Give your feet some TLC before slipping on an old pair of sneakers or flip-flops this spring. You may be tempted to go out for a hike, jog or swim as the weather warms up, but avoiding proper foot care can lead to injuries or infections.
In addition, Northeast Medical Group Podiatrist Sarah Shipley, DPM, says many people have been avoiding their doctor because of the pandemic. You will want to treat any issues now before you start a new activity.
“We’re seeing a lot of compensatory issues. Because you have this problem, your body alters your gait, the way you walk. And you get these other issues that stem from a problem we could have fixed,” she said.
Dr. Shipley answered some common questions about proper foot care and offered tips on how to stay safe this spring.
How often should you get new running shoes?
It depends on how often you are running but a general rule of thumb is to get a new pair of running shoes every six months. If you are an athlete or training for a marathon, you might need a new pair even sooner.
How can you pick out the right running shoes for your feet?
Overall, you want a supportive shoe. To test out a pair of shoes, put your hand around the toe box and your other hand around the heel and bend the shoe in half. It should bend in the front where the toes are, not in the middle or in the back.
Make sure your shoes are not too tight, especially in the toes. If you have bunions, shoes with a soft top can accommodate the shape of your feet. If you are between sizes, you might want to size up and then supplement the extra space with a pad or larger sock.
Brand loyalty might not help you. One style of running shoes may work for your feet while another style from the same company may not.
How can you avoid injuries when running?
Common injuries can include sesamoiditis, which is pain under the two small bones under the big toe or plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the ligament under the ball of the foot.
To prevent these issues, wear the appropriate shoes and build up to exercise. Do not run four miles the first day. Always stretch before and after you exercise, including more active stretches.
What should people do if they get ankle injuries?
Remember the term “PRICE” which stands for protect the area, rest, ice, compress and elevate. Protection can range from wearing a casting boot to the right running shoes. If you get hurt, be sure to rest up and do not aggravate your injury. Ice the area that is bothering you, compress it and then elevate your foot.
What should you do if you get athlete’s foot?
Fungus can happen in different parts of the feet. Typically, it happens on the bottom of the foot and shows up as red, itchy skin.
Pools and locker rooms can be common breeding grounds. Wear shoes, even if they are just flip-flops, while you walk around those areas. You can also try to stop infection in the moment by spraying your shoes with something that kills 99.9% of germs.
The biggest mistake patients make is getting the right antifungal treatment and then not following the directions. Depending on which medication you have, you will need to use it once or twice a day for two to six weeks. If you stop using the medication as soon as symptoms resolve, athlete’s foot can come back.
Is it safe to go to a salon for a pedicure?
Not every foot is appropriate for a pedicure. Understand your feet and talk to your doctor. If you do go get a pedicure, make sure it is with someone you trust who is hygienic. Don’t just pick the deal of the week.
Are foot peels safe?
This trend is on the rise. People cannot go to salons so they are trying to find other ways to get rid of callouses. Foot peels use chemicals to exfoliate your skin.
However, they are not appropriate for everyone. For example, diabetics are more prone to wounds and complications. They should not be going to nail salons and they should not be doing foot peels. Others with underlying health conditions like peripheral arterial disease, peripheral neuropathy or history of wounds should stay far away from foot peels as well.
When should someone go see a podiatrist?
Athlete’s foot is commonly misunderstood. Not every dry, flaky area is athlete’s foot. It could be something else.
Pain that doesn’t get better is another reason to see a podiatrist. For example, if you are a runner and you feel like you sprained your ankle and it got a little swollen, maybe give it a few days to clear up. If your pain persists, seek help.
Lastly, don’t forget about prevention! Patients with underlying health issues may need to see a podiatrist regularly or athletes may need help picking the right orthotics. Many of these visits can be done through telehealth.