Teenagers are more likely to recognize the importance of regularly caring for their teeth, skin, eyes, and bodies, but few know to care for their feet, according to the Michigan Podiatric Medical Association.
Feet are out of sight, out of mind. Yet, foot health plays an important role in overall health and wellness. Teens, especially girls, tend to care about having attractive feet versus healthy feet.
“While most individuals tend to react to foot issues later in life, the time to begin a good foot care routine is actually in the teenage years,” said Jodie Sengstock, DPM, a Garden City Hospital podiatrist and director of professional relations, Michigan Podiatric Medical Association. “Only about half of teens believe that feet are important to their overall health and many are living with foot pain. It’s vital that we educate teens on how to properly care for their feet and that local podiatrists are readily available to help relieve pain and avoid long term complications.”
The average person takes approximately 10,000 steps per day, which adds up to more than 3 million steps per year. They apply four to six times their body weight on ankle joints when climbing stairs or walking steep inclines. With 26 bones and 33 joints, feet serve as the foundation for the rest of the body’s structure. Feet that are painful or not mechanically sound, can affect the knees, hips and even the lower back.
Feet are still growing during the teen years. However, teens should be aware that foot pain of any kind is not normal. Whether they are dealing with blisters, athlete's foot, or ingrown toenails, caring for feet at an early age reduces the risk of complications later.
Sports, high heels
According to the Michigan Podiatric Medical Association, one third of teenagers experience foot pain at least some of the time. Sports are the major cause of foot pain among teens. Half who have had pain say sports was the source. Three-quarters of high school students play a school or recreational sport, and of them, four in 10 have injured their feet. Two in 10 suffer from foot pain from uncomfortable shoes — girls more than boys. High heels are the most painful shoe choice. Although six in 10 teens have had a foot problem in their lives, most self-medicate or just live with the problem.
Fewer than two in 10 teens have visited a podiatrist. Teens who do see a podiatrist are more likely to care for their feet.
Keeping feet healthy can help avoid embarrassing and uncomfortable problems such as athlete’s foot, foot odor, and toenail fungus. The Michigan Podiatric Medical Association offers these easy steps to maintain healthy feet:
•Wash your feet daily with soap and water. It’s tempting to just swish your feet around in the shower, but it’s important to use soap to remove germs and grime. Don’t forget to wash in between your toes.
•Keep feet dry. Fungus, including the kind that causes athlete’s foot, loves to grow in moist, damp environments, so after your shower, dry your feet thoroughly, paying extra attention to the spaces between your toes. If your socks get wet during the day, change them.
•Trim toenails into a slight curve. Too-long toenails not only wreck your socks and look crazy, but they can harbor bacteria. Use a pair of toenail clippers to cut your toenails to just above or at the edge of your toe. Cut straight across the nail, or a slight curve is okay, too.
•Wear supportive, properly fitted shoes. Improperly fitted shoes with no support are a major cause of foot pain and injury.