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Do It Better: Feel Good from the Bottom up – Caring for your Feet

By Joyce Venezia Suss

Ignoring the health of your feet is like driving a car with worn-out tires.

Your feet support you every day, and you must support them too. Proper foot care will help you feel good and prevent painful foot ailments, especially if you spend many hours standing or moving.

Most people have experienced foot pain at some point. To avoid foot pain on a daily basis, here are some suggestions.

Wear the Correct Shoes

Old or ill-fitting shoes must be replaced when they stop providing proper support, cushioning and traction, even if the upper part still looks good. If your feet hurt at the end of the day, your shoes may be the cause.

Wear the proper size and width, which changes with age. Get fitted by a professional in the afternoon or evening because feet expand during the day. Many people have one foot larger than the other; if you do, buy the larger size pair. Some people need orthotic insoles to support their arches.

Wear everyday shoes that are breathable, ideally made of leather or mesh material. The more you weigh, the more cushioning is needed to protect your feet from injury.

If you are a fashionista who loves high heels and/or pointed toes, save those for special occasions. When your feet are hidden behind a desk or under a table, take your heels off and wiggle your toes to prevent neuroma, a nerve inflammation caused by compression.

Flat shoes like ballet slipper styles don’t provide good support; add an orthotic insole for some arch support. And save flip-flops for the beach, not as a regular summer shoe; curling your toes to keep them on as you walk can lead to painful hammertoe.

Don’t wear the same pair of shoes daily; if you like the style, buy two pairs and alternate. Air out your shoes before storing them, and don’t keep them in airtight containers.

Everyday Foot Care

Change socks at least once a day. On hot days, change them more often, especially if you perspire. Fungal infections breed in warm, dark environments.

Wash your feet daily to help prevent infections, and be sure to dry them – especially between your toes, where foot fungi tend to breed.

If you have calluses (areas of thickened skin), gently rub with a wet pumice stone, but never try to shave them off.

After a long day of standing, gently massage your feet and/or soak them in warm water. Soothe sore feet by rolling them over a tennis or golf ball while seated.

Clip toenails right after bathing when nails are soft. Trim them straight across, and leave them long enough so the corners lie loosely against the skin. Use nail scissors or clippers or a nail file – and never share nail tools. If you can’t reach your feet, get help from a family member, friend or specialist.

When to See a Podiatrist

Some foot problems require treatment by a podiatrist, a doctor who specializes in foot, ankle and leg conditions. Common issues include corns, calluses, warts, ingrown toenails, bunions and fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. Podiatrists also help patients with pain issues caused by:

• Nerve damage (neuropathy) which causes tingling or numbness in feet.

• Arthritis, which affects foot joints.

• Injuries to muscles and tendons.

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