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Straight, No Chaser: Maintaining Healthy Feet

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD November 21, 2018

foothealth

Your feet are a very good barometer of your overall health. The fact that your feet are further away from your heart than any other part of your body means you must be at your physical best for you to get everything you need to them. Remember your heart has to pump blood with its oxygen and nutrients around the body. Conversely, problems with your overall health easily show in this most distant part of the body. Plus, they’re your feet. You walk all over them by definition.
In this conversation about your feet, we’ll look at foot health first. Subsequently, we’ll review various foot problems. Joining me in this conversation is my good friend and noted Milwaukee Podiatrist Dr. Warren McIver.

foothealth1

Let’s start by going to those most at risk. If you’re diabetic and/or have peripheral vascular disease, foot care is a must – not an option. I’ve seen too many infected diabetic foot ulcers and amputated feet to tell you otherwise. If you fall in these categories (and even if you don’t), you must check your feet every day. The decreased sensation in your feet combined with poor circulation can have you walking about with cuts or sores on your feet, or with foreign objects in your feet without you being aware. These circumstances often lead to infections with potentially devastating complications.
Try these tips to improve your circulation and reduce the risk of damage to your feet, regardless of your status:

  • When sitting, place your feet up.
  • Form the habit of stretching your feet, legs and thighs.
  • Practice gently massaging your feet (or have someone else do it).
  • Soak your feet in warm water. Foot baths provide multiple health benefits.
  • Make sure your feet are dry before you put on your shoes.
  • Wear shoes when you’re outside.
  • If you are sitting for a long time, get up and move around every now and then.
  • If you cross your legs, reverse or uncross them often.
  • Don’t smoke.

 shoe1

A big deal is made of shoes. Are you dressing for fashion to the exclusion of your health? Sometimes the phrase “pay it forward” refers to negative consequences, meaning you’re going to “pay for it.” There is an ongoing battle between comfort and appearance. Pressure and ill-fitting shoes are the genesis of a lot of different disorders. Think about these simple, common sense tips. Do you follow these every time?

  • Have your feet measured before you buy a new pair of shoes. Every time. Did you know you likely have one foot that’s bigger than the other? Buy for the bigger foot. Also, your feet are generally bigger at day’s end, so that’s the best time to measure.
  • Never buy shoes without trying them on. That’s the ultimate quality control measure. While you’re walking, pay attention to the heel and make sure it’s not sliding.
  • Buy shoes that are shaped like your feet. High heels and pointy-toed shoes can hurt your feet and are invariably less safe and less comfortable.
  • Leave approximately ½ inch between your toes at the end of the shoe. I’ve heard many people say they buy tight shoes anticipating they will stretch. Don’t do that. That stretching is coming at the expense of your feet.
  • Buy shoes that are soft and flexible in the upper part.
  • Wear thick soled shoes. They cushion your feet when walking on hard surfaces, and this is a good thing.

Your feet carry you around all day, every day. Take care of them. It would be a shame if you had to do without them.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you have.
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