Posts for: July, 2016
Is it better to look good or feel good? Both, when you're pondering pedicures
Whether you’re getting ready for a romantic evening out, or looking ahead to when sandal days are back again, treating your feet to a pedicure can help you look and feel your best—as long as you keep foot health front of mind.
“It’s important to ensure your pedicure is done properly, whether you’re doing it yourself at home or enjoying a professional treatment in a nail salon or spa,” says Shaun Hafner, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
APMA offers some pedicure pointers to help you love how your feet look and feel:
- Start with a good soak in warm water for at least five minutes. Soaking will help soften calluses and prep feet for removing dry, rough skin. To exfoliate, use a pumice stone or foot file. “Never use a foot razor to remove dead skin, and ban your pedicurist from using one on you,” says Dr. Hafner. “It’s too easy for a quick slip-up to cause permanent damage or lead to serious infection.”
- Shave your legs a day or two before your professional pedicure, but not the day of. Shaving can cause minor abrasions and fissures in the skin, allowing bacteria to enter while your feet soak or the nail technician handles your feet. A little bit of stubble won’t bother her at all.
- When doing a home pedicure, use toenail clippers with a straight edge and cut nails straight across. Avoid other cutting tools, such as manicure scissors, as they can increase the risk of ingrown nails. For salon pedicures, bring your own tools; shared tools can spread bacteria if they haven’t been cleaned properly. Use an emery board to smooth and round nail edges.
- Never permit a nail technician to cut or trim cuticles, which protect nail beds from bacteria. Instead, use a rubber cuticle pusher or liquid remover to gently push back cuticles just a little bit. Use a wooden or rubber manicure stick—never metal or anything sharp—to clean beneath nails.
- Remove polish after it’s been on for a while. Keeping nails polished for extended periods may promote fungal growth. Leave toenails polish-free for a few days between pedicures.
- After your pedicure, don’t walk around in flimsy flip-flops, especially the ones salons sometimes give customers before they leave. They don’t provide adequate protection or support for your feet.
You can also look for foot-friendly products that have earned APMA’s Seal of Acceptance or Approval by visiting www.apma.org/seal. Podiatrists have evaluated these products and found them to be beneficial to foot health.
Finally, never put up with foot pain. “Discomfort and pain that last longer than several days could be a sign of a more serious problem or infection,” Dr. Shaun Hafner adds. Seek treatment from a podiatrist—the foot and ankle expert.
Power shoes: Choosing the right footwear for climbing the corporate ladder
Climbing the corporate ladder requires marketable skills, initiative, creativity, and ... the right shoes? While the importance of proper footwear may seem obvious for professions that require standing or walking all day, such as waitressing, nursing, or cooking, poor shoe choices can also trip you up in an office setting.
“At best, sore feet can be a troublesome distraction when you need to concentrate in a meeting or be at your best during a job interview,” says Shaun Hafner, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Center and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “At worst, severe foot injuries from poor footwear can require corrective surgery that puts you out of commission—and out of the office—for extended periods of time.”
While you may assume that some professions are more prone to injury than others, or that women wearing high heels are more at risk, everyone working nine to five should take steps to ensure he or she heads to work every morning wearing shoes that will help—not hinder—job performance.
When you’re choosing a dress shoe for work, keep these tips in mind:
Shoes for women
- Avoid wearing heels higher than two inches. If you choose to wear very high heels for a meeting or other work occasion, limit the time you’re in them and change into a lower, more comfortable pair as soon as possible.
- Vary heel height from day to day. Look for “walking” pumps—also called “comfort” or “performance” pumps—with mid- to low heels. APMA offers a list of shoes that have earned its Seal of Acceptance for promoting good foot health, available at www.apma.org/seal.
- Look for plenty of toe room. Ideally, pumps with wider, rounded, or square toe boxes give your toes more room. “Avoid shoes with pointy toes that squeeze digits into unnatural positions,” says Dr. Hafner. “Cramped toes can cause a host of foot woes, from bunions to ingrown toenails.”
- Choose wider heels that offer more stability. Stiletto heels and similar pointy heels are less stable and may cause spinal misalignment and ankle injuries.
- Beware ballet flats. You may think no-heel shoes are better for your feet, but often that’s not the case. Ballet flats offer little cushioning or support, and can also cause foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tendon that connects the heel bone to the toes.
- Regardless of heel height or shoe style, look for shoes that offer adequate arch and ankle support, and plenty of cushioning.
Shoes for men
- Look for good quality oxford styles—like wing-tip or cap-toe designs—which tend to be best. You can also opt for slip-ons, dressy loafers, and low dress boots.
- Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes every day. You should have at least three or four pairs of good quality professional shoes.
- When shoes become too worn to be supportive anymore, replace them. You may be tempted to hold on to that old pair of shoes you love, but apart from looking unprofessional, worn-out shoes also provide less support for your feet.
Tips for men and women:
- Always shop at the end of the day when feet are at their largest.
- Choose quality materials that allow the foot to breathe.
- Look for shoes that offer good support.
“Never buy a pair of shoes that are uncomfortable, assuming you’ll break them in,” adds Dr. Hafner. “Shoes should be comfortable right away. If they’re not, then they’re not the right shoes for your feet!”
Practical, protective foot health steps for people with diabetes
Healthy feet are essential for overall good health, no matter your age, fitness level, or physical challenges. For people with diabetes, however, taking care of their feet is especially vital. More than 60 percent of all non-traumatic lower-limb amputations worldwide are related to complications from the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
A 2012 study by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) indicates Hispanics with diabetes are particularly in danger, because more than 90 percent of those with the disease or at risk for it have never seen a podiatrist as part of their health care.
“The leading cause of hospitalization among people with diabetes—regardless of ethnicity—is foot ulcers and infections, but most of those problems are largely preventable,” says [Shaun] [Hafner], DPM, a podiatrist at [Reston, Manassas, & Leesburg Foot & Ankle Center] and APMA member. “It’s important for those with the disease to ‘knock their socks off’ and receive regular foot exams by today’s podiatrists.”
While ulcers—open sores on the foot—are the most common diabetes-related foot problem, several others are also serious and prevalent, including neuropathy, skin changes, calluses, poor circulation, and infection. The nerve damage that diabetes causes may mean a person with an ulcer or injury may be unaware of it until it becomes infected. Infection can lead to partial or full amputation of the foot or lower leg.
The good news is, regular care from a podiatrist can help reduce amputation rates between 45 and 85 percent, according to APMA.
People with diabetes need to inspect their feet daily and be vigilant for warning signs of ulcers, including irritation, redness, cracked or dry skin (especially around the heels), or drainage on their socks.
“Although ulcers can occur anywhere on the foot or ankle, they are typically found on pressure points on the foot, like the ball of the foot or bottom of the big toe,” adds Dr. [Hafner]. “If you discover an ulcer or have any symptoms, see a podiatrist immediately. In many cases, the foot can be saved with early treatment.”
In addition to examining your feet every day, and keeping your blood glucose in your target range, make sure to follow these foot health tips:
Discuss your diabetes and the risks with your family. Diabetes can be hereditary, so talk to your family members about monitoring blood sugar and foot health.
Never go barefoot. Always protect your feet with the proper footwear and make sure socks and shoes are comfortable and fit well.
Trim toenails straight across, and never cut the cuticles. Seek immediate treatment for ingrown toenails, as they can lead to serious infection.
Keep your feet elevated while sitting.
Wiggle toes and move your feet and ankles up and down for five-minute sessions throughout the day.
“Successfully managing diabetes is a team effort, and today’s podiatrist is an integral player on that team,” Dr. [Hafner] says.