January 13, 2015

5 Keys to Maintaining Healthy Feet

Our feet take an enormous amount of pressure as we pound the pavement running and walking, wear uncomfortable but fashionable shoes, walk around barefoot, suffocate them in airtight socks, and stand for hours at a time. Continuous activity plus the weight of your body can exert extra pressure on your feet. Fortunately, keeping your feet healthy takes very little effort. Using these preventative tips will keep your feet pain free and help you maintain your active lifestyle.

5 Keys to Maintaining Healthy Feet

Wear the Right Size Shoes
Shoes that are too small cause circulation problems as toes become pinched and cramped, and wearing shoes that are too big cause blisters to form. High heels and pointy-toed shoes make it difficult for your feet to extend comfortably as walking becomes painful and unbalanced, so it is better to wear flats with round tips or a flexible shoe that is designed to provide support and cushioning. If a blister has formed, gingerly clean it with an antiseptic and keep it dry with a gauze pad to prevent further irritation.

Take Care of Toenails
Cutting your toenails too short can lead to ingrown toenails, and allowing your toenails to grow too long causes them to cut into the skin of neighboring toes. Also, avoid polishing over cracked or crumbling nails and blackened and bruised toenails. Applying nail polish to an infected nail can cause a nail fungus to develop or worse. It is best to keep your toenail length even with the tip of the toe.

Keep Feet Clean and Dry
Good foot hygiene is all about thoroughly cleaning your feet with soap and water and keeping them free of moisture and dirt. In that fungal organisms thrive in moist environments, take special care to dry between each toe to avoid the intense itching and burning that usually accompanies Athletes Foot and other foot fungi (Source: Dalhousie Station Foot Clinic). Keeping feet clean and dry at public pools, gyms, and in locker rooms will also minimize the amount of germs your feet are exposed to.

Do Not Share Footgear
While borrowing socks and sharing shoes with a favorite family member or friends is fun, you can contract a fungal infection from wearing other people’s shoes and socks. This includes bowling shoes and ice skates rentals, athletic cleats, and house slippers. Since there are over 250,000 sweat glands in each foot, socks and shoes are the perfect environment for fungi to thrive; therefore, it is best to always wear your own foot apparel.

Examine Your Feet Often
Perform a foot-check every time you bathe: check for corns, calluses, bunions, fungus, and blisters. If caught in time these problems are treatable and preventable. For other foot problems such as hammertoe, flat feet, high arches and heel spurs, decreasing physical activity and limiting the amount of stress you put on your feet will alleviate the problem in most situations.

If you are experiencing pain, swelling, itching and burning, or just want to check the overall healthiness of your feet, make an appointment with a reputable podiatrist. A foot doctor will be able to diagnose and treat any problems with your feet and ankles.

(Contributed by Lizzie Weakley)

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