April is National Foot Health Month! Healthy feet are happy feet, but what is foot health and what does it mean to have happy feet?
Happy feet are more than the Disney-Pixar film. Happy feet are painless feet. So, if you have pain from flat feet, hammertoes, bunion, ingrown toe nails, skin issues or nail fungus, seeking treatment is the first step to getting your feet happy and healthy. Because pain can change the way you walk and function, seeking treatment early is integral in keeping the whole body healthy. Knee and back pain can develop simply from a change in the way we walk because of foot pain. If you have foot pain for more than 3 days that can’t be attributed to walking a lot in the mall, or a new pair of shoes, visit your podiatrist.
I’m so sorry that my feet are ____ (insert comment of person with unhappy feet). First of all, you don’t ever need to apologize for your feet and how they look, or how they smell. The chance that you actually offend my nasal passages, or hurt my eyes are slim to none. Yes, your feet may not be what you want them to be, or what they have been in the past, but, that is why you’re in the treatment chair. I will spare the details of the dirty, less fortunate feet that I have treated over the years and just say, you don’t need to apologize for your feet.
A parents plea
While rounding in the hospital the other day, a patient told me about his son who plays soccer. “My son desperately needs you to talk to him.” This concerned father wanted a doctor to take his child to task about his “disgusting” feet. I can only imagine what this means. I would say that these aren’t happy feet and consulting a physician for tips on keeping feet healthy is a good idea. But, what exactly is the doctor’s visit going to change? Is the situation dire enough to require a visit? Requesting a podiatrist to visit with your child’s entire team may be an option. Soccer players and many other athletes beat up their feet with the grueling workouts, poor shoe choices, and poor hygiene.
What can you do to keep your feet healthy?
A number of prior blogposts have addressed various aspects of foot health. In general, don’t neglect your feet. If your feet hurt every day, that is not good!
I know shoes are expensive. But, I also know that there is a difference in quality between different brands, and their attempted knock-offs. Spending money on shoes should be considered an investment. This isn’t to say that expensive shoes are better shoes, nor should this be an excuse to buy those high end “cute” shoes. Look for comfortable, supportive shoes with quality workmanship. Then, wear shoes that are comfortable and activity appropriate. If you’re gardening or mowing the lawn, don’t wear flip flops.
Wash and dry your feet!
The skin is the protective barrier to the body. The body’s defense mechanism! Wash your feet daily with soap and water to avoid bacterial and fungal infections. Take the extra time to dry between the toes, don’t allow the fungus to set in.
If there is a problem, seek treatment. This cant prevent a small problem from becoming a dangerous problem. Diabetes should have at least yearly comprehensive diabetic foot exam. If they are at risk feet with callouses, corns, deformity, or nail problems more frequent visits may be necessary.