Tips for Keeping Feet Healthy

Recently I was a guest on Virginia This Morning on CBS 6, to discuss ways you can help keep your feet healthy this spring and summer.

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month. With warmer weather, people are getting outdoors. Here are some tips to help keep your feet healthy this spring and summer — and really, all year long.

A lot of people this time of year are concerned with colds and allergies, but why don't we pay more attention to our feet? 80 percent of people have a foot problem during their life; 50 percent of people have a foot problem at some time that actually interferes with their work or their ability to exercise or even walk. A lot of these problems are relatively simple to take care of.

I sometimes divide problems into three categories: Traumatic, medical and functional. Traumatic foot problems result from an injury to your foot. Medical foot problems include things like diabetes and circulation problems that effect the foot. Functional foot problems include conditions such as bunions, hammer toes, heel spurs or pinched nerves in your foot. These problems are often easily fixed — sometimes through surgery and sometimes through something as simple as a shoe insert.

Many functional foot problems are preventable. Sometimes foot problems are inherited — you could inherit a gene that gives you a greater chance of getting a particular foot problem. If we know that a parent has had a particular type of foot problem, there are sometimes we can do to help prevent the same type of problem from developing in their child.

So, what are some things you can do this spring and summer to help keep your feet healthy and prevent foot problems? Start with proper footwear. Lots of people like to wear flip-flops in the summer — if you really want to wear flip-flops, be sure to get one with an arch support built in, which you can find fairly easily these days. Also, be sure to protect your feet, especially if you have diabetes — that means don't go barefoot, even at the pool. You need to protect your feet from injury and bacterial or viral infections which you can pick up if you walk around barefoot. Also, remember to protect your feet from the sun by putting sunscreen on your feet — this helps prevent sunburn, skin cancer and other problems.

Throughout the year, wearing shoes that fit properly is important. Many people have problems with pronating feet that can lead to hip, knee, back or even shoulder problems. Sometimes when we correct a foot problem, other problems may tend to get better as a result.

If you have a problem with your feet, don't wait to get it checked out. It's not normal for your feet to hurt. If you have pain in your feet, make an appointment to get it checked out!

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