Fitness Facts: The importance of foot health
By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services
Did you know the health of your feet can impact your overall health?
It’s important not to ignore foot pain. If your feet hurt, it is time to see your health care provider or podiatrist. Your feet should be checked regularly even before there is a problem.
Your feet contain more than 50 bones, 200 muscles and 60 joints, tendons and ligaments. They are truly marvelous.
There are three important reasons to take care of your feet: quality of life, productive work and regular physical activity.
Your quality of life is directly linked to your ability to be self-sufficient. Activities such as working, shopping and walking are just a few of the daily living activities that make you self-sufficient. If you have foot problems or your feet hurt, you won’t be functioning at your best.
Even if you have a desk job, you still need to get up occasionally. Poor foot health can impede work performance and even result in lost time from work.
And with poor foot health, you’re less likely to engage in physical activity. The result is a higher risk of disease, such as heart disease and diabetes, reduced endurance and loss of muscle mass. If you already have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, you’ll want to check with your health care provider to be certain that you’re doing everything possible to keep your feet healthy.
A 2014 survey showed that 8 out of 10 Americans have experienced a foot problem, defined as everything from an ingrown toenail to chronic foot pain.
Ways to keep your feet healthy:
- Don’t wear shoes that are too tight.
- Don’t share shoes.
- Don’t share pedicure utensils with your friends
- Don’t hide discolored nails with polish. Let them breathe and treat the underlying issue.
- Don’t shave calluses on your feet. Use a pumice stone to soften calluses.
- Do not perform “DIY surgery” on an ingrown nail.
- Stretch your legs after a long day or a hard workout.
- Give yourself or have someone else give you a foot massage.
- Do roll a tennis ball under your feet to stretch the muscles
- Soothe irritation with a vinegar foot soak. Vinegar has several helpful properties: It is a mild exfoliator, can reduce foot odor and can be used as an antifungal treatment and prevention.
- Avoid excess moisture in your shoes. This could be a precursor to a fungal infection (more commonly called athlete’s foot).
Keep an eye on your feet for changes, pain or irritation. Do not wait for pain and discomfort to catch up to you!
See a podiatrist or health care provider if you are experiencing foot pain that doesn’t go away or are seeing a change in the skin in your feet or a wound that won’t heal. This could be a sign of a serious issue.