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Prevention and wellness

How to take care of your feet

You should seek medical care when you have pain or notice an abnormality, whether visual or structural, in your foot. Definitely seek care if you suffer a wound or trauma to the foot.

Diabetics, in particular, should see a physician or podiatrist when experiencing foot pain. An untreated or unresponsive foot ulcer can lead to amputation. Diabetics are also at higher risk for complications from even common conditions.

In most cases, conservative treatment, such as stretching, changing shoes or resting from activity, can help with common foot ailments.

One of the best steps to ensure your feet are in good health is proper fitting footwear.

When buying shoes, it's a good idea to take a shoe measurement at the store. It's not unusual to find some variation in the length and width measurements of each foot. Also, feet are subject to change as one ages.

The rule of thumb in a good fit is allowing a thumb's width between your longest toe — usually your second or third toe — and the end of the shoe. Ultimately, make your shoe selection based on how the shoe fits, rather than the size.

A good shoe should also support the foot's intricate ligament and bone structure. Flip-flops tend to be the bane of all podiatrists since their lack of support can strain the foot's muscles, and some research shows flip-flops also can create ankle and hip problems.

Experts and research tend to indicate that the best shoe for babies and toddlers is no shoe at all.  Since bare feet aren't always appropriate, the proper child's shoe should have bend and flexibility to it to help a young foot develop. Babies are born with flat feet, with the feet slowly taking shape during the next couple years. It's not until one reaches the teen years that 26 bones in the the human foot have fully ossified.