Feet are important to daily activity. And yet, most people take their feet for granted by doing things that damage their foot health. As a podiatrist in Marietta GA, I have interacted with many patients. A key observation is that most are unaware of the harm they may be causing to their feet. Here are 12 of the most common foot offenses we habitually commit:
#1: Ignoring changes in your feet
I can’t stress this enough — don’t forget to pay attention to your feet! It’s important to perform self-checks on a frequent basis so as to identify any changes in your feet. To perform a quick self-examination, do the following:
- Start by taking off your shoes
- Check for proper circulation: Verify that the color of your toes is not unusual. Then, pinch the nail of your big toe for a few seconds – once you let go, does your nail return to the original color? Have you lost hair on your foot or leg?
- Check for flexibility: Can you flex your toes well?
- Check for sensation: Take a small object and run it on the top, sides, and bottom of your feet – Do you feel anything?
- Check for balance: Stand on one foot and see if you can balance yourself
- Check for pain: If you are experiencing pain, it’s usually because something is not quite right
#2: Wearing flat shoes on a regular basis
Most of my female patients are aware that high heels tend to damage feet over time. So, many resort to flat shoes thinking they are much better. This is not usually the case because the flat shoes on the market today may provide little to no arch support. In the long run, this can lead to foot pain and worsen conditions such as flatfeet and plantar fasciitis. If you still choose to wear flat shoes, then ensure that they have a cushioned base. Further, check that they can support your arches. Orthotics can be helpful in this regard.
#3: Buying shoes without first getting measured
Our feet can change because of events such as pregnancy or other medical conditions. They can also change as a normal consequence of our ligaments and tendons loosening as we age. Failing to get feet measured increases the chances of wearing ill-fitting shoes. When shoes are too small, they rub against the skin and joints. Over time, this can lead to foot disorders such as blisters, bunions, and hammertoes
#4: Improper cutting of toenails
This might not seem like a big deal. After all, anybody can cut toenails, right? Wrong! In my podiatry practice, I see many patients with ingrown toenails. Number 1 culprit? Improper cutting of toenails. Ingrown toenails occur when the nail grows into the flesh instead of over it, particularly on the big toe. This can cause a lot of pain and inflammation. To avoid ingrown toenails, cut your nails straight across the top – not in a rounded or v shape. Also, don’t cut your nails too low.
#5: Not wearing socks – particularly when exercising
Do you love the idea of ‘freeing’ your feet and going without socks? Here’s why you should abandon this habit.
Good socks absorb sweat quickly. Without socks, shoe insoles absorb sweat and can take up to 48 hours to dry. Unfortunately, fungus thrives in dark, moist environments. So, when we put our feet in shoes without socks, we can expose them to fungal infections. Also, the fungus can survive for a long time. When we keep wearing the same shoes without socks, we open ourselves up to getting reinfected. Do yourself a favor and wear those socks!
#6. Running barefoot
These days, it has become somewhat fashionable to run without shoes. In my opinion, the pros do not outweigh the cons. Good running shoes protect the muscles and tendons in our feet. When we go barefoot, we don’t get this protection while running. Besides, we open ourselves up to foot injuries caused by sharp objects.
#7. Getting pedicures
Most of us like a good foot pampering and pedicures generally seem like a good idea. If your nail salon is not extra careful though, your feet could suffer as a result of your pedicure. To avoid getting infections, check that your pedicurist does the following:
- Uses bath liners in the foot tub
- Sterilizes metal tools between clients
- Uses non-metal tools only once for each client or allows you to bring your own pedicure kit
#8. Wearing worn-out shoes
Even the greatest pair of shoes loses its ability to support your feet and absorb shock after some time. Old shoes can change the way you stand, walk or run in damaging ways. Over time, they can also lead to foot pain. This is especially true for runners that don’t replace running shoes ever so often. Generally, we recommend that you replace your running shoes every 300 miles.
#9. Running or walking long distances in a new pair of shoes
Got a race coming up? Participating in a walk for a good cause? Don’t ditch your usual pair of running or walking shoes for a brand new pair that you can wear on the day of. Running or walking long distances in a new pair of shoes can promote blisters or shin splints. This is because you have not yet broken into your new shoes. So, use shoes that you have worn several times already – your feet will thank you.
#10. Forgetting to exercise your feet
Most people know that exercise is an important part of a healthy routine. Yet, exercising our feet is often forgotten which is a shame because it can help to reduce your risk of foot injury. Try the simple foot exercise in the video below. Another option is to do the following:
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor
- Raise one leg so the foot is off the floor
- Then, make circles with your big toe by moving it in a clockwise direction 10-15 times. Repeat in the counterclockwise direction
- Perform the same exercise on the other leg
#11. Shopping for shoes early in the day
What most people are not aware of is that shopping for shoes early in the day is not always the best. It’s much better to shop later in the day so that your feet are a little bit more swollen than they are in the morning. This will help you to get a better fitting shoe. Also, if the shoes need socks, make sure you have them on when trying on potential new shoes.
#12. Believing old wives tales about foot remedies
Some at-home remedies can bring about temporary relief from foot pain. But, I have seen many foot conditions worsen because patients decide to self-treat. For serious or chronic foot problems, I recommend seeing a foot doctor.
To download a free checklist of these 12 conditions, click here
To get a foot evaluation, reach out to our podiatry clinic in Marietta, GA. We treat all foot and ankle disorders and will be happy to provide recommendations to get you back on your feet!