I was going to take the “Be Kind” series from the tips of the fingers down to the tips of the toes but I changed my mind. I’m going to go where my patients tell me to go and this week they told me to go to ground. Ground Zero of the human body is the feet. And those dogs took a beating this week. My patients showed up with fractures, cuts, infections, deformities, nerve damage, stress reactions and my pet project…plantar fasciitis; the disease I want to eradicate in my life time. I’m making headway with my own patients and with the world. Already about 1000 people have read my plantar fasciitis blog!
Now this isn’t going to be a “Treatment of Conditions of the Feet” blog. It’s just about how to be kind to your feet. It’s mostly going to be directed at women because 8 out of 10 patients with problems in their feet are women. Even fractures of the feet seem more common in women. Maybe men just don’t pay much attention to their feet. They more than likely ignore toe fractures. I can’t remember the last time I saw an adult male with a toe fracture. Kids don’t count because moms want to know. I wanted to x-ray every fracture my kids had even though I could see them at home with my special x-ray vision. I wanted that record on x-ray film.
Anyway, women get toe fractures all the time by running into the side of the bed or dresser on the way back from the potty in the middle of the night. Hey, I think I’m on to something. Guys don’t get up in the middle of the night as much as gals and so statistically, they’re less likely to fracture their toes.
- Don’t walk around your house in the middle of the night. But if you have to, then wear shoes. Keep a nice pair of slippers (with a back…no slip-on slippers) at the bedside. This tip is multi-beneficial. You’ll just have to keep reading the blog next week to learn more.
- I know this one is going to fall on deaf ears but I’ve got to say it. High-heeled shoes, after sugar and drunk driving, are probably responsible for the greatest amount of disease to one singular area of the human body. They are to the feet, what cigarettes are to the lungs. No, they won’t cause you to die. They’ll only make you wish you were dead…later on.
That being said, I love high heels.
They contribute to the development of bunions, bunionettes, hammer toes, nerve damage, ankle sprains and fractures.
They help you get jobs and husbands, but when you’re 55 you’ll wonder if that was worth it. Especially if your ex marries a 25-year-old with 7AAAs right around the time you’re getting your hammer toes pinned.
But I digress. One of the ways to live life comfortably is to avoid wearing high heels. Anyway, just do as I say…
- It’s interesting to watch the changes which occur in the foot as people age. Like everything else, the foot becomes stiff. But because it spends so much of its life in shoes, the foot becomes very rigid. It gets hard to even spread the toes. Some 80-year-old feet remind me of fleshy planks. So massage your feet. Try as hard as you can to get someone else to do it; preferably one who loves you and to whom you don’t have to pay good money. Hold hands with your feet during commercials while you watch TV. * These are habits which once practiced, will become easy to break, so leave little sticky notes on the refrigerator; Have you held hands with a foot lately?
- I’m not crazy about flip-flops; they flip off at just the wrong time. On smooth wet surfaces, they sometimes develop surface tension and stick at just the wrong time. Injury results.
- I’m not crazy about mules. If it’s a slip-on shoe, it stays on your foot one of two ways; either by being tight around your forefoot or by being held on by pressing your toes against the sole as you raise your foot in mid-stance. People often claim that their mules are the most comfortable shoes they have. This is because when you’re no longer walking, you can easily slip them off. But if the body of the mule is tight, it can cause your toes to swell. It can cause damage to the very sensitive, superficial nerves in your feet. If it’s loose, then as you raise your foot, you must use toe flexion to hold it on and that overworks the muscles to your toes. I think overworking those muscles over time, reinforces the factors that result in hammer and claw toes. Wear shoes with a back. It’s that simple.
- Use night lights. In the dark, they can help you see the giant, heavy pieces of furniture you’ve had in the exact same place for the entire time you’ve been living in that house.
- Keep the scourge of calluses to a minimum. There are all sorts of chemical and mechanical products out there for you to use.
- Orthotics are a good way to diminish the ravages of time and gravity on your arches. Get a pair. Put them in any closed, lace-up shoe you wear. No downside to this. Custom arch supports are nice, but there are lots of off-the-shelf varieties to choose from as well.
- Stretch your feet in the morning before you get out of bed and after you’ve been sitting for a long period of time (see my blog on heel pain/plantar fasciitis).
*As a physician, I am acutely aware of the need to inform patients of potential risks and complications of the treatments and recommendations I give. Always keep your feet clean or your hands will smell.