The average American takes between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day, and people who get the recommended amount of physical exercise may take up to twice as many. Fortunately, the feet are tough organs and they are designed to stand up to that level of wear and tear. But that’s assuming that your feet are healthy.
Look at it this way. Grinding your teeth once or twice a day is unhealthy but probably not the end of the world. On the other hand, walking about a quarter-million steps or more a month while wearing ill-fitting shoes or on a foot that’s already showing some signs of injury can create major problems.
Luckily, because of the foot’s toughness, most of these problems are fairly easy to reverse. They are even easier to avoid altogether, and here are ten easy ways to accomplish that goal.
The Right Shoes
In most cases, it’s perfectly okay to select a necktie or sweater almost exclusively because of the way it looks and according to your personal preferences. But shoes simply do not work that way. Instead of just walking out with the the most eye-catching pair of shoes in the store that are reasonably close to your size, evaluate footwear as follows:
● Since feet naturally swell throughout the day, shop in the afternoon or evening,
● Try on both shoes, since your feet may not be exactly the same size, and buy the larger size if they’re different,
● Examine the soles to make sure they are thick enough, and
● Stand and walk in the shoes.
The best shoes, though not necessarily the most fashionable ones, are round at the toes and also round at the heel.
Select Breathable Footwear
Winter, spring, summer, and fall, feet sweat. A lot. Even a little extra moisture is a fertile breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, and these substances can cause some major problems.
Choose athletic shoes with at least some breathable mesh, and the more mesh, the better. However, if you do a lot of outdoor or trail running, you may want an upper that’s a little more solid. As for dress or casual shoes, leather is best. If leather is not an option for whatever reason, pay extra close attention to the next tip.
Keep Feet Dry, Episode II
Breathable footwear probably is not enough to keep your feet dry, especially if you’re not wearing the right socks or stockings. Synthetic socks, as opposed to cotton or wool, usually wick moisture away very efficiently. For women, excessively tight pantyhose, aside from being quite uncomfortable, also trap moisture.
Your feet have 250,000 sweat glands that produce up to a half-pint of moisture every day.
Protect Your Feet
Don’t let this happen to you. Steve Martin later said that he contracted athlete’s foot for the first time since junior high school after doing this scene. Always, always, always wear flip flops, shower shoes, or some other similar protective footwear in locker rooms, at swimming pools, in showers (even your own shower), and elsewhere.
Athlete’s foot and other bacterial infections are incredibly inconvenient, very embarrassing, and extremely easy to prevent.
Wear Your Own Stuff
Never wear another person’s shoes or socks, and never try on shoes in the store without try-on socks. The footwear may seem as clean as a whistle, and it most likely is, but there is absolutely no reason to take chances.
Most people never wash their shoes in hot water, and most manufacturers never clean shoes before they send them to retailers, so there is simply no telling what is in them.
Treat Nail Fungus Instead of Hiding It
Discolored or crumbly nails nearly always mean a fungal infection. Left untreated, these conditions can cause serious problems, especially if you put excess wear on your feet or wear incorrect shoes (namely ones that don’t keep your feet dry). Polishing such nails also makes the problem worse.
There are plenty of natural remedies that are proven to work, and there are lots of effective non-prescription antifungal medicines available as well.
Trim Nails Properly
Most people hardly give any thought at all to toenail trimming, but the technique is actually quite important, or else you are at risk for ingrown toenails.
Instead of rounding the nail at the edges, always trim straight across. Also, be careful not to trim too closely to the skin.
Examine Your Feet
At least once a week, perform a thorough self-examination after you emerge from the bath or shower. Here are some things to look for:
● Athlete’s Foot: Scaling or peeling between your toes or on the soles of your feet is probably a sign of this fungal infection.
● Sores and Abrasions: Ill-fitting shoes and other factors make these conditions worse, often leading to infection. Diabetics should check their feet for sores much more often, perhaps once a day, because foot problems are a big problem for many of these individuals.
● Nail Fungus: As mentioned earlier, the telltale discoloration and crumbling is nearly always nail fungus.
Just looking is not enough. If there are issues, follow up straightaway, or they will almost certainly worsen.
Practice Good Hygiene
In this context, good hygiene means washing and drying your feet the right way.
Consider using a good exfoliating bath scrubber in the tub or shower to thoroughly clean your feet. Always scrub feet with both soap and water. Simply letting the excess soap run down onto them does not count. Outside the tub or stall, completely dry your feet, especially between the toes. These habits also keep your feet looking better, and we all want that.
Visit the Doctor
Even with something like athlete’s foot or nail fungus, never self-medicate without seeing a doctor first, because even though the visible problem is probably not the tip of the iceberg, it very well could be. Besides, the hour at the doctor’s office is well worth it, considering the peace of mind you get in the aftermath.
This step applies if you ever experience any pain, or see any swelling or redness.
All these steps basically have one thing in common, which is mindfulness about foot health is probably the key to healthy feet. Keep that in mind, and you’ll probably do fine.