At the end of a long day of walking around a city while on vacation, you might have said that your “dogs are barking.” It’s common to feel foot pain if you’re not used to walking very far and then decide to go for a long hike. However, foot pain can be caused by a variety of things, and they don’t all involve walking an unusually great distance.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, about three-quarters of Americans will experience foot pain at some point. The pain can range from mild to severe, and it may last a only a short time or carry on for months or years. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help prevent foot pain.
1. Wear the right shoes
Don’t go barefoot. It puts a strain on your feet and can lead to athlete’s foot and plantar warts from walking on unsanitary surfaces. If you shower in a locker room or use public pools or walk on beaches, bring a pair of flip flops to protect the skin of your feet. However, flip flops are too flat to be healthy for daily wear. They can cause heel pain, stress fractures and tendinitis, especially if you already have flat feet.
Look for a well-cushioned, roomy pair of shoes with good orthotic support that are comfortable enough to wear all day. If you experience foot pain from your shoes, consider visiting a podiatrist for an analysis of your foot shape and gate (how you walk) analysis. He or she will be able to recommend a proper pair of shoes for your unique feet.
2. Ditch the high heels
It should go without saying, but wearing high heels forces all your bodyweight to the front of your foot and can cause pain. The higher the heel, the more severe the pressure will be on your feet. They may look attractive, but they can cause bunions, corns and other problems. If you feel must wear high heels, restrict them to special occasions and bring a pair of more sensible shoes to wear for your commute.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
One of the most common causes of foot pain is weight gain. The human body was intended to only carry a certain amount of weight based on your height and build. Additional weight places undue strain on your entire body. Your feet literally carry the weight of your body as you walk on the ground, and if you are overweight or obese, you add stress to your feet with every step you take. In addition to increasing the chances for a foot injury, this damage happens slowly over time and is cumulative.
Maintaining a healthy weight is the single most important thing you can do to avoid foot pain, as well as a slew of other medical conditions. If you’re overweight and already experiencing foot pain, you’ll be surprised at how much of the pain can be alleviated when you enter a healthy weight range.
4. Boost your flexibility
One of the best things you can do to prevent foot pain, as well as alleviate pain) is massage and flex your feet. There are 26 separate bones in the human foot, and the foot accounts for one-quarter of all the bones in the human body. There are also 33 joints, more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments that allow these bones to move and flex. Giving the bottoms of your feet a gentle massage and stretching your feet can help keep these moving parts in healthy working order and stave off soreness.
5. Sit down during breaks
If you’re participating in cardiovascular exercise or if you have a job that requires you to stand on your feet all day, you’ve likely experienced foot pain. All the aforementioned bones, muscles and joints in your feet can become tired after carrying the weight of your body all day. If you’re walking, you’re exerting additional stress on your feet. When you’re afforded a break, make sure to give your feet a rest. Prop them up to reverse the blood flow or remove your shoes while sitting and give your toes and arches a good rub. This will help reverse some of the collective effect of gravity.
6. All About Toenails
A majority of people age 65 and older have thick toenails, making it one of the most common foot problems. Once nails thicken, they can separate from the nail bed, causing pain. This separation can be caused by tinea pedis, commonly known as athlete’s foot, which is common.
Also, be sure to cut your toenails straight across with a clean pair of sharp nail scissors or clippers. Rounding the corners to match the shape of your toe can lead to painful ingrown toenails when the edge of your nail grows into the skin around your toes.
To learn more about strategies for keeping your feet healthy and free of pain, contact the experts at Orthopedic Associates!