The Importance of Foot Health
The human foot is a complex anatomical structure with 26 bones, 30 joints and 100 ligaments, tendons, muscles and a supporting cast of sweat glands, nerves and blood vessels. It is estimated that the average person walks the equivalent of the earth’s circumference four times in their lives.
Standing, walking, running and other high impact activities are stressful on the feet. The simple act of walking requires that the arches absorb about five times the person’s body weight. Feet are resilient and meant to last a lifetime, but disease and abuse can take their toll.
Routine foot care is the best insurance policy. The feet should be kept clean and dry. Wearing socks and properly-fitted shoes will reduce the risk for developing blisters. Natural materials, such as wool or cotton socks, will absorb more moisture and provide better protection than synthetic socks.
Sharing footwear and walking barefoot in communal shower areas, such as locker rooms, and bathhouses increases the risk of contracting the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. Wearing footwear when walking in these locations can reduce the risk of contracting the infection. Common signs are inflammation, blisters, irritation and dry scaly skin. There are other conditions that cause similar symptoms. Maine foot and ankle specialists can diagnose and treat the condition that is causing the symptoms.
Tight shoes that rub the feet can cause excess friction and pressure. This creates blisters, corns and calluses. A blister should not be popped because this leaves the skin vulnerable to infection. An adhesive bandage or moleskin will protect the sensitive area until it heals. If the blister breaks naturally, apply an antiseptic and a bandage. Using moleskin and padding is also a good option for protecting sensitive skin. Home remedies or cutting the affected skin should only be conducted under the supervision of a podiatrist.
Cramped shoes are a common reason for ingrown nails. The corner of the nails cut into the skin causing pain, inflammation and infection. Ingrown nails are also caused by improperly trimmed nails, abnormal foot structure, heredity, fungal infection and injury. Maine foot and ankle specialists can remove the portion of the nail that is causing the problem and identify and treat the underlying cause. If the issue continues, the podiatrist will surgically remove the nail.
Maintaining good foot health is important to the body’s overall wellbeing. Feet can be quite forgiving, but repeated illness and injury can jeopardize their condition. As often quoted phrase states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”