Shoes that don't fit properly are the main source of many foot problems. It’s very important to make sure the shoes you wear fit probably and are comfortable to reduce foot and ankle problems from occurring.
Top tips for the perfect shoe fit
- Shop at the end of the day - feet are at their largest then.
- Get both feet measured before buying - your foot size changes with age and weight. One foot also tends to be larger than the other so buy shoes to fit the larger foot.
- Decide on feel, not numbers - shoe sizes vary between different styles and designers. Try shoes on and walk around to ensure they feel comfortable.
- Allow one centimetre of space between your longest toe and the end of the toe box.
- Choose breathable material – canvas or leather are better options than plastic.
- Alternate shoes - don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row. Let them breathe so they won’t collect moisture and promote the growth of foot fungi.
- Get rid of ill-fitting shoes – regardless of how much you like them or how much you paid for them, shoes that are too small; too big; too narrow, too tight or too loose need to be thrown out.
- Shoes should never need to be "broken in" - if they are not immediately comfortable, they are not properly fitted to the shape of your foot.
High heels are a common cause of foot problem for women so they deserve their very own section.
- High-fashion shoes with pointed toes, thin soles or high spike heels, cause crowding of the toes and increase pressure on your foot and entire body structure.
- High heels can cause pain, discomfort, fatigue as well as postural deformity and back problems.
- Wearing high heels can also cause corns, calluses and a range of other foot problems.
- Limit the amount of time you spend in high heels.
- If you do wear high heels, do the ‘runner’s stretch’ to lengthen the Achilles tendon, by placing both hands on a wall and extending one foot behind you.
The foot has more than 250,000 sweat glands. The mixture of sweat and bacteria in our shoes and socks is what makes our feet smelly. Clean, dry feet can lower the risk of both foot odour and fungus infections.
Feet should be washed every day with soap and lukewarm water, especially between the toes, and then dried completely with a soft towel. Any mild soap or antibacterial hand soap works well.
Washing the feet with a wash cloth or similarly abrasive product is important because it helps remove the dead skin, bacteria and fungus.
For patients who can't reach their feet during a shower because of obesity, arthritis or instability, use a long-handle brush.
Applying a moisturiser on the feet after a bath or shower will help alleviate dry skin. During dry winter months, apply a small amount of moisturising lotion a few times each day.
Like most body parts, there are usually more problems with feet as we grow older. For older people, most problems stem from the impact of years of use. By the time the average person reaches 50, they will have lost up to half of the shock-absorbing capacity of the natural foot pad. However, it’s not all doom and gloom - painful and uncomfortable feet are not a natural part of growing old and when it comes to feet, prevention is the key to good foot health.
A lot can be done to keep feet healthy in the senior years. Most importantly, foot problems can be prevented before they begin.
Top tips for ageing feet
- Have your feet measured for shoe sizes more frequently, as your shoe size can change as you grow older.
- Properly fitted, sturdy shoes are essential. The older you get, the more you need a shoe that holds your foot firmly in place and gives adequate support to prevent falls.
- A shoe with a firm sole and soft upper is best for daily activities.
- Try and bathe your feet daily in lukewarm (not hot) water, using a mild soap, preferably one containing moisturisers, or use a moisturiser separately.
- Daily walking is the best exercise for your feet.
- Except at the beach, avoid going barefoot, even in your own home.
- Never cut corns or callouses as this can cause infection. Make an appointment to see your podiatrist.
- Brittle nails are common as we age. Trim or file your toenails straight across, or have a podiatrist cut them for you.
- Inspect your feet regularly or have someone do this for you. If you notice any changes including redness, cracks in the skin or pain, make an appointment to see your health professional.