A physically active lifestyle reduces the risk for and helps in managing chronic diseases; lessens the risk of falls and related injuries; and prevents or lessens physical function limitations, according to recommendations by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Yet, with only a few exceptions, aerobic exercise is done on our feet. Even for healthy people, 30 minutes of physical activity a day, five days a week, is virtually impossible without healthy feet. That’s why foot health is a cornerstone of a healthy life.
So, how do older adults keep their feet healthy? The best way is to take a preventive approach by following the five principles of foot health supplied by IPFH and THOR·LO, in conjunction with ICAA:
Practice proper hygiene. It is important to keep the feet clean by washing and drying them daily, and by making sure that footwear is clean and is changed at least daily.
Perform regular visual inspections of the feet and pay attention to minor issues. Pain is not normal. Don’t let small issues escalate into major issues. If pain occurs and persists for more than a day or two, and if any sores or red spots persist or don’t heal within several days, see a doctor.
Cut and trim nails properly. Toenails should be cut straight across and any sharp edges lightly refined with a clean file or emery board. Serious cases of ingrown toenails should be treated by a physician or podiatrist. People who have trouble reaching their feet should not try to cut or trim toenails themselves, but should get assistance or go to a podiatrist or other foot care specialist. If toenails are bruised or discolored, it can be a sign of disease or trauma to the toe. If discoloration persists, a physician should be consulted.
People with diabetes and diabetic foot complications should take special precautions. These include regular foot examinations by a physician or podiatrist and daily visual self-inspections (especially if neuropathy is present). People with diabetic foot issues should never soak their feet in hot water, should not cut their own toenails (this should be done by a podiatrist or foot care nurse), and should not go barefooted.
Purchase a well-designed integrated footwear solution that includes an engineered padded sock product, an insert or orthotic as needed, and a well-designed pair of shoes, all properly fitted as an integrated system of protection. This integrated system will help ensure the ability to walk, run, work and play in more comfort, with the assurance that feet are well protected.