by Catherine Brzozowski
The average person will walk the equivalent of four times around the world in his or her lifetime (about 115,000 miles). Each step you take involves a complex network of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. A normal foot and ankle has 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Our feet carry us through life so it’s hardly surprising that nearly three-quarters of Americans will eventually experience some type of foot problem. Some foot conditions are inherited, others stem from regular wear and tear that can be exacerbated by playing sports, wearing high heels, or simply neglecting to seek early medical attention for pain.
Proper foot care and regular checks are important for your overall health as various foot problems can signal a larger issue. It is never a good time for a foot or ankle injury, but some might consider the cold-weather months to be the most inconvenient time to be hobbling around. A few simple precautions will help you enjoy the winter months without missing a step.
Wear the right shoes – Falls are one of the most common causes of weather-related injuries. Wintertime falls often result in an ankle sprain, or a broken bone, in the foot, ankle, heel or toe. When hitting the hiking trails, shopping malls or ski slopes, don’t compromise comfort and safety. Protect your feet from blisters, calluses and ankle injuries with the right shoes for the situation. High heel shoes can be very dangerous on slippery leaves or icy terrain, so be sure to prepare yourself with proper footwear to avoid injury. Wear low-heeled shoes or boots with a traction sole to prevent slipping.
Keep your feet dry – Damp feet can cause cold feet that can be harmful to your foot health. Wearing water-resistant footwear will provide protection from external weather elements that can cause dampness. Wear moisture-wicking socks to keep feet dry from internal wetness.
Listen to your feet – Don’t let foot pain ruin your cold-weather fun; inspect your feet regularly for any evidence of ingrown toenails, bruising, swelling, blisters or calluses. Be aware of the changes of the season that may affect your ability to walk comfortably and safely. Use caution when traveling outdoors and watch for slippery leaves, deep puddles, and ice or snow patches along your trail.
If you’ve been meaning to see a podiatrist for your aching feet, join podiatry expert John Scanlon, DPM, at Stand Up to Foot Pain, a free community lecture at Center on the Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave. at 12:30 p.m.Thursday, Oct. 24. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss common causes, symptoms, and treatments for foot and ankle conditions, including arthritis. To register for the presentation, call 215-753-2000.
Catherine Brzozowski is the communications director at Chestnut Hill Hospital.