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Keeping feet healthy in the new year

As we begin this new year, it is a time of change and new beginnings. Exercise is one of the most common resolutions or goals for the new year. Often, persons want to start an exercise plan but foot pain can quickly stop this. Healthy feet are the firm foundation needed to assist with the new start of this new year. Healthy feet are important for feeling good and staying active. If you neglect your feet, it can lead to unnecessary pain in the foot and other parts of the body; other foot problems including pain, infection and open wounds. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your feet healthy. Healthy measures such as good hygiene, self-examinations, and properly fitting shoes can help keep you active and pain-free. Here are some tips on how to have healthy feet in the new year. It’s a new start for your feet!

Nails can tell a lot about your feet and your overall health. It is best to cut toenails straight across and avoid trimming too close to the skin or cutting into the corners of the nails, which can cause painful, ingrown toenails. Clip or file your toenails every one to two weeks. It is best to wear nails naked and natural – it will help you stay on top of what’s going on with your nails. Don’t hide “ugly” toenails with polish. A discolored, thick, cracked, or crumbling nail could be a sign of a nail fungus. Applying nail polish to an infected nail could make the problem worse. It’s best to have that checked and treated.

Exercise is important to the health of the whole body including the feet. The feet can be the beginning or quick end to your exercise program. It is best to stretch the feet and toes on a regular basis to improve range of motion and function of the feet. Exercise can be very helpful for conditions like heel pain and arthritis. It is good practice to always stretch before beginning any exercise routine and to cool down afterwards. Starting a foot exercise routine will help your foot feel and function better.

Wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes play a critical role in healthy feet, they can help or hurt your feet. Shoes that are too small and tight can cause pain and long-term foot problems. It’s best to shop for shoes at the end of the day to compensate for foot swelling that occurs later in the day. Wear the same type of socks or hosiery you’ll be wearing with the shoes to ensure a good fit. Choose a squared or rounded mouth shoe with plenty of room for your toes and a wide, stable heel. Avoid pointy-toe shoes, which can cramp your toes and cause ingrown toenails, hammer toes, pain and calluses. To help keep your feet dry and healthy, wear shoes made of leather to allow air to circulate and keep your feet cool. If you’re prone to excessively sweaty feet, look for shoes made of mesh fabrics for maximum breathability.

Stretching is important to maintain the flexibility in the feet and legs. A great deal of demand is placed on your feet every day. If you take a few minutes to stretch your feet, you can help prevent injuries and help feet to function better. Common foot stretches are towel stretch, toe stretch, step stretch and foot roll where a ball is rolled under the foot. All these stretches can be used daily to prevent injury and also used to treat foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis or heel pain. Remember to always start your stretches by being gentle and gradually increase number and intensity of the stretches. A little stretching goes a long way and can prevent injuries. So, keep stretching your feet.

Time to pamper your feet. Massaging the feet is an easy way to pamper the feet and make you feel good all over. It brings blood flow to the feet and helps it to heal faster. Moisturize your feet. You can use a nice lotion or oils such as coconut, shea or cocoa butter to keep your skin nice and soft. Treat yourself to a pedicure at home or at a salon. Just make sure it is a good salon and ensure that all instruments are clean. Put your feet up every now and then – and relax. You deserve it!

Achilles tendon or heel cord is the largest and strongest tendon in the whole body. It is located in the back of the ankle and connects the big calf muscles into the heel bone. It provides the power for us to push off when walking and running and helps us stand upright. The Achilles tendon is usually injured due to overuse, doing too much too soon. Achilles tendonitis is pain, inflammation and/or damage to the tendon. The type of shoes ladies wear can also affect the tendon. If ladies wear only high heel and not lower heel shoes, it will cause the heel cord to get short at the back of the ankle.

Rest is important for your feet as well. At the end of the day, after standing for long hours, there is nothing more welcoming than an evening of rest for your feet. Whenever there is foot pain or a suspected injury, it is best to stop the sporting activity and rest the foot. Rest can be complete rest meaning no activity at all or it can be relative rest where the injured part is resting but you can use other parts of the lower extremity. An example of relative rest would be if you have an injury to the big toe; you will not be able to run or jump but you may be able to swim or lift weights.

Take care of your feet by keeping them clean and dry. Healthy feet start with good hygiene. Thoroughly clean and scrub your feet with soap and water daily when you bathe or shower. Afterwards, dry them well. Fungus loves to live in moist dark areas. It’s best to prevent moisture and make it more difficult for them to grow. Be sure to dry between toes well. Any excess moisture between the toes can create a great environment for a fungal infection to begin and spread to the nails. Applying moisturizing lotions and creams can help keep your feet in good condition.

• For more information email us at foothealth242@gmail.com, or to see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Hilltop Medical Centre, East Terrace Centreville or telephone 394-5820; or Lucayan Medical Centre, East Sunrise Highway, Freeport, Grand Bahama, every first and third Thursday, telephone 373-7400.

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