Choose the right shoes
With every walking step you take, up to three times your bodyweight will pass through each foot. Do that in the wrong shoes, over the years, and it will catch up with you.
Just today, I must have given footwear advice to half my patients. Lots have had issues returning to work after lockdown. Working from home, they were wearing soft shoes, allowing their feet to take natural positions. Then, returning to the office, they had to squeeze them back into tight, formal shoes.
If you want shoes that are good for you, it means looking for the ones that fit best, not flatter most. The ideal shoe is foot shaped, so relatively square-toed. It should be a centimetre longer than your longest toe. If your foot is shifting around inside once it is laced up, then it’s not the right shoe for you. Ditto if your foot is squeezed. Better shoes cannot cure arthritis, but they can significantly reduce the pain you suffer as a result of it.
It is important to alternate your shoes. The sweat from your foot will take longer than one night to dry out. Wear the same pair on two days running, and you are sliding your foot into a damp, warm environment – the ideal breeding ground for the bugs behind conditions such as athletes’ foot.
Quit cigarettes and alcohol
One of the consequences of smoking is peripheral artery disease – narrowing arteries in the legs, decreasing the flow of blood to your feet and causing pain or numbness. Alcohol, on the other hand, can cause neurological problems – chronic alcoholics can end up with neuropathy (a type of nerve damage) in their feet.
Exercise outside – but build it up slowly
One major impact of our modern, sedentary lifestyles is increased BMI, which puts more load on the feet, increasing the likelihood of problems developing. Regular exercise loads the bones and builds their strength, so sitting at a desk not moving enough can seriously contribute to poor bone health.
Being indoors can also deprive you of sunlight which can lead to a lack of Vitamin D. If someone comes in with a stress fracture in their foot, we will check their bone density, their Vitamin D and calcium levels. These factors are becoming more common.
The feet are fantastically adaptive, but the muscles, ligaments, and tendons need time to build strength. Go from zero to hero and you may end up with injuries such as Achilles tendonitis (tendinopathy) or plantar fasciitis. The “Couch to 5K” programme is great for steadily building your runs, just don’t take the same route each time.