Healthy Feet are Happy Feet

healthy-feet-are-happy-feetLeonardo DaVinci said the “human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” Indeed, with 26 bones in each, the foot is a marvel that at once propels us and keeps us steady. We rely on our feet for support in virtually every activity we do from the pedestrian like standing, walking even sitting to the more vigorous like kicking while swimming, tapping out a beat, running a marathon, or dancing a jig. Name an activity and the foot’s likely involved in some way. And like a masterpiece, they are precious. But we often forget them …until they hurt, sting or blister, crack, peel, or itch. Oh, the woes of your toes! Bunions, corns, ingrown toenails, serious athlete’s foot, or worse, even, like bone spurs, tendonitis, or arthritis. So much more can go wrong. Want happy feet? Show them some love.

FEET FIRST!

Starting with caring for those puppies, The American Orthopedic Society advises that people, especially athletes, pay attention to sweaty feet which can lead to all kinds of issues from rashes to eczema and often more serious cases of athlete’s foot so making sure to change your socks daily and allowing shoes to dry is important. Toenails should be trimmed – straight across — but not too short.

And watch out for possible toenail funguses and treat at home or if the fungus seems more serious, see a podiatrist for a possible course of oral antifungal meds. Bunions, or hallux valgus in the Latin, can be annoying but worse, should they persist, could result in surgery, so if you have one, treat it – same with corns which the result of too much pressure when the skin is squeezed between bones and shoes.

The American Orthopedic Society also suggests that common sense basic foot first aid is really important. Cuts should be cleaned, treated and dressed immediately so as to avoid infection. And for runners and walkers, that errant nail you’ve stepped upon that’s punctured your skin? Have any wound examined by a health care provider. A nail doesn’t have to be rusty to potentially cause an infection …or worse. Take it seriously.

And care for your feet extends beyond first aid, podiatrists agree. Treat them with love. Pedicures are a gift, albeit not free though you can DIY at home beautifully. A good soapy soak and scrub followed by exfoliation with a pumice stone to remove callouses and a good trim of the toenails is a great start. But take it further. Massages, reflexology, paraffin waxes, and lots of moisture should make your feet happy.

STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

With feet, it is most definitely not one size fits all. If you’ve got a very narrow or very wide foot or if your feet are unusually small or atypically large, or if you have high arches or flat feet, getting the right fit can be a hassle at best. And podiatrists advise that a properly fitted shoe is a must if you want to prevent foot problems. Many shoe stores stock only common or popular sizes so getting the best fit can be challenging. But there are a number of great places in the 941 to get the perfect fit.

David Jackson, owner of New Balance Sarasota and University Park and Fleet Feet Sports Sarasota and certified pedorthist, says the best way to get the proper fit, which can make your feet both healthy and happy, is with a professional. According to the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, a certified pedorthist is an “allied health professional specifically educated and trained to manage comprehensive pedorthic patient care …including fitting, fabricating, adjusting or modifying devices” to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs.

“Working with a shoe fitting professional is essential to getting the best shoes for your feet and activities,” David says. “Since sizes vary between shoe brands and styles, just because you are an 8-medium with one manufacturer, you might be a 9-narrow in another. Also, be sure the fit expert measures both feet because most people have one foot longer or wider and then pick a pair of shoes that accommodates the larger foot.”

Kimmi van der Veen, manager at Fit2Run in downtown Sarasota says getting the right fit in your running shoe is “incredibly important.”

“You can push yourself to new limits whether in pace or distance or both,” she says when explaining why fit is important. “At Fit2Run, we approach it like a three-dimensional puzzle and we gather information about foot size – length and width – pressure points, and gait while in motion.”

Van der Veen, an RRCA-certified running coach says Fit2Run “trained professional fit experts encourage runners to share with us what they are experiencing with regards to cushion, size, support, upper and lacing options, etcetera, so that we can continue to recommend the best fit. Bottom line is this: go to a trained fit specialist. There is no substitute, hands down.”