As the temperatures rise and the weather begins to heat up, many will stay cool by slipping on a pair of their favorite flip-flops. Whether you are hitting the beach, or simply walking around town, flip-flops are often our selected footwear of choice for those hot, summer months. Unfortunately, wearing flip-flops can lead to painful foot ailments including cuts and abrasions, broken toes, and painful sprains. Flip-flops that are widely purchased today can be extremely unsafe for your feet.
Some flip-flops can be cushioned, which lead people to believe that they are good for your feet, but most offer little to no arch support. Flip-flops can also be very flimsy, which causes them to breakdown quickly. Shoes that do not offer proper arch support can lead to biomechanical abnormalities starting when the heel strikes the ground. This, in turn, can lead to pain felt in the joints of your foot and ankle, as well as in the knees, hips, lower back, shoulders and neck. If you are to wear flip-flops, wear them with caution and in moderation. It is important to assess how long you can wear flip-flops on an individual basis and to be aware of the effects they can have on your body.
Tension for Your Toes
Wearing flip-flops may feel like the next-best thing to going barefoot, but your feet are working a lot harder than you may realize. By wearing flip-flops, you are forcing a change in your walking stride. With each step you take, your toes pull down on the shoe to stabilize the foot against the ground because your foot has to work harder to keep the flip-flop on. Forcing your toes to act in this unnatural manner can cause toe pain and even stubbed toes.
It is estimated by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, that about 15 percent of all adult foot injuries involve plantar fasciitis, which is an awful pain that is caused by the tissue over stretching from your heel through the arch to the toes. By wearing flip-flops, you are increasing your risk of developing heel pain. While many people don’t want to give up flip-flips, it is important to understand that if you are going to the beach, then wear your flip-flops. However, if you are going to the mall or even an amusement park don’t wear them.
Wear the Right Shoes for Your Activity
When choosing footwear for summer, or vacation, it is important to follow these guidelines for healthy feet:
- Shoes should be lightweight and ventilated.
- Have an extra pair of shoes and alternate between them daily so that each pair has a chance to dry out completely.
- Wear socks that are made of an acrylic fiber, not cotton, as acrylic draws moisture away from the feet.
- Change your socks at least once a day.
Flip-flops should not be worn as everyday shoes—they are meant for the beach and the pool, not for everyday walking, as they do not give you any arch support, which makes your feet more prone to injuries. Wearing flip-flops for an occasional stroll may be fine, but you should never overdo it.
If you feel pain in your foot or ankle, visit Family Foot and Ankle Centers in Fairfax, Ashburn, or McLean for further diagnosis and treatment. You can prevent painful foot conditions and injuries by wearing appropriate footwear and avoiding flip-flips.
Skin cancer is common, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Despite these shocking statistics, less than one third of Americans apply sunscreen regularly to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays—and when they do, the feet are often overlooked.
During the spring and summer seasons especially, the feet are exposed to the sun’s damaging rays, putting them at just as great of risk for skin cancer as other frequently exposed parts of the body, such as the face and arms. For this reason, podiatrists warn patients to pay extra attention to their feet during months when feet are exposed to avoid the harmful effects of the sun.
The good news is that skin cancer of the feet is very preventable. For starters, always apply a generous layer of sunscreen to the tops of the feet, on and between the toes, and to the soles of your feet. Reapply every few hours if you are outdoors for an extended period of time. If you are on the beach or at the pool, opt for water shoes rather than flip-flops which offer a sun-blocking mesh cover. And finally, inspect your feet regularly for unusual skin changes or abnormal growths.
Common Warning Signs
Because skin cancer of the feet can easily be mistaken for other, less serious problems, such as a wart, rash or fungal infection, it is important for patients to report any questionable symptoms to their podiatrist. Detecting skin cancer early is the key to optimal treatment.
Podiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat abnormal skin conditions of the feet. If a lesion is determined to be cancerous, Family Foot and Ankle Centers will recommend the best course of treatment for your condition.
Backpacks, paper, pencils and clothes are just a few of the things your youngster may need before the start of a new school year. When shopping for your child during back-to-school season and throughout the year, don’t forget to add proper fitting shoes to your shopping list.
Your child’s feet are rapidly changing and growing. In fact, feet grow so fast when kids are young that parents are often surprised at how often they need to change shoes sizes to accommodate the growth.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, parents should consider a few things when selecting shoes for their little one. Remember these tips the next time you buy a new pair of shoes for your child:
Proper size. Poor-fitting footwear can lead to irritation and other problems, so always measure your child’s feet before buying a new pair of shoes. Because feet are seldom the same size, always buy shoes for your child’s larger foot.
Avoid sharing shoes. Hand-me-down shoes can spread fungi such as nail fungus and athlete’s foot.
Index finger. As a general rule, leave an index finger's width from the top of the big toe to the end of the shoe.
Breathing room. Buy shoes made of natural, breathable fabrics that are soft and pliable like your child’s feet.
Test them out. Always bring your child with you to the store to try on shoes before purchasing a new pair. When testing out shoes, the child should wear the socks that they would normally wear to ensure proper fit. Have your child walk around the store for comfort and fit.
- Examine the shoe itself.Your child’s shoe should have a firm heel counter, adequate cushioning of the insole, good flexibility and a built-in arch.
Feet are an important, but often overlooked, part of the body. Since kids’ feet are soft and pliable, they are subject to abnormal pressures at a young age that can easily cause foot problems and deformity. By promoting healthy footwear choices and consulting your Fairfax podiatrist whenever you suspect your child has a foot problem, you can ensure healthy development of feet.
Like adults, children and adolescents can experience a variety of foot and ankle problems. Many foot problems, such as flat foot are congenital, while other problems including heel pain or ingrown toenails are usually the result of an injury.
Because of a child’s rapidly growing bones and tendons, however, many confusing symptoms associated with their foot and ankle problems go unnoticed. For this reason, it is important that parents pay attention to subtle symptoms. A thorough examination of your child's feet by a Fairfax podiatrist periodically may detect an underlying defect or condition and help minimize problems later in life.
Common Foot Problems
Children can experience a variety of foot problems, many of which go away as the child’s feet become more developed, such as pigeon toes, flat feet and knock knees. In most cases these congenital foot and leg problems do not require any medical intervention. Other common issues that may warrant a visit to the podiatrist include:
Plantar warts are common in children, especially during warm months when kids are more likely to walk barefoot. Forming on the bottom of the feet, these warts are caused by a virus that enters the skin, most often in public areas such as pools or locker rooms. The condition can be very uncomfortable — like walking on a small pebble or stone—but also highly preventable and treatable.
Ankle sprains are very common foot injuries for active kids, especially those who participate in sports. Sprains occur when the ligaments supporting the ankle are stretched or torn. Mild ankle sprains heal with little treatment, while severe tearing may require more extensive care including extended immobilization followed by physical therapy. As a general rule, rest, ice, compress and elevate the child’s ankle immediately following the injury.
Ingrown toenails occur when one or both sides of the nail begin to break through and grow into the soft skin of the toe. This can lead to painful irritation and infection. Common causes of ingrown toenails include poor fitting footwear, toe injuries or poor nail trimming. Caught early, a child’s ingrown can be treated at home, but if pain persists or the condition worsens, treatment by a podiatrist is necessary to eliminate the infection.
Choose Proper Footwear
Many pre-existing foot conditions can be relieved and new problems prevented by simply ensuring your child is wearing proper shoes. Shoes that are too tight can cause blisters, calluses and corns on the toes and heels. Ingrown toenails can also develop and become infected. A child’s feet are constantly growing and developing, so it may be necessary to change shoe size every few months. Additionally, with time shoes have a tendency to lose proper cushioning and arch support. Footwear that shows a lack of shock absorption or wear and tear should also be replaced to reduce the risk for injuries.
If you notice your child limping, constantly rubbing their feet, tripping frequently or consistently complaining of foot pain, then have them examined by your Fairfax podiatrist or physician. Many problems can be easily identified and treated, and early intervention is the key.
The feet are perhaps one of the most overlooked parts of the body. But did you know that they are also some of your most important?
Don’t wait until something is wrong to give your feet extra attention. Keeping your feet feeling healthy and looking beautiful is easy. Here’s how:
- Inspect your feet regularly, being mindful of any changes in appearance, color and texture.
- Maintain good foot hygiene by washing and drying feet regularly.
- Choose proper shoes, and always wear the correct size.
- Keep feet dry to prevent bacterial infections by wearing moisture-wicking socks.
- Alternate shoes each day.
- Trim toenails straight across and gently file away sharp corners to prevent an ingrown.
- Avoid walking barefoot to prevent injury.
- When wearing sandals, remember to apply sunblock.
- If your feet hurt, don’t ignore the pain! Consult a Fairfax podiatrist if symptoms worsen or do not resolve.
If you have diabetes, you should pay extra attention to your feet as you are at a higher risk for developing foot problems due to nerve damage and poor circulation. Mild foot problems, such as ulcers, corns, cracked heels and ingrown toenails can turn into serious complications without proper care. Since even the smallest cut can have serious consequences, it is important that people with diabetes inspect their feet every day and visit their Fairfax podiatrist for routine exams.
When to Consult Family Foot and Ankle Centers
If you are experiencing foot pain, don’t ignore it! Consult your podiatrist. Pain, redness, swelling or discoloration are not normal symptoms and should be examined by a trained foot specialist.
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