Foot pain and its resulting problems ave become widespread issues, affecting around 80 percent of the U.S population. With the wear of the body in old age, these problems are likely to become more aggravated. The good news is that there are easy measures you can start taking today to relieve pain in your feet and ankles and protect them from future damage.
Foot Health Basics
One of the most important aspects of foot health is hygiene. This concretely entails keeping your feet clean and dry. This is important to avoid the infection of small wounds on your feet, but most importantly prevents and combats foot fungus. Good practice can be to wash your feet thoroughly. Use a naturally antifungal soap if you already suffer from foot fungus, make sure to use flip flops when in public or shared showers, and dry your feet well after washing them. Since fungi love moisture, taking away the wetness will hinder the growth of foot fungus. “Be sure to dry well between each individual toe,” says Kurtz. “Any excess moisture between the toes can create a great environment for a fungal infection to begin.” In this context, it is important to find breathable shoes, such as hiking shoes through which excess moisture can evaporate. A good option can be sandals if they fit the climate and weather. Apart from foot fungus, wet feet can also cause skin-to-shoe irritation and lead to bubbly blisters. This is why you should be sure to change your socks and dry out shoes after walking in the rain or snow, and regularly make sure they are treated to help with waterproofing.
Apart from the muscles and tendons in your feet, nails are an important part that is often neglected and seen more as a beauty accessory than an important and fragile part of our organism. To have healthy toenails, it is important to cut them properly, which means to cut them straight across, avoiding cutting into any of the skin around your nails or to round off the corners which can lead to painful ingrown nails. Do not cover “ugly” toenails with nail polish, since their bad state is probably a sign of nail fungus and in that case could worsen your problem. For reasons of hygiene, but also of the individual shape and according to the needs of every foot, you should avoid sharing footwear or buying used shoes.
Apart from hygiene, your feet also need the right support, meaning, the best possible walking shoes or good shoes with custom inserts. To find the best shoes for your feet, it can be helpful to look at your walking or running pattern. This can be easily done by taking off your shoes and looking at their soles. Examine how they have been used and where they are worn off. If one of your shoes looks more worn out, one leg might be longer than the other or you might have uneven walking patterns. It is important to be demanding when buying new shoes and not be fooled by fashion and shiny details. Good shoes will make you feel more down to earth, give you confidence, and make you want to walk more and be active. Make sure there is space for swelling that can occur during the day and to choose broad, rounded shoes that give your toes much room and have a wide, stable heel.
Keys to Healthy Ankles
As much as we rely on our feet for everyday movement, we need our ankles to support mobility. Ankle injuries are considered some of the most common joint problems and about nine million people suffer yearly from sprained ankles, while tens of thousands suffer from painful fractures. Most ankle damage happens in falls and accidents, but several factors favor the risk of injuries such as poor balance, loss of elasticity in tendons and ligaments, or ill-fitting shoes.
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One of the problems with ankle injuries is that once you have suffered from one, you are more likely to have one again. But the good news is that there are some easy measures to take to protect your ankles. First of all, you should make sure to wear appropriate shoes. These should not only fit you comfortably but also be suited to the activity you are planning to engage in. The most comfortable running and walking shoes are cushioned at the heel and give extra arch, whereas, for many team sports that are played in courts, flatter and wider shoes are preferable. If you don’t want to have a lot of different shoes for various activities, insoles can be an easy option. For uneven terrain, boots that protect the ankle are best and heels are never a good choice for ankle health. The other practice to keep in mind is that your ankles will benefit from regular exercising.
Especially for those that fall into risk groups such as people with diabetes or decreased blood flow, experts also recommend a yearly checkup on your ankles, just like for your feet. In some cases, ankle-foot orthosis can be a useful addition to shoe inserts and help keep your ankles safe.
For living an active and happy life, we all need to make sure that we can move as we want with healthy, strong feet and ankles. To do so, simple practices such as keeping good hygiene, treating your nails right, and wearing the right footwear can be essential. Make sure you are wearing adequate shoes for the activities you are planning to engage in and ask experts for advice if you belong to a risk group. With these straightforward pieces of advice, you can improve your foot health today!