First Steps: Keeping Kids’ Feet Healthy and Happy

  • By Ruth Ann Cooper
  • 13 Jun, 2016

When it comes to the health of our children, you do everything you can to help them grow up healthy and strong. You get them vaccinated, take them to the dentist and optometrist, and you do your best to ensure they eat a nutrition diet that will help them grow, but are you aware of the important role foot health plays in a child’s overall development?

"Every parent knows the frustration of trying to keep up with children who grow quickly and that rapid pace of growth can mean children need new shoes and socks every few months," says Dr Matthew Garoufalis, a podiatrist and past president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). With warmer weather upon us, its a great time for parents to take a look at their children's shoes to ensure they're wearing footwear that will serve them well throughout the active days of summer.

Ill-fitting footwear can irritate kids' feet and aggravate existing conditions caused by injury, heredity, deformity or illness.

APMA offers parents guidance for keeping kids in shoes that fit properly and protect their feet:

·        Take the child with you and have him or her try on the shoes. Every shoe fits differently, so even if you're buying your child's correct size, the shoe still may not be comfortable. Have the child try on the footwear with the socks or tights you expect will be worn with the shoes.

·        Always measure a child's foot before buying new shoes. Children's feet grow so quickly, their shoe size can literally change from month to month.

·        Shop late in the afternoon when feet are largest and make sure to fit the shoe to the larger foot. Everyone's feet swell by the end of the day and no one has feet that are exactly the same size. One will always be slightly larger.

·        Never buy shoes that are too large or need a "break-in" period. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Buying shoes for children isn't like buying a too-large coat that you know they'll grow into. Tripping or even injury can result from a child wearing shoes that are too big for him or her.

·        Let kids have a say--within reason. "Of course, parents will have to guide children toward good choices," Dr. Garafoulis says. "But allowing kids to have a say in the shoe-buying process can help promote healthy foot habits down the road."

·        Once your child takes the new shoes home, keep watch to ensure the shoes stay comfortable and in good shape. Examine the child's feet at the end of the day for signs of irritation. If your child always wants to remove one or both of the shoes, it may mean the shoes are uncomfortable.

·        Finally, never include footwear in hand-me-downs. Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn't mean it will fit a younger sibling the same way. Plus, sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete's foot or nail fungus.

To learn more about foot health for the whole family, visit www.apma.org

Dr. Ruth Ann Cooper

By Ruth Ann Cooper 05 Jan, 2018

Most Americans will have walked 75,000 miles by the time they turn 50 years of age according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Is it little wonder, then, that foot pain affects daily activities- walking, exercising or standing for long periods of time- of a majority of Americans?

 

APMA offers advice for keeping feet healthy in common winter scenarios:

Winter is skiing and snowboarding season, activities enjoyed by nearly 10 million Americans, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Never ski or snowboard in footwear other than ski boots specifically designed for that purpose. Make sure your boots fit properly; you should be able to wiggle your toes, but the boot should immobilize your heel, instep and ball of your foot. You can use orthotics (foot devices that go inside shoes) to help control the foot’s movement inside ski boots or ice skates.

Committed runners don’t need to let the cold stop them. A variety of warm, lightweight, moisture-wicking active wear available at most running or sporting goods stores helps ensure runners stay warm and dry in bitter temperatures. However, some runners may compensate for icy conditions by altering how their foot strikes the ground. Instead of changing your footstrike pattern, shorten your stride to help maintain stability. And remember, it’s more important than ever to stretch before your run. Cold weather can make you less flexible in winter than you are in summer, so it is important to warm muscles before running.

Boots are must-have footwear in winter climates, especially when dealing with precipitation. Between the waterproof material of the boots and the warm socks you wear to keep toes toasty, you may find your feet sweat a lot. Damp, sweaty feet can chill more easily and are more susceptible to bacterial infections. To keep feet clean and dry, consider using foot powder inside socks and incorporating extra foot baths into your foot-care regimen this winter.

Be size smart. It may be tempting to buy pricey specialty footwear (like winter boots or ski boots) for children in a slightly larger size, thinking they’ll be able to get two seasons of wear out of them. But unlike coats that children can grow into, footwear needs to fit properly right away. Properly fitted skates and boots can help prevent blisters, chafing and ankle or foot injuries. Likewise, if socks are too small, they can force toes to bunch together and that friction can cause painful blisters or corns.

 

Finally- and although this one seems like it should go without saying, it bears spelling out- do not try to tip-toe through winter snow, ice and temperatures in summer footwear.

 

MORE THAN ONE NEWS SHOE ACROSS THE COUNTRY HAS AIRED IMAGES OF PEOPLE IN SNEAKERS, SANDALS AND EVEN FLIP-FLOPS DURING OUR CURRENT SEVERE COLD SNAP. EXPOSING FEET TO EXTREME TEMPERATURES MEANS RISKING FROSTBITE AND INJURY. CHOOSE WINTER FOOTWEAR THAT WILL KEEP YOUR FEET WARM, DRY AND WELL-SUPPORTED.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 14 Dec, 2017

Women’s winter boots with high, spiked heels and narrow, pointed toes may seem like the epitome of haute couture but these boots can make feet and ankles unstable on snow and ice covered surfaces.

Falls from high-heeled winter boots can lead to a number of injuries depending on how you lose your balance. If your ankles roll inward or outward, they can break. If your ankles twist, ligaments can be stretched or torn, causing an ankle sprain. Slipping or falling in high-heeled boots can also cause broken toe, metatarsal and heel bones.

Shop for a low-heeled boot this winter and be sure to scuff the soles of new boots or buy adhesive rubber soles to provide greater traction.

No matter what style of boot you decide to wear this season, if you suffer a fall in Cincinnati or Southwest Ohio, call my office for prompt evaluation and treatment and follow the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol:

REST. Stay off the injured foot since walking can cause further damage.

ICE. To reduce swelling and pain, apply a bag of ice over a thin towel to the affected area. Do not put ice directly against the skin. Use ice for 20 minutes and then wait at least 40 minutes before icing again.

COMPRESSION. An elastic wrap (Coban) should be used to control swelling.

ELEVATION. Keep the foot elevated to reduce the swelling. Your foot should be even with or slightly above the level of your heart.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 22 Nov, 2017

1.       If the shoe fits, wear it. When hitting the dance floor or shopping malls this holiday season, do not compromise comfort and safety when choosing the right shoes to wear. Narrow shoes, overly high-heeled ones or shoes not often worn, such as dress shoes, can irritate feet and lead to blisters, calluses, swelling and even severe ankle injuries. Select a shoe that has a low heel and fits your foot in length, depth and width while you are standing.

2.       Do not overindulge in holiday cheer.   Did you know your feet can feel the effects of too much holiday cheer? Certain foods and beverages high in purines, such as shellfish, red meat, red wine and beer can trigger extremely painful gout attacks, a condition in which uric acid accumulates and crystallizes in and around your joints. The big toe is most often affected first since the toe is the coolest part of the body, and uric acid is sensitive to temperature change.

3.       Be safety - conscious about pedicures. Nail salons can be a breeding ground for bacteria, including MRSA. To reduce your risk of infection during a pedicure, choose a salon that follows proper sanitation practices and is licensed by the state. Also, consider purchasing your own pedicure instruments to bring along to your appointment.

4.       Watch for ice and snow . Holiday winter wonderlands can be beautiful but also dangerous. Use caution when traveling outdoors and watch for patches of ice or snow along your trail. The ankle joint can be more vulnerable to serious injury from falling on ice. If you experience a fall, take a break from activities until you can be seen in my office. Use RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) to help reduce pain and control swelling at the site of the injury.

5.       Protect your feet from cold temperatures . Wear insulated, water-resistant boots and moisture-wicking socks to prevent frostbite, chilblains-an inflammation of the small blood vessels in the hands or feet when they are exposed to cold air- or other cold weather-related injuries to the feet and toes.

6.       Listen to your feet . Inspect your feet regularly for any evidence of ingrown toenails, swelling, blisters, dry skin or calluses. If you notice any pain, swelling or signs of problems, call my wonderful office staff to make an appointment to see me.

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