April is National Foot Health Awareness Month so let’s take a moment to talk about our feet. Our feet are long-lasting and durable. Your feet mirror your general health. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet—so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems. Yet, how often do we take the time to care for our feet? A monthly pedicure should take care of that--right? A nice massage, toenails done with the color of the season not to mention the adult refreshing beverage. But to be honest, I really haven’t stopped to check out my feet—hardly ever.
How should we be caring for our feet? Here is a list of the top 5 most important things to check on our feet.
#1 Check the Skin on Your Feet. I don’t know about you-- but my feet live in flip-flops almost year-round. If I could wear them to work every day, I would. Wearing flip-flops is great! However, flip-flops leave the skin on our feet open to damaging elements. Is the skin on your feet dry and cracked from the Texas wind and weather? Are your feet red, peeling, or itchy? Are there spots on your feet? If there are, it is important to take note of the spots on your foot, i.e. do they change color or shape, are they growing larger or smaller? The skin on your feet should be soft and supple, free of redness or irritation.
#2 Check the Shape of Your Feet. Did you know that as you age, your feet get flatter and wider? Take a good hard look at your feet. Do some of your toes curl under more than others? Does your foot have any boney bumps? Have your arches fallen or gone flat over time? Are your toes swollen, red or irritated? These may be signs that a trip to the podiatrist may be in order.
#3 Check the Sensations in Your Feet. Foot pain is common but never normal. Be aware if you feel any kind of pain in your feet. Burning, tingling, shooting pain, or heaviness associated with your feet are signals that something is wrong. Also, you need to be aware that if your feet are feeling numb or find yourself with an injury on your feet but can’t feel the pain –you need to visit your foot and ankle doctor right away.
#4 Check for Slow Healing Wounds on Your Feet. Do you have a wound on your foot or ankle that doesn’t seem to heal after two weeks? Intervention may be required with slow-healing wounds, reoccurring wounds or wounds that are difficult to heal.
#5 Check your Shoes. Do your shoes fit your feet well? Are they irritating the skin on your feet? Typically, in a person’s 30-40’s, the natural fat pads on the bottoms of the feet made from collagen and elastin gradually thins out, causing foot pain by the end of the day unless properly cushioned footwear is worn.
At Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic, we recommend you take a moment to stand up for your feet. If your feet aren’t happy—you aren’t happy.