Tips to keep your feet healthy and pain free

A recent survey found that eight out of 10 Americans have experienced some type of foot problem. From aching arches to tendonitis, foot issues and pain can make everyday activities difficult.

Consider that the average person in this country takes about 5,000 steps a day. That's 5,000 times your feet pound the pavement, with lots of pressure put on them with every step. But chronic foot pain isn't just a problem for those who wear high heels or flip flops. Picking the right pair of athletic shoes is important, too.

The first step, according to experts, is choosing the right shoe specifically for your sport. Dr. John Campbell is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle issues.

"If you're going to play basketball, wear a basketball sneaker, don't wear a running shoe. It's not the same kind of event. It's not designed to protect you for that," he said.

When deciding on a new pair of shoes, make sure you have at least half an inch between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Walk around in them on different surfaces to make sure there's no slipping or rubbing.

If your feet aren't the same size, buy the shoes to fit your larger foot. Also, some suggest replacing running shoes every 300 miles.

One source of foot pain can come from ingrown toenails. To prevent them, cut your nails straight across. Don't round them. And if you do develop an ingrown nail, see a medical professional instead of dealing with it yourself.

The best way to avoid either a bacterial and fungal infection, like athlete's foot, is to keep feet clean and take time to dry the skin between your toes after a shower or bath. Also, try to alternate wearing a pair of shoes to allow them time to breathe.

What's the best way to keep your feet healthy? Walking. Experts said it's the best exercise for feet and also contributes to your general health by improving circulation, contributing to weight control and promoting all around well-being.

Don't neglect foot pain. It's important to take it seriously, especially if you have an injury - it might be more serious than you think!

"The old wives tale where people say, well if you can walk on it, it's not broken, is absolutely false," Campbell said.

One last piece of advice: Some people experience foot pain first thing in the morning, as they step out of bed. That may be a sign of plantar fasciitis. While orthotics, or massage may help, if the pain continues or gets worse, a podiatrist should be able to help.

They may also be able to recommend what to look for in your next pair of shoes, or suggest a specific type of orthotic, which is an insert placed in the shoe that changes the position or range of movement of your foot to relieve pressure on affected joints or painful areas.
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