Five Essential Tips for Keeping Feet Healthy
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, February 25th, 2013
I spend a lot of time writing about specific foot problems and for good reason: when they crop up, you need to know what to do about them. But foot health is more than just recognizing when there’s a problem. Like with diet, exercise, good sleep, and stress avoidance, regular maintenance and everyday attention are infinitely more valuable than any one treatment can ever be. The way you treat your feet morning, noon, and night will have a direct impact on their long-term health. And since foot health is so closely associated with health in general, paying close attention to your feet is a great way to increase your chances of a healthier, longer, more productive, and more enjoyable life.
The shoe should always match the activity. If you’re running, wear a good, supportive running shoe. If you’re playing soccer, find well-made cleats with good arch support. If you’re going out for a night on the town, ditch those pointy-toed heels for some fancy flats. Every time you buy a new pair of shoes, think about how they will affect your feet. If you must buy some flashy high heels, wear them sparingly and only when you won’t be doing a lot of walking.
Trim toenails carefully. Ingrown toenails are a common, nasty, painful problem. Often they can be avoided by trimming toenails across the top of the nail, rather then down the sides.
Protect your feet from infection. Fungal infections are very easy to get, especially if you expose your bare feet to the elements. Wear flip-flops in public locker rooms and showers. Keep feet dry, especially during the winter when they’ll be cooped up in socks most of the time. If you do notice signs of infection (itching, redness, peeling skin, discolored nails, or crumbling nail beds) seek treatment early. Well-established fungal infections can take months or even years to eliminate so the sooner you start, the faster your recovery will be.
If you’re diabetic, check your feet every day and take a few simple preventative recommendations to heart. In the United States alone, 56,000 people a year lose a foot or a leg to diabetes. The saddest part: in many cases amputation could have been avoided with proper care. Diabetics tend to have poor circulation and they’re prone to foot ulcers which can become gangrenous. Inspect and wash your feet every day. Dry them completely and apply lotion to protect skin from cracks that can become infected. Never walk barefoot and avoid high heels at all costs (heels can further restrict circulation, making any existing problems far worse).
When your feet hurt, go to the podiatrist. This may sound like common sense, but we see patients all the time that delayed treatment, only to suffer greatly as a consequence. Almost nobody enjoys going to the doctor, but you need your feet! When they’re hurt, your feet need you to pay attention.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.