Foot Health; Don’t Tiptoe Around Your Issues
by Katherine Mayer
Every June, workplaces across the country gear up for the annual Commuter Challenge. The challenge is a week-long event that encourages employees to use active and sustainable transportation during Canadian Environment Week (June 4-10, 2017). The friendly competition rewards walking, biking, carpooling/ride-sharing, taking transit and telecommuting, instead of driving alone. But before you tune-up the bike or get your sneakers ready, you should prep your most important piece of equipment; your feet!
Foot health is a topic that does not get enough attention. Chelsea Heath, Occupational Therapist, explains how the several small bones in our feet play an important role in foot function. “The muscles, ligaments and tendons of the foot maintain the position of the bones in your feet, and control how they move. Changes to the shape of the bones or to the muscles, ligaments or tendons can change the way the foot contacts the ground. If the foot does not contact the ground the way it is supposed to, for example from dropped arches, high arches, the foot rolling in, etc., this can cause pain and in the foot and other parts of the body.”
There are several common conditions that can affect our feet. “Arthritis, tendinitis and injuries are of some examples of orthopedic conditions that can occur and cause issues. Other conditions, such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy and cardiac disease can cause symptoms like numbness, burning and tingling in feet. This can also make feet more prone to developing wounds and can affect the feeling in feet and also balance,” explains Heath.
However, wearing the right shoes can be a simple means of preventing foot issues from occurring. Luckily, Heath has some helpful tips to consider when buying new shoes. “It is best to go to someone who measures the size, width and depth of your foot, watches you walk, gives advice and makes appropriate suggestions. Shoes should be comfortable right away, but you should wear them around the house for a day before taking them outside to make sure that they are comfortable,” suggests Heath.
These are Heath’s top tips for keeping your feet healthy:
- Wear the right shoes for the activity that you are doing and for your feet. “If you are going for a walk, it is best to wear an athletic shoe that is supportive and comfortable. If you have a flat foot or tend to pronate, your shoes and orthotics should provide the right support to address this. Too much support or the wrong support can also cause problems. If you have a foot pain with activity, it is a good idea to get a professional opinion on if your shoes are providing the right support for you,” explains Heath.
- If you have a foot problem, it is best to wear supportive footwear all of the time, including in the house.
- Keep feet clean, dry and moisturized. Heath says, “Feet are a common place to see cracked skin, cuts, pressure areas or blisters, and infections. Keeping feet clean, dry and moisturized can help to prevent this.”
- If you have circulation problems or don’t have good feeling in your feet, check them every day. “If you notice a change in colour or temperature in your feet or see open areas or new blisters, it is a good idea to bring this to the attention of your health care provider,” suggests Heath.
For more information on foot heath, visit www.podiatrycanada.org/foot-health