Whether it’s cramming them into uncomfortable shoes, putting them through gruelling workouts or simply forgetting to give them the TLC they need, our toes, heels and arches can become cracked, sore and painful.
“Your feet regularly take the weight of your entire body and undergo enormous stress as you go about your daily life – all without complaint and requiring very little attention,” says Mr Kaser Nazir, consultant podiatric surgeon.
“Yet the foot is in many ways a fragile part of the body, and without healthy feet, many of our day-to-day activities can become difficult and sometimes unbearable,” Nazir adds.
Why is it important to look after your feet?
“Your feet are your body’s foundation. When they are strong, in good health and happy, you can get on with your day-to-day activities with ease and comfort,” says DG Podiatrist’s Dina Gohil.
Each of our feet contains 26 bones, 33 joints, thousands of nerve endings and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons – all working together so we can stand, balance, walk and move.
“The feet are highly complex structures and work in many ways to do even the simplest of things, like taking you to your first cup of coffee in the morning,” says Gohil. “Which is why it’s important to not think of your feet as separate identities, but more as an extension of your body.”
Gohil explains that our feet movements impact the ankles, knees, hips, back and spinal cord and neck. “When your feet are in good health, we often forget about them, but when they’re in pain it can become a real problem for your day-to-day mobility,” she adds.
Dr Ravi Tomar, GP at Portland Medical says foot problems can lead to us getting a lack of physical exercise too, which can increase your risk of bigger health issues, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, reduced conditioning and loss of muscle mass.
6 key tips for looking after your feet
1. Regularly wash your feet: “When showering or bathing, be sure to
use warm water and dry them thoroughly afterwards. Keeping your feet clean will help prevent infections like athlete’s foot, or fungal growth around the toenails.”
2. Carefully cut your toenails: “Keeping your toenails trimmed will help reduce the chance of an ingrown toenail or nail impingement in shoes. Be sure to cut across the nail, and not around or down the edges.”
3. Wear sensible shoes: “Poorly fitted shoes can create painful issues, like heel pain, or aggravate deformities like hammertoes, claw toes or bunions. It’s a good idea to make sure there’s plenty of room in the toe boxes of your shoes, as high-pressure shoes, such as high heels, can be particularly aggravating for painful symptoms.”
4. Moisturise and file: “Using skin lotion and filing corns and calluses will help keep the skin smooth and pain-free.”
5. Change your socks daily: “If you’re not already in the basic habit, this can reduce the chance of infection and will improve foot odour.”
6. Check your feet: “It’s worth regularly looking over your feet, especially if you are diabetic or ageing, to look for signs of injury or changes to their appearance.”
Finally, if you are ever unsure of how to look after your feet – or need assistance on how to solve a foot problem – Nazir says it’s advisable to see your doctor or arrange an appointment with a podiatrist, who can advise on the best course of treatment for you. PA/TPN