The importance of keeping your feet healthy
April is National Foot Health Awareness Month and Optum Medical Care is encouraging patients to think about their feet and the importance of taking care of them. Our feet are often overlooked as a vital part of the body and most tend to ignore issues that are affecting their feet.
Each foot is made up of 28 bones and over 30 joints that help support a wide range of motion and shock absorption.1 Doing damage to any of these parts can affect our bodies and how we complete our daily tasks. One of the best ways to stay healthy is by moving, whether it is through activities like running/walking, dancing, weightlifting or even just cleaning your house. However, because being active is an important aspect of living a healthy life, our feet are the ones that often get the most wear and tear.
Keeping your feet healthy is essential to helping you remain active. Here are few strategies to help keep your feet in their best condition:
Keep your feet clean and dry
As with any part of your body, healthy feet start with good hygiene. Clean your feet daily with soap and water.2,3 After bathing, be sure to fully dry them thoroughly.3 Keeping your feet dry helps to lower the possibility of a fungal infection. Change your socks regularly, at least once a day.3
Examine your feet regularly
Once you have dried your feet, take the time to examine your feet.4 Check in between your toes and around your soles for red, itchy scales, which can be an indication of the fungal infection, athlete’s foot.5 Be sure to look for cuts, blisters, dryness, and swelling as catching these issues early may help prevent serious complications later.3,4 Also, check for any discoloration or foul smell of the toenails, which can indicate a nail fungus.3 Avoid putting any nail polish on an infected nail.2
Wear the proper footwear
Always wear proper shoes. Wearing improper shoes can lead or contribute to potential foot problems such as calluses, ulcers, blisters, plantar fasciitis, arch spasms, heel spurs and tendinitis (also known as tendonitis).6,7 Never walk barefoot, as shoes and slippers are one of the simplest ways to protect your foot from bumps and bruises.4
If you have diabetes, get regular foot checks4,8
People who have diabetes should have a comprehensive foot exam at least yearly and should see their doctor for injuries or sores. Diabetes can cause nerve damage making it more difficult to feel an injury. Diabetes also can lead to circulatory problems because of its ability to hardened the small blood vessels in your feet.9 As a result of the lack of proper blood supply, wound healing can be prolonged if any are sustained.7 Wounds found on the feet of a person with diabetes must be treated more aggressively than those who do not have diabetes as improper care may lead to foot ulcers and other complications.
Visit your primary care physician if you’re experiencing any aches, pains, symptoms or have any questions about the health of your feet. From there, your doctor can diagnose and treat your condition.
The information featured in this site is general in nature. The site provides health information designed to complement your personal health management. It does not provide medical advice or health services and is not meant to replace professional advice or imply coverage of specific clinical services or products. The inclusion of links to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such websites.
- Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/arthritis-of-the-foot-and-ankle. Last reviewed December 2019. Accessed May 2, 2023.
- What Is Toenail Fungus? https://www.apma.org/toenailfungus. Accessed May 23, 2023.
- Foot Hygiene. https://www.cdc.gov/hygiene/personal-hygiene/feet.html. Last reviewed June 15, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2023.
- Diabetes and your feet. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/healthy-feet.html. Last reviewed April 11, 2023. Accessed May 25, 2023.
- How to prevent athlete’s foot. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/athletes-foot-prevent. Accessed May 2, 2023.
- Heel pain. https://www.apma.org/heelpain. Accessed May 2, 2023.
- Diabetic Foot Exam. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/diabetic-foot-exam/. Last updated May 9, 2023. Accessed May 25, 2023.
- Take Charge of Your Diabetes: Healthy Feet. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/factsheets/diabetes-and-healthy-feet.html. Last reviewed May 4, 2023. Accessed May 25, 2023.
- Diabetes Foot Complications. https://diabetes.org/diabetes/foot-complications. Accessed May 25, 2023.
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