One of the best ways to stay healthy is by moving, whether it is through activities like running/walking, dancing, weight lifting or even just cleaning your house. However, because this is an important aspect of living a healthy life, our feet are the ones that get the most wear and tear. All this pressure and movement will not only leave your feet sore but can also affect your knees, hips and entire spine.
A Healthy Foot Is The Foundation Of A Healthy Life
The foot consists of 26 bones, which form approximately 33 joints involving well over 120 tendons and ligaments, and over 20 muscles. The feet also have one of the highest concentrations of nerve endings in the body, at approximately 7,000 per foot. It’s no surprise that when we don’t offer our feet the support that they truly need, that they start to take a beating. Our arches collapse, bunions begin to form, and pronation or supination of our ankles takes head.
Top 8 Ways To Keep Your Feet Healthy
1. Keep your feet clean and dry
As with any part of your body, healthy feet start with good hygiene. While bathing, thoroughly clean your feet with soap and water. After bathing, be sure to fully dry them, especially between each toe, as fungal organisms love moisture. Keeping your feet dry helps to lower the possibility of a fungal infection. Continue this by wearing clean and dry socks. Also avoid sharing footwear; including rentals, as wearing other people’s shoes can increase your odds of getting an infection.
2. Examine your feet regularly
Once you have dried your feet, take the time to examine your feet at least once a week. Check in between your toes and around your soles for scaling and/or peeling which is often an indication of athlete’s foot. Be sure to look for cuts, blisters, scratches, redness and swelling as catching these issues early can prevent serious complications later. Also, check for any discoloration of the toenails, which often indicates a nail fungus. Avoid putting any nail polish on an infected nail as this could possibly make the problem worse.
3. Wear the proper footwear
Always wear sports-specific shoes for the sport you are participating in. Wearing improper shoes can lead to potential foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, arch spasms, heel spurs and tendinitis. When shopping for shoes, try to shop at the end of the day to compensate for foot swelling that may occur throughout the day. Wearing tight shoes can result in long-term foot problems, so ensure that you are purchasing shoes that have plenty of room for your toes and a wide heel. Never walk barefoot, as shoes and slippers are the simplest way
4. Moisturize and file
If your skin is dry, apply moisturizing cream all over the foot, except for between the toes. Gently remove hard skin and calluses with a pumice stone or foot file – don’t overdo it though or skin will grow back harder than ever.
5. Change your socks often to avoid foot odor
6. Watch out for foot bugs in communal changing areas
Wear flip-flops to avoid catching athlete’s foot and verrucas when you use public areas such as gym showers, swimming pools or hotel bathrooms.
7. Over 50? Take care
If you’re over 50, foot care becomes even more important. Age takes its toll: your skin thins, your joints begin to stiffen and your feet become more vulnerable to the cold.
If you are over 50 go see a professional for a foot exam every six months and never put up with foot pain as if it is normal.
8. Solve Minor Problems Quickly
Don’t wait for a minor little problem to get out of control.
Here are a few important tips:
A fungal infection that flourishes in warm and moist places, athlete’s foot attacks the toes, soles or sides of your feet and causes itchy, scaly and cracked skin. It can usually be cleared up with an over-the-counter anti fungal medication that contains either miconazole or tolnaftate. If the condition persists longer than 2 weeks, however, see your doctor for a drug prescription.
To prevent athlete’s foot, keep your feet clean and dry. Use an anti fungal powder on them regularly. Wear shoes made of materials that breathe such as leather and canvas, and socks that wick away moisture. Always allow your shoes, especially sneakers or running shoes, to dry out completely between wearings. Switch to a different pair of shoes every day.
Caused by continuous friction against the skin, liquid-filled blisters should be covered with a sterile gauze pad and allowed to heal on their own. You can protect the area from further irritation with a moleskin or cotton circle designed for that purpose and available at most drug stores.
If a blister is very large, you may want to puncture it. Sterilize a needle with antiseptic (not a match flame) and prick the edge of the blister. Blots up the liquid with gauze, clean the area with antiseptic, and cover it with a sterile gauze pad.
The bony protrusion that some people develop at the base of the big toe is called a bunion. It may be hereditary or, in women, caused by wearing high-heeled shoes with pointed toes. Bunion sufferers should wear comfortable shoes that will not press on the affected bone. Soft pads or cushioned socks will give additional relief. Most bunions can simply be accommodated in this way. If osteoarthritis or bursitis makes a bunion chronically painful, however, your doctor may recommend surgery to realign the distorted bones.
Like calluses, corns are caused by rubbing and friction on cramped toes. Hard corns develop on top of toes, soft corns between toes. Both can be prevented by wearing comfortable shoes that fit properly.
You can remove some corns yourself. Soak your feet in warm water every day and gently rub the built-up skin with a towel or a pumice stone – the surface will gradually peel away. Never slice a corn with a razor blade; if the growth is stubborn or painful, see a podiatrist. In the interim, use lambs wool or moleskin pads to protect the tender spots.
A deformity that develops in the joint of the second, third or fourth toe, a hammertoe is more common in women than in men and probably results from wearing high heels with pointed toes. Protective pads can bring relief, or our podiatrist may suggest wearing an orthotic brace to maneuver the bent toe in a more comfortable position. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
An ingrown toenail usually develops when either corner of a big toenail grows into the flesh of the toe, causing redness, swelling, pain, and sometimes infection.
A doctor or podiatrist can cut away the ingrown nail and treat the infection with antibiotics. To prevent further trouble, make sure that your shoes don’t put undue pressure on the nails of your big toes. Cut your toenails straight across at the end of the toe.
If, after several treatments, an ingrown toenail keeps recurring, ask your podiatrist about surgical options for preventing it.
Painful Heel Syndrome
As you grow older, the heel’s fatty tissue thins out. Pressure on the heel causes inflammation of the connective tissue and muscle. The pain is greatest in the morning when you first stand up.
For acute discomfort, take an analgesic and apply an ice pack to the heel for 15 minutes. Gently massage and stretch the foot and elevate it whenever you can. Ask your doctor for shock-absorbing heel inserts. During an attack, which can last several months, limit your exercise to non weight-bearing activities such as swimming and bicycling.