While people with diabetes and circulation problems must take very good care of their feet to prevent infections and amputation, everyone should practice good foot care. After all, our feet help keep us moving.
If you have foot problems, you may not want to do activities that are hard on your feet like running, jumping or walking long distances. Good choices may be biking, elliptical machines and water exercises. Following are our tips on taking care of your feet.
Physical activity is good for your feet because it increases blood flow. Try to move several times a day. When you sit for long periods of time, flex and circle your feet often. Don’t cross your legs for long periods. If possible, get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour.
Not smoking also improves circulation and prevents nerve damage to your feet. If you smoke, get help to quit. If you live or work with someone who smokes, ask them to smoke outside.
When you shower, don’t forget to wash your feet. Then dry them well, especially between the toes. For people with sweaty feet – whether you’re an athlete or just have hot feet – a light dusting of talcum powder can keep the area between your toes dry. If your skin gets too dry, rub a thin coat of lotion on the top and bottom of your feet. However, to prevent infection, do not put lotion between your toes.
Look for problems.
Tiny foot pains often get ignored, but if your feet hurt, look for the source. Visual inspection is especially important if you have any loss of feeling in your feet or have diabetes.
Before pulling on your running or walking shoes, make sure to slip on socks. Socks or stockings can keep shoes from causing blisters or sores. If you will be exercising, look for socks made out of synthetic materials. You’ll often see their packaging promoting their wicking quality. These types of socks pull sweat away from your feet better than cotton socks and help reduce risk for foot infections. Also, look for socks that are padded and seamless.
Wear good shoes.
Choose shoes because they fit well, not just because they look good. Poorly made soles, high heels and cheap flip-flops increase your risk for foot injury, now and in the future. Select shoes to match the type of physical activity you plan to do. Athletic shoes may need to be replaced two or more times a year if you use them daily. At the pool, wear water shoes if you will be walking on hot surfaces, slip easily or have diabetes.
Avoid high heat.
All of us, including children, should protect our feet from hot surfaces like beaches, pavement, the fireplace or a space heater. If your feet have poor circulation or loss of feeling, use socks to keep your feet warm.
See a doctor.
If you have concerns about your feet, see a podiatrist. A podiatrist can inspect your feet, show you how to care for them properly, treat any foot problems you have and fit you with special shoes or inserts if you need them.