**For those that don’t have time to read this novel, remember these 6 points**
Feet are arguably some of the most relied on parts of the human body and unfortunately they are among the most neglected. Why is it that the majority of us fail to give our feet the proper attention that they need? Is it lack of time? Is it laziness? Or is it simply just not knowing the importance of proper foot care?
I can say that at one time or another I have been guilty of all of these. However, as a podiatrist in training, my eyes have been opened to the world of feet and I would like to shed some light on certain aspects of foot care. Whether you are a nurse, construction worker, athlete, hair-dresser or stay at home mom, look no further than here for a few tips on how to give your feet the attention they need.
First and foremost, it is so important to wash your feet daily. Think of everywhere your feet go on a daily basis. What kind of shoes are they in? Are you wearing socks? Are you barefoot? In any case, your feet are being exposed to various types of bacteria and yes, even fungus on a daily basis.
I guess momma was onto something when she would tell me all those years ago to “wash really good between [my] toes”.
Without proper foot hygiene we leave the door wide open for athletes foot, fungal toenails and infection. Now I know what you’re thinking because I’ve thought it too…”who wants to reach down to their toes that early in the morning to clean them? Ain’t nobody got time for that”.
Lucky for you, I have the solution. I have found that a long-handled back scrubber allows for a good foot cleaning without exerting too much of that early morning energy. Just make sure that you are using soap.
Second. Wear clean and dry socks…this one may seem like a no-brainer to most but I can say that there have been times where I opted for the “lightly-worn” socks from the day before rather than sifting through the unmatched socks to find a clean match for the day.
I hate matching socks…For a lot of the same reasons of cleaning your feet daily, the clean, dry socks principle is applicable.
When socks get moist whether it be from sweat or rain or walking in puddles, they provide a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria. It is important to try and keep your feet as dry as possible for as long as possible.
It would behoove the foot-conscious reader to even change their socks midday to a drier pair if necessary. This will allow the feet to breathe and get the air that they need as well as to minimize the moist bacterial breeding ground. This brings me to my next tip.
Thirdly, consider changing up the shoes you wear as often as you can. Our feet are known to be able to produce up to a pint of sweat per day per foot. For those that are horrible with liquid measurements like myself, that is the same as 2 small school lunch chocolate milk cartons per foot per day.
All of that sweat goes out of our feet and into our socks and shoes. By opting for a different pair of shoes every other day, we give our other shoes time to dry out.
This in my own personal experience has helped with odor, shoe longevity, and even foot pain.
Fourth, choose proper shoe-wear.
I hate to break it to you but Chuck Taylors are not the best shoe-gear. I know, I was devastated when I found out as well.
For those that are truly looking for a good shoe that will allow them to be on their feet all day with minimal pain, there are a few tests you can do with the shoe to determine its supportiveness.
First, you can squeeze the heel of the shoe. Not the rubber sole part of the heel but just above it on the actual shoe. This should be firm and not collapse when squeezed. The firmness will ensure a rigid support of the heel.
Next, try and fold the shoe “hamburger style”. If the shoe folds on top of itself like a crêpe, it is probably not a supportive shoe. You don’t want a shoe that will fold easily like this as it will allow for an uneven redistribution of forces that can cause increased areas of pressure leading to pain.
Lastly, you can try and twist the shoe by turning the toe of the shoe and the heel of the shoe in opposite directions. Again, you should be looking for a sturdy supportive shoe and if the shoe will twist, you guessed it, you should pass it up.
Shoes however are a very subjective subject and I guarantee that every podiatrist has their own opinions and recommendations about them. However, I will give a few brand recommendations that I think most can agree on and they are as follows: Brooks, Saucony, New Balance, Asics, Dansko.
It’s important to remember those three tests though even when choosing a shoe of one of these brands.
Fifth. This tip is more for those that are spending those long hours on their feet. You can relate when I talk about the burning discomfort that starts in the feet and rises up the legs by the end of the day. All you want to do when you get home is put the feet up and have somebody else cater to you because you are not getting off that couch.
Through trial and error and personal experience I can give you the tip of compression stockings and shoe inserts/orthotics. The veins in our legs have to work against gravity to get blood back to the heart. Standing all day allows gravity to put in some serious time against the veins in our legs which can cause more blood to accumulate than usual.
When more blood accumulates, we get a build up of pressure which ultimately forces fluid out of our veins and into the surrounding tissue.
This is one of the causes of swelling. There have been days where I have come home from a long day on my feet and it felt like my legs were going to explode. However, I can tell you that after using compression stockings that these issues have gotten much better.
Also, a good shoe insert/orthotic can provide a tremendous amount of benefit when combined with with compression stockings and proper shoe gear. Stay tuned for our following post “sole”ly on orthotics (pun intended).
Lastly. Stretch! Stretch your legs every chance you get.
Specifically stretch your calf muscles and your hamstrings. Those muscle groups get so tight so quick and they can cause more problems down the road if they are not being properly stretched
You will be amazed at how much heel pain can be prevented just by stretching your calf muscles. When these muscles get tight they pull the heel up and cause a person to walk more on their toes or to have what is called an “early-heel off” walk. This toe walking puts excess strain on a major ligament of the foot known as the plantar fascia and is a major contributor to heel pain amongst other problems.
I hope you find these tips helpful and I hope that the read was enjoyable. Stay tuned for more foot health information. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, comments, or threats.