Jan 1, 2011

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Feet

For ‘Happy Feet’ in 2011, Think Prevention, Safety, and Kindness

Here we are in a new year! And with comes a few traditional New Year’s Resolutions. Uugghh!

Why don’t we do something a little different this year? Forget the mundane “Exercise more,” “Lose weight,” and “Clean out the garage” promises. Let’s focus on your feet and their well being. After all, if you have happy feet, then you can exercise more to lose the weight by cleaning out the garage! Make sense?

Here are my five suggestions packaged as one resolution for 2011. If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you might already be doing half of these happy-feet suggestions. Build on that!

These suggestions are listed “David Letterman’s Top 10 List” style, starting with the last at No. 5 and building to the most important tip. Here they are:

5. Take Better Care of Your Shoes. Let’s start thinking about our shoes as an “investment,” both financially and in the well-being of our feet. After all, you undoubtedly sank a few coins in those shoes, so they’re worth taking care of.

Probably the hardest thing on your shoes is how you put them on and take them off. Whether your shoes are laced, zipped or slip-ons, use a shoe horn. This goes for men, women and children. Forcing you foot into the shoe without a shoe horn bends the back of the shoe down, which then weakens the core structure that is designed to protect you.

The same is true with using one foot to step on the sole or heel of your other shoe while pulling your foot out. Sure, the sole is securely attached, but it won’t be for long. Take three seconds to (1) unlace or unzip the shoes then (2) pull them off with your hand, not your foot. Your shoe investment will look newer longer – and provide the support you need.

4. Safety First. The world is a treacherous place and your foot will be the first to find the danger that lurks around every corner. Be smart. Running to catch the bus in five-inch heels is unwise. Mowing the grass in flip flops is downright stupid. And wearing the same work shoes every day of the week is counter-productive.

Veteran athletes and classically trained dancers understand the value of preparation, including acquiring the proper equipment and uniform. Take a tip from them and ask yourself, “Do I have the right shoes/socks/footwear for this task?” Even if it’s shopping the mall, you need the right “equipment” on your feet!

3. Be Pro Active on Foot Health Care. With the exception of blisters, most foot problems emerge over a period of time. Hammertoes, bunions, falling arches, even toe fungus start small, then go nowhere but worse. And nearly all of these problems can be treated (1) less painfully, (2) without surgery and (3) less expensively when caught early.

Take 30 seconds each week to sit down and examine your feet. The best time is right after a shower. Check both the tops, bottoms and sides of your feet. Is everything where it should be? Are there any new bumps or rough spots? Unexplained blisters or corns? Toes overlapping each other? Are there any unusually sensitive spots on your heel or the ball of your foot? If you can’t resolve it with a pumice stone, give our offices a call and let us take a look. It’s much easier (on you) to address foot problems early.

Finally, at Snyder-Stuart Podiatry Centers, we’re seeing more cases of gout come through our doors. [See our October blog on Gout for more information.] Know these two things about gout: (1) It is exceptionally painful and (2) it’s preventable. Watch the alcohol intake and drink more water.

2. Buy Better Shoes. As I’ve said many times, shoes are your feet’s best protectors. Whether it’s fluffy bunny slippers or steel-toed work boots, shoes stand between you and a perilous world. The average, fairly active person takes about 10,000 steps a day, so protecting your feet from outside elements is vital.

But that’s only half the benefit of proper shoes. From the inside, shoes — rather the right shoes — provide support. Correctly sized, they keep your toes, arch and heel in their optimum work place, and help to keep your posture in proper alignment so that taking those 10,000 steps takes less wear and tear on you.

If you’ve never had professionally sized shoes with proper orthotics prescribed precisely for you, consider giving them a try in 2011! You’ll see a significant difference while adding to the long-term well-being of your feet.

1. Be Kinder to Your Feet. Is it because our feet are the furthest from our brain that we forget to give them a moment of our attention until something starts to hurt?

Feet are fairly low maintenance. Not all, but most foot problems become realities through action done to them, not on their own accord. So, if you have a pair of shoes that continue to hurt you even after a normal break-in period, replace them. Life is too short.

On a weekly basis, preferably right after a shower, sit down and examine your feet. Take a pumice stone to smooth out any emerging calluses. Check in-between toes for anything odd, and use a moisturizer on your feet and ankles.

Every month or two, both men and women benefit from a professional pedicure. Cut the toenails short and straight across. Keep an eye out for ingrown toenails. (By the way, our Aesthetic Foot Spa offers a delicious, medically based pedicure and foot treatment at all of our Snyder-Stuart Podiatry Centers. If your pedometer has passed the 100,000 mark, it’s time for a checkup!)

Finally, from all of us at Snyder-Stuart Podiatry Centers, we wish you a Happy New Year filled with love, kindness and very happy feet!

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