If your feet could talk what would they say?
Would they thank you for caring for them and including them in your daily routine? Or would they scold you for locking them away for 8+ hours a day in a wet, wet, smelly cage?
These structural works of art are often neglected even though they provide independence, locomotion and our ability to take part in almost all activities. Most often, people begin to care for their feet after pain begins to occur. Unfortunately, by this time it can be a lengthy process trying to get back to a comfortable level. Why is this the case? We walk on our feet all day (unless using a wheelchair or ambulate in a different way). Many people aren’t sure what is causing pain or how to remedy it. Sometimes foot pain is a symptom of another health issue that can take dedication and compliance to treat.
So what can you do?
(1) Care for your overall health. Symptoms can manifest in our extremities initially so pay attention to how your body is feeling. Diet and exercise are the most important things to maintain a healthy body and mind.
DIABETES: if you are diabetic, type 1 or 2, you are in a higher risk catergory for having foot and lower leg complications. Diabetic Neuropathy is nerve damage that most often occurs in the legs and feet. Symptoms include numbers, tingling, burning pain, cramps, sensitivity, weakness, ulcers, infections. Due to this altered sensation that can occur, some people with diabetes may not know that they have a cut or an ulcer forming on their foot. A concern of this happening is the risk of amputation due to a side effect of diabetes being delayed healing.
Delayed healing can present as taking a very long time to heal or the absence of healing altogether. That being said, people with diabetes need to wash (not soak to prevent macerated skin/skin breakdown), dry in between toes, wear proper fitting shoes and socks and managing their blood sugars. Visiting a local foot care clinic for diabetic foot screening, assessment, and teaching from a professional.
For those without diabetes, the risk of amputation isn’t as pressing but caring for our feet is equally as important.
(2) Proper nail cutting- nails are meant to be cut straight across and filed to ensure nails don’t catch on socks and prevent ingrown toenails. *If you do have ingrowns, they can be cut/removed at a foot care clinic, braced or nail ablasion by a doctor.
(3) Moisturizing and callous removal- thick callous can cause pain, can be a precursor to corns (hard calloused areas that form under friction that can feel like a pebble in your shoes, corns can be painful). Corns can also be removed and reduced but can also return due to callous formation.
(4) Proper fitting footwear- THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! Shoes shouldn’t taper at the end or squeeze your toes. People should consider shoe shopping in the afternoon because feet can swell slightly as the day goes on. Purchasing shoes that fit your needs- extra arch support, wide enough. Avoiding heels as much as possible as they throw off natural walking mechanics and can alter a normal gait.
(5)Physical activity- since the plantar fasciitis of the foot is a continuation of the calcaneal tendon, it’s important to care for the feet but also the calf muscles and legs in general. Stretching, heat, movement and being proactive will prevent pain and pathology. Everything is connected, listen to your body’s subtle messages.
(6) WARTS- Human Papilloma Virus is the virus that causes warts. Plantar warts, common warts, single or mosaic. Whatever variation of wart it may be, they are treated in roughly the same way. These are often painless and hard to treat. Due to the cause being a virus, it’s not possible to predict the path the virus will take. Some warts heal by themselves while others last years. If you notice an area (especially on the bottom of the feet) that may have an open cauliflower like appearance, might be calloused, and may have black or dark coloured roots or capillaries- keep it covered to prevent spreading and seek treatment. Do not go barefoot until the wart is COMPLETELY healed. Warts spread and can really take over an area if not treated properly. They may not be painful but should be taken seriously nonetheless.
(7) Fungus- Nail and foot fungus isn’t uncommon. This can onychomycosis (nail fungus) can present in one or more nails as a change in colour, shape, and texture of the nail. There may or may not be pain. There are many treatments available but it can take time to find one that works for your body and the type of fungus that it is. Athletes foot (wet or dry) is also common on the feet especially with people who have sweaty feet. Symptoms are itching, stinging, burning, blisters, cracking and peeling off skin in between the toes or on the soles of the feet. If your feet do not stay dry during the day, bring a few changes of socks to change throughout the day & spray your shoes with a antifungal spray or powder. Prevention of fungus is much easier than treatment, especially when it pertains to the nails.
(8) Pedicures- if you do desire a pedicure in a spa setting PLEASE MAKE SURE THEY CLEAN THEIR TOOLS PROPERLY. They should be sterilizing with an autoclave (your dentist uses one of these as well). Foot care tools are in the “critical” category of tools- they come into contact with various pathogens and blood. It may be a cheap pedicure but you could leave with a fungus that costs hundred to try and treat or something worse.
Massage therapy is known to decrease muscle tension in the legs and feet. This can help with issues like plantar fasciitis, Morton’s Neuroma, foot pain, leg pain/tension and many more ailments causing pain. Foot massage can also be very relaxing for some people. Reflexology is another skill that when implemented by a trained professional uses various reflexes in the foot to impact organs throughout the body.
If you are unsure about something, reach out to somebody in a health care field and if they don’t know they should have a resource to refer you to for your concerns to be addressed.
Take care of your feet!
They are carrying you through life.
Just can’t stop thinking about having your legs and feet massaged?? Why not book an appointment with Jessica by clicking here!