Healthy Feet 101

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – You depend on them, yet you may be ignoring your feet.

“I think we pay too little attention to our feet and they are down there somewhere and keeping us upright,” said Dr. Nell Blake of the Penn State Bone and Joint Institute.

Our feet help us stand with 52 bones between them. And it’s estimated we’ll walk 100,000 miles in our lifetime.

“What I’ve decided to do is to gather data suggesting people wear the proper shoes as we are measuring them and then I hope to present this to make providers aware,” Blake said.

Our feet change as we age and our weight changes. They can get wider, smaller and archless. So, when’s the last time you slipped your foot into the measuring Brannock device?

“You should check every one to two years for your shoe size,” Blake suggested.

Stand when measuring to get the proper fit. The fact is many women wear shoes that are too small and that could take a toll on your sole.

“The wrong size shoe can put a lot of pressure on bones, muscle and soft tissue. Damage from heels can be manifested by too much stress on the ankle joints and toes break down cartilage and cause more hammer toes and more bunions.” Blake said.

Before you shelve those stilettos, Blake says slipping them on once in a while is okay.

“It’s really not a good idea to wear the same shoes over and over. You create a wear pattern that’s hitting a certain spot on your foot or you are creating uneven wear, then that’s going to create a problem in the long run,” said Carla Irvin, owner of Plum Bottom footwear boutique.

If you can’t live without heels, Blake says you should wear a shoe with a one- to two-inch heel to keep you in good foot health. Watch out for socks and stockings. Blake says they can constrict air flow, causing stinky feet. A lot of sweat glands hang out down there.

Also, don’t forget those toes.

“Washing and cleaning and drying especially, it’s very helpful. Some people get out of the shower and don’t dry off. That’s really a mistake on a daily basis,” Blake said.

Another mistake: hanging onto shoes too long, especially if you are a runner. Feet take a pounding; three times your weight when hitting the ground. It’s important to change out those running shoes.

“Runners are suggested to change out their sneakers every 300 to 400 miles. The key to that is runners will wear out the shock absorb than just walking in a sneaker,” said Henry Klugh of Inside Track.

Also, make sure the shoe fits the sport.

“Buying the wrong shoe can lead to injury issues,” Klugh said.

For the manicure and pedicure lovers, think safety before dipping your digits in the bowl. Carol Knapp, a cosmetology instructor at Dauphin County Technical School, explains why.

“You want to be very conscious of making sure your provider is using sanitizers for the instruments – to their nail polish to the cleaning of the tubs, basins – because you can transfer diseases that are very contagious from one person to another and you can actually get a very bad case of fungus, and it can go further than that.”

If your feet are dry and cracked, Blake suggests using Flexitol Heel Balm to moisturize and exfoliate.

For more information on foot care and when you should contact a doctor, go to http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=117&pid=1&gid=003183.

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