When the weather gets hot, the shoes come off. Walking around in flip-flops, sandals or even barefoot can feel great, but it can also hurt the skin on your feet.
As we get ready for the summer , prepare to bare your soles with our SOS guide to putting your best foot forward.
High heels force the weight of the body onto the ball of the foot, which can cause a build up of callus and bunions and an increased incidence of corns under the metatarsal. ‘Posture is affected as the body is thrown forward and the spine can become mis-aligned which can lead to a painful back, hip and knees. Repeated high heel wearers are also prone to shortening of the Achilles tendon making walking on flat surfaces without heels painful.
Top tip: Heels are fine if worn in moderation, but it should be remembered that pain is an indicator that something is wrong! Vary the style of shoe from day to day (platforms or wedges are better than stilettos despite the height of the heel). Gel insoles are also good for reducing pressure on the ball of the foot.
Flat shoes can pose as many risks as high heels. Wearing completely flat pumps puts the feet at risk from pain as there is no shock absorbency and little support. Another problem can be corms and calluses as pumps are often worn a size too small in order to keep them on the foot. Flip-flops don’t fare much better either. Research has shown that flip-flop wearers take shorter steps resulting in a higher risk of joint and muscle pain. Added to this, wearing flat shoes can stretch the calf muscles and Achilles tendon especially if used to wearing heels.
Lumps and bumps
Calluses: A callus is an area of toughened skin developed in response to repeated contact or pressure and is one of the most common foot problems. Generally pain-free (although they can produce a burning sensation), they can lead to more serious problems such as underlying tissue damage if left unchecked. Prevention is the best cure and wearing shoes that fit properly is the first port of call.
Corns: A corn is essentially the same thing as a callous only it is a more localized thickening of the skin which appears as a cone-shaped mass and is most commonly found on the toes. Seeking professional assessment from The Podiatrist is highly recommended.
Cracked Heels: More of a cosmetic problem than a serious concern, cracked heels often affect people who have naturally dry skin and is exacerbated by lifestyle factors such as standing for long periods of time.
Bunions: Tight fitting shoes are thought to be the cause of bunions in about 90 per cent of patients although they can be inherited. Most people experience them as a bump on the base of the big toe but as they develop the big toe begins to angle in towards the other toes. The solution? Be careful with shoe styles if you know that you are developing one but once developed surgery to realign the metatarsal is usually required.
Ingrowing Toenails: This is a painful condition that occurs when the nail starts to press into the fleshy art of the adjacent skin. It can easily become infected and needs professional podiatry treatment. Badly cut toenails and ill-fitting shoes are the most common causes.
See The Podiatrist for any foot care problems or advice.
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