Did you know as we get older the shape of our feet change? They do not grow longer, somewhat wider as tendons lose their tightness and our arch slowly falls. This flattening of the foot can lead to a wide variety of different problems. That's why it's so important to use comfortable shoes which offer the appropriate support.
Aside from structural problems that arise with age, infections become more common too. Our immune system starts to decline, making our feet one of the most sensitive parts of our body for infection. So we'll break down the five most common foot problems and what to do to treat these problems.
1. Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot is the most common foot problem in the world. An estimated 15% of the population has this infection. Another 70% of the people will contract it at some point in their life. This fungal infection of the skin develops in between the toes and causes a burning and itchy sensation. Try not to scratch the itch because it is highly contagious.
This fungal infection is found in gyms, locker rooms, wrestling mats, anywhere that's moist and dark. Once contracted, it will quickly grow, especially in shoes that are non-breathable and moist. That's why it's called "Athlete's Foot", as athletes are usually in this type of environment when training. However, it is easily treatable with a wide variety of at-home solutions.
- Apply Hydrogen Peroxide twice a day.
- Soak your feet in 70% rubbing alcohol.
- Apply tea tree oil in between your toes.
2. Ingrown Toenail
As we grow older, our nails start to thicken, increasing our chances of having an ingrown toenail. This happens when the nail begins to grow into the skin instead of outward. There are two leading causes for this ailment, wearing shoes that are too narrow and tight and not clipping your toenails for extended periods. If you have diabetes or are older than forty, you are more at risk for ingrown toenails.
If you have pain on the side of your toenail, with redness and swelling, and you've ruled out trauma, you may have an ingrown toenail. It's important to treat an ingrown toenail as soon as possible, or infection can arise and even lead to amputation. So make sure you're practising good foot hygiene, keeping your nails well trimmed, and wearing good shoes.
Treatment: Cut toenails straight across instead of rounding. Wash feet with antibacterial soap. Wear shoes that fit comfortably.
3. Plantar Fasciitis
If you feel pain in your foot near your heel, that's usually worse in the morning, you may have Plantar Fasciitis. This inflammation of the connective tissue on the bottom of your foot will cause pain while standing, walking, or running. You are more at risk if you are overweight or using shoes that do not offer support.
This ailment is caused by physical stress, as the foot flattens with age, the arch loses its ability to support your weight as you walk. The weight is then distributed to your connective tissue on the bottom of your foot. This causes a painful inflammation as a response to physical stress. Luckily, it is easily treatable.
Treatment: Rest your feet for a few days. Use ice to reduce inflammation. Do toe stretches in the morning. When you are ready to walk again, use shoes with shock absorption that offer arch support. The FLY FLOT sole cushions the foot impact with the ground.
In most cases, Bunions are extremely painful. They are caused mainly by tight shoes pressing against the joint of the big toe. Over time this causes bone deformity and intense pain. If you notice a big bump on the side of your toe and have pain while walking, you most likely have a bunion. However, it's more commonly found in women due to the tight shoes women wear like high heels.
Take preventive action rather than reactive. Once a Bunion develops, it does not go away on its own and only gets worse with age. Wearing tight shoes will apply pressure to the metatarsophalangeal joint, and over time create this deformation. That's why it's so incredibly important to wear comfortable shoes that offer support and are not tight before it's too late.
Treatment: Wear shoes that fit properly. If you already have a bunion, apply ice, wear a bunion pad, and do not wear tight shoes like high heels.
5. Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles Tendonitis is the inflammation of the Achilles Tendon, which is arguably the most important part of your foot. It's the strongest tendon in the body and acts like a giant rubber band that allows your foot to contract and walk properly.
When other parts of the body are not doing their part, the hips or ankles, the Achilles Tendon is forced to do more work. Over time the tissues start to break down and become inflamed. If you feel pain in the back of your heel, it may be because your ankle is not bending properly while walking, which will overstress your Achilles tendon and cause painful inflammation.
If your hips are not rotating enough while walking, it can cause flat feet, provoking Achilles Tendonitis. When this tendon is inflamed, it's more susceptible to rupture, which will require surgery to repair and takes months to heal. It's important to warm-up before exercising and to exercise at least a few times a week.
Treatment: Rest your leg, apply ice, and take anti-inflammatory medication. Avoid physical activity until it heals. Once healed exercise to ensure your hip and ankles are strong and mobile.
How to Maintain Healthy Feet
The easiest way to ensure your feet are healthy is to maintain good hygiene and wear a quality pair of shoes. It's essential to wear shoes that offer arch support, are breathable, and properly fit. As our feet flatten with age, we require more arch support than before. So investing in a good pair of shoes becomes crucial to maintaining healthy feet.
The environment here in Singapore is very humid, making it more probable that we'll catch fungal infections. Wearing sandals a few times a week will help deter infections like Athlete's Foot, or invest in sneakers that offer mesh fabric so your feet can breathe adequately.
This article is offered to you by Fly Flot, makers of Italian footwear known for their focus on quality, comfort and well-being. These shoes and sandals provide your feet with comfort and support, and happy feet contribute to a healthy lifestyle, now also in Singapore.