You rely on your feet to take you where you want to go and be able to do the things you want to do. As such, it’s in your best interest to make sure you are taking care of them. Some of the good news about this is the things you need to do for a healthy body—eat well, exercise a couple of times during the week, get plenty of sleep at night—can benefit your feet as well.
A proper diet will reduce your risk of foot-affecting problems like gout and diabetes. Getting your heart pumping with exercise can improve circulation down to your lower limbs. And a full night’s sleep allows your body to repair any tissue damage your feet sustain during the day.
Of course, there are other, more foot-specific measures you should take to keep your feet and ankles functioning in an optimal manner.
To that end, we have some more good news for you – daily activities for foot health aren’t difficult. A few simple steps will go a long way in making sure your lower limbs will keep you able to participate in your favorite activities for a long time. These include:
- Carefully washing your feet every day. When you bathe or shower, use a mild soap to wash away microbial contaminants (bacteria and fungi) and lower your risk of problems like toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. Don’t forget to get between your toes – this is an area that is especially hospitable to microorganisms!
- Moisturizing your feet. Reduce your risk of developing dry, cracked feet—which can be painful and increase your infection risk—by using a thick moisturizing cream or lotion on your feet. Use the moisturizer on the tops and bottoms of your feet, but avoid the areas between toes (for reasons previously noted).
- Doing a couple of stretching exercises. Don’t worry – you don’t have to spend hours exercising your feet every day! Just take about ten minutes or so to stretch your feet and lower legs. This will serve to reduce your risk of common sources of heel pain, since you are keeping your plantar fasciae and Achilles tendons limber.
- Wearing proper footwear. Every day, make sure you are wearing shoes that have plenty of room in the front—your toes should be able to wiggle freely—and support your foot arches. Your heels should be snuggly cradled, but without the shoes being excessively tight. You don’t have to give up wearing high heels altogether, but limit the amount of time you spend wearing shoes like stilettos and pumps. Also, always wear shoes intended for the actual activity you are performing when you exercise or play sports.
- Inspecting your feet. This is absolutely mandatory for those who have diabetes, but it is still a good idea for otherwise healthy individuals to do this as well on a daily basis. It only takes a minute or two to look over your feet and use your fingers to determine if anything feels unusual. Remember, catching and treating problems early is always the best practice!
For more information on what you can do to care for your feet every day, or to have any of your questions answered, call the office of Yuko Miyazaki, DPM at (510) 647-3744.