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Simple tips for healthy feet

When you consider that they help us to run around after kids, walk down the aisle, kick goals and hold us up when everything else seems low, it's pretty shocking that new research released this week shows 78 per cent of Australian's don't prioritise their foot health. 

The 2018 Foot Health Consumer Survey by the Australian Podiatry Association and Scholl Australia also showed that two in five Australians are suffering from foot pain some time in their lives, and one-third don't look after their feet. 

However, it's not that hard to keep your lowest limb top of mind. 

Foot care is incredibly easy when you know what you're doing. The easiest way you can care for your feet is to thoroughly cleanse and dry your feet, moisturise them daily and learn how to clip your nails safely.

It's surprising how few Australians are unaware that drying the soles of your feet can minimise smell and fungal infections. Using a clean dry towel, dry off the space in-between your toes and on the base of your feet. This will limit fungal growth in the area, meaning your feet stay clean and healthier for longer.

The shoes you wear play a factor as well. It seems obvious, but in the 2018 Foot Health Consumer Survey, more than half of those in the 18-34 age group reported that they wouldn't stop wearing ill-fitting shoes, even if they knew it would help keep their feet healthy. 

Don't be afraid to ask the salesperson honest questions about the shoes you're trying on and walk around the store before you buy. Be wary of any shoes that leave a red mark on your foot when you take them off, especially if you've only worn them for a moment, as this means there's pressure, and over time it could lead to pain or blisters caused by friction.

If you do get recurrent blisters or calluses developing on your feet, it is important to seek professional treatment. Podiatrists have the most training on lower-limb, foot and ankle issues, which means they'll be able to look at your walk and the shoes you wear and develop a management plan suited to your lifestyle. 

"The pressure put on your lower limbs and feet change with weight gain or loss, pregnancy, or when you take up new sports. These are all optimal times to visit a podiatrist to ensure you prevent any long-term damage and keep your feet looking and feeling their best, for longer!"

Further ways you can improve your foot health include:

  • Working out on soft surfaces, such as grass or sand, to minimise the impact on your joints and feet;
  • Throw out smelly, synthetic shoes and choose socks with natural fibres;
  • Check that your shoes aren't wearing out unevenly on the soles and if they are, see your local podiatrist, as this is often secondary to an issue with your foot posture during walking;
  • Monitor your feet and legs for any pain, even a change in how you feel you are moving could be a result of a negative compensation pattern developing and needs to be assessed; and
  • Schedule regular visits with your podiatrist, at least as often as you see your dentist (that should be once a year!) 

Christina O'Brien is a podiatrist and Australian Podiatry Association ambassador.

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