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Preventive Maintenance: Taking Care of Your Feet

Most of us take our feet for granted. In fact until we have problems, or pain that affects our mobility, we don't give them a second thought. But we should, especially if we have sugar problems.Let's ...

Most of us take our feet for granted. In fact until we have problems, or pain that affects our mobility, we don’t give them a second thought. But we should, especially if we have sugar problems.

Let’s take a look at how diabetes can affect our feet and what we should do to keep them healthy.

Since over 16,000,000 North Americans are diabetic, this touches a lot of lives.

One quarter of these people will develop foot problems from affected nerves or circulation. The nerves in a diabetic’s feet lose their sensitivity so minor cuts, scrapes, blisters and pressure sores can be overlooked.

As well, because a diabetic’s circulation tends to become poor in the extremities, their feet and legs don’t have enough blood moving around quickly enough. (And on top of that sitting on a truck seat, bouncing down the road for hours a day doesn’t make the blood flow any better!)

So, your feet don’t get enough oxygen and nutrition to keep things up to snuff. Small injuries don’t heal quickly, and may swell and become dry and cracked.

Minor problems could turn into ulcers, infections, or other serious foot conditions, if you’re not careful.

First of all-take a good look at your feet EVERY day! And wash them every day, too! Give them a breather!

How would you like to be trapped in a stinky boot all day? If you rub a bit of lotion on the top and bottom of your feet they’ll stay soft.

So, they won’t be as likely to crack and split. (But don’t put any lotion between your toes – that might cause infection.)

If your toenails need clipping, do it. (Don’t wait till your toe is peeking out of a hole in the end of your sock.)

Clip them after you wash and dry your feet. The nail will cut easier and won’t likely split.

Don’t rip off hangnails, or cut into the corners of your nails.

For safety, it’s best to wear shoes and socks all the time, even in the house.

Seamless socks don’t cause blisters. And absorbent socks (athletic ones are good) will pull the moisture away from your feet while absorbing shock and wear. Check out your boots before putting them on.

Make sure the lining is smooth and nothing has fallen inside.

Try to keep the temperature of your feet constant. This will be a special challenge as you jump in and out of your truck in the winter months. But it’s best for circulation.

As well, you might want to look into orthotics: formed pieces of plastic that you place in your shoe/boot to hold and support your foot in the proper position.

If you decide to get some, look at what they’re made of. Plastazote is the most popular material.

And for good reason as it accommodates irritation spots by conforming to heat and pressure, making for a custom fit.

When picking out your boots, make sure you have enough room for your toes. Get boots that have removable insoles so you can take them out if they become worn, or if you want to use orthotics.

Try “Rocker Soles” – shock absorbers for the balls of your feet. Firm “heel counters” will give your foot support and stability.

Most of all, do all you can to keep the blood flowing to your feet. So don’t sit with your legs crossed for a long time (not much of a problem for most drivers). Don’t wear socks that have a tight band at the top.

Make sure you have plenty of room in the shoes/boots you choose. And don’t smoke. Each puff slows the blood flow to your feet.

If you want to get more active, avoid running and jumping. Too hard on your feet.

Try walking, dancing, swimming, and bicycling.

They’re great!

Diabetic or not, these are great tips for keeping your feet in tiptop shape.

So when life throws you a curve, you can land on your (two healthy) feet.

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

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