By Trevor Proskewitz, Principle Podiatrist
You’re hard on your feet, and likely only taking between 3500 – 5000 steps a day. And let’s be honest, how much love do you really give them except for an occasional pedicure or a good soaping for the guys? it’s time to start paying more attention. Here are the footinjuryclinic podiatrist best tips to keep you walking in the right direction.
1. Don’t go barefoot in a public shower
You’ve heard it before, but it is worth repeating: Gym showers and public shower floors are a big-time breeding ground for ringworm and the fungus that causes nail and skin tinea, so be sure to wear flip-flops or water shoes. In any shared shower facility you are going to find the obvious post workout sweat, skin cells, clumps of hair and the odd splash of urine. Take extra care drying your feet, working the towel in between your toes. An astringent powder that absorbs moisture and has a fungicidal element is a great idea.
2. Your feet can clue you in to your overall health
Our feet often give clues that something is not right within our bodies. Many years ago showing the Dr your feet was as important as sticking your tongue out when diagnosing an illness.
Podiatrists are often the first to pick up on a problem. For example, if the hair on your toes suddenly disappears and the skin on your feet gets thinner or shiner, peripheral vascular disease (PVD) – poor circulation caused by a buildup of plaque in the leg arteries – may be to blame. PVD is a major red flag for heart problems or a stroke because clogged arteries in the legs are usually associated with blockages elsewhere in the body.
Also look out for extremely dry skin and foot ulcers that don’t heal; they may be triggered by undiagnosed diabetes since high blood glucose levels decrease sweat and oil production. Swelling of the feet can sometimes be a sign of high blood pressure or heart disease.
3. Pointy pumps are the worst
Shoes that push the big toes into smaller toes set you up for bunions, which are painful bumps that form over the bone at the base of the big toe. The skin overlying the bunion may become red, irritated, and swollen, making standing and walking uncomfortable. High heels and pointy shoes can aggravate the alignment of your bones and increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Your shoes should be slightly rounded to avoid crowding and as a work rule when standing long periods about 3 cm high.
4. The length of your toes! Is it a big deal?
If your second toe is longer than your first toe (that’s the case for an estimated 20 to 30% of the world’s population), you are at increased risk for bunions, hammer, and claw toes, and even pain under the metatarsal heads due to how you distribute pressure throughout your foot.
All the weight should push off your first big toe, but when the second one is longer, it rolls and flattens, causing all kind of foot problems. If you have this condition (called Morton’s toe), talk to your podiatrist about the best kind of footwear for the shape of your feet, since ill-fitting shoes make the condition worse.
5. Toenail fungus is so stubborn
If your toenails have started to discolour or are becoming thicker and more brittle, chances are fungus to blame. Nails can clear up in time by using laser or taking anti fungal pills, but your risk of a recurrence is high.
Keeping your feet dry and changing out of sweaty socks can help prevent the fungus – which thrives in warm, moist environments and can invade your skin through tiny cuts or the small separation between the nail and nail bed.
Don’t wait! At the first sign of yellow or white discolouration visit the podiatrist at the footinjuryclinic where a nail clipping or scraping will be taken, and a relevant effective treatment plan started.
6. I am convinced my feet are getting bigger and longer
Even if you didn’t put on weight, chances are you went up at least a half-size in the past decade. Your feet absorb 2-3 times your body weight due to gravity, and while they are an amazing structure, the pounding and abuse they receive will change how they look and function. Feet become both longer and wider as you age because the tendons and ligaments that link tiny bone lose elasticity.
Get your feet measure at least once a year so you know your true size. Always try shoes at the end of the day to get a true indication of how much they have stretched out. Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly can cause more than discomfort – it can create or accelerate a bunion or cause blisters, among other issues.
7. You might not be lacing your sneakers right
If your shoes rub the tops of your feet and your toes feel too restricted or you find your heels are slipping, it is time to get creative with your lacing. According to mathematics, there are over a trillion different ways to tie shoelaces. If you have high arches and get redness and pain on the top of your feet, skip the two middle holes in your lacing and loop them vertically on the sides of your shoes instead. You’ll lose a little stability, but what you gain in comfort will make it worthwhile.
8. Use deodorant
Yep, the same kind of roll-on that you apply to your armpits can help you prevent the foul smells caused by the sweat glands in your feet. Feet smell when bacteria on the skin breaks down sweat as it comes from the pores. Change shoes regularly as sweat will soak into the shoe. Make sure you scrub and use soap every time you bath or shower.
Speak to your podiatrist if your feet sweat more than usual as you may be suffering form hyperidrosis and a simple solution is just a consultation away. Remember that hormonal changes can cause feet to sweat more, so teenagers and pregnant woman may be especially prone.