Caring for your feet and toes


This sounds like an odd topic for a life insurance blog, doesn’t it. But taking good care of your feet toes is important so that you can use your feet to work, enjoy life, and exercise and stay healthy.

For people with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, arthritis, and other health conditions, foot and toe care is especially important. However, neuropathy, stiffness, poor muscle control, bad eyesight, obesity, and other health issues can make it difficult for some people to perform essential foot care. If you do not have these type of health issues, maybe you have the opportunity to come along beside those persons to help them with caring for their toes and feet. Almost all of us have feet, so hopefully this blog will have something helpful for everyone.

Here are five simple tips for caring for your toes and feet that can be very helpful in preventing or alleviating foot problems, especially for those with diabetes and other health issues.

1. Don’t ignore toe or foot pain.

I lived for years with hallux rigidus, or severe arthritis of my big toes, without doing anything about it. It got so that I could not even walk a block without limping. Not so fun when on business and trying to keep up with everyone else. When I finally succumbed to a simple surgery on one foot, I was able to walk pain free in several types of shoes, and never did need the predicted surgery on my second foot.

You would have thought I had learned my lesson, but last year I put off the foot pain of what turned out to be plantar fasciits until it took 9 months off my walking routine and packed 20 pounds on my body. My podiatrist knew exactly what exercises and shoe insert to prescribe to get me back on track.

Moral of the story: pain in your feet or toes is telling you something, and that something can often be fixed. Don’t put off getting it checked out. If you have diabetes, putting off treatment of a sore on your toe or foot could lead eventually lead to amputation. Seeing a doctor doesn’t necessarily mean surgery; sometimes all you need is a new pair of shoes. Listen to your pain and get it checked out ASAP.

2. Look at your toes and feet.

A sweet woman in a wheelchair attending a Bible study I was in, once shared that she used to hate her feet. She could not feel them; they did not do her much good; and she just did not like looking at them. Then one day it “hit” her that God’s Spirit dwelt in her body, and that included her feet. Since then, she gave her feet attention and took care of them, and actually developed positive feelings for her feet that she had previously resented.

Many women love to get pedicures and pamper their feet, but I am not of that ilk. I know there are millions of folks like me, who find little pleasure in viewing their callouses and crooked toes. “Studies” show that far less than half of us even look at our feet to wash them when we shower.

But visually inspecting your feet on a regular basis can keep you from developing more serious problems down the road. If you have neuropathy (inability to feel pain), or have constant pain in your feet, you may not notice the sensation of something being wrong in your feet or toes. Looking your feet and toes over each week will get you used to what is normal and what is not, and help you intervene before any cuts or sores become advanced infections.

3. Clip your toenails straight across.

This just goes against the grain of how it “seems” like toenails should be cut. But clipping toenails in a rounded fashion, like most of us clip our fingernails, can results in ingrown toenails. Clipping straight across helps keep the outside upper edges of your nail from burrowing into your flesh. Some websites say to leave your toenail long enough that it sticks out over the end of your toe; others say leaving your toenail that long can cause your nail to push against your shoe and cause infection. I like the way this article explains how to cut your toenails, and how they should look when you are done.

4. Wear the right shoes.

If you have ever considered having a “foot tuck”, “Cinderella surgery“, “Perfect 10 procedure”, or “Model-T toe lengthening surgery”, you may not be envisioning the type of shoe I am talking about here. For many women, the “right” shoes are those that make them look stylish and sexy. Comfort and the ability to walk long distances are sacrificed for style, and not always by choice….for many women, their jobs demand that they wear very lovely shoes that are very bad for their feet.

But if you are someone who has options in your choice of footwear, and if you want to preserve your feet so that they can serve you for many years in the future, the “right” shoes mean those that fit well, are comfortable, and that offer the right support in all the right places.

Shoe shopping later in the day is recommended because your feet swell as the day goes on. Get your feet measured while standing up, as that also ensures that your feet will be at their largest, and that you will not end up with shoes that pinch or rub.

Try on shoes. Do not assume that the same size or width will fit the same in different styles of shoes. I once purchased on Ebay the same brand, style and size of shoe I had at home, and the Ebay one was too small. If your feet are different sizes, buy shoes to fit the larger foot and pad the toe of the other (or buy two pair and throw the odd shoes away).

If you are heavyset or have problems with the front of your foot (e.g. hammertoe, bunions, etc), lower heels will probably feel most comfortable. If you have flat feet, Achilles tendinitis, or knee problems, a medium heel may be more comfortable. Heels over 3 inches high will aggravate both.

Having a large enough toe box so that you can wiggle your toes reduces aggravation of existing foot problems and lessens your chance of developing blisters and callouses. Having the upper part of the shoe made of material that “gives” will help keep your shoe from rubbing and squeezing. Buying a shoe where the upper part breathes also helps with problems like Athlete’s foot. Ample cushioning in the arch of your shoe, the front of your shoe where the ball of your foot rests, and the heel of your shoe, will help your feet and ankles absorb shock better, especially when walking long distances or exercising.

Finally, choose shoes that do not make you prone to slipping or tripping. At older ages, falls can have very serious complications, and no fancy shoe is worth jeopardizing your health and life. They make some really cute shoes in “safe” styles these days, and the prices seem to be coming down as more brands start catering to us Baby Boomers. Just google “comfortable shoes” – you will instantly see a plethora of great choices!

5. Keep your feet moist and dry.

Yes, moist and dry at the same time. Dry feet thoroughly after washing, even between toes. Then use a moisturizer to prevent cracking. Wearing cotton socks wicks away moisture and keeps feet protected.

I hope these simple tips help you have the use of your feet and toes for many years to come.