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Keep Your Feet Healthy-Tips from Dr. Paschold
April 6, 2015

Our feet are the foundation of our bodies. If our feet hurt, we hurt. And with the majority of Americans logging an astonishing 75,000 miles by the age of 50, most of us will experience foot pain at some point in our lives. Painful feet can ruin a day, can limit our activities, and prevent us from doing the things that we love to do. Furthermore, foot deformities can cause pain further up the kinetic chain, such as a painful knee, hip, or back. Compensation for deformities or pain can then put added stress on higher joints, adding further problems to the equation.

Foot health begins with being cognizant of your feet. This means recognizing a deformity if one is present. This means taking action if pain becomes present. Many times the common population will not realize their foot shape is abnormal until they begin to experience pain, either from a flat foot or a high arched foot. Sometimes there can be certain diseases that are associated with certain abnormal foot structures, and sometimes these can remain undiagnosed until being seen by a professional. Other times, proper shoe gear or inserts or even custom orthotics can be used in order to prevent future pain. Further issues can arise when we ignore pain and do not seek the help of a professional promptly. Therefore, “playing through the pain” should be avoided.

And even if there is no pain or abnormality present, there are some associated diseases that can put us at a higher risk for devastating foot problems, such as diabetes or heart disease. That is why it is recommended to have regular foot checks by a trained professional, such as a podiatrist if falling into this category, most notably diabetes. Some may think they are doomed to having problems such as ulcers, infection, and even amputations simply due to the fact they are diabetic. This is not necessarily true, because if we practice preventative foot care and maintain good habits and control our disease as tightly as possible, our feet can last a lifetime without any major issues.

In athletes, it is important to train prior to competition. There are numerous strengthening regimens that can help to increase the intrinsic strength of our feet. Almost as importantly, overtraining should be avoided. For example, avoid going out and running five miles if this is the first time exercising in the last year. The same can be said when coming back from an injury. A gradual rehab program can be the key to avoiding recurrence or even producing another overuse injury somewhere else in the body.

A few other tips to avoid future foot problems:

  1. Check your feet daily! (especially if diabetic)

  2. Seek professional help if any problems are found

  3. Practice good foot hygiene, washing daily with soap and water, and drying out completely with a towel after bathing (do not leave feet damp)

  4. Use lotion on feet daily (especially in dry winter months), avoiding application in between the toes

  5. Wear supportive shoe gear as often as possible, and limit the amount of time in sandals or minimalist/flexible shoe gear

  6. Keep high heel height below 2”

  7. Wear high heels only while at work (wear athletic shoes on way to and from work)

  8. Avoid going barefoot even while indoors, instead wear a pair of clogs that has a rigid cushioned heel

  9. Avoid inciting triggers for pain (ie avoid standing on hard tile floors for lengthy periods of time if this causes heel pain)

  10. Stretch everyday!

In conclusion, foot health starts with each and every one of us. Practicing preventative care as well as knowing when to seek professional help can lessen the duration of pain and prevent future issues from occurring. And remember, April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, so why not start taking care of your feet before someone else has to take care of them for you!!!