"Doc, I wish I knew earlier" Implementing healthy habits now can prevent long-term foot problems before they begin. There are four major preventative steps that patients can take right now to ensure healthy feet and prevent general and prolonged foot problems:
- Ensure that your blood circulation is healthy.
- Wear supportive and clean shoes.
- Pay attention to the overall health of your foot's skin and nails.
- Increase your flexibility to prevent stiff feet.
Healthy blood circulation means heathy feet! Smoking, exposure to cold temperature, pressure from shoes and/or long periods of standing can eventually alter the blood flow to and from the feet. If you stand in one place for long periods of time, make sure to wear compression socks. 15-20 mmHg is good for daily use.
For healthy blood circulation, avoid smoking. It has been shown that smoking can damage the structure and function of your blood vessels, increase blood cholesterol levels & increase blood pressure. I always tell patients to implement the following routines to promote good and healthy blood circulation:
- Elevate your feet
- Walk around from time to time try to not stay stationed in one spot for too long
- Exercise daily
- Massage your feet
- Take warm foot baths (adding Epsom Salts can help too!)
These proactive steps foster healthy blood flow and, in turn, can prevent long-term foot issues.
I always tell my patients that shoes will either help your feet or hurt your feet. There are a few steps patients can take to reduce general foot problems:
- Avoid abnormal pressure from shoes.
- Wear thick socks to lessen pressure when walking.
- Low-heeled shoes will lessen pressure to the forefoot.
- If you are experiencing foot problems and pain, extra supportive shoes will help resolve your problem.
So ladies, this means you may want to rethink those stilettos
SKIN & NAILS
Feet are highly susceptible to fungal, bacterial and viral infections think about all the environments your feet are exposed to! Don't ignore your feet; give them a little TLC early in the game and you can easily avoid general foot pain. Each foot perspires on average one cup of fluid per day! It is vital to keep your feet dry. Use moisture absorbing socks, alternate shoes frequently and use shoe powders. I always tell patients to pay attention to their feet and keep their eyes out for these general problems:
- Dry skin: if you have dry skin that doesn't seem to go away with regular moisturizing creams, it may be a fungal infection. This requires prescription medicine.
- Discolored or thickening toenails: this could be a sign of a bacterial or fungal infection.
It is a good habit to quickly analyze your feet while showering! Early detection and treatment is always more effective
As we age, the body naturally loses elasticity and flexibility. This decreased range of motion will cause compensation and potential injury. Tightness of the Achilles Tendon is one of the most common problems I encounter and treat. A tight Achilles Tendon (also known as Gastroc Soleus Equinus) will cause a decrease in ankle joint motion. This can ultimately lead to many foot problems, including, but not limited to:
- Flat feet
- Painful forefoot/ Metatarsalgia
- Stress fractures
- Achilles Tendonitis.
Foot problems are never enjoyable. These preventative measures can be taken right now by anyone of any age to help decrease the chances of foot problems. Take action now for a lifetime of healthy feet!
Dr. Jeffrey S. Hurless
DPM, FACFAS Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon/Podiatrist
Medical Director, HealthyFeetStore.com