Quiz: How Do Your Foot Care Habits Rank?

You don’t have to wait until January to shed a bad habit!  Any time is a good time to take a look at the things you do that may be affecting your feet—and therefore your overall comfort.  Take the quiz below and see where your foot care habits could use an overhaul.

  1. Are you wearing the right size shoes? Before you say “Of course I am!” when was the last time you had your feet measured?  Ligaments and tendons loosen as we age changing the height of our foot’s arch and eventually the size of our foot—in fact, you can expect to grow half a shoe size every ten years after 40.  The next time you go shopping for shoes be sure to get your feet measured.
  2. Do you go barefoot at the gym? It’s called athlete’s foot for a reason: communal locker rooms, showers, and pools are breeding grounds for a host of viruses and fungi—not just athlete’s foot but warts, ringworm, staph infections, and jock itch.  Drop a pair of flip-flops in your gym bag.
  3. Do you wear flip-flops everywhere? Yes, flip-flops provide protection in the locker room but that’s about all they do for your feet.   Not only do they not have any support, but they also require your toes to grip down in a way that can throw off your gait and put you at risk for tripping.  There are plenty of stylish sandals with built-in support and ankle straps—don’t just settle for flip-flops.
  4. Do you wear flats every day? We all know the havoc high heels can wreak on our feet but wearing the wrong flats exclusively can be almost as bad.  Ballet flats are the worst offenders but any flat shoe that doesn’t offer support and cushioning puts you at risk for tendonitis and stress fractures.  You don’t have to give up your flats, just mix them in with other styles and save them for days when you won’t have to spend a lot of time on your feet.
  5. Do you wear high heels every day? The key there is “every day”: high heels, especially pointy ones, force your toes down into the toe box and create the conditions for corns, bunions, and muscle strain.  Keep your heels in the rotation but don’t wear them every day, and even do your best to alternate them with another lower-altitude pair on the days you wear them.
  6. Do you toss out your worn shoes? We know it’s hard to say goodbye, but once shoes begin to wear out, they need to go.  Your feet absorb a staggering 1,000 pounds of force in a day and they need and deserve the support of a newer pair of shoes; if you leave those old shoes in your closet, you’re going to be tempted to put them on.  Be especially conscientious when it comes to running shoes—a good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300 miles.
  7. Do you break in your new running shoes? If you answered “yes” give yourself a pat on the back. It’s tempting to throw on those new shoes and head for the streets but if you do you open yourself up to sprains, blisters and shin splints.  Even if your new shoes are exactly the same model as your old ones do your feet a favor and walk around in them for a day before you go for a run.
  8. Do you run barefoot? It’s true that throughout history generations of people have run barefoot, but unless you grew up that way you should approach the barefoot running fad with caution.  Chances are you have been running in conventional shoes for years, enjoying their support but not building up the muscles and tendons that barefoot running requires.  If you are eager to try barefoot running do some specialized training first to strengthen the muscles of your feet.
  9. Do you wear socks? If the answer is “no” then you are fungus’s best friend.  Infections love the warm, dark, moist environment inside your shoes—and even if you clear up an infection you put yourself at risk of reinfection every time you go sockless.
  10. Do you ignore the warning signs? Painful feet are often trying to tell you something.  If you notice something amiss, from a rash to a strain, by all means you can do your best to treat it at home first but if you don’t see an improvement soon make an appointment to see your podiatrist.  What starts out as something small can quickly turn into a problem that will sideline you for weeks.   Do yourself a favor and get it checked out.

How did your foot health rank? If you answered “yes” to:

8-10 questions: Congratulations, you have great foot care habits!

5-8 questions: There is room for improvement, but you are on your way!

1-4 questions: Time to step up your foot care game! Just follow the above tips.

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