It’s no surprise that healthy feet are important for feeling good and staying active. With 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, the foot is one of the most complex parts of the skeletal system.
BIDMC podiatric surgeon Thanh Dinh, DPM, shares five simple tips for keeping your feet feeling their best.
- Dry off from head to toe. You likely towel off after each shower, but do you thoroughly dry your feet? “Excess moisture that can get trapped in socks and between toes makes it easy for a fungal infection to begin,” says Dinh.
- Trim nails regularly. Pedicures are nice, but all you really need is a straight cut across each nail, without trimming too close to the skin. “A straight cut helps deter painful ingrown toenails,” she says.
- Wear shoes that fit. Shoes that are too big or too small can cause skin irritation, like blisters, toenail injuries and more. “I tell my patients to leave a half-inch between your longest toe and the front of a closed-toe shoe for a good fit,” says Dinh.
- Find supportive shoes. After a good fit comes to support. While high heels, flats, and flip-flops are okay on occasion, it’s important to make sure the shoes you wear regularly offer support. “Your feet endure constant pounding,” says Dinh. “Supportive shoes or properly fitted inserts can help ease pain and prevent injury.”
- It’s important for patients with diabetes to get into the habit of regularly inspecting their feet. The best time is immediately after a shower while drying your feet or at the end of the day when removing socks and shoes. If you see a blister, it’s important to get off the foot completely, put a clean dressing with some type of antiseptic on it, and contact your podiatrist or physician.
- Another good habit is to inspect your shoes before putting them on. Many times things get inside shoes – rocks, pebbles, etc. that can cause irritation of the foot. With lack of sensation, you may not be able to feel these objects.
- Finally, high-risk patients should be seen by a foot care specialist every three months. High-risk patients include those with abnormal sensation or circulation, or those with foot deformities. Many of these problems can be prevented by controlling your diabetes and inspecting the feet regularly.
Know when to see a doctor. Pain, redness and persistent swelling should be checked out by a podiatrist. “Allowing a doctor to take a look can often prevent a minor problem from becoming a major one,” Dinh says.