Summer is coming and nice weather means outdoor activities. Besides being fun, getting outside and being active is good for you. Hiking, walking, and bike rides mean using your feet. If your feet have been causing your pain, now is the time to find out what’s going on and get feeling better.
There are tons of minor foot problems out there that might be keeping you on the sidelines. Some common ones are:
Bunions can be a painful condition where the joint of the big toe is pulled outward and the toe itself is turned in. Bunions are most likely to occur in women and are generally caused by wearing shoes that don’t fit correctly or have narrow, pointy toes. Family history can also play a part in it.
First, try getting less restrictive shoes and icing the bunion to reduce inflammation. You can also try padding to protect the joint from rubbing and calluses. In more serious situations, surgery may be necessary to correct the joint problem
- Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by pain in the heel. It occurs when the ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot becomes inflamed. Although it is not always clear what causes plantar fasciitis, some causes may be excess weight, having a very high arch, or having tight calf muscles.
First, try resting your foot and applying ice to the painful area. You can also take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as ibuprofen. Next, make sure you are stretching your foot and calf muscle properly before and after exercise.
If none of these help, talk to your doctor about the possibility of physical therapy, custom insoles or steroid injections.
- Ingrown Toenail
Ingrown toenails are a common cause of foot pain, but shouldn’t be ignored. They occur when the toenail itself starts to grow into the nail groove. If you already have an ingrown toenail, soak your foot and put some cotton gauze underneath the nail to lift the nail out of the skin, and try to trim it back so that it isn’t digging in.
For prevention, remember to cut your toenails in a straight line–not rounded–and not to cut them too short. Be aware of how your shoes fit, too. If they are too narrow in the toe, they may be putting pressure on the nail as well.
- Hammer Toe/Claw Toe
Hammer toe/claw toe is a painful condition where the joint of the toe is contracted. While similar, there is a specific difference between the two. If its the joint closest to the foot, it is hammer toe. If its the joint closest to the nail, its claw toe.
Early on, some minor adjustments may help with discomfort. Buy shoes with a roomy toe box or use padding to protect the toes from calluses and blisters. In more advanced situations, surgery may be necessary to actually correct the bone structure. It’s recommended to discuss any surgical options for hammertoes with an experienced physician.
- Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the feet. It causes itching and skin peeling and is highly contagious. First, try an over the counter fungal lotion or powder. If that doesn’t work, talk to your doctor about a prescription strength anti-fungal.
In the meantime, prevent the spread of infection by not walking barefoot in public places and by using a separate towel to dry your feet. It’s also important to keep your feet clean and dry to help them heal.
Once your feet are feeling their best, you will be ready to get out there and enjoy being active in the outdoors again.