You may not be paying much attention to your feet, so it may come as a surprise that some of the seemingly normal things you do in your day to day life may be causing damage to their overall health.
Read on to discover five common mistakes that can contribute to damage and how to avoid them.
As you run, you land on the supination (outside) of the foot, before rolling to the pronation (inside) of the foot and finally returning to the supination.
Those who over-pronate are affecting the way they land and push off from the ground, which can cause damage to the feet, shins, Achilles tendon, knees, hips and back.
To avoid over-pronating, try to place your foot correctly, buy better fitting running shoes or seek advice from a podiatrist.
Not Stretching your Feet
You may be used to stretching your body before or after a workout, but do you include your feet in the regime? It’s important to include foot stretches to prevent constriction and reverse the damage of wearing tight shoes on your toes.
Stretching will also strengthen your arches, which will lessen your risk of experiencing foot cramps.
Wearing the Wrong Socks
Socks are essential for working out as the foot has more sweat glands than anywhere else on the body. However, it’s important to ensure you’re wearing the correct kind. Choose a synthetic material over cotton as cotton socks are more likely to trap moisture which in turn could cause blisters or even encourage fungal infections.
Frequently Wearing High Heels
High heels can cause pain, bunions, corns or calluses when worn frequently. Try to explore other choices that will complement your wardrobe just as well – a great pair of flats can look just as stylish.
Putting Stress on your Feet
If you’re putting too much stress on a particular part of your foot, you will be at a much higher risk of developing calluses. Common areas include the big toe and the ball of the foot.
Try to avoid placing too much pressure on your feet by wearing comfortable shoes or cushioned inserts, or ask a podiatrist for further advice.
If you’ve been doing any of these without realising how they could affect you, try to consider the ways you could make simple changes and improve the health and condition of your feet.
Rwanda is a small ambitious country known as the land of 1000 hills with a population around 12 million and a rapidly growing economy. It has rolling hills for as far as you can see, a rain forest, gorillas and volcanoes, making for quite the site to any visitor. However, it is also known for the 1994 genocide in which over 1 million people were killed in 100 days across the country.
This tragic event has led to some very big health issues, which the country still faces, but thanks to a range of donor funding and strong political leadership, the country is on its way to quickly becoming a middle-income country.
As countries shift from low incomes to middle income economies, health issues become complex, where the country can face a mix of communicable disease (ie. malaria, HIV, TB) and the introduction of non-communicable disease (ie. diabetes, high BP, cholesterol) with changes in lifestyles.
Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with podiatry?
Well, as clinicians we play a role in the overall wellbeing of every patient that walks through our door for treatment and we become advocates for a number public health issues. While our specialist area is focused on the foot and ankle, an understanding of the bodily systems is imperative for understanding the impacts on the lower limb. This allows us to transition from clinical practice to other work streams such as health policy, public health programmes, service management and research.
As a podiatrist with a public health background, the increase of diabetes and chronic conditions in developing nations has become of personal interest. In many of these countries, diabetes is poorly understood and without proper prevention and care, can lead to a large economic burdens on the healthcare system. In 2012, the UK alone spent a whopping £639 million on foot ulcers and £662 on lower limb amputations, so the prevention and monitoring of these conditions is of paramount importance in the developing world.
The quality of life for individuals with diabetes is also drastically affected if not controlled, impacting mobility, footwear and overall lifestyle. Additionally, chronic ulceration and limb amputation, creates an increases risk (approximately 80%) of mortality within the first 5 years post amputation.
How did all this lead me to Africa, I hear you say?
In April of 2016, I (sadly) departed from the Betafeet clinic to implement an mhealth project in Rwanda in partnership with the Ministry of Health. This project, allows patients across the country to speak with a doctor and receive a prescription via SMS through their mobile phone, reducing the travel time, wait time and expense of receiving care from one of the local physical hospitals. The system is also working on monitoring both communicable and non-communicable disease using artificial intelligence, engaging patients to take ownership of their health.
This could be a major milestone for a country with stretched resources. To put things into perspective, over 80% of the population lives in remote areas of the country and works in the ‘in-formal’ sector as subsistence farmers with an average income of 2-3 dollars per day, which is not very much. To receive care, a patient may travel over an hour to reach their nearest hospital where a doctor is present and then wait anywhere from a few hours to a few days to receive the care they need. However almost 80% of the population already has a mobile phone.
Appropriate access to clinical care is a large part of the prevention and management of many conditions and undertaking this project has been a great experience. As a clinician, I have had the opportunity to utilise my knowledge to develop operational pathways and input into the technology development to shape the way patients receive their care.
It is with
this experience I now look to move on to my next adventure focusing on Aboriginals
and the utilisation of technology in the prevention of major non communicable
disease such as diabetes.
Final comment from Reggie Simpson and Betafeet Podiatry
We wish Andre the very best in his future and thank him for this interesting blog account. We look forward to his next blog focused on his work with the Aboriginal population.