16 August 2016Keep Your Feet Healthy So You Can Stay Active

Taking care of your feet is important – it can affect your health and weight.  Think of it this way: if your feet hurt, you are not likely to want to stand, walk, or move around that much.  Ironically, many of us tend to eat and drink more calories when we are less active.  This can happen with or without pain medication use.  So, take good care of your feet to help stay active.

If you have diabetes, it is especially important to take good care of your feet since you have a much higher risk of losing your toes/foot given problems sensing pain, reduced blood flow, and slower healing of infections.  The National Diabetes Education Program’s “Diabetes and You: Healthy Feet Matter!” recommends 8 basic rules for taking care of your feet:

  1. Have a podiatrist check your feet at least once a year. Check to see if this is a covered benefit for diabetes.
  2. Daily foot check.  Use a plastic mirror under your foot if you can’t move your legs enough to see the bottoms of your feet.
  3. Wash your feet daily with warm (not hot) water and dry well.  Avoid soaking your feet.
  4. Keep your feet soft and smooth with lotion. Gently rub lotion into the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between the toes. If you get lotion between your toes, it is likely to stay moist and that increases the risk of infection.
  5. Trim toenails and care for corns & calluses according to your doctor’s recommendation. Nicking the skin is a high risk for infection.  If you have problems with your toenails, ask about getting them trimmed as a covered benefit for diabetes.
  6. Note: Pedicures can be a source of infection. Can you get other services at the salon to pamper yourself without getting your toenails cut? Check out this Diabetes Forecast article on pedicures.
  7. Footwear.  Protect your feet from accidental bumps, cuts, and abrasions by wearing appropriate footwear.  Avoid walking barefoot or wearing flip flops or skimpy sandals.  Check your shoes and socks for anything that could cause a blister. Wear socks that wick away moisture and are soft and comfortable.
  8. Avoid exposing your feet to very hot or very cold temperatures.  Test the water with your fingers first – your feet might not sense temperature well enough anymore.
  9. Encourage circulation to your feet – when seated, put feet up. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles throughout the day.  If you have a long flight, also get up and walk the aisle as often as you can.

On Footwear

I don’t know how many times I have met with patients and clients and noticed that their footwear is completely unsafe or unsupportive for walking or even standing.  It is far easier to make time for walking and exercise if you routinely wear footwear that supports it.

Most of us don’t need special expensive walking shoes to walk, we just need shoes/sneakers that fit well, don’t rub, and have good arch support.  I go to a shoe outlet store and buy good quality running sneakers at a discount price.  And yes, if you walk or run regularly, you will probably need to replace your sneakers about twice a year.  Good walking shoes will last longer, especially if you use orthotics.  But if it has been many years with the same shoes, then you might need to replace them.

And just a special note to all women who wear high heels:  stop wearing them daily for work and errands.  Just stop.  Consider this:  if you wear footwear that helps you stay active, you will look and feel sexier.  Leave the heels for a special occasion.

See a Doctor

Please see a doctor if you have chronic foot pain, an ingrown toenail, or an infection that won’t go away, with or without diabetes.  I meet so many people whose quality of life is severely reduced due to long term foot pain.  And it can drastically affect a person’s ability to exercise or even work.  Consider seeing a podiatrist, especially if you have diabetes, if you have long term or chronic food ailments.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

Tags:

Diabetes/Health Exercise/Walking & Steps

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