By Michael Nirenberg, DPM
Most of us don’t think about our feet until they hurt. Even then, most people limp around hoping the pain will go away. But with two to three times our body weight rocketing down on each foot with every step, it usually doesn’t. Fortunately, there are things you can do for relief.
Nothing soothes sore, aching feet more than a relaxing footbath. You can use a bathtub or plastic basin, or for some serious relief, I recommend buying a massaging footbath. Make sure the water is warm, not hot (I’ve seen patients soak in water so hot they received second-degree burns). Add a good quality bubble bath to the water and for those who are not diabetic or have poor circulation, adding Epsom salts is great, too.
I can hear the couch potatoes now: “My feet get enough exercise.” Perhaps, but walking to the fridge or standing in line at McDonald’s isn’t exactly exercise.
Most people agree our entire body needs exercise, but few people think about keeping their feet in shape. Yet, with the average person walking over a hundred thousand miles in their lifetime, feet need all the help they can get. Foot exercises tone, stretch and strengthen feet, while alleviating fatigue, soothing soreness and increasing blood flow.
In one study, 88% of women admitted that at some point they knowingly squeezed their feet into shoes that were too small. Further, as we age, our feet tend to become larger, but most people insist on wearing the same size shoe size they wore years ago. In addition to making sure your shoes fit properly, make sure they have a good arch support and that the heel counter, the area that wraps around our heel, is firm and strong.
Good moisturizers can sooth dry, irritated skin. The secret to finding a good moisturizer for your feet is not by price; more expensive doesn’t mean better. Read the ingredients and avoid products with alcohol or alcohol derivatives. The best dry skin products tend to be creams without alcohol. These are gooier and absorb slowly, so I recommend applying them just before going to bed.
Caring for your nails will go a long way to alleviating foot problems. Long, jagged and thickened toenails can catch on socks or pantyhose, dig into adjacent toes, or suffer injury by pressing against the inside of our shoes. In my practice, I have seen unkempt nails lead to blisters, infections, ingrown toenails, and even gangrene. When trimming your toenails, follow the contour of the toe and avoid cutting into the corners. Smooth any rough edges with a nail file.
Caring for your feet is your responsibility. However, when problems don’t go away, are serious, or if you have diabetes or poor circulation, get professional help. See a podiatrist.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nirenberg or another podiatrist at Friendly Foot Care, please call (219)663-2273. To learn about our amazing feet and ankles, visit Dr. Nirenberg’s blog America’s Podiatrist.