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Nothing is more important than your feet. Walking, running, or even just standing, our feet bear the entire weight of our body on hold us upright. But we often take our feet for granted, and they are often the most overlooked part of ourselves. Neglecting the health of your feet is not only a problem aesthetically, but it can also affect your overall health and wellbeing. However, on the flip side, taking care of your feet, maintaining them every day, and ensuring your feet are healthy and fit are great ways to keep your overall body feeling in top shape.
One of the most important and basic ways we can practice some everyday foot care techniques is through routine hygiene. Washing and drying your feet every day goes a long way in keeping them healthy and looking good. This includes washing between your toes and trimming them routinely. Another piece of daily hygiene involves moisturizing your feet if they feel too dry or if you can see any visible signs of cracks or dryness. However, if you are moisturizing your feet, be sure to avoid using lotion in between your toes, as this may cause fungi or bacteria to develop if the lotion remains there for too long. Not only this, but sometimes your skin will macerate or become too soft if you continually use lotions or moisturizers in this area.
When talking about everyday foot care, it is important to also include shoes and footwear into the mix, as this has just as much effect on your feet as hygiene and cleansing. One of the first, and most important, aspects of proper footwear is choosing the right size. Shoes that are too tight will restrict blood flow and cause pain, while shoes that are too lose will create blisters and other sores. The proper feel of a shoe should be snug and contouring, not too tight and not too lose.
While getting the proper fit is important, avoiding wearing certain shoes excessively will also lead to some good foot health. The two biggest culprits in developing foot problems are high heels and flip flops, neither of which support the feet in a proper manner. Flip flops provide no support for the feet and cause you to walk with a different motion than you would if you were wearing a normal shoe, while high heels will put too much pressure on the toes or heel, depending on the width of the heel, causing pain all throughout your feet.
On top of proper fitting shoes, properly fitting socks is another key aspect in everyday foot care. Socks will absorb moisture and sweat in the summer time to keep them from lying on the feet, which can promote fungi growth. They also keep the feet warm in the winter, protecting your feet from conditions such as frostbite.
It is not hard to properly maintain your feet. Everyday foot care goes a long way in keeping them healthy and looking good, which in turn keeps the overall health of your body up. From proper hygiene to getting the right fit in your shoes, these tips go a long way in helping you care for your feet.
Flat feet is a foot condition in which the arch of the foot either drops or is never developed. While it is common in babies and small children, it can become a problem if the arch never develops. For adults, the development of flat feet can be brought upon by injury, or may even be a result of pregnancy due to the increased elasticity; however, in adults the flat footedness is usually permanent.
The wet footprint test can be an indicator to diagnosing flat feet. In this test, the individual would place a flat foot on a surface in order to show a footprint. If there is no indentation or indication of an arch, that person may have flat feet. In all cases, it is best to consult a podiatrist if flat feet is suspected or noticed.
Once flat feet has been diagnosed, it can be treated by walking barefoot in beach-like terrain, or wearing insoles. There are two types of flat feet; one being rigid, where the feet appear to have no arch even when the person is not standing, and the other being flexible where the person appears to have an arch while not standing, but once standing the arch goes away. In the case of flexible flat feet, unless there is pain caused by the condition, there is no need for treatment. However, if it causes pain or in the case of rigid flat feet, exercises and orthotic insoles may be prescribed in order to help the arches develop.
In some cases when the condition is severe and all other methods have been exhausted surgery may be required but this is normally avoided due to a lengthy recovery time and high cost.
An ingrown toenail is caused when a toenail grows sideways into the bed of the nail, causing pain and swelling. Sometimes this can become infected causing drainage and may become serious.
There are many risk factors that can predispose a person to this common condition. Cutting your nails too short, participating in sports, diabetes, being overweight, or having a fungal infection of the toe can all cause ingrown toe nails. Many people are genetically prone to ingrown nails and it can often be related to genetics. Often the problem can come from wearing ill fitting shoes, or even from shoes that keep the feet slightly damp.
There are some things that you can do to prevent and treat these painful problems. Letting your toe nails grow a little longer will help prevent this condition. If you do develop an ingrown nail, soaking the toe in hot water will help prevent infection and lessen pain. You may want to add antibiotic soap or Epsom salts to the water. This will help to prevent infection.
If your pain is so severe that it keeps you from everyday activities, it is time to see your podiatrist. Also, if you see a red streak running up your leg, or if your infection is spreading, see a podiatrist immediately. There are many quick treatments that can lessen your pain and have you walking with comfort.
Stress fractures occur in the foot and ankle when muscles in those areas are weakened from too much or too little use. When this happens, they stop cushioning the foot and ankles from the impact of hitting the ground. Because there is nothing to protect them, the bones of the foot begin to absorb the full impact of each step someone takes. The added stress causes little cracks to form in the bones that are under the most pressure. These cracks are called stress fractures.
Stress fractures are common for individuals whose daily activities cause high levels of impact on their feet and ankles. Individuals who run, play tennis or basketball, or practice gymnastics tend to experience these fractures more frequently. Anyone is susceptible to this problem, though. Individuals who are normally sedentary and suddenly begin an intensive high impact work out may get stress fractures. This is because their muscles are not strong enough to handle and cushion the intensity of their activity. Osteoporosis may also cause someone to get stress fractures, because the disease weakens an afflicted person's bones and makes it easier for them to break down.
The pain from these fractures will occur in the general area of the fracture. It may be intermittent or constant, and will cause sharp or dull pain along with swelling and tenderness. Engaging in any kind of activity, high impact or otherwise, will aggravate the pain. If the intensity of the activity increases before the stress fracture has properly healed, it can cause a full fracture. This is a much more serious problem, and will probably prevent you from applying any pressure on the foot at all.
Treatment can vary depending on the individual and the degree of injury. The primary way to treat a stress fracture is to rest the hurt foot. Some fractures will heal quickly with only a little bit of rest, while others may require a long rest period and the use of crutches. Under certain circumstances, surgery may be required to install support pins around the fracture to assist in healing.
In order to avoid getting stress fractures, make sure to get plenty of calcium and Vitamin-D. They will help to keep your bones strong, and make them less likely to break under pressure. If your new exercise regimen is running or some other kind of high impact activity, set incremental goals on a weekly basis so you can build up muscle strength. For example, if you plan to walk every day, you could ride a bike on some days to take the stress off of your feet. Make sure to wear supportive shoes to better protect you feet.
If you begin to experience any symptoms of stress fractures, you should stop exercising and rest. If the symptoms do not go away, see an orthopedic specialist. Remembering these tips can help you prevent stress fractures to your foot and ankle, and allow you to continue living normally.
While it is fortunate that many foot-related illnesses and injuries do not require surgery, for those that suffer from conditions that do require surgery, understanding what kind of shoes to wear after surgery is vital to recovery. Also important to note is that podiatrists and foot surgeons should always be consulted post-operation, to determine the exact needs of your feet.
Surgeries that require orthopedic shoes tend to involve bone deformities or other illnesses for which no other option is available. Some of these conditions are Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, bunions which deform the large toe bones and cannot be corrected with other methods, and ligament tears that require surgery to alleviate pain and restore mobility. Each of the surgical procedures that are used to treat these illnesses benefit greatly from special orthopedic footwear and in many cases they are required for recovery.
There are many variations on orthopedic footwear that are required after foot surgery, but the typical style remains the same, and a few standard, functional qualities to ensure the comfort and support of feet are employed. Typical orthopedic shoes offer a rubber sole to prevent any possibility of slipping while foot related balance and support is reduced post surgery. These shoes are meant to only be worn during the small post operative recovery window and accommodate the excess size of the foot and bandages. During this time, a wider toe area and a larger heel width is necessary. These shoes also typically come with raised heels and can be quite expensive if not covered by insurance.
For those surgeries that do not require special footwear, typical patients will often turn to comfortable athletic shoes to provide adequate support for their feet. A post operative patient must take special care when choosing their athletic shoes and their choices should closely mirror the design of orthopedics. Chosen shoes should have wider toe boxes and a firmer heel, with plenty of room for a swollen or bandaged foot. Your podiatrist should always be consulted regarding which brands are appropriate to wear, and can often recommend a specific line of shoes to provide comfort to various arch shapes and foot sizes.
For those who are required to wear dress shoes post operation, shoes with a heel should be avoided, as most dress shoes with heels provide undue strain to the foot. Consulting your podiatrist before wearing shoes that have not been explicitly approved is necessary.
It is hard to think of a sport in which the ankle and foot are completely safe from injury. Even simple activities such as darts and pool can cause injuries to the foot. When an athlete does suffer from a foot injury, he needs to find a way to get back on his feet right away. Immediate results may be desired, but they are not always possible.
Severe injuries require special attention. When the foot or the ankle gets injured, muscles surrounding the bones can weaken or atrophy through disuse. While the bones will heal on their own, it takes a more concentrated effort for an athlete to regain full use of his feet and ankles. A doctor may recommend that a person go through a course of physical therapy. The course of physical therapy treatment uses simple, repetitive isometric exercises. The use of the exercises will cause the body to rebuild the muscles and tendons in the area over time and restore the full range of movement.
When selecting ankle and foot rehabilitation services, an athlete needs to find a licensed sports therapist (other physical therapists work with more generalized conditions, and while these kinds of physical therapists are dedicated to their job, they do not necessarily understand the special demands of the athlete). A good sports therapist will take their time with a patient, and make sure that he or she understands the problem and the options available for treatment.As long as the doctor expects a person to return to the sport which he enjoys, the sports physical therapist will recommend the exact exercises a person needs to get back in the game.
Although the professional athlete needs a trained sports therapist, an amateur athlete or the weekend player can benefit from foot rehabilitation services for athletes as well. An ankle or foot injury does not have to cause a person go give up the game he loves entirely, so long as he or she seeks out a sports therapist.
Physical therapy can not always perfectly heal certain injuries, but it will more quickly and effectively help the afflicted person get better. Less severe injuries may only take a person out of his favorite sport just for a little while, if he or she sees a sports therapist. As long as the doctor the athlete sees thinks a full recovery is possible, it is worth it to check out ankle and foot rehabilitation services.
There are many types of foot injuries common among athletes such as plantar fasciitis, overpronation, strains, turf toe, heel spurs, and stress fractures of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is when the thick ligament in the base of the foot becomes swollen, and causes pain. Overpronation is excessive movement of the foot during gait. Pronation would be normal movement of the gait, but when movements become excessive, it leads to a variety of areas becoming painful due to the overpronation. The most common complaint is a burning sensation or inflammation under the arch of the foot, often called strain or arch pain. Heel spurs are growths of the bone in the heel where soft tissues and tendons connect. Turf toe comes from upward bending of the big toe outside of the normal range of motion. It most commonly occurs in athletes that play on artificial surfaces because a shoe grips the surface and forces and athletes weight forward causing the upward bending of the large toe. This causes damage by stretching the ligaments under the toe. Stress fractures could be caused by overuse due to muscle fatigue in the foot, preventing the muscles and ligaments from absorbing the shock and trauma.
Many athletes continue to play with mild foot injuries. You should remember to properly stretch before any activities, focusing on their calves to prevent injuries and reduce reoccurring pain. It is also common to wear braces to protect the areas that commonly become overstretched and use shoe inserts such as heel pads. It is important to remember to wear proper footwear and replace shoes when needed.
There are many kinds of treatments required to keep the injury from becoming serious. Most commonly an athlete should immediately ice the injury to take down swelling and inflammation. Applying a compression bandage and resting will also reduce pain and stress on the foot. Rest could include using crutches to keep weight off of the injury to allow proper healing, for instance. For plantar fasciitis, make sure calves are properly stretched and refrain from hills or speed work. One should try wearing an arch strap to add support. Those with heel spurs should also try arch straps to reduce strain and ice often. The best remedy would be heel pads. Aside from that, one would need a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist. It may require surgery. Those who are suffering from overpronation or turf toe should invest in a quality shoe to reduce motion. There are special insert and braces for the big toe, as well as shoes with firm soles to prevent bending. Stress fractures usually require rest, so an athlete may participate in lower impact activities to allow rest and healing. Most importantly, one should seek medical advice if pain does not go away or recurs frequently.