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Tips for Preventing Summer’s Most Common Foot Injuries

Unless you’re getting a pedicure, you probably don’t give your feet a lot of thought. They’re way over at the opposite end of your body from your brain, and they kind of do their thing without a lot of instruction or worry.

But feet are complex structures. Each of your feet has 28 bones and 30 joints, not to mention over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons. That’s an awful lot of places where something could go wrong.

Expert podiatrist Gary M. Kazmer, in Elgin, Barrington, and Chicago, Illinois, has seen a lot of foot injuries in his more than 24 years of experience. He knows that summertime brings an uptick of men, women, kids, and teens with foot injuries to Kazmer Foot & Ankle Centers. He offers a few easy-to-do tips to keep your feet doing their thing safely and surely all summer long:

Warm up

Remember those 100 and more muscles, tendons, and ligaments in each foot? After spending all year tucked under desks at school and work, those tissues are tense and short.

Make sure you take the time to limber up your feet with gentle stretching exercises for at least 10 minutes before you hit the track or the basketball court and cool down afterward, too. Pay special attention to the Achilles tendon — the long cord running from your heel to your calf. Torn Achilles tendons are common and could keep you out of the game for months.

Take it slow

Even after you’re warmed up, if you haven’t ridden a skateboard or played tennis in awhile, don’t try to become Venus Williams overnight. Come up with a schedule that allows you to increase your play time gradually, so your body has time to acclimate and strengthen.

Wear shoes … even at the beach or pool

The first thing most people want to do when summer starts is throw off their shoes and hit the sand or grass with the naked soles of their feet. While that may feel good for awhile, bare feet are susceptible to a range of injuries and troubling conditions, including:

Get well-made shower shoes to protect your feet from burning sand. Wear them at the gym, showers, and pool, too, to protect against highly infectious athlete’s foot fungus. If you surf or swim in the ocean, use protective foot gear to fend off sharp rocks and other hazards.

Wear the right shoes … and socks

Cheap shoes can cost a lot in the long run. If you wear poorly made flip-flops or other flats that cushion your feet without supporting them, you run the risk of overpronation (rolling your foot inward), stressing your tendons and other structures. Dr. Kazmer can provide custom-made orthotics to keep your feet in a healthy position.

High-heeled or narrow-boxed shoes that look great on an open-air dance floor can permanently damage your toes and feet. Poorly made or fitting shoes put you at risk for:

Your shoes should also be made of a breathable material that allows air to circulate around your feet, keeping them dry to reduce the risk of a fungal infection. Your socks, too, should wick moisture away from your feet.

Don’t forget the sunscreen

Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate among body parts. If you don’t protect your feet, toes, and ankles with regular re-application of a high SPF (30+) sunscreen, you’re putting yourself at risk for future melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. And sunburns hurt!

Clean your feet … and shoes

Wash your feet at least once a day with soap and water. Be sure to dry between your toes. And don’t wear dirty shoes that might be full of mold, fungi, or vermin. Toss them in the wash or clean them regularly with leather cleaner.

Look at your feet

Your feet may be far from your brain, but you should know by now that it pays to keep your feet in your thoughts. Look at them when you clean them, checking for signs of problems, such as:

By just keeping an eye on your feet and giving them a little attention, you can catch concerns early on and take steps to keep your feet safe and happy.

Don’t ignore foot pain

Pain is a signal that something needs help. If your feet hurt or ache — summer, fall, winter, or spring — check in with Dr. Kazmer to get your feet back in working order. You can call his friendly staff or book an appointment online.

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