Foot Care

… For achy arches, heel pain and more.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Heal thy achy feet

Choose shoes with sta­ble, sup­port­ive soles to pre­vent ab­nor­mal mo­tion. Heels up to two inches high are fine, but avoid pointy-toed shoes.

Feet bear the brunt of an ac­tive life­style more than any other body part, and how do we re­pay them? By shov­ing them into tight shoes, pound­ing them on tread­mills and still ex­pect­ing them to look per­fect in our new strappy san­dals. About 75% of peo­ple will ex­pe­ri­ence a foot prob­lem at some point in their life, and women are four times more likely than men to be af­fected. Be­low, find the symp­tom that’s bug­ging you and try the home reme­dies that fol­low to keep your feet feel­ing – and look­ing – ter­rific.

SYMP­TOM: Tight­ness or pain in your arch or heel when you stand up. Likely con­di­tion: Plan­tar fasci­itis, an in­flam­ma­tion of the plan­tar fas­cial band – the lig­a­ment that runs from the heel to the ball of your foot. Typ­i­cal causes: Hyper­ex­tend­ing your feet by pound­ing in step aer­o­bics class or run­ning or walk­ing on an in­cline. Stand­ing for long pe­ri­ods of time or be­ing over­weight are other con­tribut­ing fac­tors. How to treat: For im­me­di­ate re­lief, mas­sage the bot­tom of your foot by rolling it over a can of frozen orange juice or a bot­tle of wa­ter. Get the right ex­er­cise shoe for your foot shape: Peo­ple who pronate (arches flat­ten out while stand­ing) need a ‘mo­tion con­trol’ shoe, which of­fers the most sup­port, to keep the foot sta­ble. If you have high arches, you should wear a ‘neu­tral’, flex­i­ble shoe. SYMP­TOM: A bump on the side of the foot at the base of your big toe. Likely con­di­tion: Bu­nion, an en­large­ment of the toe joint. Typ­i­cal causes: The ten­dency to get bunions is in­her­ited. Wear­ing shoes that are too tight or nar­row can ex­ac­er­bate their de­vel­op­ment. How to treat: See a po­di­a­trist: You may need or­thotics or surgery. In the mean­time, use a non-med­i­cated bu­nion pad in your shoe and ice the area to re­lieve pain. Choose shoes with sta­ble, sup­port­ive soles to pre­vent ab­nor­mal mo­tion. Heels up to two inches high are fine, but avoid pointy-toed shoes.

SYMP­TOM: A buildup of thick skin on your toes or the soles of your feet. Likely con­di­tion: Cal­lus or corn (a corn is on or be­tween toes; cal­luses are on the bot­tom of the foot). Typ­i­cal causes: Shoes that are too tight or too loose rub and ir­ri­tate the skin. How to treat: Use a pumice stone, a fine-grade Swiss file or an ex­fo­liant cream a few times a week. Don’t use ra­zors or drug­store corn re­movers, which of­ten con­tain acid, be­cause they can dam­age healthy skin.

SYMP­TOM: Ten­der­ness in the ball of the foot. Likely con­di­tion: Me­tatarsal­gia, pain where the metatarsals – the long bones of the foot – meet the toe bones. Typ­i­cal causes: Age and pound­ing ac­tiv­i­ties can wear away the pad of fatty tis­sue that nor­mally cush­ions the

Al­ways walk to warm up be­fore run­ning. Don’t try to in­crease more than one work­out el­e­ment – du­ra­tion, in­cline or mileage – at a time or by more than 10% a week.

ball of the foot. Wear­ing heels in­ten­si­fies the pres­sure in this area. How to treat: Take ibupro­fen or an­other over-the-counter anti-in­flam­ma­tory drug, ice the area, and use a metatarsal pad to ease pain. Don’t walk bare­foot: It can ag­gra­vate the con­di­tion. Your feet need sup­port.

SYMP­TOM: Itchy, flaky blis­ters be­tween your toes or on the bot­toms of your feet. Likely con­di­tion: Ath­lete’s foot. Typ­i­cal causes: A fun­gus that thrives in warm, moist en­vi­ron­ments like pools or locker rooms. How to treat: Use an over-the-counter cream or pow­der con­tain­ing ci­clopirox, terbinafine or clotri­ma­zole. See a doc­tor if the con­di­tion doesn’t clear up in two weeks. To pre­vent re­in­fec­tion, wear flip-flops in the locker room. Choose mois­ture-wick­ing socks; avoid stock­ings. Al­ter­nate shoes; al­low at least 24 hours to air them out. SYMP­TOM: Red­ness and swelling around your toe­nail. Likely con­di­tion: In­grown toe­nail. Typ­i­cal causes: Cut­ting nails too short and/ or wear­ing pointy-toed shoes. How to treat: Soak feet in salts to ease pain and stave off in­fec­tion, but don’t try to dig out the nail at home. See a doc­tor within a few days, be­cause in­grown toe­nails can get in­fected quickly. Wear shoes with a wide toe box to ease pres­sure on the area. Pre­vent in­growns by trim­ming toe­nails straight across.

SYMP­TOM: Tight­ness at the top of the heel. Likely con­di­tion: Achilles ten­dini­tis, an in­flam­ma­tion of the ten­don that con­nects the an­kle to the calf mus­cle. Typ­i­cal causes: Fre­quently wear­ing high heels short­ens the ten­don. When you switch to flats or ex­er­cise shoes, the ten­don is abruptly stretched and you feel pain. An­other cause is in­creas­ing your run­ning mileage, speed or in­cline too quickly. How to treat: Al­ways walk to warm up be­fore run­ning (and stretch your calves af­ter­ward). Don’t try to in­crease more than one work­out el­e­ment – du­ra­tion, in­cline or mileage – at a time or by more than 10% a week. Wear flats when at your desk or on your walk to work.

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