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How to care for your feet

Published:Wednesday | July 13, 2022 | 12:07 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer

We are oftentimes very conscious to take care of most parts of our bodies, from the essential care of our hearts, muscles and joints to the more superficial hair and nail care. However, many people tend to neglect their feet. This issue can become severe when problems with your feet significantly impact your quality of life, and lead to further health concerns.

As people get older, the likelihood of developing a foot condition increases. According to Health in Aging, one in three people over the age of 65 has foot pain, stiffness or aching feet. This rate worsens in residents of long-term care facilities. However, practising proper foot-care techniques will ease discomfort and bring positive results regardless of age or current health status.

Your feet are your body’s foundation, so keeping them healthy is vital to your overall health. Years of wear and tear can be hard on your feet. Overuse, shoes that do not fit properly and even genetics can lead to injuries and disorders of the foot that can greatly impact your mobility.

Apart from some foot issues becoming very painful, they can also make you more susceptible to accidents. You risk falling if foot issues persist. Walking awkwardly to avoid that pain sets you off balance and heightens your risk of hurting yourself further.

Caring for the skin on your feet is also important. Your heels are not meant to feel rough and dry. The longer this issue persists, the more likely it is that your feet will begin to crack. Although some cracks are not painful, they still allow harmful bacteria in. If left untreated for a long time, the healing process will also take a while.

The wrong shoes can also cause serious damage to your feet. People who wear high heels are probably keenly familiar with the feeling of pinched toes, pain radiating from the balls of their feet and aching arches after a long period of wearing such shoes. However, other shoes can still cause these sensations if not correctly fitted to the individual’s feet.

Those who will be on their feet all day need to have shoes with proper cushioning and traction. Gel inserts are highly recommended, and you should always try to take breaks to rest your feet periodically throughout the day. Custom orthotics are moulded specifically to your foot and can be used to address a variety of orthopaedic issues.

Athlete’s foot is not the only threat to foot health, but it is very prevalent. However, it is easy to prevent. Fungal infections like athlete’s foot or infected toenails are easily contracted through sweaty feet that are left to sit in shoes or socks for long periods. If you are in a situation where you know that your feet will be sweating, make sure to change your socks as soon as possible once you finish your activities. Also, consider wearing socks made of moisture-wicking material.

Another common foot condition is Achilles tendinitis, a condition that affects the Achilles tendon that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone.

With all these threats to the health of your feet, how should you care for them? First of all, make sure to wash your feet often, taking care to clean between your toes and trim your toenails. You should also use lotion on your heels to prevent cracked skin. If your heels are already dry, consider using a pumice stone lightly.

It is also essential to make sure your shoes fit properly, neither too tight nor too loose. Stretching and strengthening your feet is also critical when it comes to avoiding pain and injury. Always modify your activity or rest if you begin to notice foot pain.

SOURCE: Harvard Health, Health in Aging