12 Habits That Damage Our Feet: Insights From A Podiatrist

Podiatrist Marietta GA healthy feet

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

About 88% of women and 80% of men in the U.S wear shoes that are too small for their feet

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

The soles of your feet contain more sweat glands and sensitive nerve-endings per square centimeter than any other part of your body.

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!

Meet Dr. Dawson – Your Foot and Ankle Podiatrist

Dr. Fui Dawson Podiatrist Marietta GA
Dr. Fui Dawson – Podiatrist, Marietta GA

 

Since moving to the area a few months ago, we have received quite a few questions from patients who would like to get to know more about our Marietta Podiatrist, Dr. Fui Dawson. So, we thought it would be a great idea to answer 10 of the most frequently asked questions we have been hearing from our new patients.

What are your qualifications as a foot and ankle expert?

I completed a four-year undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and then followed up with a medical degree in podiatry from the Dr. William M Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago. For residency, I attended the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard University where I put into practice all of the knowledge I had acquired in medical school. Due to my thirst for learning and pursuing excellence in patient care, I also decided to complete an additional qualification – a fellowship in reconstructive foot & ankle surgery and trauma from a top university in Germany. Patients should be confident in the knowledge that I am board certified by both the American Board of Podiatric Medicine and the American Board of Foot & Ankle Surgery. In addition, I routinely attend many continuing education programs in order to expand my knowledge on the latest techniques in foot and ankle care.

What differentiates you and your podiatry practice in Marietta?

Three immediate things come to mind. First, we are highly qualified to treat both surgical and nonsurgical foot and ankle disorders so our patients know that they are in good hands. Second, we deeply care for our patients and always go the extra mile in terms of making them feel as comfortable as possible and following up to address their concerns (please read our patient reviews to see the great things our patients are saying about us.) Third, we offer same day and Saturday appointments. That’s a great perk for our patients who are usually very busy and want to be seen as soon as possible.

I’ve never seen a Podiatrist in Marietta, GA. What can I expect when I first visit your office?

Your initial visit will consist of a comprehensive medical evaluation to diagnose your foot or ankle problem. This will include understanding your medical history, conducting a physical examination of your foot and then performing any additional tests such as x-rays. After I have provided a diagnosis, I will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is unique to your needs and specially crafted to bring you the relief that you need for your foot or ankle problem.

Is foot pain normal?

It depends. I tell patients that if you are experiencing pain in your feet, it is usually because something is not quite right. For some people, this could be a temporary problem that goes away on its own or with conservative treatments at home. For others, it could signify a greater underlying problem. Seek help from a podiatrist right away if your pain is severe, you have an open wound, your feet are red or inflamed or you cannot place weight on your foot.

What can I do at home to relieve my foot or ankle pain?

The type of treatment I recommend for patients at home depends on the severity of the pain so I would need to perform a complete evaluation to provide specific guidelines. However, generally, patients have found the following helpful for mild foot pain:

  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Elevating their feet
  • Using ice on the affected area
  • Not standing or walking for long periods of time
  • Wearing appropriate shoes such as those that have a wide toe box

What is the number one tip you can give us about taking care of our feet?

Wear appropriate footwear! I can’t tell you how many foot conditions arise from wearing ill-fitting shoes so that will definitely be my number 1 tip.

What are the best shoes to wear?

The best shoes to wear are those that provide a combination of support and shock absorption. Look for fit and arch support as well as the types of materials used to construct the shoe. It’s also a good idea to get your feet measured when shopping for shoes so that you are getting the best fit for that particular style of footwear.

You recommended orthotics – can I just buy them over the counter?

If your pain is mild, some over-the-counter orthotics such as gel inserts may provide some relief. However, custom orthotics are usually better when you are dealing with more serious foot problems. We recently wrote an article on this – read more here.

Which websites should we visit to learn more about foot and ankle disorders?

We recommend the following highly authoritative sites to learn more about foot and ankle disorders:

What do you like most about the Marietta, Ga area?

I’m excited to be a podiatrist in Marietta. The area offers a lot in terms of shops and restaurants. In addition, residents are very friendly and I look forward to welcoming patients to our practice!

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If you are looking for an excellent Marietta Podiatrist to evaluate your foot and ankle disorder, don’t hesitate to come meet Dr. Fui Dawson and his staff at the Advanced Foot & Ankle Institute of Georgia! We welcome all patients from Marietta GA and surrounding areas. Click here to book an appointment.