How to Keep Feet Happy When Staying Active

Dr. Sarah E. Haller is the newest face at Essex Union Podiatry and long-time lover of outdoor activities. Together with her faithful companion, her Labrador, Dr. Haller tackles a variety of outdoor undertakings and offers tips based on her own fun-filled and healthy experiences.

It’s a well-known and established fact that staying active helps you stay healthy. When I say “stay active”, I don’t just mean exercising—I mean any kind of activity, including household chores, working or even taking a walk around the block in your neighborhood.

Consistent physical activity reduces your risk of a number of diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancer) and helps you maintain a healthy weight and energy level. Unfortunately, though the benefits are numerous, staying active can potentially lead to injury, especially when it comes to your feet (something I am hyper aware of as a podiatrist). Based on my own experiences and professional expertise, here are some tips to make sure your feet stay as healthy and safe as the rest of you when being active:

1. Maintain a healthy weight.

Staying active doesn’t just help you maintain a healthy weight—you also need to keep your weight down so you’re able to stay active. Remember, your feet support your body, so the more weight they need to move around, the harder your feet have to work.

In fact, even a slight change in weight, such as 20 extra pounds, can increase the force you place on your feet and result in pain. That’s because four times the body weight goes through the ankle with brisk walking. Excess weight overall can wreak havoc on the joints in the body—including the ankle—as is also terrible for your heart’s health.

2. Wear shoes that fit properly.

This may seem like an unnecessary point to make, but did you know that if you haven’t measured your foot in the last two years, you’re probably wearing the wrong size?

Though you may think because you have stopped growing that your feet have as well, the reality is that your feet change over time. This can be due to age or other factors like pregnancy. As a result, ill-fitting footwear—especially footwear that is too tight—can lead to a number of painful problems, including:

So, if you haven’t had it done in a while, be sure to head to your nearest shoe store and heave your feet measured. Since many people have two different-sized feet, make sure you get both feet measured and buy shoes that fit the bigger foot. To be sure your shoes are the right size, there should be approximately half an inch between the shoe and your longest toe.

3. Keep your skin soft.

In short, your foot + an activity like running = friction in your shoe. All of that rubbing can cause your skin to crack and blister, which can lead to bleeding and a potentially nasty infection (bacteria love dark, moist places like shoes). So, be sure to apply moisturizer daily to keep the skin on your feet supple and soft.

4. Put a sock in it (your shoe, that is).

Most people probably don’t realize that choosing the right sock is just as important as choosing the right shoe. Socks that don’t fit right or aren’t made of the right material for the job—such as those with a rough texture—can leave active feet full of blisters and other issues. Find a sock with a bit of cushioning on the bottom and made of something like microfiber, which is designed to wick away moisture.

On the bright side, socks are nowhere near as expensive as shoes, so it’s cheap enough to experiment with different brands, materials and sizes.

5. Stretch your feet.

Like any other muscle group, the muscles and associated tissues of the foot need to undergo a form a strength training. Failure to do so could result in weak feet that don’t assume the correct position when moving and won’t have the proper stability. This can mean a hindered performance in certain sports—such as running—and may lead to injury.

To keep your feet in tip-top shape, I recommend performing some foot exercises a few times a week, such as a toe lift, foot rolls and more.

By following these tips, you are well your way to an overall happier, healthier you. For more information about how to keep your feet healthy or to schedule an appointment with myself or another superior podiatrist, contact us today.