Your feet are more than road warriors or prettily painted nails in high heeled peep-toe shoes, they're one of the hardest working and most important parts of your body. "We each take about 10,000 steps a day and that's a lot of pounding," says Rogue Valley podiatrist, Dr. Lynn William Rawcliffe. Here are five things to keep in mind, so that your feet stay happy and healthy.
Don't Ignore Pain
Pain is the body's signal that something is wrong, and Dr. Rawcliffe, with Medford and Ashland Foot Clinic, says to pay attention when your feet are yelling for attention.
"Pain can indicate a structural deformity or a soft tissue abnormality like tendonitis, inflammation or arthritis," Dr. Rawcliffe explains. Your foot pain can also be telling you that you need better fitting shoes, shoes that give you the support you need to stand and walk.
Measure Every Time
Feet are funny things. They may be one size in the morning and another in the evening. Age, exercise, weight gain and pregnancy can make your feet bigger or smaller. And that's why you should measure your feet every time you buy footwear.
"We'll use the Brannock (a metal plate with gauges) to look at your foot and get an idea of your arch length, the width of your foot, and the length," says Erik Skaggs, sales associate at Rogue Valley Runners in Ashland. He also performs a stride analysis to see how much and what kind of support your feet need when walking or running.
"I really don't like ordering shoes online because you can't try them on," explains Dr. Rawcliffe. "You need to stand up while you have them on. You need to put weight on them and walk around in them." While most shoe stores will have a Brannock so you can do it yourself, if you've got problem feet, find a shop where they can advise you about the shoes that will best fit you.
Daily Foot Hygiene
One of the nicest ways to care for your feet is to enjoy a good soak, being sure to dry between your toes when you're done. Clip your toenails regularly and cut straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. And moisturize! Not only for the nice, soft heels you'll have, but to prevent your skin from cracking and peeling making you vulnerable to infection.
No Bathroom Surgery
Almost everyone will get corns and calluses, usually caused by poorly fitted shoes. While some people try to carve them off with razors or sharp knives, Dr. Rawcliffe says that bathroom surgery is ill advised.
"I also see a lot of people that treat corns and calluses over the counter—wart removers or corn removers—and often it can do more damage than good," Dr. Rawcliffe warns. "It can eat tissue away, good tissue in the area because it's not very specific to the site you're treating." That hard spot on your foot may not even be a corn or a callus, it could be a bone spur or sign of some other condition that may worsen without medical treatment.
If you've got diabetes or arthritis, or a family history of these diseases, take extra care of your feet. Dr. Rawcliffe recommends that everyone with diabetes see a podiatrist at least once a year for screening and education. "A blister or callus can become infected and because they don't have blood flow to that area to help healing, the small injury can lead to an amputation within just a few days," says Dr. Rawcliffe. "We know that greater than 50 percent of the diabetic amputations that are performed each year can be prevented."
Arthritis too can be exacerbated by poorly fitting footwear and the pain of the disease lessened by appropriate footwear. Shop for shoes that are designed to accommodate the bone and joint changes of the disease, provide enough padding for comfortable movement and adequate stability for safe mobility.
Feet. Most everyone has them and sometimes we take them for granted. They're all different, and simple everyday hygiene, buying shoes for health as well as aesthetics and knowing when to seek medical care can make a world of difference. Take care of your feet, and they'll take you where you want to go.