Our feet and our shoes are nearly always together but our feet can cause problems with our shoes and so can our shoes cause problems with our feet.
You need to take equal care of your feet and your shoes. Feet that are hurting can be a sign that your shoes are not right for you!
These foot conditions can be aggravated by your shoes
They are nail fungus
, plantar warts
, athlete’s foot
and cracked heels.
A nail fungus infection in the toenail will often appear with no pain or discomfort. Fungi can get under your nails through the space between your nail and nail bed and through openings in your skin so small you can’t even see them. Try to inspect your toenails regularly and look out for:
- The nails turning yellow or white
- The nails developing white spots
- The nails getting thicker or crumbling and splitting
- The separation of the nail from the nail bed
- Any unpleasant odor
Nail fungus can be caused by
Always avoid wearing socks and shoes that prevent ventilation.
- Sweating heavily
- Being in a humid environment
- Suffering from psoriasis or athletes foot
- Going barefoot in damp public places such as swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms
- Having minor skin or nail injuries, a damaged nail or other infection and
These warts appear as an area of rough skin with a dry crusty surface. The small black dots visible deep inside are actually dried up capillary blood vessels.
When you are wearing shoes
, plantar warts become flattened and painful from the pressure of your weight, feeling like walking on a small stone.
The signs of this very common fungal infection are excessive itching; stinging pain; and a burning sensation.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus which grows on top-of or inside-of the top layer of skin that thrives in warm wet conditions, making the areas between the toes a perfect environment for it to survive and spread. This type of fungal infection is highly contagious and easily picked up when walking with bare feet on contaminated surfaces such as swimming pools, locker room, showers and bathrooms.
Tight fitting shoes – including shoes that resist air flow around the foot – are especially susceptible to fungus contamination.
The medical term for cracks in our heels is “heel fissures”. All that walking and pressure on the heels and feet pads cause the feet to expand sideways. Spending hours on your feet, being overweight and dry skin increases the risk.
Your shoes are important too – those with open backs or ones that are too tight (so that they rub against the back of your feet) can lead to cracked heels in the first place or worsen existing ones.
Shoes on the tight side?
If you have a favorite or even a new pair of shoes or slippers that are uncomfortably on the tight side, here are 3 ways to help.
1. The potato tip
. Peel two large potatoes (a russet potato is ideal) and push one into each shoe to leave overnight, making sure the potatoes are large enough to create a small bulge in the shoes. The raw potatoes will trap any odor as part of their job.
2. The commercial shoe-stretcher.
It is shaped the same as a foot and usually made from wood including screws with adjustments to help with the stretching. Known as "dry stretching," a shoe-stretcher can take several days for the desired result.
3. The freezing tip
. Fill a robust hole-free re-sealable sandwich bag, thick balloon or similar plastic bag to approximately 1/3 to 1/2 with water and seal tightly. You will need one bag for each shoe. Push into place so that it fills your entire shoe. Then place your shoes in the freezer, and let them sit until the water freezes, or overnight. As the water freezes, it will expand into your shoes, gently stretching the material. Remove from the freezer, allowing them to thaw for about 20 minutes before removing the bags. Try the shoes on again to see how the shoes fit and repeat if necessary.
Our top tips for choosing new shoes
1, Choose shoes that already fit (and don't need stretching) by having your feet measured whenever you buy shoes. Remember that feet are three dimensional - measurements should cover length, width and depth.
2. Measure both feet. Most people's feet are identically sized but some do have feet which are different sizes so try the next size up if a pair is a bit too tight, even if you think you normally wear a certain size. Sizes can vary between manufacturers as well as sizing standards. For example, European, UK or US, and whether male or female. Ask about half sizes and different widths too.
3. Try to do your shoe buying in the afternoons when your feet are at their most swollen after walking and standing throughout the day.
As you can see from above, your shoes play a very important role in maintaining good foot health. Try to avoid wearing the same shoes two days running and never put on any that are damp.