How to care for your feet?
The human foot is a complicated part of the human body, consisting of 26 bones bound by ligaments, supported by muscles and supplied with blood vessels and nerves. Feet are in constant use and are often subject to considerable strain which may cause injury.
Common Foot Aliments
Corns are caused by friction and pressure. They do not have roots and the cause is also often due to bone deformity.
WARTS (OR VERRUCAE)
These are often mistaken for corns or callouses. A wart has a blood and nerve supply of its own. They are usually extremely painful and tend to spread if left untreated.
These are caused by a weakness of the ligamentous and muscular structures of the foot and leg. The tendency for them to form may be hereditary, but factors such as stress and strain and interference from shoes can also bring about this deformity. When these joints are red, swollen or tender, see a Chiropodist, as these signs may indicate the formation of a bunion, arthritis, gout or infection. A bunion on the joint of the little toe is known as a tailor’s bunion.
This can cause foot odour. Daily bathing and regular application of a medicated foot powder can help in many cases. When these fail, you should visit a Chiropodist for professional advice.
This is a skin disease caused by a fungus. This fungus most commonly attacks the feet where it thrives best because of the warm, dark and sometimes moist environment it finds inside the shoe. The main cause of athlete’s foot is the lowering of the skin’s resistance.
Practice good foot hygiene! The skin must be bathed daily; be kept dry by changing socks or tights frequently; and a mild fungicidal drying powder used on the feet and in the shoes.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Caring For Your Feet
You may be tempted to take your feet for granted, but whether you’re a professional sportsperson or an aspiring Sunday League footballer, a healthy pair of feet are your best friend. Treat them properly and your feet will give you a lifetime of fun filled sport or pain free workout.
To ward off foot menaces like athletes foot, blisters, corns and verrucae and many others, the following precautions should stand you in good stead.
1. Always use the correct shoe for the correct sport, as the wrong shoes can lead to injury. These days, there is virtually a type of shoe for every sport but all of them have certain characteristics to cushion your feet: cushioning for shock absorption and a firm heel counter for stability. Some will also have ankle support, for sports involving many changes of direction. Always seek expert opinion.
2. Make sure the shoe fits properly. Many people actually wear shoes that are too small for them. The rule of thumb is that there should be one thumb’s breadth between the end of your longest toe and the end of your shoe.
3. Secure your laces. it may be trendy to leave the laces undone, but this means the foot is not supported properly and may cause injury.
4. Make sure that where the shoe bends coincides with where your foot bends. This should be around the ball of your foot, where your toes meet the foot.
5. Always wear good quality, well-fitting cotton socks. Tight socks can be as bad as tight shoes.
6. Try not to wear your sports socks and trainers everyday. Our feet sweat naturally, like the rest of the body during exercise and this is absorbed into the sock and trainer. It takes longer than overnight for this moisture to dry out, so try to alternate shoes and wear clean socks daily.
7. If your feet are particularly sweaty, special absorbent insoles or the application of surgical spirit may help. Alternatively if your feet are particularly dry, using an emollient or foot cream may help.
8. If you are prone to blisters make sure that the inside of your shoe fits correctly, is not worn, and your feet are not sweaty. Alternatively, try wearing two pairs of socks with the pair nearest your feet made from thin cotton. This reduces the friction.
9.Finally, remember that our feet and legs need training and looking after. Always allow enough time to warm up and warm down before and after exercise. Do not attempt to do too much too soon as your feet and legs will get tired and be predisposed to injury. Try not to perform the same type of exercise every day.
Chiropodists and Podiatrists do a wonderful job helping to keep as many of us on our feet as is possible – and without pain or discomfort. It goes without saying then that good foot care is paramount, but having the right additional components like good shoes and socks is vital too.
Naturally, as sockmakers with a heritage of over 131 years of making socks in England and abroad it is these, socks, the unsung heroes where our interest, knowledge and enthusiasm lies. With all this valuable knowledge we have compiled below the key components that our vast experience recommends you look for when buying these humble, yet most important items for maintaining good foot condition:-
- Always buy the best you can afford
cheap socks often use high content, poor quality, man-made fibres and have poor durability and bad moisture management. This can lead to excess perspiration and increased bacteria and therefore odour – they also don’t generally last long making bad financial sense too.
- Look for natural fibres
Cotton is better in warmer weather and wool is better when cooler climate – but both can be worn all year round. Both offer good moisture management and comfort.
- Buy the right size
take care to look at the size you are buying, too big would cause the socks to crease underfoot and too tight would be uncomfortable and restrict circulation
- Check the elastic content
Lycra and Elastane are two of the best elastics, don’t buy anything else, and avoid anything with more than 5% except on medical or compression type socks
these are ideal for those that suffer from diabetes, poor circulation, obesity, ulcers, and swollen or large ankles. HJ invented Softops™ the original non-elastic socks over 23yrs ago and to this day they remain the market leader with many tens of millions of pairs having been sold, we even make extra wide versions now too (watch out for non-elastic socks with elastane in them as they are not true non-elastic socks – Softops™ are).
- Look for additional features
there are many of these suitable for different socks with different uses, but the most popular that have the most benefit are:-
- Cushioned sole for extra comfort and protection
- Ventilated foot panels for improved breathability
- Reinforced heal and toe for extra durability and protection
- Comfort top for a relaxed grip
- Full terry for additional protection in key areas
A guarantee of quality (All HJ socks come with a minimum 6 month unconditional
and bathing facilities in leisure centres and swimming pools, though they can also be contracted by
barefoot activity on dry floors such as those found in gymnasia. Unfortunately the disinfectant baths
frequently found at the entry point to swimming pools are often useless because the fungus lives in tiny
pieces of skin debris which are waterproof.
Signs and Symptoms
The outbreak usually begins between the toes, where the skin becomes sore and inflamed and this
is often accompanied by intense itching. The skin eventually becomes either dry and flaky, or moist and
weeping, depending on which variety of fungus is the cause. Cracks develop which reduce the skin’s
natural defences, and secondary bacterial infections can
become superimposed, causing a painful
In the case of the nails there is often a history of outbreaks of ‘athletes foot’ and quite often it is actually
present at the same time. The nails appear thickened and discoloured and frequently have a crumbly
texture. However, not all nail
symptoms like this are due to fungal infection. There are many other
conditions which cause a similar appearance, such as poor circulation to the nail bed, psoriasis of the
Diagnosis is confirmed by a simple laboratory test which can ascertain for certain whether the
problem is a fungal one, or if there is another cause.
Caring for Your Children's Feet
Right from the start of life we are given healthy feet, but problems with development and the abuse which people subject their feet to later in life by wearing inappropriate footwear (this includes hosiery as well as shoes), gives rise to the staggering statistic that somewhere between 75% to 80% of the adult population have some for of foot problem.
Unfortunately they frequently do not seek advice about them until irreversible problems develop in middle age. Clearly care in the early formative years is vitally important and can save many problems in adulthood. The foot is truly a marvel of biological ‘engineering’ and something of its complexity can be understood by realising that the bones of the feet make up an eighth of all those in the body. The foot is capable of propelling the body and protecting it from mechanical shocks and stresses throughout life.
At birth and throughout the first year or so of life, babie’s feet are quite different in many ways from those of an adult. Firstly they are a different shape, being wider in the forefoot and narrow at the heel with the toes often being
curly. Secondly the bones are undeveloped and at this stage consist of nothing more than cartillage, so they are soft and pliable. This is why small children can appear to do things to their feet without any harm at all, which would certainly injure an adult.
The 26 bones in each foot gradually develop throughout the early years, becoming basically bony by the age of 7-8 years, at which point the toes have usually straightened. However, they are not fully developed until the late teens.
It is very important to let your baby’s feet develop as naturally as possible. Indoors (and out, when the weather is warm enough) you should encourage your baby to kick and exercise free from the constrictions of clothing. In this manner the muscles of the feet and legs will begin to strengthen ready for when walking begins.
Care is also vital when clothing is necessary. Babies and small children’s feet grow at an alarming rate (often outstripping their patient’s income!). You should continually monitor the fitting of socks and particularly, the one-piece garments which are popular today. If they begin to look even slightly restrictive, either change them for the next size up or cut the toe part off so the feet can grow uninhibited.
Bedclothes can be restrictive to a baby’s feet, so ensure they are not tightly tucked in, if at all. Nails should be trimmed straight across and not too short. Mothers sometimes worry about baby’s nails curling around and following the contours of the toes. This is quite normal in the early months and due to the thinness of the nail. They will soon toughen and develop a more conventional free edge. Never cut down, or probe, into the sides of the nails.
Baby’s First Steps
This is a great moment for the parents and no doubt a sense of achievement for the infant too. Resist the temptation to rush out and purchase the first pair of shoes! Babies feet are flat and broad and at this stage, designed to function barefoot.
You should not force a child to walk too soon. They will do so when good and ready and the age varies quite a lot between individuals, with the first independent steps occurring between 10 and 18 months, though even later than this does not necessarily imply that anything is wrong.
In the early stages of walking, shoes are unnecessary. In fact it is desirable to allow baby to walk barefoot and thus strengthen the muscles in the feet. Obviously make sure there is nothing on the floor which could injure the feet and ensure the area is clean to minimise the risk of infection. Once your baby is ready to walk outside, the protection of shoes becomes necessary. Buy a good quality shoe, with the uppers at least, being of leather.
Make sure socks fit well too. As said before, too tight will be restrictive, and too loose could ruck and also cause problems. Always allow a sensible amount of room in footwear for future growth.
The Foot Health Council publish a booklet called
The Children’s Foot Health Register
which lists all the shoe shops throughout the country who conform to high standards. You can find this link
Or ask your Chiropodist. This includes a staff of properly trained shoefitters who will be able to advise on suitable styles as well as size and fitting.
Children’s feet are very flexible and not too sensitive so they often do not complain of areas of pressure or friction. It is therefore important to check their feet regularly (bath time is often best). Because foot growth occurs in spurts you should have the feet checked for size and fitting every 6-8 weeks in the early years (and do not forget the socks too!) A good shoe shop will not mind you presenting a child for measurement checks.
They will not expect you to buy shoes every time, but be considerate and shop at off-peak times when the staff can spend more time with you. Never rush the process of purchasing shoes.
Common Problems and Anxieties
Parents are often concerned because their baby appears to be walking flat-footed. In the early stages of development this is quite normal and gives them a more stable base until the legs and feet have gained strength.
If the flat-footedness appears to persist in a young child and is apparently causing problems, consult your Chiropodist who will be able to advise whether appropriate exercises or corrective insoles might be needed.
Toeing in and toeing out can sometimes cause problems. If your child seems to trip over rather more than normally, then observe them walking and see if they appear to be toeing in. If they do so, it is a relatively simple matter to correct this either by exercises, a corrective insole or a simple modification to the shoe.
Sometimes these difficulties lie in a variation in hip development and referral to a Paediatrician or Orthopaedic Consultant may be indicated. Your Chiropodist will be able to offer appropriate advice.
Leather shoes take on the shape of the foot, so you should never hand them down to another child for whom that shape may be quite unsuitable and may even cause harm.
Footcare for the Elderly, Diabetic and those with Poor Circulation
poor circulation that usually accompanies age. Infection of the feet in diabetic conditions can be most serious.
Intelligent care of your feet may add years to your life. Take heed of your Chiropodist’s advice and do not
attempt home treatments. Consult your Chiropodist for the care of corns, callouses, ingrown nails and other
If you suffer from diabetes the two key areas your doctor will check are your feet and your eyes. Both need professional care – and many diabetics are unaware of the issues surrounding their foot health.
Diabetes is a very serious metabolic disorder where the body no longer produces insulin or can no longer make use of any insulin that is produced. Once thought of as a mostly age related health problem, modern lifestyles and diet threaten to make diabetes a worry for us all. Diabetes is a permanent condition and is irreversible. (See our
FAQs page for more information on diabetes).
One of the symptoms of diabetes is Peripheral Neuropathy – which means that you can lose the feeling in your feet. The problem is that, if you have a loss of feeling there is a danger that you may damage the flesh surrounding your nails, whilst you are trimming and cutting them. Because of the loss of sensation it’s easy for a nick or small cut to become infected and because of the impaired circulation; the white blood cells don’t reach the wound. This means that any infection can have serious outcomes.