There’s a saying among tennis players that good players have happy feet. The expression refers to players who move lightly on the court and react quickly to an opponent’s shot. Whenever we hear this, we can’t help but think that too many people suffer from the opposite— call it the sad-foot syndrome.
There are few conditions and ailments that affect your lifestyle more than aching feet. While some foot-related ailments are unavoidable, there are simple guidelines to ensure that your feet are as happy as possible.
Wearing ill-fitting footwear or standing for long hours on hard surfaces can affect the arches in our feet, and eventually impact the lower legs, knees, hips, lower back and even the neck. The damage may not show up for months or even years.
Our feet are the great unsung heroes of locomotion. They bear the burden of our weight and propel us forward. The human foot is composed of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. The arches in our feet act as springboards. Wearing the wrong shoes or standing for too long on hard, unforgiving surfaces can injure the lower legs, knees, hips, lower back or neck. The consequences may not be evident for years.
Here are some simple things you can to keep your feet happy.
Six Steps to Happy Feet
- Let them breathe. Your feet are well-endowed with sweat glands. Emprisoning them in synthetic pantyhose or tight shoes is a prelude to future problems. Make sure your toes have wiggle room. Avoid pointed shoes and high heels.
- Guard against bacteria and fungi. Wear shower shoes at the gym or the pool, and don’t swap shoes with other people. Keep your feet dry and clean. Change your socks every day and vary your footwear.
- Inspect your feet regularly for toenail fungus, blisters and other types of blight. Don’t apply nail polish to an infected nail; it will just protect the fungus. Check between the toes for scaling or peeling.
- Go barefoot around the house. Practice standing on tiptoes and lowering yourself back down. Another exercise is to squeeze the foot so it curls up, as though you are clenching your hand. This exercises the muscles in your foot.
- Don’t neglect grooming. Nails should be trimmed regularly and cut straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. Don’t cut toenails too short; they should extend beyond the toe. If you notice your nails are cracking, thickening or turning a yellowish color, you could have toenail fungus. Call our clinic (DeSoto, Dallas or Sunnyvale) and make an appointment to learn about treatment options.
- If you have pain in your feet, don’t wait. Too many people try to tough it out and then are dismayed to learn that they have structural damage. Call our clinic. While there are plenty of things you can do on your own for happy feet, you need a good coach (doctor) standing by.
When You Need Special Attention
While the above guidelines apply to most of us, certain groups of people need to pay special heed to their feet. Patients with diabetes; growing children; older folks; athletes both serious and casual; pregnant women; people with arthritis . . . . all have special needs.
While there are things you can do on your own to ensure happy feet, we all need a good coach standing by. If you have pain in your toes, in the sole of your foot or in the heel, don’t wait. Delaying treatment could set you up for serious problems.
For instance, flat feet may set you up for more serious problems unless the condition is diagnosed and treated. Bunions are not just unsightly; they can lead to hammertoe. Diabetics must handle their feet with kid gloves.
Call the clinic if you feel your feet could use some support. Happy feet are too critical to your lifestyle to take them for granted.