April is the month to remind ourselves of the importance of your feet and how you can begin taking proper care of them. It is an uncommon habit for people to spend much time thinking about their feet, especially if they do not hurt, and often take them for granted. However, your feet are important structures, and more complex than they may appear. Think about how many steps you take each week, whether its basic walking or playing with your kids, your feet are constantly working behind the scenes to help you enjoy work and activities. With 26 bones, a combination of over 100 ligaments and muscles, you can start to imagine how important they are for walking and your health. Foot problems can start off small, but slowly progress toward other parts of the body, and eventually affect your overall health.
The good news is there are many routine habits you can do to help prevent injury to your feet and allow you to continue engaging in the activities you enjoy. Here is a list of some recommendations you can do to help maintain proper foot care:
1. Get into a habit of routinely inspecting your feet; this can be when you shower and take your shoes on and off. Ideas on what to look for: cuts, callused toes, redness on the skin, blisters, their shape (does it look noticeably different than the others), check the color of your toes (are they pink? blue?), look for moles you did not notice before, check the flexibility of your foot and toes, and if there is any pain in your foot. Skin cracks, peeling or dry skin buildup.
2. Perform daily stretches on your legs, ankles, and feet to reduce the strain on your muscles.
3. Make sure you are wearing proper sized shoes; ill-fitted shoes can cause development of foot conditions and affect your foot function over time. These include: Calluses, corns, blisters, bunions, plantar fasciitis, hammertoes, stress fractures and many other foot ailments.
4. Be sure to replace your shoes at least 1 to 2 times per year or when the inside of your shoes begins to wear down; talk to your podiatrist about shoe recommendations for your foot type.
5. Wash and dry your feet whenever you shower or when you participate in activities causing excessive foot sweating; this will help you avoid getting a fungal toe or foot infection.
6. Try minimizing how often you walk barefoot, especially outdoors, since your feet are more likely to get unnoticed cuts or develop an infection (fungal, bacterial). If you are have Diabetes, you should never go barefoot.
7. During the warmer days, if you wear flip-flops or sandals, wear sunscreen to decrease the chances of getting a sunburn, and minimizing the risk of skin cancers.
This month is about celebrating and taking special note of the care of your feet. We only get one set of feet and it is important to take proper care of them. If you notice any sudden changes in your foot health, experience any pain, or suffer an injury to your foot, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.