Put your best foot forward: Tips for healthy feet
Feet are the foundation of our bodies, and a healthy pair can keep us moving and grooving as we age. However, neglect or persistent foot pain that is ignored can lead to chronic conditions, which can be very difficult to treat.
“Foot pain can contribute to an overall decline in a person’s well-being,” says Wendy Macartney, Chiropodist with the General Foot Health Clinic located at The Scarborough Hospital. “Sore feet can limit exercise, which can weaken muscles and stiffen joints.”
Cindy Micciola, Chiropodist, adds that if you experience foot pain, and over-the-counter treatments do not solve the issue, you should wait no longer than two weeks before speaking with a clinical professional.
“Heel pain that occurs on a daily basis is something in particular that should be looked at right away before it becomes chronic pain,” says Cindy.
Medical conditions may cause problems with your feet that could require extra care. For example, arthritis is related to foot stiffness, aching or decrease in balance; diabetes can cause tingling, numbness or burning; and kidney and heart disease can contribute to swelling of the feet.
Sore feet can also create a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to weight issues, blood clots, and weak bones and muscles.
Wendy and Cindy suggest these tips for maintaining good foot health:
• Wear new shoes around the house before heading outside to ensure a proper fit.
• Wash your feet every day, dry well between the toes and change socks daily.
• Use emollient daily to help prevent dry and cracked skin where fungal infections can grow.
• Wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. To see if your shoes fit, trace your bare foot on a piece of paper and place your shoe on top. If the outline of your foot extends beyond the shoe, the shoe is too tight.
• Buy shoes later in the day because feet swell as the day goes on and you want to ensure your shoes accommodate the expansion.
• Avoid socks with tight elastics that can restrict circulation.
• Cut toenails straight across and file the corners to avoid ingrown toenails.
• Be active! Walking is a great, low-impact activity for feet that helps to improve circulation, prevent cramps and keep muscles in great shape.
• Limit wearing trendy shoes. High heels can shorten the Achilles tendon and calf muscle, and create future problems when returning to flat shoes.
Exercises specific to your feet can also help to keep them healthy, and can be as simple as:
• Picking up a towel or pencil with your toes.
• Rotating your ankles in both directions, and pointing and flexing your feet. You can also “trace” the alphabet with your feet to ensure a sufficient amount of time of rotating, pointing and flexing.
• Rocking back and forth from your heel to your toes.
• Walking in properly fitted and comfortable shoes.
• Rolling a frozen water bottle under your foot to help stretch the muscles and decrease any inflammation.
You should contact a Chiropodist to help assess and treat a wide array of foot and ankle problems, such as:
• Persistent pain in your feet and ankles.
• Changes in the nails or skin on your foot.
• Severe cracking, scaling or peeling on the heel or foot.
• Blisters on your feet.
• Signs of bacterial infection including:
o Increased pain, swelling, redness or tenderness
o Red streaks extending from the affected area
o Discharge or pus
o Foot or ankle symptoms that do not improve after two weeks of treatment with a non-prescription product
• Thickening toenails that cause discomfort.
There are many different problems that can arise from neglecting your feet and cause pain, prevent proper foot functionality or result in surgery. So take care of your feet and they’ll take care of you.
For more information about Chiropody Services, please contact the General Foot Health Clinic located at The Scarborough Hospital by phone 647-748-FOOT (3668) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.