On an average day, most of us are likely to take our feet for granted. That is, of course, until painful problems start to arise. From simple blisters to more serious conditions, like bunions, there are many issues that can affect your feet and keep you from doing the things you love most.
Some problems stem from poor biomechanics that are present from childhood, while others develop later due to lifestyle choices or trauma. But regardless of the reason why your feet are giving you grief, one thing is always true:
Taking care of your feet is vital in order to ensure a good quality of life, and precautionary measures should be taken into consideration even during childhood.
Making sure your feet are healthy and happy throughout your adult and later years starts by taking care of your feet while they are younger. So let’s break it down to the nitty gritty and look at how you can best care for your feet – and the feet of your children (or grandchildren).
Caring for Children’s Feet
If you are a parent or guardian, then you worry about your child’s health and overall well-being. In fact, you likely already have a routine set in place – you tell them to eat their vegetables at dinner, you struggle to get them in the bath every day, and you make sure they brush their teeth every night before bed. But looking after your child’s feet is just as important!
Though pediatric foot problems are most commonly seen in children who are active in sports, any child may develop painful conditions in their bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, or fascia, including issues like flat feet, ingrown toenails and sprains.
To prevent foot problems in your child’s feet, consider these tips:
- Let them go barefoot.Being barefoot is actually great for foot development. Although shoes can look adorable and provide warmth for a non-walking child, once your kid begins to walk, you should ditch the shoes to help improve balance – this will allow your child’s foot to develop naturally and build strength in growing tendons without relying on the support of shoes.
- Choose the right socks.Socks are important, whether you child is sleeping or on the move. And with your child’s feet constantly growing, you will want to choose a sock that fits properly without being constricting – make sure they’re at least a quarter of an inch longer than their big toe.
- Avoid overly stiff shoes. Though you may think these are more protective, the developing muscles in your child’s feet need to grow and develop on their own. And overly sturdy shoes may also do the work that your child’s developing muscles should be doing, thereby hindering their development.
- Make sure the shoe fits.Kids feet are always growing — sometimes as much as a half size every two months! You may want to buy bigger shoes to anticipate that next growth spurt, but shoes that are too big greatly increase the chance of stumbles and falls. Check the fit regularly so you’re ready to get them in the next size up when the time comes, and make sure to leave a thumbs width of space from the longest toe.
- Maintain good hygiene. Wash your child’s feet at least 2-3 times a week. This can help prevent common fungal infections (like athlete’s foot) and also teach your child good foot habits. Dry them well to prevent any trapped moisture.
- Cut toe nails straight across, never rounded.This helps prevent ingrown toenails from happening.
- Watch your child’s walking gait.No two child’s feet are the same, and walking differently does not necessarily mean there is a development problem. But you should still keep your eyes open for any abnormal gaits or walking patterns.
Some of the most common pediatric foot problems we treat at our Upland office include in-toeing, out-toeing, and flat foot. These problems usually correct themselves given time. However, you should still seek professional advice and pay close attention for any new arising symptoms that may indicate something else is wrong.
Foot Care During Adulthood
We certainly hope that as you enter into adulthood, you have been able to steer clear from any debilitating foot conditions. And if that is the case, then congratulations! – you are one of the lucky ones.
But that doesn’t mean the battle ends here. You should continue to take preventative steps if you want to stay active for as long as possible. So here are some easy habits you can incorporate into your every-day life:
- Check your feet regularly. Look for any cuts, sores, swelling, and infected toenails.
- Wash your feet regularly. Give them a good cleaning in warm water and make sure to thoroughly dry them after.
- Moisturize your feet after every wash. Use lotion, cream, or petroleum jelly, and avoid putting moisturizer between your toes (to lower your risk of infection).
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes. Your shoes should allow your toes to move freely in the toe box.
- Avoid wearing flip-flops and flats. These kinds of footwear don’t provide enough arch support.
- Rotate between at least two pairs of shoes. Allow you shoes to dry for a full day before wearing them again. This will prevent potential odors and infections from developing.
- Trim your toenails the right way. Even as an adult, you should still trim your toenails straight across with a nail clipper. Then use a nail file to smooth the corners.
Plantar fasciitis, bunions and fungal nails are just some of the many possible conditions that can affect adult feet. And if you suspect any of these problems (or any other foot condition) has developed in your feet or ankles, you should come visit our office right away as these conditions can become worse when left untreated.
Keeping Older Feet Healthy
Foot problems are especially common in older people for many reasons – your feet will lose cushioning as you age, and your skin and nails may gradually become dry and brittle. Many seniors even have poor circulation, and this can slow the healing of foot sores – something which is especially true if you are living with diabetes.
Because of this, taking care of your feet as you get older is vital. So, you should add a couple steps to the good foot habits you have practiced throughout your adulthood, like the ones mentioned in the previous section. These include:
- Finding comfortable shoes. It’s especially important to avoid tight or high-heeled shoes that put undue pressure on the foot. The constant rubbing and pinching from “fashionable” footwear are a major cause of corns, calluses, and bunions. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, then you should consider wearing a good pair of diabetic shoes.
- Keep your blood flowing freely. If you usually spend much of the day sitting in a chair, you can improve your circulation by stretching, walking, and performing other exercises. Avoid wearing tight socks or sitting too long with your legs crossed.
You can also avoid problems such as foot odor by alternating which shoes you wear each day, and by washing your feet daily and drying them carefully. Drying between your toes and elsewhere will also help you ward off irritating problems like athlete’s foot.
Need Help? We Are Here For You!
If you, your child, or even your parent or grandparent is suffering from foot or ankle problems, come visit our office! Our team of experts will thoroughly evaluate your lower limbs in order to accurately diagnose your condition. And based on what we find, we will then put together a customized care plan to address your unique situation.
If you need more information on general foot care or if you want to schedule an appointment, just give us a call at (909) 920-0884. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.