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Healthy Tips for Happy Feet

Kaiser Permanente podiatrist Thomas Kaschak, DPM, offers common sense advice for taking care of your feet.

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Thomas Kaschak, DPM

If you haven’t given much thought to taking care of your feet, consider these facts from Kaiser Permanente Fresno podiatrist Thomas Kaschak, DPM.

He said the average person takes about 7,500 steps each day. If you stay relatively active and live to the age of 80, that adds up to about 217 million steps in a lifetime or 110,000 miles — the equivalent to walking around the world more than four times.

That’s a lot of miles, and as Dr. Kaschak puts it, “Taking care of your feet will make the journey a lot more enjoyable.”

Look InsideKP NCAL spoke with Dr. Kaschak about common sense foot care.

What tips can you offer for keeping your feet healthy?

Be aware of the type of shoes you’re wearing, and inspect your feet daily for any changes such as calluses, blisters, redness, swelling, or anything that doesn’t look normal. If you can link the problem to a particular pair of shoes or a certain activity, it’s time to make a change.

In California, a lot of people wear flip-flops or sandals, especially in the summer months. This can lead to the formation of dry, cracking calluses, especially around the heels and big toes. This problem can usually be solved by using a pumice stone and a moisturizer after bathing and switching to an enclosed shoe.

How do shoes affect the health of our feet?

If you have relatively normal-shaped feet, wearing almost any style of shoes is not usually an issue in the short term. However, even normal feet squeezed into tight, high-heeled shoes will eventually experience problems.

I like to see my patients wearing shoes that give proper support and fit the foot appropriately. I advise people to use common sense. If your shoes are uncomfortable, don’t wear them, or wear them infrequently.

What are common reasons people seek medical care for their feet?

The most common nonurgent reason is for a condition that causes pain in the ball of the foot called metatarsalgia, and for heel pain, otherwise known as plantar fasciitis. These are generally chronic conditions that can be helped by wearing appropriate shoes with supports and performing stretching exercises that help reduce the pressure on the heels or on the balls of the feet.

Have you noticed any trends over the years?

I’ve seen an increase in open sores and foot infections associated with people who have diabetes. With the rise in obesity, we’re seeing more patients with type II diabetes. When I first started practicing, we would mostly see type II diabetes in older patients. The trend has expanded to include middle-aged people, young adults, and even children.

This is a serious challenge for health care providers who struggle to keep patients with obesity-related diabetes from developing problems that have the potential to lead to amputation. For diabetics, there is no minor problem with your feet.

When should someone see a podiatrist?

If you have a serious problem such as a fracture, cuts, redness or swelling, you should get care right away. This is especially true for diabetics who have a tendency to develop numbness in their feet, which can often result in the development of open sores that may be limb-threatening.

If you are in good health and develop non-urgent problems such as corns, calluses, mild ingrown nails, you may try over-the-counter remedies. General aches and pains are often relieved by simple measures such as wearing more comfortable and supportive shoes, or using over-the-counter pain medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin.

If you have no relief or if the problems worsen, it’s time to call for an appointment.

Think about taking care of your feet in the same way you think about brushing your teeth. A little daily attention can make a big difference down the road.

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This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. I’ve felt like I’ve always had feet problems. Now I don’t know much as to why they could be hurting me but I do want to figure out why. I do like how you mentioned that shoes can have an effect on the health of our feet. I’ll probably go and get them looked at by a podiatrist to make sure it’s nothing serious.

  2. You are so awesome! I do not think I have read a single thing like that before. So nice to discover somebody with some unique thoughts on this issue. Really. Thank you for starting this up. This website is something that’s needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

  3. This is a great tip, particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate info… Thank you for sharing this one.

    A must-read article!

  4. I really appreciate your tip to try and stretch to relieve some of the pressure of your feet and heels. My wife really likes to run, but she told me that her feet have been aching and she has to end her runs early because of it. I will be sure to tell her that she should try and stretch out more so she can avoid the pain in the feet and heels!

  5. Thanks for the great tips for having healthy feet. I like how you said that common sense is the best thing to use when choosing shoes. My shoes don’t fit great right now, but I thought they were fine. It turns out that I need to find some that are more comfortable.

  6. I like how you said to be aware of the type of shoes you’re wearing, and inspect your feet daily for any changes. I have been needing orthotics for my painful feet. Thanks for the tips for healthy feet.

  7. I like how you point out that problems usually stem from a certain type of activity or shoe that someone is wearing. My feet have been hurting me lately, but I think it’s because I don’t get enough arch support. They’re also pretty flat, so I may need orthotics or something. I’ll have to find a podiatrist to go to and get a professional opinion.

  8. Thanks for the tips for keeping your feet healthy. I have been trying to find ways to take better care of my feet recently. I appreciate what you said about avoiding sandals, because they cause dry calluses. I will keep this in mind!

  9. I didn’t know that wearing more comfortable and supportive shoes could affect your foot’s health. Thanks for your comment about how you should see a podiatrist if you have foot swellings or fractures. My mother is considering looking into portraitists because she has been noticing her feet swelling.

  10. Thanks for this article. It’s a great summary of what people should be aware of in relation to their feet. I think many people think they can hide their feet in their shoes and just ignore them. They usually wake up before the summer/beach season is about to start. Good foot care is as important as anything else health related.

  11. Thanks for this story! I didn’t know that my mild foot pain may be metatarsalgia. Time to make a podiatry appointment!

  12. The article does not discuss leg cramps caused by tension in your feet – using a tennis ball, roll it around using your foot. You will be amazed how your foot muscles will release. Once you are comfortable using a tennis ball, switch to using a golf ball and apply more pressure. You will feel relief not only on the bottom of your feet, but also in your calfs and possibly even up to your knee.

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