Do you ever take the time to check your feet? If you’re an average walker, you take about 10,000 steps per day, which adds up to more than 3 million steps each year. And according to New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer, you’re also carrying approximately four to six times your body weight across the ankle joint when you climb stairs. This results in a lot of stress and strain on your feet and ankles.
To make sure yours stay healthy, Dr. Meyer recommends that you examine your feet at least weekly. He offers these five steps for your next foot self-exam.
Physical Appearance: Search for issues like swelling, discoloration of the skin or nails, blisters, excessive calluses and changes to the shape of your foot. Carefully examine your soles and the spaces between your toes. If you’re not physically able to take a close look at your feet, have a family member or friend help you. If you find anything unusual, especially since your last self-exam, see your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon.
Blood Circulation: Press down on the nail of your big toe until the color lightens. Then let go and allow the blood flow to return to your toe. The return of normal color should take two to five seconds if you have average circulation.
Toe and Ankle Flexibility: To test their flexibility, try to pick up a marble or a small dishtowel using just your toes. To test your ankle flexibility, hang your heel over the edge of a stair while facing up the staircase. Now let the heel go below the level of the stair. If this causes pain, stop the test. It’s an excellent sign if your heel goes below the level of the stair without causing strain in your calf. If there is some strain, your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon recommends performing flexibility exercises.
Feeling: Take a pencil eraser and lightly run it on the top, bottom and both sides of your feet. The sensation should feel the same in all quadrants. Feeling a tickle on the bottom of the feet is normal.
Pain: If you experience pain, search for the location. There should be no pain in the average, uninjured foot.
After you’ve finishing assessing your feet, try a balance test. Stand on one foot with your arms out to the side and your eyes closed. If you are less than 30 years old, you should be able to balance for 15 seconds; 30 to 40 years old, for 12 seconds; 40 to 50 years old, for 10 seconds; and over 50 years old, for seven seconds. Balance can be improved with exercises.
For more information on foot health and typical foot problems, call the office of New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer to schedule a consultation.