The Coast News Group

It’s important to take care of your feet

The feet are body parts that get little respect despite the repeated pounding and daily use forced upon them. Most people simply take their feet for granted. That is, until they don’t function at their best and send painful signals of their neglect. Imagine how much pressure and wear and tear each of those 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments endure with each and every step we take. By their unique structure, your feet simultaneously support your weight, balance and propel you, and safely absorb the shocks of your motion.
When we wear improper footwear and shirk our hygienic responsibility, signs of trouble can occur and should be taken seriously. Pain, excessively dry skin, thickened or discolored nails, swelling, redness, and unusual sensations are not something to ignore or hide in shoes every day. Instead, you should seek treatment for what may be the start of something brewing much deeper than the surface reveals.
One of the best ways to support your feet so that they can support you back is to practice good hygiene. With more than 250,000 sweat glands, the mixture of sweat and bacteria in our shoes and socks can not only increase the possibility for odor, but also lead to fungal infections. Washing your feet daily is as important as washing your hair, hands and other body parts, and doing so with a wash cloth or similarly abrasive product — between each toe and on all surfaces — also helps to exfoliate the dead skin and bacteria away. Keeping your feet clean and dry will help to lower the risk of infection. And when the feet become dry, applying lotion after proper cleaning will help keep dry, itchy skin in check.
Trimming nails the right way can also ensure that your personal support system stays strong and infection free. According to the California Podiatric Medical Association, nails should always be trimmed straight across and not too short. If salon pampering is what you fancy, make sure that your nail technician properly disinfects his or her equipment to insure that you are not exposed to the possible germs and infections of those who had the treatment before you. With so much in the news about the cleanliness of nail salons, this should be important research for any salon-goer, especially of those salons that offer pedicures in a bath-type basin.
Now let’s talk shoes. As stylish as they may be, high heels and shoes that squeeze the feet are linked to a host of foot problems. Painful bunions, which are misaligned toe joints, are much more common in women than men, which can lead to the notion that high heels may be a culprit of abnormal growths on the foot. And while poor-fitting shoes don’t cause bunions, they can aggravate existing ones. Avoid wearing high heels on a regular basis and purchase shoes with a wider toe box shaped like your foot to help stave off the onset of foot pain. Tight-fitting shoes can also instigate the growth of painful neuromas, or nerve growths, corns, calluses, blisters, hammertoes and more. And like any clothing item, shoes, despite being the same “size” as one another, can fit very differently. Trying on and buying the correct size shoe is the first step to happy feet. Shoes should feel comfortable when you first buy them, not after “breaking them in.” And believe it or not, your feet change throughout your life, so what once was your size may not be anymore. Have your feet sized regularly to ensure that you purchase the right thing from the start.
Diabetes, or high blood glucose, can wreak havoc on your feet, so if you have this disease, pay particularly close attention to them and advise your podiatrist or physician of any changes. The disease can cause two problems that can hurt your feet: nerve damage and poor blood flow.
With damaged nerves, you might not feel pain, heat, or cold in your legs and feet. A sore or cut on your foot may get worse because you do not know it is there.
Poor blood flow happens when not enough blood flows to your legs and feet, making it harder for an infection or sore to heal. This problem is called peripheral vascular disease, also called PVD. Smoking when you have diabetes makes blood flow problems much worse, and should be avoided. These two problems can work in tandem to cause a foot problem, and if blood glucose is high, the extra glucose feeds the germs and the germs grow and the infection gets worse.
Our feet don’t usually get equal billing with our other larger bones, body parts or organs, but proactively caring for them and pampering them a bit will net much needed equity in your foot care piggybank.