Keeping the spring in your step

Your feet; every year, you put many miles on them. You count on them to take you wherever you want to go, yet you probably don’t think about them unless they hurt. I bet your trailer tires get more visual inspections than your feet do. So far, they’ve been carrying their weight (and yours).

Consider the following common foot conditions and stay on a healthy foot path.

Fungal and bacterial conditions are common for truck drivers because germs get picked up in shared areas where people walk barefoot, such as public showers. They then flourish in warm, moist environments, such as work boots. They can cause blisters, itching, peeling and dry, inflamed skin. If you treat a bacterial or fungal condition right away, you can cure it. If not, it may be hard to cure and will probably come back again and again.

To prevent infections, keep your feet -especially the area between your toes -clean and dry. Change your shoes and socks often to help keep your feet dry.

Wear socks made of a wicking material to draw the moisture away from your skin. If you think you’ve caught a foot infection, try dusting your feet daily with foot powder.

Keep the skin between your toes dry by separating your toes with cotton batting. However, if your foot condition does not get better within two weeks, see your doctor.

You may find out you just have dry skin, which is easier to take care of. If your feet itch and burn but are not infected, start using a milder soap and rub your feet and lower legs daily with a moisturizing cream or lotion. Using bath oils can also help, but be careful -they’ll make your feet and bathtub very slippery.

Warts are another condition caused by a virus. Depending on where they are on your feet, they may or may not be painful. However, if untreated, they often spread.

When they grow on a weight-bearing area of the foot, your body weight can cause them to grow deeply into the foot tissue. Although there are many anecdotal and over-the-counter remedies for warts, for permanent removal, often a doctor’s treatment is required.

Corns and calluses are also common foot complaints and are caused by shoes or boots that don’t fit properly. Because of this, parts of the foot rub against the footwear and the bony parts of the foot build up tissue in these areas. Choosing better-fitting shoes is a great start to fixing this problem. There are also corn pads available in stores to place on corns and calluses to prevent rubbing and allow the skin to go back to normal.

There are also chemical treatments available to remove the excess skin, but if the fit of the shoe remains the same, the corns and calluses will just return.

Bunions are also quite common and seem to run in families. They happen when the joints in the big toe don’t fit together properly. If surgery is not necessary, you can manage this by taping your foot into a proper position, wearing an adhesive pad that cushions the bunion, or simply buying footwear that allows enough room around the toe for the toe to move freely. Sometimes orthotics or shoe inserts are helpful. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections.

Unlike a bunion, a hammer toe affects the second toe, but is usually caused by a bunion on the big toes. With a hammer toe, the middle part of the toe points upward, often at the first joint of the second toe. Over time, the tendons that control toe movement shorten and the joint stiffens, affecting balance. If you have one, be sure that your shoes and socks give your toes enough room to move. If your case is very serious, your doctor may suggest surgery.

Ingrown toenails also affect the toes. Although not usually very serious, they can become quite painful, especially if they become infected. It is recommended that to avoid ingrown toenails, you carefully cut your toenails straight across on level with the top of your toe.

Spurs are another foot complaint. They are calcium growths that develop because of muscle strain on the feet. The most common causes are: standing for long periods of time, wearing shoes that don’t fit and/or being overweight. They aren’t necessarily painful, but if they are, you may try foot supports, heel pads or cups. Very rarely surgery is needed.

If the above foot conditions seem like just a nuisance, lucky you. However, if you have diabetes or a circulatory issue, be sure to have your doctor regularly take a look at your feet, too. With these additional health conditions, foot conditions can become very serious.

Put your best foot forward -they’re in it for the long haul.

-Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.

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