Keep your “understanding” in good shape: Care for your feet!

Myrna Driedger, MLA Winnipeg Manitoba Progressive Conservative (PC) caucus
Myrna Driedger
Broadway Journal

We just got over the holiday season where there were glamorous dress-up parties with high fashion and of course, high heels. I admit there is something beautiful about wearing high heels with a dress. A high heel elongates the leg, makes the derriere look smaller, and if one is short, the heels can add inches to give the appearance of being much taller.

However, what woman hasn’t enjoyed a fun-filled evening of standing around at cocktail parties or dancing the night away in a glorious pair of high heels only to express pure joy and relief to take the shoes off at the end of the evening.

Ah, the feet! We must learn to take care of our feet.

Whether you are a man or a woman, foot care is a healthy habit. Blisters, corns, or ingrown toenails can be painful. Moreover, many people do not realize that foot problems can lead to more serious health issues affecting your back and/or your hips.

Keeping your feet clean and avoiding infections can help prevent possible problems. Keep a pumice stone handy in the shower or tub and get into the habit of exfoliating the dead dry buildup of skin on your feet, especially on the heels.

After showering or bathing, ensure you dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes. Apply a moisturizer all over the foot, but not in between the toes. Regularly trim your toenails and don’t cut them too short or too far into the corners, which can potentially cause painful in-grown nails. Good quality socks are a must. Look for socks that breathe and keep your feet dry.

If you go to the gym, wear flip-flops around the pool and shower areas to avoid catching athlete’s foot. Walking is the best exercise for increasing blood flow and improving circulation; it’s also important for your feet especially if you are a diabetic. Remember to wear good comfortable shoes that fit properly.

Poorly fitting shoes can cause blisters, which should be left alone to dry out unless they burst; then you should cover with a clean bandage. A hard corn is a small patch of thick dead skin with a central core. Usually it will appear on the tops and sides of feet. A soft corn has a much thinner surface and usually occurs between the fourth and fifth toes. If you have a corn you should make an appointment with a podiatrist, i.e. foot doctor. Don’t try cutting corns yourself as you could create a bigger problem with possible infection.

If you have stinky feet follow the good hygiene regimen and wear ventilated shoes. The odour is caused by bacteria. Do not wear the same pair of shoes every day. Give them a chance to air out.

Diabetics are at risk for foot troubles. Complications can start out as a small cut or blister which is ignored until an infection sets in. It can get out of control and eventually cause nerve damage. The nerve damage prevents you from feeling pain, leading to poor circulation so a wound can take longer to heal and be ripe for infection.

If you currently don’t have any foot problems and you continue to take care of your feet, then it is fine to wear your glamorous shoes once in a while. Ensure the shoes are the correct size, not too small, not too tight and try to leave up to a half an inch beyond your longest toe.

You can look good, be free from pain, and dance the night away, unless you have ignored ongoing foot pain and problems. In that case, you should make an appointment with a podiatrist and leave the dancing for another time.

Myrna Driedger is MLA for Charleswood and Provincial health critic.

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