Take Care of Your Feet
By: Marylin Salgado
Feet exhaustion is a real thing. The jabbing, burning, and numbing pain you experience from being on them for too many hours can easily render you helpless on your couch on a day off. Forget about getting to the gym or running errands or doing something fun with the kids.
If you are a gym rat like my boyfriend and me, you are easily working out 10 to 12 hours a week. Add on to this another 24 to 40 hours of stress on your feet from work, and other daily activities.
Not wearing proper fitting shoes will eventually cause all sorts of feet issues, pain and deformation. Pain is a good indicator that we have either done too much or caused some damage to an area of our body. For the most part, slight discomfort is common when we work out or stand for long periods of time on our feet. Pain should never be a common issue for anyone and it should never be left untreated.
Wide fitting shoes became an option for individuals who had wide feet and were having discomfort wearing narrow fitting shoes. Eventually, these shoes do stretch and become wider. Loose fitting shoes are an issue as well as shoes that are too tight. Poor fitting shoes can cause all sorts of issues from hammer toes, mallet toes, to corns and calluses.
Some solutions to the wide shoe dilemma are to buy regular shoes that are half a size to a size larger. Another option is to buy regular fitting shoes and stretch them out with a shoe horn for a few days until they feel comfortable enough to be worn. Wear them at home for a few days and see how they fit. Being at home gives you the convenience of taking them off at any time and attempting to stretch them out again. If you are lucky to buy a pair of wide fitting shoes that conform to your feet and don’t stretch much further, then all you might have to do is maintain the leather. Wide fitting shoes in leather do offer the best quality as opposed to those manufactured with a plastic overlay.
If you are thinking you have to spend a lot of money on good fitting shoes then you are sadly mistaken. You can comfortably buy a pair of Asics or Under Armour shoes for $25 to $40 dollars. I know because I have done it myself. Take advantage of Black Friday deals or with businesses that hurt during Covid shut downs; they have some awesome deals.
I would like to discuss now the issues you can face with poor fitting shoes.
A hammer toe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. The most common cause of this condition is wearing short or narrow shoes that are too tight. One example of this is women’s open toe heels. They are cute, but long-term wear of these can cause the hammer toe or other potentially debilitating issues.
These type of shoes as well as other narrow fitting shoes cause the muscles and tendons in your toes to bend upward and become shorter. As this continues to happen, your toe deforms to this bent position and stays that way. Other ways a hammer toe can happen is by trauma, such as stubbing, jamming, or breaking your toe. Abnormal balancing of the toe muscles can also cause you to develop a hammer toe since you are not able to stand and distribute your body weight evenly on your feet.
In a mallet toe, the joint at the end of the toe buckles. The skin at the tip of the toe eventually develops a painful corn that can result in an ulcer. It mostly affects the second toe, since it’s typically the longest toe on the foot. This deformation can be extremely painful.
Symptoms include redness, swelling, corns or calluses, and diabetic patients might be more prone to toe ulcers.
There are two types of mallet toes; flexible and rigid. Flexible mallet toes are toes that are in the initial stages of the condition and still have some mobility. Rigid mallet toes are toes that are more symptomatic, more deformed and tightened.
Treatment of Both
Both hammer toes and mallet toes can be treated at home before they become chronic and surgery is needed. Such home remedies are wearing callus pads, splinting the toe to help straighten it naturally, avoiding high heels until the issue improves or resolves, or exercising the joint to help soften and release the tendon.
Corns and Calluses
Both are skin conditions that can develop on your feet from added pressure to a certain area. Calluses can also develop on your hands from overuse. Guitar players, weight lifters, and individuals who perform hard labor with their hands or simply use their hands to work with wood crafting or metal works also develop calluses. Since this blog is focused on your feet, I am going to discuss those.
A callus, or as it is medically known, tyloma, is a hardened area that develops, usually under the feet, after constant frictional force. This hardened area is meant to protect the underlying skin from being damaged.
A corn, soft or hard, is a smaller type of callus that develops on top or between the toes. Wearing shoes that are too narrow can help develop a corn.
Treatment of Both
Both corn and calluses can be treated at home with over the counter remedies. They can both be or not be painful. Either way, they are uncomfortable. Especially a corn that develops between the toes. Even if it does not hurt, you will certainly know it is there. Be patient. If you’ve never had one, they may take weeks to months to heal. The more stubborn ones may need medical intervention. A podiatrist would be the best option, although some general practitioners can help remove them in the office.
If you are a diabetic, have poor circulation, or have loss of sensation to your feet (neuropathy), then corns and calluses might be more common for you to develop, if you haven’t already. If you are an athlete, this can happen as well.
Hammer toes can cause a callus or corn to develop, due to the pressure a hammer toe will cause on the other toe or part of the foot it is laying on. For those individuals living in warm countries who like to constantly wear flip flops or open toe shoes, this condition is also more common.
Another issue that can develop, which is less common, is a bunion. They are localized enlargements of bone and tissue. When they do develop, they are most common on the edge of the great toe. They are often caused by tight narrow shoes. They cause redness, pain, and swelling, so they are not hard to miss. It will eventually deform causing the toe to be displaced over, under, or adjacent to the next toe.
Bunions are a bit more difficult to treat at home and can mimic gout, arthritis, a cyst, or many other medical conditions. It is best to see a doctor for this condition.
Remember, your feet need lots of TLC. They carry our weight and have to fight the forces of nature by keeping us grounded from the force of gravity. The more weight they need to carry added on to hours of standing or walking, the more of a beating they take. Keep in mind to always take care of your feet with good lotion, massages, and well-fitting shoes. Proper diet, exercise and some muscle building will all help support your bone structure, including your feet.
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