Our feet are often neglected and probably not top of mind on a day-to-day basis. However, your feet are the foundation of your body. The foot and ankle are highly specialized structures that are essential to our ability to move. Together, your feet contain over 50 bones, 60 joints, 30 muscles, and 200 ligaments that balance and hold your shifting weight through varied movements and a range of surfaces. Because they support the weight of your body, the feet undergo a lot of wear and tear in the course of a normal lifetime. It is estimated that 75% of Americans will experience some type of foot health problem at one time or another in their lifetime. In honor of National Foot Health Awareness Month, here are some ways you can show your feet some love.
1. Clean and check your feet daily for sores, cuts, swelling, cracks, peeling skin, or other injuries.
2. Wear the right type of shoes for the right activity. Generally, choose shoes with good support and a low heel. If you like to wear flats, flip-flops, or high heels, alternate with shoes that have better arch support. Make sure your shoes fit properly and are in good shape.
3. Replace your walking or exercise shoes every six months or 500 miles – whichever comes first. This will help you avoid foot pain as your shoes begin to wear down and lose support.
4. Shoes help to protect your feet from injury, so don’t go barefoot in places where you may suffer cuts, pick up bacteria, or otherwise injure your feet.
5. Maintain a healthy weight through diet and regular physical activity. Excess weight puts more pressure on your feet, which can lead to foot pain.
6. Stretch out your feet, ankles, and lower legs before and after exercising to avoid injury.
7. Keep the blood flowing to your feet to reduce circulation problems. Wiggle your toes, move your ankles, and avoid sitting with your legs crossed for long periods of time.
8. Keep your feet dry. Wear socks that wick away moisture and let your feet breathe. Always dry your feet well after getting them wet, especially between the toes where fungal infections can develop.
9. Trim your toenails regularly and cut straight across the nail rather than into the corners – this is how ingrown toenails often develop.
10. Report any new foot pain or injury to your medical provider to avoid further damage down the road.