Everyone needs to look after their feet. There are many components to foot care but for well looked after and healthy feet here are some tips:

Good circulation

Blood, containing nutrients and oxygen, is delivered to the feet and waste products are carried away from them. You need to eat well, drink enough water, monitor your blood pressure and not smoke in order to ensure that your blood carries oxygen to the cells in your body.

You need a good, strong and fit heart (and muscles) to pump blood around your body. Regular exercise and movementassists. When you get your heart rate up it improves circulation so, whether pushing your wheelchair is your exercise, or if moving your neck and shouldersand deep breathing is all that you can do, do it! Keep moving! If you have painful joints and arthritis then movement in warm water may be all that you can manage or gentle movement of the joints without resistance, like pumpingyour feet up and down. This would feed the joint cartilage and improve circulation. Sports not only improve circulation and muscle strength - they help to reduce stress and improve your social life!

Swollen feet

  • Elevate your feet at regular intervals during the day,
  • Sleep with your feet slightly elevated on pillows (or put the end of your bed up on blocks) so that your feet are slightly higher than your heart. This encourages blood and fluid to move out ofthe legs and feet and back into circulation,
  • keep moving your feet and legs,
  • make sure your heart is working well: visit your GP for yearly general check-ups,
  • If you wear elastic stockings for your swollen feet: be observant and check that they are not too tight and causingharm to the skin in the folds. Remove them regularly and check the skin belowthem.

Smelly feet

Yuk! Keep your feet clean! Wash and thendry your feet regularly, taking special care to dry properly between your toes to prevent fungal infections like athletes foot. Keeping your feet cleanprevents infections from developing. Treat any cuts, injuries or soresimmediately and appropriately. When in doubt see a doctor or podiatrist -sooner rather than later!

Feel good

If the feeling in your feet is absent or deficient then you need to take extra care, thinking and seeing on behalf ofthe nerves. SO!! Examine your feet regularly, check the skin and nails and nailbeds and cuticles. Check that your feet are positioned correctly so that the joints are in the correct position and the muscles don't get stiff, causing deformities of your joints. Check skin condition regularly and beware of usinga pumice stone or file to remove dry skin as you could injure the healthy skin below and cause damage. Rather apply lots of cream at bed time and cover the min a loosely fastened plastic bag for the night. Next morning remove the plastic bag and soak your feet in warm water before rinsing off the old, dry skin. Make sure that the water is warm but not hot - to prevent burns! Repeat this process at regular intervals.

When cutting your nails be very careful as you could cut into the nail quick (at the top of the toe where the nailmeets the skin). Leave the nail slightly longer and always cut the nailstraight across. If you go for a pedicure inform them that you cannot feel. Be cautious of hot water when soaking your feet, bathing or showering as burns leave wounds that could take a long time to heal especially if your circulation is poor.

Shoes

Shoes protect your feet from sunburn, cold, bumps and bruises, insectbites and heat (such as from the floor of a car). Wear the correct size shoe and allow enough space for if your feet swell up during the day. Small shoes can cause deformities such as bunions, sores and calluses and corns. If you have low sensation or paralysed feet wear shoes that will not slip off without you noticing. Shoes made from soft leather are generally best as they allow thefeet to breathe and absorb moisture from sweat.

Diabetes

Diabetes can affect the feeling and the healing capabilities of your feet. If you have diabetes then extra special caremust be taken of your feet, and your diet, to prevent injury and further complications occurring, which could lead to the amputation of your foot orpart of your leg.

Everyone looks good and feels better when they are neatly dressed, clean, smell good, have their feet well positioned andare in good looking shoes. Put your best foot forward and keep those feet - Happy feet!

Melanie Skeen

ri-dot