Sunday, January 3, 2016


Working our way down the staying healthy in the tropics list, next up is FEET

Feet have skin, so of course they’re susceptible to all the stuff your skin can get like fungus, sunburn, infection, coral scrapes, boils, all the good stuff I talked about in yesterday's post. Every time I take a shower, in addition to a thorough soapy scrub on all my creases and pieces, I lather up my fingers and interlace them with my toes, making sure that the toes get a good soaping between and around each digit. Rinse well with clean water, and if you really want to keep dry you can dry off with a hair dryer and dust everything with some talcum powder or corn starch.

Skin treated? Ok, let’s talk about the stuff under the skin. You’re more likely to wear open-toed loose shoes with little or no support – think sandals and flip flops, which means you get to add in problems like aching feet and lower leg pain from lack of support. It gets better. If you keep on wearing those flip flops aka jandals aka slippers even once you start to hurt, you can develop pesky knee, hip and back pain.

What happens is that most of us have been wearing closed toe shoes our whole lives, and then we move to places like Fiji or the Virgin Islands and put on a pair of flimsy rubber shoes with loose straps. Flipflops are open in the back, so your foot is more likely to slide around. The toes clench up trying to keep the shoe on our foot (which is what leads to a lot of the muscle and tendon strains), which changes our gait (joint pain!) plus we turn into instant klutzes because we’re trying to walk in a shoe that’s doing its best to fall off the whole time. Add in rainy days and slippery tile and it’s a miracle we’ve survived long enough to write (or read) this post.

What’s the bad stuff that can happen? Well, here’s a partial list (I'm not a doctor, if you are in pain, go see a medical professional. If you're curious, keep reading):
• Achilles Tendonitis (Pain along the back of your foot and above your heel, especially when stretching your ankle or standing on your toes; with tendinitis, pain may be mild and worsen gradually
• Calf Strains (pain ranging from mild ache to moderate pain when using your calf, difficulty in rising up on your toes or pushing off from your feet)
• Metatarsalgia (pain that occurs in the front section of the foot, often where the second, third and fourth toes meet the ball of the foot)
• Morton’s Neuroma (nerve damage! May feel tingly, or burning, or numbness at the front of the foot, maybe a feeling there is something INSIDE the ball of the foot, could also feel like there’s something in the shoe or a sock is bunched up)
• Plantar Fasciitis (sounds like PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus, usually shows up as pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel. This is a weird one, it tends to hurt most after you’ve been resting)
• Shin Splints (the front of your lower leg hurts)

Go ahead. Ask me how I know all this….(experience is what you call it when you recognize a mistake the second time you make it)

Couple of things can help a lot:
• Choose a shoe with a strap around the back
• Find a shoe with an arch support
• Get a shoe that has a stiffer sole (flip but no flop)
• If you’re gonna wear the shoes anyway, try to wear them only for short times.

Last up, assuming that you’re wearing good shoes with a nice arch support and a strap around the back, chances are you’re going to want to show those tootsies off. There’s some stuff you can do to keep your pedicures a little safer.
• Choose a clean salon. Look around, Ask the staff about how they disinfect their footbath and tools between customers. If you can, watch the staff with a customer AND see what they do before the next customer sits down. If you have any doubts whatsoever, walk away. I’ve heard some people suggest that you bring your own pedicure tools, but unless you’ve got an autoclave at home, chances are you’re better off with a clean salon and well trained staff than trying to clean them at home.
• This may seem weird, but protect your legs! When you remove hair from your legs, you create micro cuts and you thin the skin that is going to go into the bath. By not shaving, waxing or using a depilatory cream 24 hours before your pedicure you keep your skin intact and better able to keep junk out of your system.
• I know it’s tempting, but don’t let the staff cut your cuticles or use a razor on calluses. It takes longer, but a pumice stone or foot file will scrape away the dead skin and not cut into your healthy skin.

That's all for today's reflection. May your feet carry you everywhere you want to go! 

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