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Learn the Basics of Proper Foot Care

Picture of a marathon runner. Image is being used for a blog about the basics of proper foot care.

Your feet work for you the whole day. Whether you stand, play, run, or walk, they can sustain forces of up to 120 percent of your body weight. That’s an enormous amount of wear and tear and it’s why your feet are more prone to injury than any other part of the body.

Without attention and proper foot care, disorders are likely to develop with age.

Factors that affect your feet include:

  • Activity level – Being physically active improves your balance, strengthens your muscles and bones, keeps your toes flexible, elevates your mood and reduces your risk of disease.
  • Weight – Active people who are ten pounds overweight and walk 10,000 steps a day, subject their feet to 100,000 pounds of extra impact each day. More sedentary people who are 30 pounds overweight and take 5,000 steps per day subject their feet to 150,000 pounds of additional impact.
  • Occupation – Sitting or standing for long hours will affect the condition of your feet. Moderate activity is the best way to exercise the muscles and keep them healthy.
  • Health – Foot problems can sometimes foreshadow a more serious condition such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve, and circulatory disorders.
  • Footwear – Properly fitting footwear (and replacing worn footwear) can play a critical role in preventing foot problems. Most people wear shoes that are too narrow. This can cause the big toe to bend towards the smaller toes, thrusting the big toe joint outward. This results in a misalignment of the two bones that form the base joint of the big toe to create a bunion.

Proper foot care is just as critical as taking care of the rest of your body. Chronic pain of the knees, hips, back, or neck can actually originate from having poor posture of the feet.

If the bones in your feet and ankles are not properly aligned, the distribution of weight and excessive pressure in the wrong place can adversely affect other parts of the body.

A structural flaw or malfunction in any one part of the foot can result in the development of problems elsewhere in your body.

Here are some easy steps that you can follow to take care of your feet:

  • Buy your shoes by fit, not by size. Try them on towards the end of the day since your feet tend to swell over the course of the day.
  • Frequently soak, scrub, and massage your feet, toes, and ankles. For example, Epsom salt is known to help soothe bunion pain.
  • Exercise your feet. In today’s Western-style society where people wear shoes most of the day, your feet, the bones, muscles, and tendons within, do not get the movement required to stay healthy as compared to those societies who do not wear shoes. Keep your feet flexible.
  • See a PHOENIX Physical Therapist! “Just walk on it” is the advice I often hear folks say they’ve gotten from their peers. Most people don’t seek help following an ankle sprain. Some of these individuals can benefit greatly from good manual therapy and joint manipulation by a qualified professional to help prevent re-sprains

References:

Cook JL, Purdam CR (2003). Rehabilitation of lower limb tendinopathies. Clin Sports Med, 22: 777-789.

Kaminski TW, Hartsell HD. Factors contributing to chronic ankle instability: A strength perspective. Journal of Athletic Training, 2002; 37(4): 394-405.

James Blakely, MPT, graduated from Hahnemann Medical College (Drexel) in 2001. James has been practicing physical therapy in a variety of settings for nearly 20 years. His specialties are the treatment of the foot and ankle, particularly for runners and athletes of all ages as well as occupational-related injuries. He has been with PHOENIX Rehabilitation and Health Services since March of 2019 and is the Facility Director and Physical Therapist at the Horsham location. James resides in Elkins Park with his wife and two sons and in his spare time, he volunteers as a youth basketball coach and loves to ride his bike and golf.