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5 Bad Habits That Lead to Foot Health Problems

From ingrown toenails to corns, foot ailments are very common in this country. While some foot problems, like bunions, have a genetic component, many are caused or at least made worse by bad foot care habits. Have you fallen into any of the following bad habits that may lead to poor foot health?


1. Wearing Ill-Fitted Shoes

Thousands of shoe styles exist out there, and people often put fashion over fit when choosing shoes. If you order your shoes online, you may have multiple pairs that looked great on the screen, but don't feel so great on your feet. Wearing ill-fitted shoes can have much larger, longer-lasting consequences than a little foot soreness at the end of the day. 

Shoes that put too much pressure on the tops of your toes may lead to ingrown toenails. A pair that has no heel support could lead to Achilles tendon pain. Shoes that are too loose could lead to abrasions and corns. 

Toss out those shoes that don't fit, and make an effort to try shoes on, in person, before purchasing them. A pair of shoes that fits should meet these specifications:

  • Enough space to wiggle your toes
  • A slight heel gradient
  • Cushioning in the sole
  • A firm midsole with support in the arch

If you do order shoes online, make sure the company offers a good return policy so you can return shoes that don't fit.


2. Spending All Day in Heels

Even heels that technically fit well are terrible for your overall foot health. Heels force the ball of the foot to support more weight than it should, and heels can cause a shortening of the Achilles tendon over time. In the short-term, heels may cause calluses and sprained ankles, and they can also worsen bunions and hammertoes. 

If you're used to wearing heels, try to wear progressively lower and lower heels to allow your body time to adapt. Eventually, your goal should be to wear stylish flats in most formal settings. If you must wear heels, platform heels are a healthier choice than stilettos or pumps because they distribute your weight over a larger portion of the foot.


3. Cutting Your Own Calluses

When you develop calluses on your toes or heels, you may be tempted to file them away or clip them with your toenail clippers. However, doing so can put you at risk for infection — especially if you suffer from diabetes or poor circulation in your feet. A safer way to address calluses is to soak your feet in Epsom salt water, and then rub them gently with a pumice stone. See your podiatrist for treatment of larger corns and calluses. 


4. Leaving Sweaty Socks On

If you get back from the gym or a run and your socks are sweaty and wet, you should change out of them as soon as possible. Sitting around in sweaty, wet socks for any longer than necessary puts you at risk for athlete's foot and other fungal infections as well as bacterial infections like staph. 

Remove sweaty socks promptly, wash your feet, and let them dry before putting on new socks. Wash your sweaty socks in bleach and hot water to kill any fungi and bacteria on them.


5. Failing to Trim Your Toenails Properly

Since you probably don't spend a lot of time looking at your toes, trimming your toenails is a task easily forgotten. However, if you let your toenails grow too long before trimming them, you increase your risk of ingrown toenails. If you can feel your toenails rubbing on your shoes, you've waited too long to trim them. Make sure you also follow these tips for a healthy trim:

  • Use large toenail clippers rather than small fingernail clippers.
  • Cut your nails when they are dry, since they are less likely to tear in this state.
  • Cut your toenails straight across.
  • When you're done clipping your toenails, use a file to even them out.

If you can break the habits above, you'll reduce your risk of common foot ailments. Contact Camden County Foot & Ankle Associates if you're dealing with any foot health issues and would like professional treatment.