Chances are pretty good that you’re spending a lot of time at home these days.
And even if you still are getting outside a lot—whether that’s because your job is considered essential, or you are just taking every chance you get to enjoy the spring weather and some socially distant exercise—the current situation is still probably messing with a lot of your old routines.
Humans are creatures of habit, and when our routines and schedules change drastically, there are usually consequences—including many you might not expect. One of those consequences, unfortunately, can be an increase in foot and ankle pain or problems.
You might not think that spending a lot of time at home could be a trigger for foot pain, but it absolutely can be! Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to reduce your discomfort—or hopefully prevent problems from happening in the first place.
Examine Your Feet Every Day
This is a critical daily routine for anyone suffering from diabetes or neuropathy, since those conditions can prevent your body from detecting injuries (via pain and other sensations) and increase your risk of those injuries becoming serious or infected.
However, daily foot checks are still a good idea for everybody, as even healthy people often tend to ignore minor foot problems until they become much more serious, painful, and difficult to deal with.
Pick a regular time each day—probably right after a shower or right before you go to bed. Check carefully with your eyes and hands for cuts, scrapes, cracking skin, rashes, cold spots, nail problems—anything that looks out of the ordinary.
If you notice concerning problems with your feet and you have diabetes or neuropathy, give us a call right away. If you don’t have any complicating issues, still keep a close eye on the situation and alert us if it gets worse.
Wash, Dry, and Moisturize Daily
This is another thing that’s especially important for people with diabetes, but good advice for everybody. If you aren’t going out of the house much, you may be falling a bit behind on your hygiene. (No judgment.) Indoor environments also tend to be fairly dry, especially if the furnace has been running, robbing your feet of essential moisture.
Unfortunately, feet that aren’t regularly washed, dried, and moisturized can easily develop problems like athlete’s foot, cracked skin, fungal toenails, and more.
Make sure your feet get some love during your daily bath or shower. Use warm water (not hot), mild soap, and avoid showers that are excessively long or hot—they actually damage and dry out your skin.
Pat dry thoroughly, and then apply your moisturizer. The skin should still be a bit damp, but not sopping wet. Put on nice, clean socks afterward.
Consider Wearing Shoes Indoors
Most of us generally take off our shoes when we’re inside. And under normal circumstances, that’s usually fine (although some people with diabetes are recommended to wear shoes at all times anyway).
However, these are not normal circumstances. Previously, you may have worn shoes most of the day, if you were out of the house at work or play. But more time stuck at home usually means less time in shoes.
And if your feet are accustomed to getting support and cushioning from your footwear, and now they aren’t getting it anymore, they could start hurting. If your foot pain didn’t start until after the stay at home order, or has gotten worse since, this might be a likely reason.
Try wearing your shoes at home for at least a couple of hours during the day, especially on hard floors. You might be surprised at how much they help! Sandals or even slippers with integrated arch support are also options you might consider.
Stretch and Exercise Your Feet Daily
Maintaining an active lifestyle remains important—even during a pandemic! Stretching and exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight (which reduces force on your feet), keep the tendons and muscles that support your feet and ankles conditioned (so they don’t get injured as easily), and just make you feel better overall.
Even if you’re inside most of the day, try to take regular breaks to get up, move around, and stretch your feet and legs—at least once per hour.
When you do get outside for some exercise, make sure you take time to stretch and warm up first, then cool down afterward. Just a few minutes before and after your workout really does significantly reduce injury risk.
One more thing:
If the pandemic has actually made you more active—or at least encouraged you to try different activities like a running routine—then first, congratulations! But second, make sure you approach new activities slowly and intentionally. Trying to do too much, too soon with new forms of exercise (especially high-impact ones like running) can greatly increase your risk of foot and ankle injuries and pain. Start at a manageable pace, and increase gradually—10% per week at most.
Call Us If You Have Any Problems
Hopefully, you’ve learned the basics you need to keep foot and ankle concerns from becoming a problem during these unusual times.
But unfortunately, foot problems don’t always take a break just because the rest of your life slows down. And if that happens to you, you deserve quick and effective relief.
At Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic, we are still seeing patients at our office for urgent and emergency care needs. Heel pain definitely qualifies as an urgent problem, especially if it’s keeping your from living life to the fullest.
And even if you aren’t able to visit us in person—or just aren’t comfortable doing so right away—you can still meet with Dr. Dailey via telemedicine. Without even leaving your home, you can talk with Dr. Dailey about your symptoms and ask whatever questions you may have. From there, we’ll help you determine whether a follow-up visit at our office is necessary, or if there are additional remedies you can try at home first.