by Erica Thorneburg LMBT 00183
Summer is a great time for enjoying the outdoors and increasing our physical activity. Alas, higher activity levels also mean more exposure to the elements. During this time of year I witness a lot of foot problems that are specific to the season. I am not a foot specialist, podiatrist, or a doctor; however, I have seen my fair share of injuries and various maladies of the feet. When it comes to foot injuries, people are pretty clear they need some help from a foot specialist. But what of feet that are not injured but clearly have some problems? More importantly…what keeps us from thinking about it…unless they hurt, do we really think about our feet?
Barefooted Fun and Your Feet
For instance, did you know that walking on the beach barefooted (especially if you have recently cut your toenails or have any open wounds on your feet) exposes you to nail fungus? Imagine all the bacteria living in the warm, moist, sand! Although fungal nail infections are not a serious health issue, if left untreated, some complications can occur. Am I saying never walk barefoot on the beach? No way!! What you could do is inspect your feet, especially nails, before going barefoot on the beach. You might choose to wear shoes if you find you have an ingrown toenail or a cut. If you do take a barefoot stroll seaside, afterwards, be sure to clean your feet with warm soapy water taking extra care to clean under your toe nails and dry your feet thoroughly.
Flip Flops and Your Feet
Another common foot problem that comes with summer fun is wearing flip flops. They can aggravate your arches, cause cramping of your toes and create blisters. Reason being, they not only “flip-flop,” but they can “slip-slide.” This action creates a hostile environment for the feet, while also creating instability issues for the rest of the body (primarily knees, ankles, hips, lower back). Yes, you heard me correctly! Your favorite flip flops could be directly linked to that aching hip or low back issue. Again, am I saying stop wearing flip-flops? No, but you should limit their wear. Save the flops for your “strolls” along the boardwalk, not walks through the mall or the grocery store.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If your feet do not hurt, think about keeping them that way! Take a few moments every day to inspect your feet before and after going outdoors, keep them nice and clean, and be mindful of how the condition of your feet affects your entire body. Love your feet and they will love you back!
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Erica Thorneburg has been a massage therapist (specializing in neuromuscular therapy) for over 18 years and provided more than 25,000 hours of massage thus far.