Have you ever stopped to think about the beating your feet take every day? Exercising, walking, squeezing into pointy high heels or other ill-fitting shoes, even standing for long periods of time, we put our feet through a lot of stress.
Now think about how your feet are like the foundation of a house. They support your entire body and help it function and move. If there is a problem with your foundation, other serious problems can develop and eventually impact your entire body.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, there are more than 50 bones in both of your feet, plus 60 joints and 200 muscles, tendons, and ligaments all holding your feet together so they can move. If one bone breaks, one joint swells, or one muscle is strained, it affects your entire foot like a house of cards. It’s clear that taking care of your feet is essential to keep moving, yet few people take the time to do it.
Here are a few ways that improper foot care can affect you and what you can do about it.
Posture and Spinal Alignment
Whether they know it or not, most people overpronate when they walk. Over pronation (walking on the inside edge of the foot) causes your arches to collapse and your ankles to roll, which throws off your balance. To compensate for it and maintain your balance, your skeletal alignment changes and now all your bones and muscles are also off balance.
Spinal misalignment can lead to muscle and joint pain and inflammation sometimes to the point of becoming chronic. Fallen arches also reduce the amount of shock your feet can absorb as they contact the ground, which sends the shock and tension up through the legs causing aches and pain. Orthotic inserts can help to keep your feet in their proper balance and reduce the possibility of long-term trouble.
If your feet are improperly balanced and affecting your spine position, chances are good that you also experience regularly occurring headaches. Headaches cannot only be painful, they can also make you less productive. If you commonly experience headaches, visit your family doctor or a certified podiatrist for a diagnosis. You might also consider consulting with a chiropractor to see if your feet and spine are out of alignment.
Slouching stemming from improper foot-to-spinal alignment can cause your inner organs to become misplaced and stressed. An incorrect posture can squeeze the organs into inadequate spaces of the body, which reduces their ability to function properly. Properly balanced feet will improve your posture and open your body so that every organ can do its job free of pain and discomfort.
Insufficient Blood Flow to the Legs
A misaligned spine due to foot problems can pinch blood vessels in your legs and hinder adequate blood circulation. The result can be pain, tension, and swelling in your legs that may get continually worse if left untreated. Healthy, balanced feet will help keep your blood circulating properly and reducing the chances of your vessels becoming varicose.
It makes sense that if you can’t walk comfortably, you probably won’t be inclined to be physically active. Eventually, the inactivity will affect your entire body and your quality of life. Not only will you slow down and gain weight, you could also become susceptible to disease such as heart disease, obesity, and even some forms of cancer. Keeping your feet healthy is very important to maintain or achieve a healthier you as you age.
If you’re not paying attention to your feet, you’re probably not checking them regularly for cuts and scrapes, or even fungus. Cuts that are not properly taken care of can provide an entry for bacteria and germs that may lead to infection in your feet and possibly to the rest of your body including your heart, lungs, liver, and brain if not treated immediately.
Take the time to check your feet regularly for small cuts and scrapes so infection never sets in, and treat any infection as soon as you suspect or detect it.
Fungus on your feet, also sometimes called athlete’s foot, can also spread to other parts of your body or even to other people. Treat foot fungus by keeping your feet clean and dry at all times. You can also help it heal with simple, over-the-counter antifungal medication before it spreads too far.
That painful bump on the inside of your big toe is called hallux valgus, or more commonly known as a bunion. Bunions form when the bone or soft tissue located at the joint at the bottom of the big toe move out of alignment. Sometimes it is a natural occurrence, but more often it’s due to ill-fitting shoes such as pointy dress shoes or continually wearing shoes that are too small.
Forcing your feet into the wrong shoes puts pressure on the joint of the big toe to bend in toward the other toes causing your feet to move in an abnormal motion. The result is a very painful bump that is cured only through surgery.
Always wear shoes that are the correct size for your feet and make sure that the shoes have a big enough toe box so your big toe isn’t forced to bend abnormally. Many people enjoy wearing nice shoes, but never choose fashion over function so your feet can be pain free as you age.
Reduced Injury Recovery
It’s an unpleasant cycle. Painful feet increases tension throughout your body. When you’re feeling stressed, you don’t rest properly. And when you don’t rest properly, the tension in your body increases and the cycle repeats itself all over again. After a while, your resistance to the tension begins to wear you down, making you more sensitive to illnesses and injury, plus reducing your ability to heal quickly.
A simple foot massage, even if you do it yourself, for about ten minutes a day can reduce the tension you feel and help you to rest better so you stay healthy and free from injury.
How Can You Take Better Care of Your Feet?
You can help protect your feet and your overall health while keeping them from pain just by wearing the right type of shoes. There are certain shoes with certain features that will help your feet to maintain its health and shape while allowing you to continue to be productive throughout your day.
Do some online research to help you choose the right kind of shoe that fits your lifestyle, especially if you must stand for long periods of time. There are multiple extensive guides that review several shoes for both men and women to help you through the buying process.
You Don’t Have to Live with Pain
Wearing properly fitting shoes, massage, and regularly checking for cuts, scrapes, and fungus can help your feet stay healthy for years to come. You’ll sleep better, recover better, and you’ll help to prevent the possibility of contracting disease.
We all have foot pain from time to time, but if the pain is keeping you from going about your daily activities, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your family doctor, podiatrist, or a licensed chiropractor. They can make a correct diagnosis so you can get back on the path of life.