If you’re a healthy adult, chances are you don’t pay much attention to your feet. You may go for regular pedicures and spend a lot of time selecting fashionable footwear but I expect you don’t give much thought to your overall foot health. If this sounds like you, you’re definitely not alone. However, if you want to avoid the development of chronic foot problems later in life, I recommend you start making foot care part of your regular routine.
Everyday your feet take a lot of pounding. Whether you’re a recreational runner, a community volunteer, or someone who is required to stand for hours at work, your feet have to endure tremendous force each day. As each foot is composed of dozens of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, feet are highly susceptible to injury. And when a foot injury occurs it can have a significant impact on your quality of life and mobility for many months and even years.
Fortunately, many foot and lower limb conditions can be prevented with proper care. Here are the tips I give my adult patients to help them stay mobile and pain free into retirement:
Follow the 80/20 rule – Many people, especially women, like to wear strappy sandals or high heels, particularly for important events or parties. However, make sure you wear supportive, proper fitting shoes 80% of the time and only wear your unsupportive, ill-fitting favourites 20% of the time.
Wear the right shoes for your sport – If you like to run, or participate in a regular sport, always wear the correct shoes for your sport and replace your sports shoes regularly. Running shoes break down over time, even when they’re in your closet so be sure to buy new ones at least once a year, or every 600-700 km.
Have your feet measured – Adult feet can widen with age and often change in size and shape after pregnancy. When you purchase new footwear, have your feet measured to make sure you always buy shoes that fit.
Get moving – If you don’t participate in a regular sport, add a walk to your daily routine. A regular walk is a great, low impact way to keep foot muscles strong and foot joints limber, which will help protect your feet from injury.
Pamper your feet – A regular pedicure is great but it is not enough. Your feet need to be washed and dried daily. Remove dirt from your soles and between your toes and pat your feet dry. Be sure to keep your toe nails neatly trimmed, but don’t cut them too short or they may become ingrown. Always keep an eye out for blisters, cuts and calluses and treat them immediately.
Seek professional advice – Foot pain is not normal. If your feet or lower limbs hurt, or you have an ulceration that won’t heal, don’t ignore it as it won’t go away. Book an appointment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. The Pedorthist will conduct a full assessment of your feet and lower limbs and will advise you whether different footwear, a custom foot orthotic, stretches, icing or rest will help.
Although your feet may not be causing you any trouble at the moment, don’t take them for granted. Look after them well now or you may find you are unable to participate in your favourite activities later in life.
By Mike Neugebauer, C. Ped Tech (C), C. Ped (C), Coquitlam, BC