Everyday errors that hurt your health

rubbing feet
Photo by Dustin Peters. Model: Melissa Cowell Bunch.

Many foot pain problems can be avoided by making simple changes, according to two local podiatrists. We asked Dr. Evan Merrill of Southern Oregon Foot and Ankle and Dr. Rick McClure of Medford Foot and Ankle to share tips on avoiding common foot-related mistakes.

Bare feet a no-no

Merrill says that walking barefoot around the house on hardwood and tile floors can cause a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that supports the arch and connects the heal bone to the toes. When the foot is not properly supported, this tissue becomes inflamed and cause heel pain. Always wear supportive shoes. There are several good brands that include flip flops. Keep a good pair by your bed so you will be supported immediately upon waking up. The first step in the morning is often the most painful. If you object to wearing shoes indoors, designate a pair of tennis shoes that are only worn indoors.

Exposed skin

McClure notes that summertime footwear, including sandals and flip-flops, can be tough on the skin of the feet, leading to cracks in heels and toes. By moisturizing regularly, this condition is totally preventable, he says.

Too high heels

Stay away from heels that are over 2 inches tall, Merrill advises. High heels can put too much pressure on the ball of the foot, causing a condition called neuroma, he explains. Neuromas can cause the toes to go numb.

Poorly trimmed toenails

McClure says that the No. 1 problem he sees is incorrectly trimmed toenails. People too often trim toenails by cutting the corners back which leads to painful ingrown toenails. Sometimes they will need corrective surgery. The simple solution, he says, is to always cut toenails straight across.

Too tight footwear

Besides causing pain, ill-fitting shoes can help create bunions, hammer toes and calluses, Merrill says. He recommends buying shoes from someone who knows how to correctly measure your foot. Another tip is to shop at the end of the day when your feet are swollen. A shoe needs to fit all day long and doesn’t need to be “broken in,” Merrill says. It should be comfortable in the store. If you are a runner, buy a shoe that is a full size larger than what you normally wear to avoid bruised toes and blisters.

Ignoring pain

McClure says that too often, people don’t listen to their bodies when they are in pain. Instead, they continue to do the same activities through the pain, leading to tendinitis, stress fractures and other stress injuries. Pain is the body’s way of telling you to stop what you are doing and let the injury heal, he says.

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More to Explore

Top causes of foot pain

foot habits

According to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 8 in 10 Americans have experienced a foot problem, and half say it has impacted their quality of life. Some of the most common reasons are:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Morton’s neuroma
  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Tendinitis
  • Ingrown toe nails
  • Heel spurs
  • Stress fractures




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