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Last Updated on December 8, 2023
Your feet do a lot for you. They bear the weight of your body, carry you to where you need to go and help you stay active. Yet, they often get neglected in favor of other more visible parts of people’s bodies. Here’s some information from expert podiatrists on how to keep your feet happy and healthy.
Importance of Foot Health
Proper foot health holds importance not just for mobility, but for overall well being. With the average individual taking up to 10,000 steps per day, even mild discomfort in the feet can generate problems elsewhere in the body. Issues with foot health may lead to back pain, hip pain, and impacts to posture and gait. As such, maintaining foot health cannot be discounted or deferred. Instead, it proves critical to uphold proper foot health through consistent check-ins, headed off these associated problems.
Of course, all those steps provide excellent fitness as well. Simply walking grants easy exercise for the body. So tending to the feet means enabling both physical health and active lifestyles. With some basic care and attention, the feet can keep working hard day after day.
Role of a Podiatrist
A podiatrist specializes in managing diseases and disorders related to the foot and the lower limb. For example, Dr. Farnen— an experienced podiatrist— focuses on diagnosing conditions, providing treatment plans aimed at minimizing symptoms/improving functionality and recommending ways for patients to maintain good foot health.
The scope of practice varies from preventative care such as treating ingrown toenails, corns, calluses to more complex procedures like foot and ankle surgery.
Common Foot Conditions
There’s a wide range of common foot conditions that people suffer from. These include conditions like plantar fasciitis— an inflammation of the tissue running across the bottom of your foot causing heel pain, bunions— caused by misaligned joints or deformities in feet causing painful swelling and Morton’s neuroma— a painful condition affecting the ball of your foot, often between third and fourth toes.
Early detection and management can prevent worsening symptoms and enhance quality of life.
Foot Problem Signs
Recognizing signs that you’ve got a foot problem is the first step towards dealing with it successfully. Signs could be feeling persistent pain in your feet, noticing changes in their appearance, living with consistent numbness or burning sensations.
If you see any unusual blisters, warts or colored patches that weren’t there before, consult with your podiatrist immediately.
Sensible Shoe Selection
The ideal shoe should support all parts of your feet — especially the arch — not cause discomfort when worn for long periods and adequately snug without being overly tight.
Wearing high heels often or shoes without enough support can lead to issues such as bunions or plantar fasciitis over time.
Benefits of Orthotics
Orthotic devices are specially designed shoe inserts that can correct an irregular walking gait, provide cushioning and alleviate pain discomfort. Podiatrists often recommend them for patients who have chronic foot or leg discomfort.
By distributing pressure evenly across your feet, reducing impact and controlling foot function, orthotics can transform how you walk and move— thus enhancing overall comfort.
Caring for Foot Skin
Feet are easy to overlook but they need the same care you show your hands or face. Clean feet regularly with soap and water ensuring to dry thoroughly. Moisturization of the foot skin should not be overlooked to prevent dryness and cracks, especially on heels.
Occasional exfoliation also aids in shedding dead skin cells and makes your feet softer. Overlooking these basic practices could result in fungal infections or unpleasant odors.
Bunions and Calluses
A bunion is an unnatural, bony hump at the base of the big toe leading to misalignment. They develop gradually, often due to genetics, arthritis or poorly fitting shoes. Calluses are hardened, thickened areas of skin that form as a protective response to repeated friction and pressure.
Both conditions can cause discomfort if left untreated for a long time. Seeing a podiatrist for customized strategies including pads, exercises or orthotics can offer relief and avoid progression of these conditions.
Nail Care Essentials
Proper toenail care is an important part of maintaining foot health. Nails should be trimmed straight across, avoiding rounding or digging into the corners. This helps prevent painful ingrown toenails from developing. Keeping toenails clean underneath is also essential to avoid potential infections.
For some people, reaching their feet poses difficulty. Others may have conditions like diabetes or poor circulation that impact foot health. In either case, visiting a podiatrist regularly can help monitor nails and promote overall wellness. As part of a foot care routine, taking vitamins to strengthen nails can provide added protection. Addressing small problems before they worsen keeps feet happy and healthy. Consistent care provides benefits that reach beyond the feet alone, supporting comfort and mobility. Simple preventative steps pave the way for active lifestyles.
Stretching Your Feet
Just as your body benefits from regular stretching, so do your feet. Daily foot stretches and exercises can enhance circulation, improve flexibility, and decrease the risk of foot injuries. It is vital to learn and implement correct stretching techniques to avoid harm.
Especially for those with flat feet or high arches, personalized programs developed with a podiatrist’s guidance will be beneficial in maintaining foot health.
Athlete’s Foot Tips
Athletes are at a higher risk of developing foot issues due to constant stress and sweating. From preventive practices like wearing moisture-wicking socks to essentials like resting adequately between rigorous training sessions, every aspect contributes to foot health.
The use of specialty athletic footwear designed to provide stability, shock absorption, and arch support is recommended to prevent overuse injuries.
Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetes leads to peripheral nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy that reduces sensation in the feet, making tiny cuts or injuries go unnoticed and possibly develop into severe complications. Routine foot inspections become crucial to catch any issues early.
Foot care recommendations include daily cleaning, moisturizing without saturating between the toes, appropriate nail grooming and wearing well-fitted shoes with clean, dry socks.
Arthritis and Your Feet
Arthritis in feet can be incredibly debilitating as it hampers mobility by causing pain and inflammation. Successful management requires an integrated approach starting with a consultation with a podiatrist for a tailored treatment plan.
Non-invasive methods such as orthoses, exercises and proper footwear may genuinely alleviate discomfort. Specific cases may require surgical intervention for relief.
Pedicure Safety Protocol
Getting a pedicure from a professional can be relaxing and helps provide substantial foot care. However, it is important to know the safety measures to avoid infections. First, verify that the tools are sterilized beforehand.
Being aware of how your nails should be cut— straight across and not too short— permits you to guide the technician. Inform them of any underlying health condition so they can make appropriate adjustments.
Hydrating Your Feet
Proper hydration assists in avoiding dry skin and cracked heels. It involves drinking ample water to hydrate from within and applying moisturizer routinely for external hydration.
Apply a thick cream at night, and wear socks to lock in moisture for best results. Additionally, utilizing a humidifier during drier seasons ensures that skin does not lose excessive moisture.
Feet, though frequently overlooked, play a vital role in your overall well being and deserve substantial care. By adopting these tips from podiatrists, adhering to routine check-ups and addressing foot problems promptly, you can maintain happier and healthier feet.