Our feet are the foundation that underpins our human physique and supports our body weight. They do an awful lot of work. Did you know that the average person takes around 7,500 steps per day. Which adds up to an impressive 1,300 miles every single year? In order to maintain that kind of performance for the long term, it should come as no surprise to hear that our feet need regular maintenance.
Healthy feet are essential for leading an active lifestyle, and important for your overall physical health. Neglected feet may not only look unattractive but could mean that vital signs and symptoms of disease. This may be overlooked and not receive the necessary treatment. At the same time, impaired foot function can lead to unnecessary pain and a whole host of medical problems.Luckily, there’s a lot you can do yourself to look after your feet. Good hygiene habits, regular self-examination routines and properly fitting shoes go a long way towards keeping your feet healthy and pain free, while familiarity with these essential body parts will allow you to know straight away when something isn’t right.
Practise meticulous food hygiene
It goes without saying that you should pay as much attention to keeping your feet clean as you do other body parts. Don’t neglect your feet while you’re in the bath – give them a good scrub and clean with soap.
The important thing is to dry them well afterwards including between the toes. Fungal organisms need moisture, darkness, and warmth to thrive so make sure your feet are perfectly dry before you put fresh socks on to avoid infection.
Check your feet regularly for problems
Once a week, ideally after a bath or shower, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at your feet, just to make sure everything is as it should be. Inspect the soles of your feet for any scaling, and between the toes for any peeling skin – this could be a sign of athlete’s foot.
Discoloration, thick, cracked or crumbling toenails could indicate a fungal infection, which can often be treated with a home remedy for toenail fungus, or a cream from the chemist. Don’t simply gloss over the unsightliness with nail polish – it could make the problem worse!
If you have diabetes, you probably already know that the condition can lead to a higher risk of foot sores and infections, so make sure you check your feet every day.
Know how to cut your toenails
Toenails should be cut at regularly intervals of around 6-8 weeks, otherwise they start to look unsightly and may cause pain when you’re wearing shoes. The best time to cut your nails is just after a shower or bath when the nail is softest.
Just as important is the frequency of maintaining your toenails is to use the right tools and techniques for cutting toenails. Use nail clippers and cut nails straight across but not too close to the skin. Once important piece of advice is to never ever cut your nails so that the corners are rounded off. Chiropodists see patients every day with painful and sometimes infected ingrown toenails that need cutting back professionally or may even require surgical treatment.
“Common causes for in-growing toenails include: tight shoes or hosiery, trauma, poor nail cutting technique, wide and involuted nail plate” – Chiropodist specialists, Sussex Foot Centre.
Beware of foot odour and perspiration
Each foot has around 250,000 sweat glands – more than any other part of the body – whose job it is to keep the skin moist and subtle. The downside is that perspiration creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. If you suffer from sweaty, smelly feet, particularly in the summer or if you are the sporty type, you may find a foot powder or deodorant helpful after washing and drying your feet.
Wear socks to keep your feet dry; synthetic fibres are better at wicking away moisture than cotton or wool. Tights should be avoided as they trap moisture. Look for breathable materials when choosing footwear, such as leather or mesh fabrics.
Make sure your shoes fit properly
Wearing unsupportive, restrictive or uncomfortable shoes can cause long-term foot problems. It pays to be honest with yourself when you shop for shoes. Don’t be seduced by the look or style if you’re trying on shoes that don’t fit properly.
It’s a good idea to shop for shoes in the afternoon rather than the morning. Your feet tend to swell up a little during the day. A broad, rounded shoe with lots of toe room, and a wide, stable heel are best. Pointy shoes can easily cramp toes, which can cause calluses and ingrown toenails, while tight, narrow shoes can cause bunions. If you’re having trouble finding suitable footwear, there are many chiropodists around. They stock a range of wide fitting footwear and comfort shoes.
Protect your feet in public
It is possible to get a fungal infection by sharing towels or wearing other people’s socks or shoes. You don’t know anything about the other person’s foot health. This also includes rentals such as formalwear, bowling shoes, hiking boots or ice skates. For maximum protection it’s always best to stick to your own footwear.
Always wear shoes in public areas such as public swimming pools, the gym or changing room. These are places where fungi love to breed in large numbers, so protecting your feet should be a top priority.
Know when to seek medical advice
You know your own feet best, so if you spot anything ‘different’ or ‘wrong’. Your first port of call should be your local chiropodist or GP. Try not to be tempted to have a go yourself since you could be making the problem worse.
Any persisting pain, swelling, redness, discoloration or other complaint should be checked out by a medical professional. You’ll can be sure that any minor problems are dealt with effectively. Without turning into major health issues. Usually, a simple prescription medicine or minor in-surgery procedure is all it takes to get you back on your feet.
Until Next Time… Charlotte x