Spring is here and summer is not far away. Everyone will be out in summer clothing to beat the heat, including footwear. Flip-flops may be cool but they provide virtually no support for your feet. As I attend events like harvest fairs and amusement parks I can’t believe how many people spend the day in flip-flops. Those cute little strappy sandals with rhinestones on the toe thong may look dazzling with your tan, but the tissue-paper thin strip of leather on the bottom is not protecting your feet at all. So before you step in the horse poop, chose your footwear wisely for a day of fun. If you are going to wear flip flips regardless of your chance to contract some kind toe fungus (I am a nurse after all), at least purchase ortho-type flip-flops with heel cups and arch supports. Save the 99¢ pair for the pool.
Don’t scrimp on footwear. This is one area to spend your hard earned dollars. You can get discounts at various websites once you find the shoe that really fits your activities. Get shoes that match your foot type and activity, be it walking, hiking, or running. If you have the advantage of a real shoe store in your neighborhood, get your foot measured. You may find your feet are longer and/or wider than what you thought, leading to agonizing foot pain at the end of the day. If your favorite running shoes have been around since the 1980s, put those in the recycling bin. Depending on your mileage and activities you may need a new pair annually or much more often if you are training for the Boston marathon. The various types of gel and foam used in the soles do compress over time.
You may thing this is a no brainer. Just pop on down to your local retail store and buy the $1.95 pack of 30 pairs, but socks are also activity specific. If you have discovered that your feet are longer and wider (comes with aging) you need larger socks. You may want thin socks when you are doing cycle cross biking but walking requires thick padded socks. Some versions even come with gentle arch support.
Keep those toenails trimmed and lotion on heels so they won’t crack. If you exercise a great deal you may need to attend to athletes’ foot. Soak your feet in Epsom salts and soften the callous (no surgery please! Leave that to the professionals). Be preemptive. Use foot powder or antifungal creams. Better to treat that early before burning, peeling skin occurs. If you have plantar fasciitis or other painful foot conditions you may need inserts or professionally made orthotics.
Take care of your feet. You don’t want to age with burning, searing pain or have arthritis so bad you can hardly walk. Once you get your feet in order you will feel so much better at the end of the day.
Ellen Lang, RN, MPH
Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.