Best foot foward

Keep your feet healthy with these ex­pert tips

Diabetic Living - - CONTENTS -

Keep your feet happy

The av­er­age hu­man – if you live to the age of 80 – takes an amaz­ing 216,262,500 steps in their life­time. So tak­ing great care of those toot­sies is vi­tal, es­pe­cially if you have di­a­betes.

Neu­ropa­thy caused by high blood glu­cose over time, poor cir­cu­la­tion and in­fec­tion can lead to se­ri­ous foot trou­ble.

“Nerve dam­age causes a per­son to lose the abil­ity to feel pain and pro­tect them­selves,” says David G. Arm­strong, direc­tor of the South­west­ern Aca­demic Limb Sal­vage Al­liance at the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. “What you can’t feel can hurt you.”

Up to 65 per cent of peo­ple with di­a­betes have some form of neu­ropa­thy, which can cause numb­ness and pain in feet.

Blis­ters, sores, ul­cers and gan­grene (dead tis­sue) are all com­pli­ca­tions that stem from poor foot care.

How­ever, there are warn­ing signs to heed, and a lot of prob­lems are pre­ventable, says Arm­strong.


Wash your feet daily with mild soap and warm wa­ter – just avoid re­ally hot wa­ter, which can dam­age your skin.


Re­ally! Slip off your socks and give your­self a daily foot exam. Look for cuts, swelling, sores, warts or changes that may have oc­curred. Ask a trusted per­son for help, or use a mir­ror, if needed.


Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity pro­motes cir­cu­la­tion through your legs and feet and helps reg­u­late your BGLs. Aim for 150-300 min­utes of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity each week.


Trim clean and dry nails straight across, and smooth edges with a nail file. Keep­ing nails trimmed pre­vents them cut­ting or grow­ing into skin. (Don’t trim too short as this can cause an in­fec­tion or in­grown toe­nail. If you need help, ask some­one you trust.)


Thick patches of skin (corns or cal­luses) can grow on the bot­tom of feet. Ap­ply Plun­kett’s NS-8 Heel Balm Com­plex (from $11.90) to clean, dry heels and feet to quickly re­store your skin.


“Foot com­pli­ca­tions are the most com­mon rea­son some­one with di­a­betes ends up in the hos­pi­tal,” says Arm­strong. Call or visit your health­care provider if you have a cut or bruise that doesn’t heal in a few days, see signs of in­fec­tion, or no­tice some­thing strange.


The right shoes make all the dif­fer­ence. “Have your feet mea­sured prop­erly as both feet can be dif­fer­ent and change over time,” ex­plains po­di­a­trist Danielle Veld­hoen. “Make sure they are com­fort­able with the cor­rect length, width and depth to avoid rub­bing on toes and heels slip­ping. They should not need ‘break­ing in’.”

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