April is National Foot Health Awareness Month. It’s also the time of the year when people begin to trade in their boots for sneakers and sandals.
This month-long initiative helps educate people on how to maintain the health of their feet.
Your feet are complex structures which contain one-quarter of all the bones in your body. Because they’re so complex, they are also prone to a wide variety of issues ranging from ingrown toenails to more complex problems involving nerves, tendons, and broken bones.
To keep your feet healthy during National Foot Health Awareness Month and beyond, here are several ways you can develop healthy habits and keep your feet injury and pain-free.
Wear the right shoes
As the weather warms up, one of the best ways to keep your feet healthy is wearing the right footwear.
There are so many different types and styles of shoes for you to choose from, so how do you find the right pair?
The right shoe for you might be different for someone else. It’s essential to find shoes that work for your feet.
Believe it or not, it’s incredibly common to have one foot that’s slightly larger than the other. If this is the case for you, fit your shoes to your larger foot. For example, if your left foot is a size 7.5, but your right foot is a size 8, opt for shoes that are a size 8.
You don’t want to rely on your shoes stretching out or “breaking them in” as wearing shoes that are too small can often lead to foot conditions like bunions and blisters.
When assessing shoes, make sure you do two things: find the right fit and check your shoes regularly.
1. Finding the right fit
Footwear that fits properly is crucial to your foot health.
Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure proper fit:
- Make sure the ball of your foot fits the widest part of the shoe
- Your shoe should be wide and deep enough so that your toes do not rub together or rub on the top of your shoe
- Check that there is a half inch between your big toe and the front (tip) of the shoe
- Walk around with the shoes on your feet and ask yourself these questions:
- “Are these shoes comfortable?”
- “Do these shoes rub my feet anywhere?”
- “Do I slip out of these shoes easily?”
While footwear trends come and go, there’s one thing that remains constant: it’s best to wear shoes that support your foot’s arch. For example, tennis shoes provide good arch support. Alternatively, you can purchase over-the-counter inserts for other types of shoes to provide additional arch support.
If you find that any of your footwear doesn’t meet these guidelines, it may be time to find new shoes.
2. Inspecting your shoes for wear and tear
Not only do you want to make sure your shoes fit correctly, you’ll also want to check your current shoes regularly.
Assessing your current footwear:
- Inspect for loose or broken straps, cracking, softened soles, or damage to the toe box
- Replace shoes after 300 to 500 miles of use
- Toss your shoes when they become worn beyond repair
Although, the lifespan of a pair of shoes depends on how much you walk each day, most shoes get about 500 miles of use before it’s time to say goodbye. To prolong the lifespan of your footwear, cycle through your shoes by wearing different pairs each day.
Keeping your feet healthy
There are quite a few ways to keep your feet healthy. These guidelines will help you maintain the health of your feet:
- Do try foot massages or reflexology
- Do soak your feet in Epsom salt if they are sore
- Do change your socks daily
- Don’t share footwear
- Don’t wear ill-fitting shoes
- Don’t try “DIY” fixes for your foot problems
Maintaining clean feet
Beyond wearing well-fitting footwear, practicing proper hygiene aids in reducing foot-related issues.
Safeguard against injuries and infections by keeping your feet clean and dry. To do this, wash your feet daily with warm water. You can also use a pumice stone to help exfoliate and soften toughened skin from calluses or corns.
Check out some other ways to care for your feet with our blog: 6 Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy.
What is a podiatrist?
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), a podiatrist is “a physician and surgeon who treats the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg.”
Podiatrists evaluate patients based on their needs and provide appropriate treatment for foot-related issues.
There are a variety of foot disorders and conditions you may experience during your lifetime and their severity ranges from small skin care issues to more significant problems such as ulcers.
It’s important to know that any type of foot pain or ailment is not normal. Consult with a podiatrist to get you back on your feet.
When to visit a podiatrist
If your foot problems don’t get better, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. Voyage Healthcare has Board Certified Podiatrists who are experts in their field and are ready to help get you back on your feet.
Put your best foot forward this month by reviewing your footwear and caring for your feet. If you have foot pain or an injury, visit a podiatrist today!