Tips to Keep your Feet Cozy All Winter Long
Whether you're slogging through deep snow and sub-zero temperatures in the north, or contending with dampness, chill, and muddy conditions in the south, it's important to take care of your feet all winter long. You'll want them to be healthy and ready for action when spring finally arrives.
Most Americans will have walked 75,000 miles by the time they turn 50. Is it little wonder, then, that the American Podiatric Medical Associaciation's (APMA) 2010 foot health survey found that foot pain affects the daily activities—walking, exercising, or standing for long periods of time—of a majority of Americans?
"Each season presents unique challenges to foot health," said Matthew Garoufalis, DPM, a podiatrist and APMA past-president. "Surveys and research tell us that foot health is intrinsic to overall health, so protecting feet all year long is vital to our overall well-being."
APMA offers some advice for keeping feet healthy in common winter scenarios:
- Winter is skiing and snowboarding season, activities enjoyed by nearly 10 million Americans, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Never ski or snowboard in footwear other than ski boots specifically designed for that purpose. Make sure your boots fit properly; you should be able to wiggle your toes, but the boots should immobilize the heel, instep, and ball of your foot. You can use orthotics (support devices that go inside shoes) to help control the foot's movement inside ski boots or ice skates.
- Committed runners don't need to let the cold stop them. A variety of warm, light-weight, moisture-wicking active wear available at most running or sporting goods stores helps ensure runners stay warm and dry in bitter temperatures. However, some runners may compensate for icy conditions by altering how their foot strikes the ground. Instead of changing your footstrike pattern, shorten your stride to help maintain stability. And remember, it's more important than ever to stretch before you begin your run. Cold weather can make you less flexible in winter than you are in summer, so it's important to warm muscles up before running.
- Boots are must-have footwear in winter climates, especially when dealing with winter precipitation. Between the waterproof material of the boots themselves and the warm socks you wear to keep toes toasty, you may find your feet sweat a lot. Damp, sweaty feet can chill more easily and are more prone to bacterial infections. To keep feet clean and dry, consider using foot powder inside socks and incorporating extra foot baths into your foot care regimen this winter.
- Be size smart. It may be tempting to buy pricey specialty footwear (like winter boots or ski boots) for kids in a slightly larger size, thinking they'll be able to get two seasons of wear out of them. But unlike coats that kids can grow into, footwear needs to fit properly right away. Properly fitted skates and boots can help prevent blisters, chafing, and ankle or foot injuries. Likewise, if socks are too small, they can force toes to bunch together, and that friction can cause painful blisters or corns.
Finally—and although this one seems like it should go without saying, it bears spelling out—don't try to tip-toe through winter snow, ice, and temperatures in summer-appropriate footwear. "More than one news show across the country aired images of people in sneakers, sandals, and even flip-flops during the severe cold snap that hit the country in early January," Dr. Garoufalis said. "Exposing feet to extreme temperatures means risking frostbite and injury. Choose winter footwear that will keep your feet warm, dry, and well-supported."
Beyond the backpack: Back-to-school shoe-shopping tips to keep kids healthy and parents happy
For parents faced with kids’ changing tastes and opinions, navigating back-to-school shopping can be a harrowing process. Buy him the wrong backpack, and he’ll be the uncool kid on the bus. Pick out the wrong jeans for her, and she’ll be shamed by society. While neither scenario will cause kids any real harm, there is one area of back-to-school shopping where a wrong move could have health ramifications for kids—shoe shopping.
Foot health is directly related to overall health, no matter your age. Proper footwear is essential to foot health, so it’s important for parents to ensure kids go back to school with a good foundation on their feet. Shoes are one of the most important back-to-school purchases parents will make.
Children’s feet change and grow with them, and parents may find they need to update their kids’ shoes and socks every few months to accommodate this growth. Shoes that don’t fit properly can irritate the feet and affect how well a child walks, runs, and plays.
Here is some advice for finding shoes that are good for kids’ feet and also live up to their exacting tastes:
- Always buy new—never used—and never hand down footwear. Sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete’s foot. What’s more, children’s feet are as unique as they are. A shoe that fits one child comfortably may not fit another child as well. Plus, shoes that have been worn tend to conform to the foot of the wearer and may be uncomfortable for anyone else to put on.
- Test the shoe before allowing a child to try it on. Check for a stiff heel by pressing on both sides of the heel counter; it shouldn’t collapse under the pressure. Bend the shoe with your hands to ensure it will bend with your child’s toes; it shouldn’t be too stiff. Try twisting the shoe; it should be rigid across the middle and never twist in that area.
- Go shopping together. Shopping with your child ensures you can have his or her foot measured professionally, and that your child can test the shoe for a proper fit, give you his or her opinion of it, and learn from you the finer points of buying a good shoe. Kids who learn how to select a comfortable, supportive shoe may be less likely to make wrong footwear choices as adults, which could save them a lot of discomfort.
- Remember to shop for shoes later in the day when feet are at their largest, and always buy for the larger foot. Having your child’s feet measured will help identify which foot is larger. Additionally, remember to have your child wear the type of socks or tights he or she will most likely wear with the shoe.
- Avoid buying shoes that need a “break-in” period. Footwear should be comfortable right away. Once the school year is underway, keep an eye on your child’s shoes—active kids may wear out footwear faster than adults. Be vigilant for signs of irritation, such as your child always wanting to remove one or both shoes. The footwear may no longer fit properly, especially if it’s been a few months since you bought the shoes.
Finally, be sure children wear shoes that are appropriate for their activities. If your daughter plays sports, she should wear a good athletic shoe designed for that sport. If your son is a runner, he’ll need a good running shoe. For daily wear when kids do a lot of walking, choose a good, supportive shoe. Keep sandals, flip-flops, and heels for occasional wear only.
If your child complains of foot pain or experiences an injury, take him or her to a podiatrist.
Summer at the shore has arrived. Unfortunately, with the increase in the temperatures comes an increase in the activity of insects. Fire ants are just about everywhere these days, and they can ruin your summer fun. A few simple tips can limit the pain and problems associated with fire ant bites. The first thing you need to do is get as far away from the fire ant colony as possible. This will prevent further bite activity. When you are at a safe distance, try to brush the ants off your feet and legs.
Allergic reactions to fire ant bites are rare but can happen. The signs to look for would be swelling that occurs in areas other than where you were bitten, difficulty breathing, nausea or chest tightness. These signs may be indicative of a medical emergency. If these occur 911 should be contacted immediately.
Most people bitten by fire ants will not experience an allergic reaction, but will instead experience pain, itching and burning at the bite sites. Benadryl may help to minimize these symptoms. Topical application of hydrocortisone cream may be beneficial. Application of ice to the area and compression, such as an Ace bandage, may help to minimize swelling and pain. Oral anti-inflammatories such as Motrin may also help reduce pain and inflammation.
Fire ant bites will typically develop a small blister shortly after the incident. This blister is a sterile environment and should be left alone. Blisters should not be popped. If a blister pops inadvertently, it should be treated as an open wound. This means keeping the area clean with a topical antiseptic such as betadine and applying antibiotic cream, such as Neosporin. The area of a popped blister should be covered with a Band-Aid. Diabetics and individuals with poor circulation should be particularly mindful of the signs of infection, which would most commonly be redness and swelling which is spreading outside of the area of the original blister. If these occur, make an appointment to see us as soon as possible.
Summer tips for summer feet
With the beach, family vacations, camping and amusement parks there is plenty of fun to be had in the summer time. With this increase in activity it can be quite trying on your feet. No need to fear, there are some simple tips to help keep your feet happy and healthy all summer long.
With summer in full swing, the odds are you will be more active. With the beach, family vacations, camping and amusement parks there is plenty of fun to be had in the summer time. With this increase in activity it can be quite trying on your feet. No need to fear, there are some simple tips to help keep your feet happy and healthy all summer long.
1) Use Those Flip-Flops in Moderation
Most flip-flop or sandals don't have adequate support for your feet. They are ideal for the beach or the pool and even if you know you are not going to be on your feet or walking for an extended period. However, if you are planning on doing a lot of walking or spending the day on your feet, wearing a shoe with more support is critical to avoid possible tendon and ligament strain in your feet, legs and even back. Flip-flops are not built for the board walk!
2) Realize your Feet and Legs Tend To Swell More In Summer
This is due to the increase in temperature along with the possibility you are going to be on your feet more. If possible, elevate your feet above the level of your heart 2-3 times a day, for at least 20 minutes. At the very least, be sure to prop your feet up at the end of the day for 30-45 minutes.
Also, it is important to wear a shoe that fits properly. If you start the day off with a shoe that fits snug, it is likely to be quite uncomfortable by the end of the day. In addition, the tight shoe can cause friction, which could lead to blisters.
Finally, if you are going to purchase shoes, preferably buy them in the late afternoon or evening, since your feet are more likely to be larger at this time of day.
3) Try to Avoid Going Barefoot
The likelihood that you get cuts, scratches, bumps, punctures, and all kinds of other traumas, major or minor are greatly reduced if you are wearing some type of shoe. For example, people, especially kids, are more likely to get warts on the bottom of the feet during the summer, because they step on tiny pieces of glass, wood, or other hazard which, although does not cause a serious puncture wound, is enough to place the virus in the skin. Warts are contagious, so wear shoes if you are walking around a community pool.
4) Trim your Nails Properly
Trim your nails straight across. Do not cut the nails down in the corners. This can lead to ingrowing toenails and infections. If you already are doing this, go see a foot doctor to fix the problem before you hit the beach.
5) Keep your Feet Clean
Wash with soap and water daily. Try not to soak feet, as this removes the skins natural oils. Also, after washing feet, apply a moisturizer to your feet, but avoid between your toes. If you are prone to calluses, hard skin, or cracking heels, you will require a moisturizer that also has an ingredient to specifically soften these areas.
6) Careful with Discolored Nails
Don't use polish on discolored, cracked, or brittle nails. Your nails may have a fungus, and using polish will likely make the condition worse. You may need to use a topical medication.
7) Have/Use a pair of Good Supportive Shoes
As mentioned before, if you are going to be on your feet, like at an amusement park, it is best to have a pair of good supportive shoes to prevent numerous types of foot injuries. You are more likely to experience heel pain if you increase your activities, but are not using a supportive shoe. If you notice heel pain during the day, it is important to get off your feet and rest them. Also, if you do a lot of walking, and the next morning when you wake up you notice you have a lot of pain in your heels, you need to take it easy. Give your feet a rest, do some calf stretches, ice and some massage to keep the condition from getting worse.
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