Though it might not feel like it just yet, spring is coming! The days are getting longer, temperatures are rising, and soon enough, birds will be singing. As we make the transition from fluffy boots to stylish sandals, it's important to keep our feet healthy and happy. Here are five tips that will help you put a spring in your step as we head into the new season:
1. Start Slowly
For many people, the transition from winter to spring also brings with it the transition back to a more active lifestyle. Whether that's because you prefer running outside to spending time on the treadmill, or because you simply tend to leave the house more in nice weather, it's important to gradually work your way up.
Over the winter, our lower limbs and feet tend to weaken a bit, and to help avoid foot pain or heel pain, you'll want to take certain precautions. For instance, it's important to always warm up and stretch your muscles before exercising. In addition, you'll want to slowly increase the intensity of your exercises; your body likely isn't in the same shape that it was last time it was warm, after all!
2. Take Stock Of Your Shoes
Whether you prefer running shoes or high heels, our feet spend a lot of time inside shoes - so it's important that we make sure those shoes are up to the task. Take a look at your collection of footwear and decide what you need to keep, what needs to go, and what new shoes you might want to add.
Good shoes will fit comfortably, let your feet breathe, and provide proper arch support. When we wear properly fitted shoes like these, we give our feet the best chance of remaining injury-free and healthy. Various foot problems can pop up as a result of low-quality, worn-out, or tight shoes, like chronic foot pain, ingrown toenails, corns, and calluses. In other words, it might be time to ditch those old athletic shoes, or at least look into some new shoe inserts for your favorite casual kicks.
Your shoes should also be appropriate for the activity you plan to do. Don't go jogging in shoes that aren’t made for athletics or biking in your favorite wedges. Also, avoid walking barefoot outside of your house! We know a nice stroll in the grass might feel nice, but it's not worth the risk of injury. Even a small cut can cause an infection. When we wear shoes in the great outdoors, we offer them a much-needed layer of protection.
3. Practice Good Foot Hygiene Every Day
After a long, cold winter spent in tight, sweaty boots, foot odor and athlete's foot can be a problem for some people. As your feet sweat collects inside your shoes, bacteria can begin to grow and multiply, causing a funky situation. First, be sure to let them air out. Avoid wearing the same shoes two days in a row, and always wear a fresh pair of socks. When in public places, don’t walk barefoot; always wear sandals in gym showers or pool locker rooms.
Second, it's important to wash your feet regularly. Ideally, you should clean your feet daily with gentle soap and warm water (being sure to dry them thoroughly after). You can also use an over-the-counter antifungal foot powder or spray to help keep your feet dry.
4. Treat Yourself To A Pedicure
Your foot care shouldn't end there! A nice pedicure, whether at home or at a salon, is a great way to get ready for sandal season and support your healthy feet. Not only will it make your toes look and feel nice, but a pedicure can also help identify and defend against any potential issues that could lead to pain or infection.
Start by soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salts for at least 10 minutes. Then, use a pumice stone, foot file, or emery board to remove any hardened skin that has built up. This will help prevent cracked skin, reducing your chances of infection. Finish this stage with a thick lotion to keep your skin soft and supple.
Next, it's time to trim your nails. To help prevent an ingrown toenail, cut your toenails straight across and avoid rounding the edges. If you like to paint your nails, now's your time! Keep in mind, however, that you'll want to remove it in two to three weeks. Toenail polish has a reputation for lasting a while, but keeping it on for too long can potentially lead to infection.
Finally, put on a pair of cotton-blend socks to seal in the moisture! With your pedicure completed, you'll be ready to hit the ground running when spring finally arrives.
5. Visit Your Podiatrist
As always, the best way to support your foot health is by visiting your podiatrist. Wearing the right shoes and practicing good hygiene are great ways to take care of your feet on a day-to-day basis, but a professional opinion is still invaluable for long-term success.
Our experts at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists specialize in everything from diabetic foot care to custom orthotics. No matter what problems you're having with your feet, your podiatrist can personalize an action plan to keep your feet healthy and identify any potential problems before they become serious. Get ready for spring with a visit to one of our offices!
Keeping your feet healthy is a year-round effort. Let the experts at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists lend you a hand! Schedule an appointment with us today and get ready for a happy, healthy spring.