Summer Feet: A podiatrists’ guide
As the mercury rises, off come the runners as we swap our enclosed supportive footwear for bare feet, sandals and quite possibly the podiatrists’ arch enemy…. thongs (pun intended)! Sore feet, blisters, dry skin, cracked heels and athletes’ foot all make for a very busy time of year at ACT Podiatry! Not all of these problems can be directly attributed to poor footwear. But certainly, a lot of problems could be avoided. Here I offer some tips on how to keep your feet healthy through the Canberra Summer.
I’m not about to tell an Aussie not to wear thongs. That would be like telling me to stop drinking tea…’it ain’t-gonna-happen’! But how about restricting thongs to times when you aren’t going to be on your feet so much, like at the pool or beach. If you’re going for a walk, swap into your runners. If your going shopping and you’re not into the sporty look, opt for a firm soled sandal with an enclosed back. These will support your feet and reduce muscular fatigue.
If you have bunions, supportive footwear is of particular importance. Bunions are usually inherited and associated with flat, hypermobile feet. Serious consideration should be given to wearing more supportive shoes combined with orthotic therapy to minimise destructive forces.
ACT Podiatry now stocks a comprehensive range of summer footwear with orthotic options available. We aim to make it easier for you to make better footwear choices through the warmer months.
With summer comes heat, and with heat we sweat more. It is almost unavoidable that at some time in our lives we will develop athletes’ foot. Also known as tinea, this is a very common fungal infection occurring in between the toes, or on the soles and sides of the feet. It usually manifests as itching and brownish blister formation. Another common presentation is the more chronic form, which is often unnoticed by the patient. It is subtle in appearance and is often mistaken for dry skin.
Fungal infections thrive in warm, damp conditions. Changing your shoes and socks regularly, and avoiding synthetic materials is a step in the right direction. Always be careful to dry between your toes after bathing. Wearing thongs in communal changing areas at the pool or gym can help reduce your risk of infection. A range of over the counter treatment options are available, and in severe cases an oral antifungal agent may be recommended. Come and see your podiatrist for an assessment and diagnosis.
These are a very common problem in Canberra due in part to the harsh, dry climate. The moisture content of our skin is affected by the lack of humidity. Wearing backless sandals or going barefooted only exposes the heels to further moisture loss and increased tension. And when the skin gets dry, it is weaker and more susceptible to crack. Wearing an enclosed heel helps to keep the skin in place and reduce tensile forces. It stands to reason that wearing socks is also a good idea where possible. Again, avoiding synthetic materials in preference for natural fibres or quality sports socks which allow the skin to breathe. Regular use of a pumice stone and good quality moisturiser (I like 10% urea cream such as Dermal) on a daily basis after a shower can be really helpful. Through the summer, you should see your podiatrist regularly if you are susceptible to heel cracking.
Break in new shoes gradually over short periods to help your feet adapt. Short term use of Band-Aids under straps or heel counters can be helpful. Good, well-fitting shoes should not cause too many problems. If you are concerned and are having difficulty finding footwear that doesn’t rub or cause problems, see your podiatrist for an assessment and recommendations.
Remember healthy feet, enhance mobility and quality of life. Plan your footwear carefully with consideration of your activities. If you wear orthotics, find footwear that will accommodate them, and wear them for the majority of time. If you are suffering foot pain, don’t ignore it. No pain is normal, and in many cases the sooner you seek diagnosis and treatment, the better the prognosis. Look after your feet and they’ll look after you!