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April 09, 2007
Put Your Best Foot Forward for Foot Health

"Oh, my aching feet!" This is a common complaint of busy people in any occupation, especially if they spend a lot of time standing or walking on the job. And yet, most people pay more attention to the tires on their cars than they do to their feet. This month is Foot Health Awareness Month, so it's an appropriate time to talk to your employees about how to keep their hard-working feet healthy.

There are all kinds of foot problems. According tot the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), feet can be susceptible to a surprising number of health problems besides just tired, swollen, or aching feet. For example:

  • Corns and calluses
  • Blisters, cuts, and bruises
  • Ingrown toenails and nail fungus
  • Athlete's foot
  • Foot odor
  • Heel pain and spurs
  • Bunions

Wearing the right shoes can help prevent problems. Whether employees have to wear special foot protection on the job or just everyday work shoes, footwear should be selected with care. Advise employees to make sure their shoes:

  • Don't pinch any point on the foot
  • Provide a firm grip for the heel
  • Support the arches
  • Allow comfortable movement of the toes

Shoes that lace up give added support.

Why It Matters...
  • It's estimated that 75 percent of people develop some kind of foot problem at some time during their lives.
  • Many of these problems are the result of not taking proper care of feet.
  • Foot problems can keep employees off their feet and, consequently, off the job.

For anyone working on metal or cement floors, a shock-absorbing, cushioned insole is a sensible addition. Sandals and high heels (1 1/2 inches or higher) are not a good idea for anyone who spends a lot of time on the job standing or walking-and are also inappropriate in many cases for safety reasons. Completely flat soles are not a good idea, either, since they may cause undue pressure on the feet and lower back.

Healthy feet are happy feet. Here are some other foot health tips from the APMA that you can share with your employees:

  • Keep feet clean and toenails trimmed (APMA recommends trimming straight across and not too short).
  • Check feet regularly for foot problems like toenail fungus (discoloration of the nail), athlete's foot, abnormal growths, change in color or temperature, etc.
  • To avoid injuries, be careful of walking barefoot, especially outdoors.
  • Alternate shoes, rather than wear the same pair every day, if possible.
  • Don't ignore foot pain--see a foot doctor.
  • If you have diabetes, be sure to see a foot doctor at least once a year for a checkup.
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