Our feet are home to about one-quarter of the bones in our body. They get us where we need to go, provide a solid foundation on which to stand and allow us to do things like exercise for better health. Unfortunately, many of us do not give our feet the love and attention they deserve, which can lead to ongoing pain, poor circulation and infections. When our feet hurt, we are less likely to be active, which means poor foot health can also affect our overall wellness by limiting our ability to exercise. This deprives us of needed movement that helps maintain bone strength, build and maintain muscle, manage our weight and reduce the symptoms of some chronic conditions.
Aside from often ignoring our feet when they are trying to tell us that something is wrong, we also ignore their needs for comfort and support when we throw on some flip flops for an all-day outing or cram them into ill-fitting shoes in the name of fashion. It is often not until we have damaged our feet that we begin to realize that injury and unnecessary wear and tear can occur simply by making poor footwear choices.
Here are just a few of the common problems that can plague our feet and affect our health:
• Stress fractures
• Fungal infections
• Sores and lesions
• Muscle aches and cramps
• Poor circulation
• Nerve damage
• Corns, calluses and bunions
To avoid these issues, it is important to pay attention to our foot health, including maintaining good hygiene, checking our feet for lesions or discoloration every day, wearing comfortable footwear that offers support, investing in good socks with proper padding and maintaining a healthy weight to avoid unnecessary pressure placed on our feet.
Paying attention to your feet is particularly important if you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, heart disease or kidney disease. Diabetics are at greater risk for developing foot problems, particularly because diabetic neuropathy can damage the nerves and make it more difficult to feel foot injuries or pressure.
Here are 10 things to look for and take care of right away to help you maintain better foot health:
1. Athlete’s foot
3. Open sores or cuts
4. Corns, calluses or bunions
7. Cracking skin
8. Ingrown toenails
10. Excessive sweating or changes in temperature
Your quality of life and overall health and wellness are directly related to your ability to stay active. Maintaining good foot health is an important step in maintaining your mobility and enjoying life to the fullest!