Do you grin and bear foot pain day after day? Many people think foot pain is normal, but that’s a myth. If your feet hurt, don’t put up with the pain—take action.

Many foot problems are related to “overuse syndromes.” When we consider that it takes about 1,000 foot strikes to walk a mile, it’s easy to appreciate how the smallest foot irritation can escalate and cause trouble. Foot pain often builds up gradually and stubbornly persists unless the cause is addressed.

Here are some helpful tips for keeping your feet happy and comfortable:

  • Prevention is the first step. Ill-fitting shoes can aggravate foot problems, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes that fit well. If a shoe feels uncomfortable when you first try it on, it will likely bother you more as you continue to wear it.
  • Hard, thickened skin at the bottom of your feet (calluses) is a sign of excessive pressure caused by the way you walk. Consult a foot specialist to help you address the problem.
  • Corns are small spots of hard skin, especially on the tops or sides of your toes, that can become very painful. Ill-fitting shoes make corns worse by pressing on them. A foot specialist can painlessly treat these corns. Padding may provide temporary relief.
  • Flexibility exercises keep your feet supple. Try doing some circles with your ankles and moving your feet up and down. Going up and down on your toes is a good exercise to promote flexibility of the big toe joints.
  • Stretching exercises are also helpful, especially for your calf muscles. Stand with one foot forward and one foot back, and then bend the forward knee. Do this gently until you feel your calf muscles stretching. If there is any soreness, don’t push too hard!
  • Pay attention to your shoes. If the soles are starting to wear out or the uppers are worn, it’s time to replace them.
  • Switching from one pair of shoes to another at the end of the day will allow your shoes to air out. It’s also a good idea to wear a different pair from one day to the next.

Certain foot problems, however, may be “biomechanical” in nature, meaning that an imbalance in your bone structure may cause your feet to function less than optimally. For example, many people have “pronated” feet. They may have a good arch when they’re sitting, but with standing up, the feet flatten. This can cause calluses, inflammation, tendonitis, and other maladies that require treatment. Orthotics can help to correct the abnormal foot mechanics. Arch supports (i.e. imitation orthotics) are available online and in some stores. Proper prescription orthotics, however, require a cast or 3D laser scan to be performed by a foot specialist, along with a biomechanical examination, so that a laboratory can make the devices precisely in accordance with your individual foot structure. For structurally challenged feet, orthotics are often the key to increased comfort and better foot function.

Foot discomfort is an indication that something is amiss. See a foot specialist for a podiatric medical examination and treatment. With a little care and attention to your feet on a regular basis, many foot problems can be prevented or remedied.

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