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Protecting your feet is so critical to your overall health, but it is often times overlooked. April is Foot Health Awareness month, so we are sharing our top 10 foot tips that you can follow to keep your feet happy and healthy! These are great tips for anyone, whether you’ve been monitoring your foot health for years, or you’re just now getting started.

1. Inspect feet daily for cuts, abrasions, callousing, etc.

You know your feet better than anyone, so chances are you’ll notice any abnormalities that develop. Checking your feet doesn’t have to be an elaborate process, just a quick look-over to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. Remember, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, so if you have discomfort or notice anything abnormal, you can always get it checked out!

Don’t go barefoot (especially diabetics)

This one is so important. Any time you walk around without shoes, you are putting your feet at risk. It’s so easy to accidentally step on something sharp, causing an open wound, and leading to dangerous infection, not to mention serious pain. Preventing this type of injury is always better in the long run, so choose to wear shoes as often as you can!

Keep nails at minimal length to avoid ingrown toenails and poorly fitting into shoes

If you’ve never had an ingrown toenail, consider yourself lucky- those suckers can hurt! Regularly trimming your nails and keeping them on the shorter side is the easiest way to prevent that kind of discomfort. Ingrown toenails occur when your toenails start to grow into the flesh around your nail. If left untreated, they can lead to severe pain and infection. The best way to cut your toenails is to follow the shape of your nail as you trim.

Diabetics should NEVER trim their own nails. They are at a higher risk for developing severe wounds, so a small, accidental cut from a nail clipper could turn in to a serious issue. However, if you have diabetes, your insurance most likely covers regular, professional nail trims!

Inspect shoes for abnormal wear and tear

Another super simple tip, but so, so effective. We always preach about the importance of wearing supportive shoes, but over time, even the most supportive shoes can wear down and become uncomfortable. With running shoes especially, it is important to upgrade to a new pair every few months to maintain support and stability. The average running shoe is only designed to last about 6 months if you average 9-12 miles per week: if you average more miles per week then you should replace your shoes more often, whereas if you run fewer miles can get away with replacing them less frequently.

Make sure the shoe fits the activity

This tip is pretty self-explanatory, but also so crucial to your foot health. Different types of activities require different types of support. Choosing the right shoes will help keep your feet in tip top shape. Keep it simple: don’t wear ballet flats to go for a leisurely walk and you’ll be good to go.

Don’t perform bathroom and surgery and make your condition worse

This tip is probably the most important one on the list. No matter how badly you are tempted to handle an ingrown toenail, wart, blister, or other abnormality that pops up, do not do it! Handling these types of conditions on your own is never effective. Most of the time they develop an infection and doesn’t even end up healing. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and discomfort by going to a professional as soon as you notice something abnormal.

Moisturize daily

Moisturizing your feet after a long day is a great way to give yourself some TLC while also keeping your feet healthy. This can help with dry skin, cracked heels, and other uncomfortable conditions that develop due to a lack of moisture. You don’t need to drench your feet in lotion, just a thin layer every night will do the trick!

Whatever it is…don’t pick it! You’ll only make it worse

This tip falls right in line with bathroom surgery- do not do it! If you have a wound, a blister, an ingrown toenail or another abnormality it’s best to leave it alone and let the professionals handle it. Warts, for example, can spread easily, so picking at them can actually cause them to worsen.

Wear socks with your shoes

This tip seems pretty obvious, but it is still so important. Going barefoot in your shoes allows the bacteria on your feet to breed and spread, causing warts, fungus, etc. It’s best to choose socks made out of a moisture wicking material to allow for maximum breathability.

Change your socks daily

Wearing socks with your shoes does you no good if you’re wearing the same socks every single day. This, again, allows for the spreading of bacteria and the development of more serious foot health problems.

BONUS: protect your feet in communal areas

Protecting your feet out in public is so easy and so important to maintaining great foot health. It’s as simple as throwing on a pair of comfortable shoes any time your feet could be exposed to outside germs. Locker room? Shoes. Dorm shower? Shoes. Public pool deck? Shoes. Your feet will thank you later!