There are many foot conditions that affect women more than men. Examples of these are bunions, hammer toes, neuromas, and stress fractures. Here are some tips to keep your feet happy and healthy.
- Wear quality, appropriate shoe gear for your sport or activity. For example, hiking shoes or boots for hiking and running shoes for running. Cross training shoes can be very supportive for many types of activities. Quality supportive shoes should only bend at the toe joint or ball of the foot. You should not be able to bend the shoe in half or twist the shoe easily, these are signs of an unsupportive shoe. Athletic shoe brands that Dr. Anna advocates include Asics, New Balance, Saucony, and Brooks. Many of these shoes also come in different widths to accommodate foot deformities i.e. bunions. Be sure to replace worn out shoes before causing an injury. On average, a quality pair of running shoes lasts 500 miles. Long distance runners often need to replace their shoes every few months or alternate between several pairs of shoes.
- When starting new activities or exercise, start with a low intensity and short duration. Then, slowly increase these variables on a weekly basis. Include a day of rest after new activities. This will help to avoid injuries and stress fractures.
- Limit the amount of time wearing high heeled shoes. High heels may aggravate foot conditions (i.e. bunions), cause injuries due to falls, and contribute to knee, hip, and back problems. If you are going to wear high heeled shoes, try to find shoes that have a heel height less than two inches and a padded foot bed. Alternate wearing high heeled shoes with good quality oxford type shoes or flats for part of the day. The higher the heel, the more pressure and strain to the forefoot (front of the foot).
- Take precautions when it comes to pedicures at salons. Ensure that your pedicurist is using sterile instruments and fresh/new nail files and buffers. Many nail salons reuse nail files and buffers, which cannot be sterilized like metal instruments. Request new files and buffers or bring your own to the salon. We also suggest that you bring your own nail polishes since these also cannot be sterilized. Without being mindful of these practices, you are at risk of acquiring an infection of your skin and nails. If you think you may have a bacterial or fungal infection, contact our office to make an appointment for examination and possible treatment. The quicker these infections are treated, the easier it is to clear them.
For home pedicures, follow these guidelines:
- Soak your feet in warm soapy water for approximately 10 minutes to soften and clean your skin and nails.
- Next, gently reduce calluses and corns with a pumice stone or emery board. Some body scrub products can help exfoliate dead skin. Contact our office if your calluses are painful and require trimming.
- Push back cuticles rather than trimming them. Cuticles offer protection for your skin from bacterial and fungal infections.
- Trim toenails straight across rather than in a curved pattern. This helps prevent ingrown toenails, allowing the straight edge of the nail to advance as one unit. Cutting the toenails in a curved pattern allows the recessed edges to grow into the skin. Trimming your nails too short can also promote ingrown toenails. When trimming your nails there should be a few millimeters of the white tip beyond the nail margin. Nails should not grow to overhang the edge of the toe.
- Smooth the nail edges with an emery board or buffer.
- Apply cream or moisturizing lotion to your skin and nail margins.
- For excellent looking nails, apply nail polish remover to the nails to gently remove excess lotion. This allows nail polish to adhere better to the nail. Next, apply a clear base coat, then two coats of color, and finally a clear topcoat.
- Space your pedicures apart by approximately eight weeks.
A professional foot massage can help relieve tired, achy feet and tension. You can also massage your feet at home by rolling your feet over a rolling pin or bottle. Specialists in the body’s reflexes, called reflexologists, believe that areas of the feet correspond to other body parts. They believe that ailments can be relieved through reflexology, an alternative medicine involving application of pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques. They believe the ball of the foot has a connection to the lungs and heart, the heel to the lower back and lower extremities, and the great toe to the head and brain. Although no scientific research exists to back up these claims, reflexology does seem to produce positive results for some people. However, those with significant medical problems should consult a medical doctor. Sign up for our newsletter and enter our monthly drawing for a FREE foot massage or reflexology session by visiting our home page and registering today.
Pregnant women should maintain good foot health to prevent injury and other painful conditions. Since the female body undergoes many changes, including increased body weight and a new weight-bearing stance during pregnancy, women should avoid walking barefoot and should wear shoes with a broad based heel to provide support and absorb shock. An example would be a quality lace-up cross-training gym shoe. Increased body weight also requires more arch support to prevent collapsing of the feet. Your podiatrist may prescribe custom orthotics. Many women relate to their feet growing larger during pregnancy, however, this is not exactly true. Women’s feet actually collapse due to the increased weight and therefore appear wider and longer. Often times, women need to wear shoes one size larger after pregnancy.
The expectant mother often experiences significant swelling of her feet and ankles, which can aggravate existing foot conditions and promote inflammation or irritation. You can help relieve this by elevating your feet when resting, wearing compression stockings or socks, and limiting salt intake. Pregnancy also triggers the release of hormones that can increase the elasticity of ligaments and contribute to foot and ankle strains. If problems develop, contact our office.
When worn routinely, nylon pantyhose can cause several foot problems. Nylon is a non-breathable material and the heat generated and trapped causes excessive perspiration. A warm, dark and damp area, like inside your shoes, is an ideal place for fungal growth which causes fungal infections of the skin (Athlete’s foot) and toenails. We also advise against wearing closed toed shoes without socks or stockings for the same reason. Inexpensive nylon pantyhose also do not allow the normal expansion of the foot when walking and may pull the toes backward. The cramping and pressure of the hose can contribute to ingrown toenails and hammertoes. It is best to wear stockings that are labeled as having a breathable or moisture-wicking material with extra room for the toes.
If you have a profession that requires you to stand for extended periods of time, i.e. airline attendant or waitress, we suggest wearing compression stockings while working. These are designed to energize tired legs and feet, improve circulation, and prevent swelling. If you are an athlete, compression socks are also helpful for recovery when worn during activity. Compression socks and stockings are available in our office.