By John J. Oricchio, DPM FACFS | Podiatry & Foot and Ankle Surgery
April is National Foot Health Awareness Month and CareMount Medical is encouraging patients to think about their feet and how important taking care of them really is. Our feet are often over looked as a vital part of the body and most tend to ignore issues that are affecting their feet.
Both feet (combined) make up for 25% of the body’s bones, 18% of joints and 6% of the muscles. Doing damage to any of these parts can cause serious harm to our bodies and how we complete our daily tasks. 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. The following are some strategies on how you can keep your feet healthy.
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.
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.
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 to protect your foot from bumps and bruises.
If you are diabetic, get regular foot checks
Diabetes can lead to circulatory problems because of its ability to clog up the small blood vessels in your feet. As a result of the lack of proper blood supply, wound healing can be prolonged if any are sustained. Wounds found on the feet of a diabetic must be treated more aggressively than those who are not diabetic.
Get periodic foot exams
Visit a podiatrist if you’re experiencing any aches, pains, symptoms or have any questions about the health of your feet. From there your podiatrist can determine or diagnose any problem and recommend how often you should visit a doctor for your feet.