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Ways podiatrists say you’re hurting your feet

Ways podiatrists say you’re hurting your feet
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Your feet are the most used – and abused – body part. Yet while you probably spend a good ten minutes taking care of your face every morning and night, chances are your feet are lucky to get a pedicure once a month. Trust podiatrists when they warn you that should something go wrong with your feet, it could ultimately affect your entire way of life.

For better foot care, we spoke with podiatrists who reveal the most common ways you’re hurting your feet, and tips to protect them.

Your heels are too high

Your heels are too high
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Let’s start with the obvious: High heels may make a statement, but if they’re too high, the only statement you’ll be making is “Ouch.” Your feet and legs have to overcompensate to help you walk, which could lead to painful conditions like plantar fasciitis, bunions and heel spurs, warns Rebecca Pruthi, a podiatric physician and surgeon. Keep heels to 5cm or less to prevent foot pain, Dr Pruthi recommends.

Learn how to deal with corns, calluses and cracked heels

You wear the same shoes every day

You wear the same shoes every day
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It might seem like common sense to find a great, supportive pair of shoes you love – and then wear them nonstop, but this isn’t doing your feet any favours. Jackie Sutera, a foot surgeon and Vionic Lab expert, says that slipping on the same shoes day in and day out can cause foot fatigue because you’re constantly using the same areas of the foot for support and walking. Make sure you have a few pairs of comfortable shoes and rotate them throughout the week.

Your shoes are too old

Your shoes are too old
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Breaking in shoes may be a drag, but having shoes that are too old will mess up your gait and cause pain, says Dr Sutera. “When shoes are old and worn out, they will tilt your feet, forcing you to strike the ground in an awkward way,” she says. “Even the slightest angle can hurt your feet and cause back and hip pain.” On average, replace the shoes you wear daily (like your running sneakers) every six months at most, Dr Pruthi recommends. For other shoes, keep an eye on the soles and replace or resole them once you notice that the support is getting low.

You wear flats to commute

You wear flats to commute
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Ballet flats, flat sneakers (like Converses) and thongs don’t provide good arch support. If you tend to wear these on your walk to work Monday through Friday, you’re at risk for bunions, hammertoes and a collapsed arch over time, says podiatrist Miguel Cunha.

Your toenails are cut funny

Your toenails are cut funny
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“Cutting nails too short or rounded can result in ingrown nails,” says Dr Pruthi. The nail starts to grow into the skin, which causes discomfort; shoes can often irritate the situation even more by rubbing or squeezing the feet together. Dr Pruthi says to make sure that nails are cut straight across to avoid the development of any ingrown nails.

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You run in tennis shoes (or play tennis in running shoes)

You run in tennis shoes (or play tennis in running shoes)
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When it comes to exercising and sports, gym sneakers are not a one-size-fits-all solution. “There is a lot of technology that goes into the design of sneakers,” Dr Sutera says. “Each activity has specific qualities necessary for the correct shoe. For example, running and walking shoes are made for straight-ahead motion, while basketball and tennis shoes are made for side-to-side movements,” she says.

Discover 5 bizarre things exercise does to your body.

You always carry your bag on the same side

You always carry your bag on the same side
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Dr Pruthi says that if you constantly carry a briefcase or heavy purse on one side, you’re creating a shift in weight that can cause tendinitis, in addition to neck and back pain. Be sure to alternate the side on which you carry things – or use a backpack to distribute weight more evenly.

Follow these 5 simple strategies to prevent and ease back pain.

You ignore dry or scaly patches

You ignore dry or scaly patches
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“Leaving rough, dry skin on the bottom of your feet may eventually lead to skin fissures,” Dr Pruthi says. “These may worsen over time and could lead to infection.” Dr Pruthi recommends using a pumice stone in the shower and regularly moisturising to keep feet healthy. If your feet are scaly, you might have a fungal infection, Dr Cunha warns. “The best way to get rid of scales is not with lotion but with antifungal cream,” he adds.

Check out these skin problems that could be a sign of serious disease.

You don’t let your feet breathe at the end of the day

You don’t let your feet breathe at the end of the day
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Wearing socks all day can cause your feet to sweat, leading to odour, athlete’s foot, or, in extreme cases, infections, Dr Pruthi says. Let your feet air out after exercising or when you get home for the day and remember to dry in between your toes after showering, Dr Pruthi recommends. As for the rule on socks, Dr Cunha says, change them once a day (more if you’re active) to keep feet fresh. “The general rule of thumb is if you change your underwear, you should change your socks,” he says.

Learn about the best ways to keep your shoes stink-free.

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