As important as your feet are, they are usually only thought of when there is a problem with them. Your feet are very complex with a network of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and some 26 bones.
As a caregiver, you have many responsibilities. Your foot problems can wait…right? Your mind is tired, you’re emotionally drained, and your body is exhausted. The only thing keeping you standing right now are your feet. Your feet are superstars when you consider all that they do in a day! Your feet keep you balanced and upright while taking the impact of your full body weight. Now that’s a feat!
Common foot problems
Common foot problems you may encounter include: injuries, ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, foot odour, fungal infections, cracked skin, as well as the effects of wearing improper footwear. Most of these problems can be avoided with some Tender-Loving-Care (TLC). Routine foot care is the best way to help keep your feet healthy and happy. Let the TLC begin!
5 easy steps to healthy feet
A daily routine of foot care is all that is needed to keep your feet healthy and functioning properly.
1. Wear comfortable shoes
Comfortable shoes will help improve your foot health in many ways. Let’s describe what to look for when choosing the right footwear:
- Proper Fit: If shoes are too tight they can cause hammer toes, ingrown toenails, corns, and foot pain. If they are too big your heels will not sit securely in the shoes and this can cause blisters, calluses, sore heels, and increase wear on your shoes. Wearing flat-soled, supportive shoes every day is recommended with only occasional use of heels and unsupportive sandals.
- Material: Leather and cotton are your best options when choosing shoes. They allow your feet to breathe and release moisture. Sweating cannot be avoided but alternating shoes every day will allow one pair to dry for a day before they are worn again.
- Timing: During the day, your feet can swell up to half a size larger. It is best to shop for shoes later in the day instead of in the morning. This will ensure that you have the best-fitting shoe.
2. Take a walk
Like the rest of your body, your feet have muscles that need to be exercised. If you spend all day sitting or standing, walking (even if only a short daily walk), will help to stretch and strengthen the muscles of your feet and keep your ligaments and tendons flexible. Oh, and remember to wear those proper fitting, comfortable shoes when you go for a walk!
3. Wash your feet every day
Because your feet are trapped in shoes all day, the sweat and moisture that builds up provides a perfect home for bacteria and fungi to grow, especially between your toes. This bacteria and fungi can lead to unpleasant foot odour, infections, or other skin conditions.
Feet are often overlooked and do not get a proper cleaning. Washing your feet (and between your toes) with regular soap is all that is needed. Remember to be careful when washing your feet — if you’re washing your feet while standing in the shower, hold onto something to stay balanced! Ensure that when you dry your feet you pay special attention to thoroughly drying between your toes. A dry environment between your toes will help to reduce infections and skin conditions.
The last step explained the importance of keeping your feet dry. This next step says to moisturize your feet…so should you keep your feet dry or moist? The answer: both.
Keeping your feet dry is important, as well as wearing shoes that allow your feet to breathe and release moisture.
Moisturizing helps your skin to remain soft to prevent dry, scaly, and/or cracked skin, especially during warm sunny months when you may wear sandals frequently. The important part of moisturizing your feet is to not apply lotion in between your toes.
If you have very dry feet, one option is to wash your feet in the evening, dry very well in between your toes, and apply a lotion that contains cocoa butter (or another natural emollient) to your feet (remember to avoid applying lotion between your toes). Put on a pair of cotton socks overnight to allow the cocoa butter to stay on the skin. Your feet will feel smoother in the morning!
5. Wear socks
Now that you are aware of the importance of proper footwear, let’s discuss why socks are also important. Socks absorb and wick away moisture, provide cushioning, and reduce wear and tear on your feet. Your heels take most of the impact and as we age the fatty pad on our heels gets thinner. The cushioning from socks becomes more important because it helps to absorb more of the impact from walking and standing.
For daily use it is recommended to wear socks made of natural fibers like cotton or wool. For athletic purposes, synthetic materials are recommended to wick away sweat and moisture.
Please note that this article is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice and you should consult with a health care professional if you or the person in your care have any questions or concerns about your feet, diabetes, or another type of neuropathy.
When was the last time you loved-up your feet? Today would be a good day for that!