8 New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make for Your Feet

Happy New Year! If you’re like most adults in America, you’ve probably made some resolutions to better yourself in some way. If taking good care of your health is at the top of your list, why not work from the bottom up? Feet are all too often forgotten until a problem arises. This year, resolve to show those feet how much you appreciate all they do with these 8 tips:

Exercise, But Start Slowly

We know you’re probably ready to put your new exercise regimen into play, but you’ll definitely want to start slowly, especially if you’re not normally an active person. Exercise can really take its toll on the feet, and you’re much more prone to injury if you start off too quickly. Gradually build on your routine – even small 15-20 minutes of walking work! Remember to stretch your feet and warm up before working out (and cool down after the fact, too).

Eat Well for Your Feet, Too

What you eat affects your entire body – including your hardworking feet. Reward their efforts by choosing healthy, whole foods to promote circulation and strength. Avoid sugary foods or anything laden in artificial ingredients; they cause inflammation in the body, which can cause pain. This is especially important if you suffer from gout or diabetes.

Commit to Wearing Supportive Shoes More Often

Many times podiatric issues stem from wearing the wrong shoes. This year, promise your feet that you will spend less time in flip-flops and heels and more time in comfortable, supportive shoes. Choose shoes that fit correctly, provide plenty of arch support, and have a wide and comfortable toe box. Life’s too short for cramped toes!

Treat Yourself to New Shoes

We are officially giving you permission to buy new shoes (as long as they are form-fitting and supportive, of course!). You should replace your shoes every 300-500 miles of walking, which is around every 6 months. Discard shoes that are worn out, and donate gently-used shoes you no longer use. Consider buying a few pairs so you can alternate between them and lengthen the time before you need to go shoe shopping again.

Do More Stretching

Want to keep your feet flexible and limber while preventing injuries and painful conditions? Work some stretching into your day! Stretch your feet and toes regularly to keep your muscles and ligaments strong. Remember, if it hurts, stop – you don’t want to overextend and strain your muscles!

Start a Daily Foot Care Regimen

Let’s face it – your hardworking feet deserve the best every day. Treat them well with a daily foot care routine. Wash and thoroughly dry your feet each day and inspect them for anything unusual (especially if you have diabetes). Apply moisturizer to the bottoms of your feet to keep them soft and supple as well. Trust us, your feet will thank you!

Don’t Ignore Foot Pain

Do your feet seem to hurt and ache on a regular basis? If so, it might be time to call your podiatrist. Ignoring foot pain and putting off treatment can worsen any potential problem you may have. Call your podiatrist to help relieve the pain you’re experiencing!

Visit Your Podiatrist Regularly

Visiting your podiatrist regularly can help you keep your feet in top shape. This is especially important for those who have a foot condition, suffer from diabetes, or have any other condition that can affect the feet and ankles. Start the new year on the right foot by scheduling your appointment with the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment with us online!

15 Crucial Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy

Our feet are easily the body parts that we most take for granted. We wouldn’t be ambulatory without them, but we never seem to pay attention to them until a problem arises. Fortunately, following a few steps to look after your feet will not only help prevent podiatric problems, but it can also help you stay active and healthy, benefiting all aspects of health. Here are 15 essential tips to help keep your feet healthy and happy:

Don’t Ignore Foot Pain

Do your feet hurt on a regular basis? If you experience discomfort nearly every day, you might not be wearing the right shoes. In any case, pain is never normal. If it persists, you’ll want to check in with your podiatrist to find out what the problem is.

Inspect Your Feet Often

Keep an eye out for any unusual changes in your feet like corns, calluses, blisters, swelling, redness, abrasions, and discolored nails. Checking your feet often can help you catch problems early, which can prevent them from becoming more serious later!

Take Greater Care if You Have Diabetes

If you suffer from diabetes, you’ll want to keep a sharper eye on your feet. The disease can lead to a higher risk of podiatric infections and sores, so you’ll want to check your feet daily for anything unusual. Manage your blood sugar levels, and remember to schedule a checkup with your podiatrist at least once a year!

Wash Your Feet Regularly

It sounds obvious, right? You’d be surprised how many people skip washing their feet every day, however! To ward off bacteria, fungi, and other painful health issues, you need to wash your feet – including in between your toes – with a mild soap. Remember to dry your feet completely once you’re done to keep fungal infections at bay!

Trim Toenails Straight Across

We know you want to round your nails when you trim them, but doing so can cause painful ingrown toenails to develop. Instead, carefully cut your nails straight across, but not too short. This will also help you avoid any fungi or bacteria from forming under the nails.

Wear Shoes That Fit Well

Did you know that wearing the right shoes is one of the easiest ways you can take good care of your feet? Choose shoes that aren’t too loose or tight, offer ample arch support, and provide the toes with enough wiggle room in the toe box. Shop for shoes in the evening when your feet are at their largest; this will ensure that your shoes will always fit and feel comfortable!

Match Your Shoes With Your Activity

You wouldn’t wear flat-soled canvas shoes to go running, would you? If you do, you shouldn’t. To protect your feet and avoid injury, pair the right shoes for the activity you’re engaging in. Basketball shoes are for basketball, not running. Hiking shoes are perfect for hitting the trails, but not so much for shagging balls in the outfield.

Alternate and Inspect Shoes Regularly

Nothing wears shoes out faster than wearing them all day, every day. Alternate which shoes you wear to promote their longevity. While you’re at it, look them over for any signs of wear and tear. Remember, running shoes should be replaced every 300 miles (about twice a year)!

Refrain from Walking Barefoot

We know that walking on plush carpet can feel luxurious on your feet, but you run the risk of getting injuries like stubbed toes. Know what prevents injuries and makes you feel like royalty at the same time? Fuzzy slippers. The same idea applies when you’re at the beach, except you’ll want to wear sandals to protect your feet.

Don’t Perform Bathroom Surgery on Your Feet

You know what we’re talking about – shaving calluses, trimming corns, and trying to get rid of ingrown toenails yourself. More often than not, DIY solutions turn minor problems into bigger ones. Do yourself a favor – book an appointment with your podiatrist.

Avoid Sharing Shoes and Other Footgear

Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to your feet. Doing so is like sending an invitation to plantar warts, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and others to join the party. Wear your own shoes and use your own pedicure tools to keep your feet healthy.

Don’t Hide Discolored Nails with Polish

If you have a discolored or cracked nail, you might be dealing with a fungus. Instead of using polish to cover up the problem, book an appointment with your podiatrist right away.

Keep Your Feet Dry

Warm, dry feet are happy feet, so remember to change your socks frequently and totally dry your feet off after a shower or bath. Wearing moisture-wicking socks can help keep feet dry as well. Remember to change out of wet shoes and socks as soon as you can, too!

Protect Your Feet in Public Places

Heading to the gym or swimming pool? Take shower shoes or flip-flops with you to wear as well. Warm, moist, communal areas are breeding grounds for athlete’s foot and other fungi. If you want to avoid getting any infections, don’t walk around those places barefoot.

Treat Your Feet Kindly

Your feet deserve love. Treat them well by maintaining a good exercise regimen, using a moisturizing cream on them (except in between the toes), rolling a tennis ball under them regularly, giving them a massage, and bathing them gently. Your feet will thank you tenfold if you do!

Foot health is essential if you want to continue feeling well and staying active. While you can certainly prevent many issues from arising by following a few easy steps at home, you should rely on the experts at The Foot & Ankle Center to keep your feet in top shape. We can easily diagnose and treat any podiatric problem you may experience! To make an appointment, please call us at (314) 487-9300!

Got Foot Cramps? Here’s How You Can Treat (and Prevent) Them

If you’ve ever had a foot or calf cramp, then you’re probably familiar with the sudden and severe pain it can bring. Worse yet, cramps can strike at almost any time of the day or night – even when you’re fast asleep. If you or someone you care about regularly suffers from foot cramps, read on to find out how you can treat them and prevent them from reappearing!

What Are Foot Cramps?

Also known as charley horses, foot cramps are a common ailment that happens when one or more muscles involuntarily contract and can’t relax. While they’re usually harmless, they can be quite painful. Anyone can experience foot or calf cramps at any age, but they seem to be more common among older patients.

What Causes Foot Cramps?

While the specific cause of cramps is unknown, there are many factors that may contribute to foot or calf cramping. Among them include the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Medication side effects
  • Overuse of the muscle(s)
  • Poor circulation
  • Poor nutrition
  • Wearing shoes that aren’t supportive

How Can You Prevent Foot Cramps?

Foot cramps are uncomfortable, to say the least, but they’re usually pretty simple to prevent. Here are a few key ways you can help prevent foot cramps:

  • Stay hydrated: Make water your beverage of choice every day. Your muscles, just like the rest of your body, need plenty of water to function properly. Additionally, cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and sugary beverages, which can contribute to dehydration.

  • Stretch often: Daily stretching can help you remain limber and strong. Always take 5-10 minutes to warm up and cool down before and after your workouts. Calmer workouts like yoga or tai chi can also help!

  • Wear properly fitting shoes: Yes, your shoe choice can also matter! When you wear unsupportive shoes, you can wind up straining your feet and overworking your tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Choose practical footwear with ample arch support and plenty of room in the toe box.

  • Eat a balanced diet:Did you know that the culprit of many foot cramps is the lack of certain nutrients in your body? To avoid cramps, you’ll want to ensure you get plenty of potassium and calcium every day. Excellent sources of calcium include broccoli, dairy products, kale, and of course, milk. Get plenty of potassium by eating avocados, leafy greens, bananas, and yogurt!

  • Ask your doctor about potential medication side effects: If you’re starting a new medication, always ask your health care provider about potential side effects, especially if you’re prone to painful cramps.

What Should You Do if a Cramp Occurs?

Sometimes, foot or calf cramps can occur despite your best efforts. If this happens, do the following:

  • Stand and put weight on the cramping foot if possible, or try walking around the room. This might be all you need to do to stop the cramp.

  • If you’re unable to stand, try flexing your foot and pulling your toes toward you to stretch the muscles in your feet. Gently massage the area to help your muscles relax.

  • Use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm washcloth on the affected area to promote relaxation and blood circulation. Soaking in warm water with Epsom salts can also help.

  • If you’re still experiencing lingering pain or discomfort, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Should I Visit My Podiatrist for Foot Cramps?

Foot cramps normally are harmless and don’t warrant a visit to your foot doctor. However, you should make an appointment if you experience muscle weakness, redness or swelling, cramps that aren’t improved through self-care, or severe pain that won’t go away. These symptoms may point to a deeper underlying condition that a podiatrist can treat.

Trust the Experts at The Foot & Ankle Center If you’re concerned about cramping in your toes, feet, or calves, schedule an appointment with the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! We will thoroughly examine your feet, give you an accurate diagnosis, and provide you with a treatment plan to alleviate the pain you’re experiencing. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule your appointment or request a time with us online!

What Are Bone Spurs and How Are They Treated?

What’s a common ailment that many people don’t even realize they have? Two words: bone spurs. In fact, around 40% of the US population has a bone spur without even knowing it! Let’s talk about these bony growths, how they form, who gets them, and how they’re treated.

What Are Bone Spurs?

Also known as osteophytes, bone spurs are a smooth overgrowth of bone that gradually form near joints. You can find them just about anywhere, but they’re most commonly found on the spine, heels, knees, hips, and shoulders. When they form in the feet, they’re generally found in the heel, on the toes, or on the top of the foot. We will be focusing on the bone spurs commonly found in your feet in this blog!

What Causes Bone Spurs?

The short answer is time, along with wear and tear in the feet. They can also form due to arthritis, chronic tension on the plantar fascia, or too much pressure on a particular area of the foot. When cartilage breaks down, your body will try to compensate by creating extra bone in an effort to repair itself, which can often lead to bone spurs.

What Are the Symptoms of Bone Spurs?

Even though bone spurs sound awfully painful, the spur itself doesn’t cause pain. If you do experience pain, however, it’s because the spur is coming into contact with tendons, muscles, nerves, and other tissue. Here are the general symptoms of bone spurs:

  • Pain or discomfort when walking, standing, or performing weight-bearing activities. Many people describe it as having a perpetual pebble in their shoes!
  • Redness and/or swelling at the affected area.
  • A visible deformity or lump in the affected area.
  • Stiffness or limited mobility in the affected joints.

So, Who’s Prone to Getting Bone Spurs?

You’re more likely to experience bone spurs as you age. It’s also a hereditary issue, so if you have family members with bone spurs, that may increase your risk as well.

Others who are more prone to getting bone spurs include:

  • Those with certain podiatric conditions including plantar fasciitis, arthritis, Achilles tendinitis, and flat feet.
  • Those who regularly wear tight, ill-fitting shoes with little support, especially heels.
  • Those who are overweight or obese.
  • Those who regularly partake in weight-bearing activities that put stress on the feet.

How Can I Prevent Getting Bone Spurs?

The faster you adhere to healthier lifestyle habits, the less likely you’ll encounter bone spurs in the future. You can help protect your feet by maintaining a healthy weight and wearing shoes that fit well and provide ample support.

How Are Bone Spurs Treated?

Bone spurs can keep growing, which is why it’s important to get them treated as soon as you can. Fortunately, there are many conservative treatment options available to help relieve the pain and discomfort you may be experiencing! These include the following:

  • Wearing orthotic inserts to provide greater arch support.
  • Physical therapy, which includes targeted stretching exercises.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Cortisone injections to address pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
  • Resting and icing the affected area, especially after performing weight-bearing activities.
  • Wearing a walking boot to alleviate pressure on the foot.

When Should I See My Podiatrist for Bone Spurs?

Call your podiatrist if you’re experiencing prolonged pain, if you notice a bump that has grown larger over time and is red or swollen in appearance, if the bump interferes with your daily life, or if you notice any numbness or burning in your foot. We will perform a physical exam on your foot and may also take an x-ray to determine if you are truly suffering from a bone spur.

Count on The Foot & Ankle Center for Help If you’re experiencing pain and suspect a bone spur, don’t wait. Call the knowledgeable, friendly doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! We will examine your foot, draw up an appropriate treatment plan, and help you get back on your feet in no time. Schedule your appointment with us by calling (314) 487-9300 or request a time with us here!

10 Essential Tips for Preventing Common Running Injuries

What isn’t there to love about running? It’s great for your health, helps release stress-fighting endorphins, and it’s free. Like any other form of exercise, however, running can pose some risks to runners, and many common injuries can bring any athlete to their knees. Here’s the great news: just about all of these injuries are preventable! Whether you’re a newbie in the running world or have been hitting the pavement for years, follow these 10 handy tips to keep your feet strong, healthy, and injury-free:

Start Slowly

You might be eager to start your new running regimen or crank up the intensity of your current exercise routine, but you should start slowly! Doing too much too quickly increases your risk for injury, especially if you try to increase your mileage or run time too quickly. Your body needs time to adjust, even if you’re a trained runner! Take it easy at first to avoid injuries like stress fractures and Achilles tendinitis. Try increasing your output weekly or whenever your body feels comfortable doing so.

Check Your Feet Often

Your feet are workhorses that undergo a great deal of stress when you run. It’s essential that you take extra care of them if you’re a runner! Do regular self-checks, pay attention to any pain you may feel and respond to it immediately, and call your friendly podiatrist if anything seems out of the norm.

Choose the Right Shoes

A good running shoe is key in helping prevent running injuries! Select a properly-fitting running shoe that cushions your feet. Remember, you’ll want to wear actual running shoes while you’re exercising since they are specifically designed for that forward-motion type of activity. Your podiatrist can always give you handy insights if you aren’t sure where to begin!

Your Socks Matter, Too

Yes, your choice of socks can also help keep your feet safe and free from injury! We suggest wearing a poly-cotton blend type of sock that is comfortable, water-resistant, and lightweight. Fit your shoes with the socks you plan on wearing when exercising to ensure that your feet feel secure and protected!

Stretch Before and After Running

We know you’re chomping at the bit to get out there and hit the streets. Before you do, though, you really need to stretch and warm up to increase your blood flow and prepare your muscles for the workout. Spend 5-10 minutes doing hamstring stretches, knee clasps, and other helpful stretches. When you’re finished running, you’ll also want to cool down with a 10-minute stretching session. Trust us, your Achilles tendons will thank you!

Choose Easier Exercises After Hard Workouts

You deserve rest, especially after a grueling workout, but that doesn’t mean we’re giving you permission to be a complete couch potato! Active rest – that is, engaging in easy exercise – is always better for you than complete inactivity, especially since it helps your body heal more quickly. Choose gentler exercises like cycling, swimming, or easy walking the day after a tough workout!

Think About Adding Strength Training

We know what you’re thinking – you just want to focus on running, not bulking up your upper body! Cross training with weights, however, can really help you out in the long haul, and that includes reducing running injuries! Give the cardio a break and shoot to do about 20 minutes of strength training 2-3 times a week. Doing so will strengthen your core and your connective tissues, turning you into a real running machine!

Make Post-Workout Healing a Priority

Experiencing muscle pain after your running sessions? You’re not alone – it’s pretty common! After all, your body’s muscles are continuously repairing themselves after you exercise. Help them along by resting and elevating your feet and adding compression and ice if needed. You may also wish to submerge your lower half in an ice bath following your workout to help speed up the healing process!

Consider Orthotics

Your feet need the best support possible, and their biggest cheerleaders (besides your friends at The Foot & Ankle Center, of course!) are orthotics. These handy devices are designed to support your foot structure based on your foot type and gait pattern. Your podiatrist can help you find the right ones for you or may suggest prescription orthotics to optimize your workouts!

Visit Your Podiatrist

If you like to run frequently, you should also make it a point to visit your podiatrist on the regular. Podiatrists can assess your feet, answer any questions you may have, recommend the proper footwear, and even evaluate your feet for possible issues you may not even be aware of. When you do make an appointment, bring your running shoes along for your podiatrist to assess as well!

Looking for a knowledgeable podiatrist near you? The Foot & Ankle Center is proud to serve you with 6 locations in the Greater St. Louis region! Our experienced doctors are ready to assist you with any podiatric concern you may have. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule your appointment with us or request an appointment online!