No matter if you work in the trades, have a job where you are always on your feet, or just out having a good time with your family; issues with your feet can turn a great day into one of pure misery. Whether it is athlete’s foot, blisters, hot foot, or any other issue it pays to remember that “if you take care of your feet, they will take care of you.”
Just like mold, athlete’s foot is just another type of fungi and requires a warm, dark, and humid environment. While we can’t do anything about the first two ingredients we can deal with the moisture issue.
- Always carry a pair of spare socks in case your feet do get wet, or are excessively sweaty. If you are out logging all day or working in an environment where your feet will get wet it might not be possible to change your socks, but before you jump in your truck to call it a day, quickly dry your feet & slip on some dry socks & maybe different shoes
- For those in the military, firefighters, etc… that pull long shifts remember to always change your socks at least once a day with a fresh pair.
- Nothing beats washing your feet often with soap & water and drying them well afterwards by paying special attention to the area between the toes.
- Consider changing your socks twice a day if you constantly have issues, etc….
- Choose shoes that allow for air circulation (leather, canvas) instead of ones made of vinyl or other materials that trap the moisture in. With today’s advancements, one can find shoes that are waterproof, but still allow for moisture to escape.
- Preferably one would wear “high-tech” or wool socks which allow moisture to wick away from the feet instead of cotton where it just holds onto it.
- Talcum & other anti-fungal foot powders can be applied to the feet or put in the shoes to absorb moisture & help prevent the issues.
- Avoid walking barefoot in damp places, especially around public pools, spas and showers. I would also recommend one always wear socks or sandals when walking around, so that you don’t spread or pickup said fungi.
There are two versions & knowing the difference is very important; the first is related to the issue above & can only be cured by treating the issue & following the advice above. The second more common one is actually caused by pressure & is mainly an issue for those always on their feet, cyclists, & runners. In this case it is an issue with your feet swelling & pressures being applied not only from that but where your feet impact the ground or you apply pressure to the pedals.
In some cases this can be hard to diagnose as it may only show up in certain circumstances lending one to think that maybe they are developing athlete’s foot. One common example is for those in the military, sure they can run through the forest & march through the desert sands & never have an issue, but make them march on a hard surface like a road & watch out.
- For cyclists – adjust straps (see below), consider changing pedals to a larger one, and look at sliding your cleats back some
- All – Use thinner socks & consider using metatarsal buttons
- All – adjust your laces or straps, the area by your ankle helps keep your foot from moving around and should remain tight, but down by your toes, that can be loosened up
- All – buy newer shoes or boots that have a little more room in the toe area or are slightly wider
- All – consider custom orthotics specific to your needs (i.e. running versus cycling places pressures in different places)
Blisters & Calluses:
Blisters & calluses are generally caused by ill-fitting shoes and friction. The best advice is to select shoes that properly fit your feet and if needed use inserts or insoles to reduce pressure points & rubbing. When buying shoes make sure you still leave some room at the end of your shoe (½”) to prevent cramping your feet & to prevent the dreaded color commentary mentioned above. The shoes should also be breathable & be wary of any seams inside the shoe or socks that might irritate your feet.
- Just like your shoes, your socks should also fit nicely & for those that wear heels make sure you wear some pantyhose
- Talcum powder can not only help reduce moisture but the friction between your feet / socks / shoes
- Choose wicking socks just like you do to prevent athlete’s foot – if they are worn out make sure you toss them
- The double sock system… many people will wear 2 layers of socks to help prevent blisters & if it works for you, great. Generally the layer closest to you should be thinner than the outer layer or the same thickness.
- Don’t forget to adjust your shoes/ laces based on the season as cramping your feet as you throw on your thicker winter socks doesn’t do your feet any good, nor does the slack left when you switch back to lighter & thinner socks come summer.
While I think this goes without saying, always make sure you wear the appropriate shoes or boots for what you are doing. If a problem is persistent or causes you some concern, get it checked by a professional. As always just remember this simple thought from a Drill Sergeant – that just like your tools “if you take care of your feet, they will take care of you.”