Taking your entire weight on the narrow surface of your soles can lead to painful and prolonged problems with your feet that, if left untreated, can affect your gait, as well as your lower back, hips and knees.
Fortunately, many of these painful medical problems can be prevented by taking good care of your feet and using some simple and inexpensive techniques to care for them.
Wash and dry your feet regularly
Bacteria thrive in the warm, damp crevices that exist between your toes, so regular washing is essential in maintaining healthy feet. Ensure you clean thoroughly between the folds of skin behind your toes and remove hard skin with a pumice stone. Drying your feet is also necessary to prevent bacteria and fungi from getting a ‘foothold’, so to speak, and particularly to prevent you from developing athlete’s foot, which can cause pain, swelling and blistering of the skin.
Athlete’s foot is an unpleasant, uncomfortable, yet common condition, but it can be easily prevented by taking some simple precautions in addition to frequent washing and thorough drying. Investing in good quality shoes that enable your feet to ‘breathe’ helps to maintain good airflow around your toes, but make sure you remove your shoes as often as possible (for example when you’re at home). If your feet are prone to sweating, change your socks at least twice a day and use talcum powder on your toes and soles to keep them dry. In public areas, such as swimming pools, avoid walking in bare feet, as fungal infections can be spread from person to person.
Vary your footwear
Women may be renowned for having far too many pairs of shoes, but there’s good reason to have enough pairs to be able to change regularly. Wearing different shoes helps to prevent blisters and also means your feet don’t become moulded to one particular style and shape of shoe. High heels, if worn regularly, can lead to a variety of different conditions, including a shortening of the Achilles tendon and the onset of hammertoe, both of which are painful conditions that are entirely preventable by wearing a variety of styles of shoe as often as possible.
Only purchase good fitting footwear
Needless to say, the fit of the shoe is absolutely crucial to achieve healthy feet and, while it’s tempting to try to save money by purchasing footwear from discount retailers where you simply choose the shoes directly from the shelf, this is no substitute for high quality brands obtained from specialist shoe retailers.
If you’re active, only wear correctly fitted sports shoes and replace these at least once a year. During running, your body weight is multiplied by two or three times, placing your feet under even greater strain, so your sports shoes must provide adequate ankle support in particular to prevent a variety of injuries, including torn ligaments, sprains and shin splints.
Trim toenails regularly and precisely
Avoiding cutting your toenails too short or angularly at the sides can help to prevent ingrowing nails which can lead to infections if left untreated. It’s also important to ensure that your shoes don’t place too much pressure on your toes, as this can also cause your toenails to grow incorrectly, resulting in pain and inflammation.
At home, walk around barefoot at often as possible. Not only will this help to maintain the airflow around your toes, but it will also strengthen the muscles in your feet and help to prevent strains in future when you’re undertaking more demanding walking or running.
By taking these simple precautions, you can help to ensure your feet are kept in excellent condition, preventing painful conditions that will not only make walking unpleasant, but will also enable you to maintain a comfortable posture.