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Thursday, 14 November 2013

Pampering your Feet

Getting pedicures may seem like a frivolous thing to do but taking care of your feet can help prevent both foot disease and musculoskeletal issues.  Without taking in account exercising people can average 3000-5000 steps per day.  Any force that you generate through movement is now being put through your wonderful feet.  The foot is comprised of 26 bones which is 1/4 of all the bones in the body and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Making up 33 joints which provide support, balance and mobility for the whole body.

What types do injuries and conditions are you trying to prevent through proper foot care?  There are many but we are going to focus in a few that effect all types of athletes.

Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia of the foot.  The plantar fascia is a a strong fibrous band of tissue that forms the arch of the foot.  Typically pain first shows up in the morning after the fascia has had a chance to tighten through the night.  As the Achilles tendon attaches in the same place tight calf muscles can play a role in the onset of plantar fasciitis.  In addition to calf stretching, plantar massage can help decrease the tension in the bottom of the foot.  The use of tennis balls, lacrosse balls or a bottle of frozen water are great tools for self massage.

A bunion is an enlargement of bone or tissue on the big toe, if this occurs on the little toe it is called a bunionette.  Causes of bunions are the shape of your foot, excessive pronation (you walk on the insides of your feet), fallen arches and improper fitting footwear.  Bunions typically are non symptomatic and treatment can vary depending on how severe they are.  The best way to deal with them is prevention.  Proper footwear with lots of room in the feet and that provide proper arch support.

Proper hygiene will help in prevention of the following three foot conditions.
Ingrown toe nails are when the skin around the nail grows over the nail or when the nail itself grows into the skin.  It has been shown in some parts of the population have a wide nail bed and will have chronic problems with ingrown toenails without surgery.  Ingrown toenails can easily become infected.  To avoid this problem correct nail clipping needs to occur.  Cut the nail straight across and avoid leaving sharp corners.  In the event you do end up with an ingrown toenail, soak your feet in salt water, dry them completely with a clean towel, use a mild antiseptic on the area and cover with a bandaid.

Athlete's foot is a fungal infection that causes red, flaking skin that is typically accompanied by itching.  In most cases athlete's foot is contracted in locker rooms.  It can spread beyond the feet if the athlete touches other areas after touching the infected area.  Keeping your feet clean and dry is the most basic prevention technique as well as not walking around in bare feet in any public area.

Plantar warts are caused by the human pappillomavirus (HPV) entering the body through small cuts on the feet. Plantar warts typically are found in calluses on the feet and have a small black centre.  The prevention of plantar warts is primarily based on proper cleaning and care of your feet.

So what is proper foot care?

  • Wearing proper fitting shoes that breath well with a wide toe box. 
  • Washing your feet daily and keeping them dry.
  • If you have feet that tend to sweat the use of powder to keep the feet dry. 
  • Never go bare foot in public places.
  • Use a pumice stone to remove calloused areas on your feet.  If you have active warts or infection do not use the same stone on healthy skin.
  • Self massage of your feet to relieve tired muscles and reduce tightness in the arches.  
  • Trimming toe nails straight across and avoid leaving sharp corners. 
Be nice to your feet and they will be nice to you. 

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