your goal.
SAMPLES OF LEG STRETCHES
The following leg stretches can help minimize many foot, knee, and ankle problems, including injury to the Achilles tendon. Stretch only until you feel a slight pull of the muscles; do not bounce or over-stretch.
- Hamstring stretch (stretches the back of the upper-leg muscle): Stand in front of a chair, keeping both legs straight, and place your left foot on the chair. Lower your head toward your left knee until the left leg muscles are tight. Hold, then relax; repeat five times. Repeat with the right leg.
- Calf stretch (stretches the back of the lower-leg muscle): Stand two feet from a wall, facing the wall. Keeping both feet flat on the floor and the legs and back straight, lean towards the wall. Hold the stretch, and then relax. Repeat ten times.
- Stretching prior to exercise: Stretch the legs for five to 10 minutes before exercise. It is also recommended that you alternate between less-strenuous and more-strenuous aerobic activities (i.e. swimming and jogging, respectively) to minimize impact on the foot and leg tissues.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If you have suffered a leg injury, or if you experience discomfort that does not subside with self-care techniques, contact your doctor. With a proper diagnosis and treatment from a skilled foot care professional, you can restore or improve functionality to your legs.
PROPER SHOES FOR ACTIVITIES
The key to enhancing performance and preventing injuries in athletics and day-to-day physical activities is to wear proper-fitting shoes. It is important to find shoes that not only feel comfortable, but also protect your feet.
Choosing between different types of athletic shoes and sneakers can be difficult. Shoes come in different designs, materials, and weights. Every shoe design is distinct; shoes are designed to protect the areas of the feet that receive the most stress and impact during physical activities. Since every sport requires a different type of movement, it is important to find a shoe designed specifically for one particular activity.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There is a reason shoes are labeled as running shoes, walking shoes, tennis shoes, soccer shoes, aerobics shoes, or cross-trainers; each of these types of shoes has a unique design. While it is not uncommon for people to utilize a single pair of sneakers for multiple types of activities, it is always best to find a shoe that it suited for the right activity.
Here are some tips to help you match your shoes to a particular physical activity:
- Walking - Walking shoes should have good shock absorption, smooth tread, and a flexible sole that encourages rolling of the feet.
- Running - Running shoes should be light with added cushioning, flexibility, and stability in the heel.
- Court Shoes - Basketball, tennis, and volleyball shoes should have good ankle support and a thick sole.
- Field Sports - Soccer, football, softball, and baseball shoes are usually cleated or studded. These shoes must provide good traction.
- Hiking - Hiking shoes should have plenty of room in the toe box, a thick sole, and strong ankle support.
- Track and Field - Track and field shoes vary depending on the type of race being run. There are different shoes to fit different gaits and training styles.
ISSUES CREATED BY IMPROPER SHOE FIT
Many serious foot conditions are caused by one thing – poorly fitting or inappropriate footwear. Shoes that do not fit properly can cause:
Inappropriate shoe wear can lead to:
- Ankle sprains.
- Heel pain.
- Other painful foot disorders.
- Shin splints.
For example, running shoes are designed to support the foot as it moves forward heel-to-toe with extra cushioning on the heel and ball of the foot. On the other hand, aerobics shoes and cross-trainers are designed to support side-to-side movements. It is usually acceptable to wear cross-trainers when running, but wearing running shoes to an aerobics class can lead to serious foot and ankle injuries. The best way to avoid injury is to make sure the shoe you select is designed for your chosen activity.
RUNNING AND JOGGING INJURIES
Running and jogging provides a number of health benefits, making these exercises an excellent option for improving one's overall well-being; however, running is a high-impact exercise, causing many joggers to injure their feet and legs.
Some common running and jogging injuries include:
- Flat feet caused by overpronation (running with the toes turned in).
- Broken bones and stress fractures.
- Morton's Neuroma (pinching of the nerves between the toes).
- Shin splints (inflammation of the sheath surrounding the shin bone).
- Sprains (stretching and/or tearing of a ligament).
- Strains (stretching and/or tearing of a muscle).
- Athlete's Foot (a fungal skin infection).
- Metatarsalgia (inflammation of the toe joints).
- Plantar fasciitis (injury of the arch-of-foot tendon).
- Turf toe (injury to the ligaments of the big toe).
If you have suffered one of these injuries, or if you are experiencing symptoms of a running-related injury, your doctor can help. With proper treatment, you can have the health and functionality of your feet and legs improved or restored.
CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS OF RUNNING /JOGGING INJURIES
Some jogging injuries are simply the result of placing stress on your feet and legs – an unavoidable component of many physical exercises. Many jogging injuries result from improper preparation (e.g. failing to stretch properly prior to exercise and failure to wear proper footwear). Others stem from over training (e.g. running too hard or too fast, thereby placing excessive strain on the feet and legs).
The symptoms of jogging injuries include:
- Burning or itching of the skin.
- Decreased performance.
- Difficulty running.
- Discomfort, tightness, and/or heat in the feet and legs.
- Snapping or crackling sounds in the joints.
TREATMENT FOR RUNNING / JOGGING INJURIES
In treating a jogging or running injury, your doctor will take into consideration a number of factors, including the cause of the injury, type of iinjury, and your overall health. Generally speaking, tendon and bone injuries respond well to stabilizing the area of injury thereby allowing the tissues to heal. Skin injuries may need topical treatment while nerve injuries may require more invasive solutions.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a running- or jogging-related injury, call your doctor to learn about treatment that can help resolve your pain.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD SOCKS
When purchasing socks, most people generally do not think about the total protection they provide. Socks are used for more than just padding and cushioning, they serve as a barrier between the shoes and the feet. A good pair of socks can help absorb some of the pounding suffered by feet and ankles, reduce soreness following physical activities, and prevent foot conditions like calluses, blisters, and fungal infection.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GOOD PAIR OF SOCKS
Finding good socks is not as easy as choosing the most expensive brand. Socks need to be comfortable, and they should also be suited to the proper activity and use.
Here are a few things to consider when picking out socks:
- Do not purchase socks without trying them on first.
- If you are an athlete, try to find socks designed specifically for your sport.
- Look for a high thread count (denser socks repel moisture and protect the feet for longer periods).
- Look for socks with a reinforced heel and toe.
- Look for socks with cushion sole support.
- Make sure to buy the proper sock size; your toes should reach the seam, and the heel padding should hit your heel in the proper place.
ISSUES CREATED BY IMPROPER SOCK FIT
Finding a pair of properly fitting shoes is one of the best ways to prevent foot injury, and a pair of good socks an provide extra insurance against injury. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true; poorly fitting socks can cause blisters, calluses, and abrasions.
Socks that are too tight often trap moisture; this can lead to fungal development and conditions like athlete's foot and toenail fungus. Socks with insufficient cushioning also pose problems for athletes, particularly anyone who plays sports that require pounding feet on pavement and jumping.
A good pair of socks will keep feet cool, dry, and comfortable. To avoid blisters, hot spots, abrasions, and fungal growth, look for socks that wick away moisture and cause less friction and irritation.
TECHNIQUES FOR MAINTAINING HEALTHY TOES
If you have ever suffered a toe injury or even mild toe discomfort, you know how debilitating the loss of function in just one toe can be. Since the toes bear the brunt of our daily walking and exercise, keeping the toes fit and supple is a top priority for maintaining podiatric health. Whether you have a toe condition or simply want to prevent one from occurring, there are a number of toe exercises that can strengthen the toes and help prevent injury.
SAMPLES OF TOE EXERCISES
The following toe exercises are useful for maintaining the toes' flexibility. They are particularly useful for treating hammertoes, toe cramps, ball-of-foot pain, and other toe problems related to over-constricting the foot muscles.
Pointing and flexing your toes
Exercise each toe, one by one. Point the toe, hold for 10 seconds, then flex the toe and hold for 10 seconds.
Squeezing your toes
Use your toes to hold a small cork or other pliable object. Squeeze the object for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Strengthening your toes
There are several toe-strengthening exercises you can perform, including:
- Place a rubber band around all five toes on each foot. Splay the toes and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Place a small towel on the floor in front of you. Grip the towel with your toes and pull it toward you. (You can also place a weight on the end of the towel for added resistance.) Repeat five times.
- Place 20 marbles on the floor in front of you. Using your toes, pick the marbles up, one at a time.
Massaging and relaxing your toes
Some options for relaxing your toes include:
- Roll a golf ball on the ball of your foot, foot arch, and heel. (Helps relax the foot muscles and ease heel pain, foot cramps, and arch strain.)
- Walk barefoot in the sand. (Massages the feet, strengthens the toes, and conditions the foot muscles and joints.)
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If you are experiencing acute pain, or if your discomfort does not decrease with proper self-care methods, contact your doctor. A skilled podiatrist can determine the source of your discomfort and recommend any treatment you may need.
FOOT CARE BY GROUP
There are some foot care tips and recommendations that are helpful for everyone. However, some specific groups of people tend to have generalized sets of foot problems. You should follow the foot care tips and recommendations that meet your needs and lifestyle.
Learn more about proper foot care based on your needs:
FOOT CARE FOR ATHLETES
Because jumping and running takes a toll on your feet, proper foot care is especially important for athletes. Athletes often suffer from injuries caused by repetitive motion, overuse of the joints, and recurring stress on the bones. They are also more prone to fungal infections. Fortunately, with proper foot care, many of these conditions can be prevented.
FOOT AILMENTS FOR ATHLETES
Athletes may suffer from a variety of foot ailments including:
- Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon).
- Bursitis (inflammation of a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a tendon and a bone).
- Fungal infections.
- Metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot).
- Plantar fasciitis (inflammation of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the toes).
- Sesamoiditis (irritation or fracture of the tiny bones near the big toe joint).
- Stress fractures (small cracks in a bone).
FOOT CARE FOR ATHLETES – TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Prevention guidelines and foot-care tips vary based on the type of injury or condition.
Blister, Corn, and Callus Prevention
It is important for athletes to take care of their feet in order to prevent injuries. Sores on your feet often develop as a result of wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or rub against the skin. Some precautions that can be taken to avoid blisters, corns, and calluses include:
- Keeping your feet clean and dry.
- Using lotion to soften your skin and prevent cracking.
- Wearing shoes that are comfortable and fit properly so they don’t rub or irritate the skin.
Tendon, ligament, and bone injury prevention
Steps can also be taken to prevent tendon, ligament, and bone injuries such as sesamoiditis, bursitis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and metatarsalgia. These include:
- Avoiding an activity or particular movement that causes pain.
- Gradually increasing the intensity and/or duration of workouts.
- Stretching before and after every workout to help loosen muscles and tendons.
- Taking it easy if an injury starts to occur and allowing it time to heal.
- Using insoles, arch supports, or heel pads to provide additional support and cushion. This is especially important for those with high arches or flat feet who are more susceptible to injury.
Fungal infection prevention
Fungal infections are common among athletes since damp or sweaty feet provide an ideal environment for fungus to grow. Some precautions that can be taken to prevent fungal infections include:
- Changing socks throughout the day, if your feet sweat, in order to help keep them dry.
- Drying your feet well, especially between the toes, after showering.
- Wearing shower shoes in public showers.
- Wearing socks made of a breathable fabric such as cotton.
If you suffer a foot injury and experience pain or inflammation, it is important to consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
FOOT CARE FOR CHILDREN
Properly caring for the feet during childhood can help prevent foot problems in adulthood. It is important to take good care of a child's feet because they are in a critical stage of development when bone deformities first become apparent and injuries to the growth plate are more likely to occur.
Children may suffer from foot conditions that are inherited or caused by trauma or ill-fitting shoes. Fortunately, many common foot ailments in children can be prevented, and more serious conditions, such as bone deformities, can be corrected with proper treatment.
FOOT AILMENTS IN CHILDREN
Children may suffer from the following foot conditions:
- Club foot (short tendons cause the foot to bend downward and inward).
- Flat Feet.
- Freiberg’s disease (injury to the growth plate that causes pain in the ball of the foot).
- Gordon’s Syndrome (toe joints are fixed in a flexed position).
- High arches.
- Kohler’s disease (bone disorder due to loss of blood supply).
- Osteochondroma (benign growth that forms at the end of the toes).
- Sever’s disease (injury to the growth plate that causes heel pain).
FOOT CARE FOR CHILDREN – TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Foot problems that begin during childhood can often be treated to prevent more serious conditions in adulthood.
Wearing shoes that do not fit properly can cause blisters and structural problems, such as curling of the toes or a high arch. These make a child more susceptible to foot injuries later in life, therefore it is extremely important for children to wear shoes that fit properly and have a little growing room. Typically, shoes must be replaced every few months. Children who have flat feet or high arches may benefit from insoles or arch supports that keep the foot properly aligned. Stretching exercises are also important to help loosen the muscles and tendons; this can prevent injury and may be beneficial in correcting a deformity in which the tendons are too tight.
REGULAR FOOT HEALTH CHECKS
Children may not realize or be able to express when they have a foot ailment, so it is important to keep an eye out for any abnormalities or symptoms such as blisters or limping. All foot conditions should be addressed as soon as possible.
If a child has a foot deformity or is experiencing foot pain, it is important to seek treatment from a medical professional as soon as possible. If left untreated, the condition may lead to further problems down the road.
FOOT CARE FOR DIABETICS
If you are suffering from diabetes, you need to take particularly good care of your feet in order to prevent injuries and infections. Diabetics often suffer from nerve damage that can cause numbness in the feet. When the feet are numb, injuries are more likely to go unnoticed. Diabetics also commonly suffer from poor circulation, which slows healing and increases the risk of infection. Combined, nerve damage and poor circulation can lead to more serious conditions. In fact, diabetics have the highest risk of amputation.
Fortunately, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent injuries. And if an injury does occur, prompt treatment can help ensure that more serious conditions are avoided.
FOOT AILMENTS AFFECTING DIABETICS
Diabetics may suffer from foot ailments including:
- Foot ulcers.
- Numbness due to nerve damage.
- Poor circulation.
TIPS FOR DIABETICS
Keeping diabetes under control can help prevent poor circulation and nerve damage, which is often the cause of more serious foot conditions. If you already have poor circulation and nerve damage as a result of diabetes, there are steps that can be taken to prevent foot ailments.
The first step is to set aside time daily to check your feet for cuts or sores. If any sores are found they should be treated right away to prevent infection. If the wound does not heal or begins to look infected, it is important to seek medical treatment to prevent a more serious condition.
Other preventative measures include:
- Keeping the toe nails trimmed so they do not cut the skin.
- Moisturizing your feet every day to prevent dry, cracked skin.
- Not smoking, as smoking can harden the arteries; this only adds to the problem of poor circulation and slows healing.
- Raising your feet when sitting so they are even with the hips, as this can help to improve circulation.
- Staying active by doing light exercise, such as walking, every day to increase circulation.
- Testing bath water before stepping in to avoid burning your feet.
- Using a pumice stone to remove dry skin and smooth calluses.
- Washing your feet in warm water every day and being sure to dry them completely, especially between the toes.
- Wearing comfortable shoes in order to prevent blisters and sores on your feet.
- Wearing socks and shoes at all times to protect your feet and prevent cuts.
As a diabetic, it is important to pay attention to the health of your feet. If you have any questions about proper foot health and maintenance as a diabetic, please contact your doctor for guidance.
FOOT CARE FOR EVERYONE
With 26 bones each, your feet contain a quarter of all of the bones in your body. Each foot also has 33 joints and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. All of these pieces have to work together so your foot functions properly and has the added task of bearing the weight of your entire body.
It's not surprising that your feet are susceptible to numerous injuries and conditions. However, with proper foot care, you can reduce your risk of foot problems.
No matter what your activity level is, there are various foot problems that can affect anyone. These problems include:
- Broken bones and stress fractures.
- Bunions, corns, and calluses.
- Diseases including arthritis, cancer, gout, and diabetes.
- Dry skin.
- Foot deformities, including flat feet, hammertoes, and club foot.
- Fungal and bacterial conditions including athlete's foot and toenail fungus.
- Ingrown toenails.
- Sprains and strains.
FOOT CARE TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Here are some general foot care tips and recommendations that can help you maintain healthy feet.
Use Proper Footwear
It is very important for you to use proper footwear. Here are some important tips when it comes to selecting shoes:
- Alternate your footwear. Do not wear the same pair of shoes every day. It is better for your feet if you wear a different pair of shoes on alternating days.
- Purchase shoes by the way they fit, not by the size number. Not only can your feet change sizes throughout your lifetime, but also some styles of shoes may fit differently on your feet and require a different size. Also, try on shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are most swollen. Be sure to purchase a shoe that has adequate room in the toe box.
- Replace worn shoes as soon as possible. As your shoes get worn, you lose the proper fit and support. This can lead to various foot problems.
- Wear the proper shoe for your activity. You wouldn't wear high heels to play basketball, would you? It is important for you to wear the right shoe for the activity that you are doing. For example, if you plan to go running, wear running shoes. If you are going to play soccer, wear a pair of cleats.
Maintain good foot hygiene
Although it may seem like common sense, it is important to wash your feet regularly. Also be sure to thoroughly dry your feet, especially between your toes to reduce the risk of fungal infections. Keeping your feet clean will reduce the risk of infection and help you notice new cuts, bruising, swelling, discoloration, or any other signs of injury or infection.
You also need to make sure that you trim your toenails. The nails should be cut straight across. Be sure to not cut the corners or sides of your nails, as this can lead to ingrown toenails.
Don't ignore foot pain
Although it might seem normal for your feet to ache after a long day, you should not ignore foot pain. Experiencing pain in your feet (namely pain that does not subside over time) may be a sign that something is wrong. Be sure to visit your doctor if you are suffering from pain or discomfort in your feet.
Be cautious about home care
If you suffer from diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems have someone else tend to your foot care, preferably a medical professional, since you may be prone to infection.
Also, if you have a foot condition or injury, you should speak with your doctor before treating the condition by yourself. In some cases, self-administered treatments without the guidance of a medical professional can actually turn a minor problem into a major issue.
For additional foot care tips, or to determine the cause and treatment for foot pain, visit a skilled podiatrist.
FOOT CARE FOR SENIORS
If you are experiencing foot problems during your golden years, you are not alone. Studies suggest that three out of four people develop serious podiatric problems as they age.
As seniors, many experience decreased circulation and sensation in the limbs, muscle and joint changes, diminished flexibility, and other changes that can contribute to senior podiatric conditions.
Foot problems can also increase the risk of falls, injury, and certain diseases, since healthy feet are necessary for proper balance, adequate physical activity, and personal independence. Although seniors face unique challenges in keeping their feet healthy, these challenges are not insurmountable. With proper self-care and treatment by a skilled podiatrist, seniors can keep their feet fit and functional.
COMMON FOOT AILMENTS AMONG SENIORS
The following foot ailments are common among seniors:
- Disease-related podiatric problems (i.e. foot problems associated with diabetes, arthritis, nerve damage, and poor circulation).
- Dry, cracked skin (leads to sores, infections, and other problems).
- Fractures and sprains.
- Swelling of the feet and legs (edema).
FOOT CARE FOR SENIORS – TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
By adhering to the following guidelines, you can maintain foot health and prevent many podiatric problems:
- Check your feet daily for blisters, corns, bruises, sores, infections, and other problems. Don’t wait until your feet hurt to obtain treatment.
- Exercise daily (with your doctor’s permission).
- Keep your toenails clipped.
- Maintain proper circulation; prop your feet when sitting or lying down, stretch regularly, avoid crossing your legs while sitting, and refrain from smoking and other activities that hamper circulation.
- Treat underlying conditions (e.g. diabetes, arthritis, etc…).
- Wash your feet daily, exfoliate, and moisturize dry feet. Apply talcum powder to absorb extra sweat.
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and socks daily.
Contact your doctor if you notice any of the following:
- Changes in skin color or shape of your foot.
- Coldness, cramping, numbness, tingling, or discomfort.
- Decreased foot sensitivity.
- Sores on your feet that become infected or don’t heal.
To learn more about taking care of your feet during your senior years, or to obtain treatment for a foot condition, contact an experienced podiatrist today. Your doctor can provide the treatment you need.
FOOT CARE FOR WOMEN
In addition to the podiatric issues that affect people regardless of gender (e.g. common foot injuries, skin problems, etc.), women face a number of unique podiatric issues. Pregnancy-related foot problems as well as problems caused by wearing unsupportive footwear can be a barrier to optimal foot health and functionality for women. Fortunately, lifestyle and pregnancy-related foot problems need not permanently affect a woman’s podiatric health. With appropriate lifestyle adjustments and the help of a skilled podiatrist, women can maintain the fitness and functionality of their feet.
COMMON FOOT AILMENTS FOR WOMEN
There are various causes for foot problems in women. Many of the root problems can foster numerous foot ailments. Highlighted below are some of the most common ones seen in women.
Foot problems caused by wearing unsupportive footwear
Unsupportive footwear can cause numerous foot ailments, including:
- Ball-of-foot pain (metatarsalgia).
- Foot and ankle sprains and fractures.
- Inflammation and swelling.
- Nerve damage.
Foot problems caused by pregnancy
Pregnancy can cause various foot problems, including:
- Changes in the arch and foot size: caused by hormone fluctuation during pregnancy.
- Heel pain (plantar fasciitis): caused by weight gain during pregnancy.
- Swelling (edema) of the feet and ankles: caused by increased blood volume during pregnancy.
- Toenail changes (e.g. brittleness, ridges, discoloration): caused by increased blood circulation and hormone levels during pregnancy.
- Varicose veins: caused by changes in the blood vessels during pregnancy.
FOOT CARE FOR WOMEN – TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
By adhering to the following guidelines, you can minimize foot problems and keep your feet healthy:
- Keep the toenails trimmed.
- Obtain treatment at the first sign of a problem.
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and socks every day.
- During pregnancy:
- Avoid standing and walking for long periods of time.
- Change your shoe size as necessary.
- Stay hydrated and limit salt intake.
- Maintain proper nutrition.
- Go swimming or take a bath to reduce swelling.
- Rest on your left side.
Contact your doctor if you would like more information on how to maintain your feet health or if you need treatment for a foot problem. Your doctor can provide the treatment necessary to improve your podiatric fitness and functionality.
FOOT CARE FOR WORKERS ON THEIR FEET
Many jobs require people to be on their feet for several hours each day. Hairdressers, retailers, nurses, and factory workers are among those who spend all day on their feet.
Standing or walking for extended periods of time puts excessive pressure on your feet and can cause foot ailments ranging from blisters to bunions. Over time, pressure on your feet can also cause back and leg pain as a result of poor posture. Fortunately, by wearing comfortable shoes, stretching regularly, and making sure your feet have proper support, many of these ailments can be prevented.
FOOT AILMENTS AFFECTING WORKERS ON THEIR FEET
If you spend hours every day on your feet, you may suffer from foot ailments including:
- Achy feet.
- Flat foot.
- Fungal infections.
- High arches.
- Plantar fasciitis.
- Sweaty feet.
- Toe malformation.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WORKERS ON THEIR FEET
There are a few recommendations that can help ease the stress on your feet if you spend your day standing or running around.
If you spend hours at a time on your feet, it is especially important to wear comfortable shoes. Shoes shouldn’t rub or fit too tightly as this may cause blisters, corns, or calluses to form. Shoes should also allow plenty of room for your toes to move. Shoes that squeeze your toes together can cause loss of balance in the toe muscles which can result in an unnatural bending of your toes.
Wearing high heels all day should be avoided, as heels put more pressure on the ball of your foot. This can cause foot pain and may lead to the formation of bunions. If you must wear high heels, try to wear them only for a few hours at a time and switch into a pair of flats halfway through the day.
Where you stand
Standing or walking on a shock absorbent surface such as carpet, is preferable to a hard surface such as cement, and can reduce foot fatigue. Stretching your feet can also relieve foot pain, fatigue, and can help prevent injuries.
Utilizing proper support
Keeping your feet properly aligned and supported can reduce foot fatigue. Orthotic inserts can provide your feet with necessary support and act as shock absorbers, which is especially important if you walk or stand on hard surfaces. They can also help control movement of your feet which can improve posture. Arch supports are also beneficial if you suffer from over pronation or flat feet. Providing support to the arch can help prevent conditions such as plantar fasciitis.
Proper sock selection
Sweaty feet can be uncomfortable and makes you more susceptible to fungal infections. Wearing socks made of a breathable material such as cotton, and changing socks throughout the day can help keep your feet dry. If the skin becomes cracked from standing for extended lengths of time, moisturizing your feet can help keep the skin soft and smooth.
To learn more about foot ailments or how to treat conditions that affect workers who spend several hours a day on their feet, contact your doctor.
If you suffer from foot pain or a specific podiatric condition, be sure to speak with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.
Many people are more concerned about how a shoe looks than how it affects their foot health. However, if you are putting fashion ahead of function, you might be causing harm to your feet and ankles.
With a better understanding of the construction of a shoe and how to select the proper shoe for specific activities, you will be able to improve the overall health of your feet and ankles. Don't worry; functional shoes can still be fashionable. You just need to understand what to look for when purchasing shoes.
The information below can help you when selecting footwear:
- Custom-made Shoes
- Plaster Casts and Strappings
- Over-the-Counter Orthotics
- Soft Orthotics
- Rigid Orthotics
- Semi-Rigid Orthotics
- Aerobic Shoes
- Children's Shoes
- General Athletic Shoes
- Running Shoes
- Walking Shoes
- Work Footwear
- Baseball and Softball Shoes
- Corrective Shoes
- Golf Shoes
- Soccer Shoes
- Winter Sport Shoes
- Basketball Shoes
- Cycling Shoes
- Men's Shoes
- Tennis Shoes
- Women's Shoes