Most people are born with healthy feet. But three out of four people develop serious foot problems as they age - putting their independence and well-being at risk.
Healthy feet contribute to your safety and health. How?
- Feet that are healthy and pain free help you keep your balance. Good balance can prevent falls, a major cause of injury and hospitalization; some falls result in disability or death.
- Healthy feet also allow you to stay active. When your feet are too sore to walk, you lose strength and become at greater risk for falls. Walking is the perfect exercise to keep your weight down, prevent blood clots and keep your bones and muscles strong.
- Keeping an eye on your feet can even give you an early warning about serious health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, nerve damage and poor blood circulation.
Basic foot care:
Foot pain may keep you from enjoying life and staying active. Many foot problems can be avoided if you:
- Check your feet every day. Don't wait until your feet hurt. Take a few minutes every day to look for cuts, blisters, bruises, sores, infected toenails or swelling. Use a small mirror if bending over is a problem, or ask someone for help.
- Wash your feet every day. Use warm water. Don't soak them longer than 10 minutes, or your skin will get dry and start to crack. Dry well between your toes.
- Keep your feet soft and smooth. Use unscented cream on the tops and bottoms of your feet if the skin is dry and cracked.
- Wipe off excess cream and don't apply between your toes. Use talcum powder if your feet sweat a lot.
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks. Many people have foot problems because their shoes don't fit, don't give proper support or don't have enough grip on the ground. Socks help keep your feet dry. Wear a clean pair every day. Avoid socks with ridges or an elastic at the top; they can irritate or restrict circulation.
- Be active every day. Walking is the best way to keep you, and your feet, healthy because you can do it anytime, anywhere - for free! To increase circulation, prevent cramps and keep your muscles in good shape, try these exercises:
- while sitting, pick up marbles with your toes
- while holding onto a table or chair back, get up on your tiptoes, then rock back to your heels, 20 times
- while sitting, alternate pointing your toes toward your nose with pointing your toes downward; rotate your ankles in circles, first in one direction, then the other
- Take care of your toenails. Cut or file your nails regularly with appropriate nail care tools. Trim them straight across and never shorter than the end of your toe.
Warning signs - See your health provider right away if you notice:
- a sore on your foot that doesn't heal or gets infected
- pain when you walk that stops when you rest
- unusual coldness, cramps, numbness, tingling or discomfort in your feet
- that you are less sensitive to foot pain, hot or cold
- the skin on your feet or legs changes colour
- change in the shape/structure of your foot
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