Healthy feet support healthy bodies
April 18, 2023
Look down at any time and you’ll be reminded your feet are the foundation for the entire body. They provide support, balance, posture and overall well-being, yet foot health is often one of the last things we think of until pain occurs.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, approximately 20% of the U.S. population has at least one foot problem annually, which can affect how you walk, sit and stand. This misalignment can cause back pain, reduce knee function and alter your spine, among other complications.
April is Foot Health Awareness Month and podiatrists at HSHS Medical Group are offering six recommendations to maintain an active lifestyle by focusing on your feet.
- Always wear well-fitted shoes. Uncomfortable shoes or shoes that are incorrectly sized may cause blisters that can lead to infection or other concerns. Choose shoes that give your feet and ankles proper support. Consider consulting with a podiatrist or physical therapist to ensure the best fit.
- Inspect feet regularly. Look for cracked skin, redness, blisters or other sores to mitigate problems early. Never ignore a problem with your feet, especially if you have diabetes.
- Keep blood sugar in check. High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, resulting in loss of skin sensation in your feet. Reduced blood flow can also make it harder to recover from an injury or infection.
- Clean your feet daily; wear clean, dry socks. Don’t assume your feet are getting clean just because they’re exposed to water during a shower or bath. Use a soft washcloth or sponge with gentle soap and lukewarm water to clean feet and in-between toes. Wear dry socks to prevent bacteria and infection.
- Moisturize at night. To prevent itching or cracking, use a gentle moisturizer regularly before bed. This keeps skin soft and healthy and gives your feet time to recover while you sleep.
- Trim nails regularly and carefully. Cut nails straight across, then file the edges. Nails cut too short can become ingrown, cause soreness or lead to infection if not properly treated.
Dr. David Kee, a podiatrist, and foot and ankle surgeon with HSHS Medical Group, says you should also avoid walking barefoot to protect your feet from injury and infection.
“As the weather warms up and summer approaches, it’s so tempting to kick off your shoes and enjoy being barefoot, especially around pools and lakes,” says Dr. Kee. “But keep in mind that when it’s hot and humid many unseen dangers, such as a fungus like athlete’s foot, can be easily picked up in public places.”
Dr. Kee says it’s important to see a podiatrist if you notice changes to the skin or nails of the feet, including itchiness, color changes or changes to the foot’s texture, especially if you have diabetes.
Dr. Kee sees patients at HSHS Medical Group Foot & Ankle Specialty clinics in Breese, New Baden and O’Fallon, IL and does surgery at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Breese. To schedule an appointment, please call 618-526-7154 or make an appointment online at hshsmedicalgroup.org/appointment and search for Kee in the name search bar.
HSHS Illinois Communications Manager