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Help for Your Aching Feet

Friday, April 20, 2018

Aching feet

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” Of course, Thoreau was speaking of the beauty of the natural world all around us, the earthly realm under our feet.  However, it isn’t very heavenly when feet are tired and sore.The feet take a beating every day.  Studies and walking app data all confirm that the average American walks somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 steps a day.5,000 steps is about 2.5 miles and equal to approximately 912 miles per year.  Active folks may be walking 5-7 miles a day, upping the yearly total to 2,500 miles or more!Over the course of a lifetime, walking, running, dancing, climbing, and hiking can take their toll on the delicate, complex structure of the foot.  The foot is comprised of 26 bones, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments, and 33 joints.Keeping feet healthy and pain free is important for everyone’s activity level, independence, and life quality.  In addition, understanding foot care is essential for diabetes patients.

After a long day standing or walking, most people will have aching feet.  There are factors, however, that make some more prone to sore or painful feet.  According to Catherine Moyer, DPM in her article, “Fix Your Aching Feet,” the following are the most common causes of sore feet.

Common Causes of Aching Feet

Tips for Maintaining Health Feet

·       Properly cleanse your feet daily, including between your toes and underneath the nails.  Dry the foot and between the toes thoroughly to avoid developing a fungal infection.

·       Trim toe nails properly.  Trim them straight across, rather than rounding or curving; a podiatrist can show you how to trim your nails to avoid developing ingrown nails or damaging the nail bed.

·       Avoid walking barefoot as often as you can.  This will minimize the risk of injuries to your foot such as cuts or stubbing your toes.

·       Stay active throughout the day.  Get up and walk often to increase circulation in your legs and feet.  This is especially important for office workers and the elderly.

·       Wear clean, dry socks daily and do not re-wear used socks.

·       Apply sunscreen to your feet if you are wearing sandals.

·       Stretch your legs and feet daily to minimize strain on muscles and increase flexibility.

·       Don’t ignore foot pain.  Pain is your body telling you something is wrong. See a podiatrist.

            Typical foot ailments include athlete’s foot, corns and calluses, ingrown toenails, and plantar fasciitis.  Often, these conditions can be treated with home remedies on the advice of your physician.  However, some foot problems are complicated and require a medical team approach. For example, diabetes wreaks havoc with the feet.  A diabetic may require a team including a primary care physician, podiatrist, and endocrinologist.   High blood sugar over the course of time causes several issues including inadequate blood supply (peripheral vascular disease), inadequate nerve supply (neuropathy), foot ulcers, and foot infections.  The good news is controlled blood sugar levels in coordination with regular preventive care significantly reduces a person’s chance of diabetic limb amputation by up to 85%. 

Specific Foot Care Instructions for Diabetics

·       Inspect feet daily.  Look for cuts, cracks, bumps, or bruises, discharge, changes in skin or nail color, changes in skin temperature, or swelling of the foot or ankle. 

·       Wash feet daily in lukewarm water with mild soap and dry gently, especially between the toes.

·       Exercise.  Walking is the ideal exercise for diabetics unless there are complications. 

·       Protect your feet and legs.  NEVER walk barefoot and avoid extreme temperatures.

·       Use moisturizing lotion daily to avoid dry skin but do not apply between toes.

·       Apply foot powder daily between the toes.

·       Cut toenails straight across even with the skin on the end of your toes.  If you have poor eyesight, shaky hands, or have trouble reaching the toes, ask a podiatrist to trim your nails.

·       NEVER perform “bathroom surgery.”  Never use razor blades, knives, scissors, or medicated corn/wart removers to remedy a foot problem on your own.  See a physician.

·       AVOID things that diminish circulation such as smoking, sitting with legs crossed, and elastic garters. 

·       Change socks daily.  Discard frayed, torn, or stretched out socks.

·       Wear soft leather shoes that conform to the shape of the foot.  Women should not wear tight, high-heeled shoes.

·       Wear appropriate shoes for exercise and walking.  Lightweight sneakers with good cushioning and ventilation will help reduce muscle fatigue.

To learn more about diabetic foot care, contact Nancy Johnsen, certified diabetes educator, at UR Medicine Noyes Health at 585-335-4355.  Locally, Dr. Archer-Colella, a board certified podiatrist, is part of the Genesee Regional Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team at UR Medicine / Noyes Health. Her office can be reached at 585-335-9360.

Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator with UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville.  For questions or article ideas, contact Lorraine at (585)335-4327 or lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org

Media Contact

Mary Sue Dehn

(585) 335-4323

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