They Deserve Appreciation And Care, Especially With Diabetes

We take them for granted when they are functioning fine and get us where we need to go.

Upon reflection, though, our feet deserve daily gratitude and a bit of our awe.

Our Amazing Feet

We have 26 strategically placed bones in each foot - supported by a strong network of 19 muscles, 107 ligaments, countless nerves, and nourishing blood vessels - allowing an average person to walk about 115,000 miles in their lifetime. That’s more than four trips around the Earth.

Most of us take 4,000 to 6,000 steps per day, and each time a heel lifts off the ground, the toes carry one half of our body’s weight. During a typical day of walking the forces exerted on our feet may add up to hundreds of tons—the equivalent of a loaded cement truck.

We all need to appreciate and pamper these amazing feats of biological design that afford us the pleasure of walking. However, regular foot appreciation and care are especially vital for those who have diabetes.

Foot Care Reminders

The possible slow progression of peripheral nerve damage, caused by high blood sugar, can dull the protective sensation of pain that normally warns us of foot problems. Small blood vessels may also narrow over time with diabetes, making injury, or infection slow and difficult to heal.

So, even if you’ve never experienced foot-related difficulties, here are some reminders for making sure optimal foot health continues:

  • Keep your feet clean and dry, particularly between the toes. Washing the feet daily in lukewarm water is recommended.
  • Do not use moisturizer between your toes since that’s prime real estate for infection.
  • Wear clean, dry socks.
  • Before putting on your shoes, shake them out to make sure nothing is inside, and check each shoe’s interior for rough edges or tears that might cause injury.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that provide adequate protection, and have plenty of toe room. Low heels and non-slip soles are recommended.
  • Wear shoes or sturdy slippers always; do not go barefoot, even in the house.
  • Trim your toe nails straight across. Do not file or cut off corns, calluses, or bunions. If foot issues occur consult your doctor, or a podiatrist.

Also, if you are able, keep the muscles in your legs and feet strong by taking daily walks, or performing other regular exercise.

Keep On The Lookout

Besides keeping the feet clean, dry, and well shod, it’s important to make foot inspection part of your morning or evening routine. Inform your doctor should you discover any of the following:

  • Peeling, cracking, wrinkly, or itchy skin.
  • Cuts, bruises, sores, blisters, or other injury that does not heal within a few days.
  • Signs of infection: warmth, redness, red streaks, pain, swelling, fluids/pus/blood leaking from under the skin.
  • Alteration in the alignment or shape of the feet or toes.
  • Skin color changes: more pink, pale, red, or dark than usual; or if the skin is black.

If necessary, use a mirror to check each foot's nooks and crannies.

An ounce of daily inspection is worth a pound of cure when it comes to our hardworking feet. Following these basic strategies can prevent an unfelt pebble in the shoe from turning into a painful, possibly debilitating injury.

Sources: Mayo Clinic; Foot Facts
Photo credit: Rob Green

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