What kind of shape are your feet in?
According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), the average person takes approximately 10,000 steps per day, which add up to more than 3 million steps per year. We carry approximately four to six times our body weight across the ankle joint when climbing up stairs or walking steep inclines.
Good foot health is essential for an active life. With 26 bones plus 33 joints our feet serve as the foundation for the rest of our body structure. If feet are painful or not mechanically sound, this can affect the knees, hips and even the lower back.
The AOFAS suggests performing a self-examination of your feet following these simple steps:
General Exam Tips
Getting Started: “While sitting in a chair examine your legs, ankles, feet and toes. Be sure to examine the soles of your feet and in between your toes as well. Things to look for include, swelling that is not normally there, discoloration of the skin or nails, blisters, excessive calluses or alterations in the shape of the feet.
Shoes: Your shoes should also be examined for adequate fit and signs of excess wear. However, some individuals, such as those who have arthritis, severe obesity, blindness or disorders of the nervous system, may not be able to examine their lower extremities adequately. In these cases individuals need to enlist the help of a friend or family member to obtain an adequate exam.
When to See a Doctor: If abnormalities are found individuals should see their primary care doctor and may need referral to an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon.” Eric M. Bluman, MD, PhD
6 Steps to Foot Self-Examation
Skin: Check your skin for calluses, blisters or areas of irritation. Now stand next to your shoes. Are they shaped like your feet or are they causing areas of constriction that may result in calluses, blisters or irritation? Now put your hand inside your shoe. Are there seams, tacks or rough places in the shoe that correspond to the areas of irritation, calluses or blisters on your feet.
Circulation: Look at the color of your toes. Are they red, pink, purple or blue? Press down on the nail of your big toe until the color blanches. Now let go and allow the blood flow to return to your toe. The return of normal color should take 2-5 seconds in a person with average circulation.
Flexibility: How flexible are your toes? Try to pick up a marble (excellent) or a small dishtowel (good). To test your ankle flexibility, hang your heel over the edge of a stair while standing on the stair facing the stair. Now let the heel go below the level of the stair. If this causes pain, stop the test. If your heel goes below the level of the stair without causing strain in your calf, that is excellent. If there is some strain, this can be improved with flexibility exercises.
Sensation: Take a pencil eraser and lightly run it on the top, bottom and both sides of your feet. The sensation should feel equal in all quadrants. It may tickle on the bottom of the feet. That is normal.
Pain: There should be no pain in the average foot.
Balance: A good test for balance involves standing on one foot, with your arms out to the side and your eyes closed. If you are less than 30 years old, you should be able to balance for 15 seconds, 30-40 years old for 12 seconds, 40-50 years old for 10 seconds, and over 50 years old for 7 seconds. This can be improved with exercises.
About Podiatric Foot & Ankle Surgeons
Foot and Ankle Surgeons specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle.
Medical School: The Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) is a 4-year, specialized medical degree program. In addition to earning bachelor’s degrees, podiatrists are required to attend 4-year, podiatry schools followed by residency programs. Although the first two years of study are similar to those of Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree programs, students in their third and fourth years take podiatry-specific courses, including lower-extremity biomechanics, lower-limb anatomy and podiatric trauma. Upon finishing podiatry school, the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) is granted.
Residency: Following medical School, a two to three year (most commonly three years) residency is required.
Podiatric Foot & ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Podiatric foot & ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle.