It doesn’t matter who you are, habits can make or break (sometimes literally) your foot health. That’s why it’s vital to take good care of them - they can take a licking but abusing them will stop them from kicking eventually. This post will offer some practical tips that everyone with feet should apply to their routines.
1. Regularly Inspect Your Feet for Changes…
Most of us take our feet for granted. But your feet are very sensitive to how you treat them, not to mention, they reveal a lot about the state of your health. So it’s important to inspect them for changes.
If you notice little changes like cuts, blisters, or swelling, don’t ignore them. They could be red flags of poor skin care and wearing the wrong shoes. They can also be a sign of an injury or illness (ie. diabetes). Noticing these changes early on can mean an early diagnosis of a condition, making it easier to treat that condition and avoid complications.
2. Always Inspect the Inside of Your Shoes
Aside from inspecting your feet themselves, you should also inspect the condition of your shoes. Foot health is the product of its environment, and there’s no environment that’s more detrimental to your feet than your shoes.
Shoes that are worn out on the inside can irritate your feet. Also, footbeds that have come loose or lost their cushioning simply won’t provide the support your feet need anymore. Essentially, as shoes get worn out, they do a poor job of protecting your feet - they can even hurt your feet.
So make sure to inspect your shoes (and orthotics) for wear and tear and replace them as needed.
3. Wear Orthotic-Friendly Shoes
Whether you’re an athlete, an office worker, have foot problems or not, you should wear shoes that are orthotic-friendly.
First off, orthotic-friendly shoes can protect your feet from developing health problems in the future, especially if you’re prone to getting them. Second, if you already have some pain or discomfort, orthotic-friendly shoes can give you relief.
The reason for this is that orthotic-friendly shoes are built to absorb shock and pressure, reduce skin irritation and support natural foot movement. Many shoes fail to protect your feet in this sense. Of course, that’s the reason why so many people develop (or experience worsened) problems - they’re wearing the wrong shoes.
With that said, orthotic-friendly shoes can benefit anyone and everyone, whether they have foot concerns or not.
4. Wear Custom Orthotics Where Necessary
Unlike orthotic-friendly shoes which everyone should wear, custom orthotics should be used on an as-needed basis. But when they’re needed, use them! Custom orthotics can halt or even reverse the course of many foot ailments ranging from plantar fasciitis to diabetic neuropathy and more.
The result of that is pain relief, infection prevention, increased foot flexibility and much more. Look at it this way: orthotics can often treat many conditions that may eventually require surgery if you let time linger. We think it’s much better to wear some padding than it is to go under the knife.
5. Get Your Feet Examined From Time to Time
Our first piece of advice to you was to conduct regular self-examinations of your feet. But sometimes, it’s wise to have an expert inspect your feet as well. Some signs of foot changes such as bruises and scrapes are obvious, but more subtle changes in skin texture and colour may not mean much to you. To a podiatrist, however, they could be a sign of a newly forming health problem, hence why you should occasionally visit them.
Also, you should have your gait analyzed periodically. This can help you uncover poor movement patterns you wouldn’t notice, so that you can wear orthotic-friendly shoes or orthotics that can prevent foot injuries. Professional examination is the second pair of eyes that can catch what you miss.
6. Wear Clean, Dry, Fitted Socks
Human feet are prone to get infected, especially fungal infections due to moisture and dampness. That’s why it’s important to wear dry socks. Moisture-wicking materials are your best bet since they remove moisture altogether, keeping your feet dry.
It’s also wise to wear the right size of socks too. Socks that are too loose can cause friction within your shoes, which can lead to blistering. Socks that are too tight can restrict blood flow. So make sure to choose socks that are snug, but give a little room to breathe.
7. Beware of Barefoot Walking...
Yes, we’re living in the era of the barefoot walking movement. Although it has been linked to many health benefits, you really need to approach barefoot walking with care. We don’t want to indulge in fear mongering here, but that lush grass field that looks ripe for walking could have glass, razors, needles and other dangerous objects hiding in it. That could be a recipe for serious injury.
Seriously - just wear shoes on any surface that you haven’t vigorously inspected. Exceptions can be made if it’s your own backyard that you have maintained, but even then, you should exercise caution.
8. Eliminate Unhealthy, Foot-Damaging Habits
Your feet are as sensitive to your habits as any other limb or organ in the body. Your feet are what you eat - and sleep, drink, breathe and everything else. Poor diet, stress and excessive alcohol consumption or smoking can have indirect and even direct effects on foot health.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause dry skin and cracking/peeling of the skin. Drinking too much can lead to gout and smoking can restrict blood flow. Also, exercising in the wrong shoes can cause repetitive stress injuries that proper-fitting shoes would prevent. The rule is simple here: live a healthy lifestyle and you probably will avoid most foot problems.
9. Manage Diabetes (If You Have It)
Diabetic foot refers to a cluster of problems that make feet unhealthy. They include sores, infections, dry skin, changes in colour and texture, neuropathy (nerve pain or loss of sensation) and more. High blood glucose can be damaging to the feet and in extreme cases, it can result in severe infections that require amputation.
Fortunately, diabetes sufferers can easily avoid these tragic consequences by keeping their blood sugar under control. Regularly testing their glucose levels, taking medications as prescribed and living a diabetes-friendly lifestyle is key to managing one’s blood sugar. It’s also important for diabetes sufferers to regularly inspect their feet for skin changes and to wear diabetic footwear and orthotics for protection against wounds.
10. Be Gentle With Your Feet
Your feet can really take a beating. Anyone who’s an athlete or in a physically demanding job can attest to that. However, they are sensitive at the same time. So treat them with care.
Avoid trimming your toenails too short (this causes ingrown toenails) and never trim calluses or corns (this can lead to irritation or infection. Also, rest your feet if they’re sore from a long day of walking or a gruelling workout.
Your Body is a Temple, Your Feet is the Foundation
We often neglect our feet until they hurt. But proactive foot care helps you avoid the pains and discomfort of injuries caused by neglect. When you take good care of your feet, you’ll get more out of them whether that be better sports performance, more stamina or just prettier-looking toes. If you’re kind to your feet and your feet will be kind to you.
Need help finding orthotic solutions for your foot care needs? Get in touch with us to help you find the perfect fit!