Feet are complex structures, which may reflect your general health and well-being. Symptoms such as persistent pain or soreness are warning signs. If, for example, you neglect a painful joint, it can deteriorate and become acutely painful. Then you may start walking badly to avoid the pain and that can lead to more serious postural problems.
AN ESTIMATED 85 per cent of the population are walking around in the wrong-sized shoes, say researchers at the Homerton Hospital, in East London. Therefore, have your feet measured EVERY time you purchase shoes.
- Wear footwear that supports the foot properly, reducing the chance of injury.
- Don’t wear the same shoes every day.
- Choose footwear made of natural materials to help your feet to breathe.
- Air trainers before and after exercise to prevent build up of bacteria.
- If you suffer from knee, hip or back pain, which has resisted treatment, consider visiting a state-registered chiropodist. Sometimes a small structural or functional imbalance in the foot may cause problems further up the body. What you wear on your feet can affect you further up your body.
- Change stockings or socks at least once a day. Choose socks containing at least 70 per cent cotton or wool. Some socks made from man-made fibres can help keep sweat away from the skin, keeping the skin dry and reducing odour.
- Choose footwear made from natural fibres to allow your feet to breathe such as Gore-Tex®.
- Calf stretches help to keep feet supple and keep a good range of movement. To stretch your calf and heel, stand facing a wall with feet hip width apart and slightly bent at the knee. Take one step forwards, and using your arms to lean against the wall, keep your leg in front bent and the leg behind straight. Both feet should be flat on the ground. Lean in towards the wall, as you do, you should feel your muscles stretching in your calf and heel. Hold and slowly return to a standing position. Do this with each leg about five times. Seek further help if you experience problems doing this exercise.
- Vary your heel heights from day to day, one-day wearing low heels, and the next day slightly higher heels.
- Vary shoe types.
- For everyday use, keep heel heights to about 2cm.
- Consider wearing shoes with a strap or lace over the instep rather than slip-ons. This will help stop your foot sliding forward, a bit like a seatbelt in a car.
- Diabetes can affect the feet. People suffering from diabetes may experience poor circulation and sensation in their feet. Even the smallest injury can lead to infection, which, if not treated promptly, may lead to serious complications. If you have diabetes, it is important to examine your feet daily. Anyone with diabetes should consult their podiatrist regularly and have a full annual review and assessment.
- To refresh feet, massage gently with a foot roller, or better still, ask you partner to massage your feet.
- Sitting with your feet up for 10 minutes after a long day helps circulation.
- Your feet can mirror your general health – conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, neurological and circulatory disorders may show initial symptoms in the feet.
- Circle your feet ten times in each direction, keeping your leg as still as possible.
- Consciously straighten your toes and wriggle them around.
- Raise, point, then curl your toes for five seconds each, repeated ten times – this is particularly good for toe cramps or hammer toes.
- Circle the alphabet with your feet. (A good exercise you can do while sitting at your desk in the office.)
- Visit a registered podiatrist/chiropodist for advice. You can take your shoes with you for specific advice on footwear.
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