Our feet are amazing. These two parts of our body support over 100 pounds almost every minute of the day! Here are tips to reduce your chances of foot injuries and pain:
- Wear appropriate shoes. Shoes that are ill-fitting (too tight) can cause toes to be cramped and over long periods of time can cause bunions. Your shoes should also have a slight arch support (this is the area in the middle of the foot). If not, you can end up with pain in this area.
- For long walks (more than 30 minutes), try to wear sneakers or comfortable shoes. Whenever I go to museums (where I could easily walk over 10,000 steps) I always wear sneakers.
- Do not wear “flip-flop” sandals. These are often made without any support and can cause all types of injuries ranging from twisted ankles to foot infections. They do not protect your feet from any pieces of glass on streets.
- Wear appropriate socks. Socks can provide additional cushioning and support and can wick sweat away from the surface of your feet. I recommend wearing thicker socks when you are exercising. Try to avoid synthetic fibers, as they can trap heat and do not breath as well as cotton.
- Cut your toenails straight across. It’s tempting to use the toenail clippers to create a rounded edge on top, but resist the temptation. Cutting the toenails too short at either end of the nail can result in ingrown toenails which can be extremely painful and difficult to treat.
- Elevate your feet at the end of the day. The circulation to the feet is not the best since gravity pulls the water in our body downward towards the lowest part. As a result, you may notice that your feet get swollen. Elevating the feet with an ottoman or an extra pillow under your ankles while you are sleeping can help improve circulation.
- If you get pedicures, avoid having your cuticles cut. Any small nicks to the skin at the base of the nail can cause a nasty bacterial infection called “paronychia” which is very painful and often requires antibiotics and drainage at a podiatrist or primary care provider office.
- Wash your feet regularly. Fungus can grow easily if we do not clean our feet. One key sign of fungal infection is a “yeasty” smell when your remove your shoes. I recommend soaking your feet in and Epsom salt bath at least once a week and washing your feet with soapy water between the toes at least every other day. If you do have a fungus problem, you can use an antifungal spray or powder on your feet and in your shoes. Also, make sure you allow your shoes to dry out in between uses. I recommend keeping shoes out in a hallway (rather than a cabinet or shoebox) for at least 3 hours after you wear them.
- If you have diabetes, inspect your feet at least once a week. Look for rashes, bleeding, or any painful areas. You will also need to see a podiatrist (foot doctor) at least once a year.