The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 9, 2013

Walking the walk

By Judy Rupp, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— In Arnold Lobel’s “Mouse Tales,” there is a story of a mouse that is so intent on visiting his mother that he walks until his feet wear out. Fortunately, he sees a person standing by the side of the road selling feet.

When he finally arrives, his mother hugs him and kisses him and says: “Hello, my son. You are looking fine, and what nice new feet you have!”

It’s a delightful bedtime story, but even children know that you should never let your feet wear out, because you may not be so lucky to find a person by the side of the road selling new ones.

Over the course of a lifetime, your feet will log many miles. The wear and tear will eventually get to them, but, if you practice good foot care, they will make the journey.

GOOD SHOES: Distance runners, who log many miles on their feet, are aware of the importance of shoes — whether it be for cushioning, support, pronation, supination or the feel of the road. For everyday use, it’s just as important to find shoes that are comfortable, fit well and are a good match for your usual activities.

As a runner knows, too much cushioning can make a shoe unstable; too little cushioning deprives you of shock absorption. It’s good to seek a shoe that provides both comfort and stability.

Spike heels and narrow toes are never a good fit and can eventually make bunions and other foot problems worse. If you have to wear them, make sure you have more comfortable shoes for walking to and from the car.

Shoe size varies with the manufacturer and changes with age. If you wore size 7 when you graduated from college, you probably need a bigger size today. Of course, you should try on shoes and walk in them before buying, and the best time to go is late in the day when your feet are the largest.

FUNGAL INFECTIONS primarily are a consequence of wearing shoes where the foot environment is warm, dark and moist. Athletes are vulnerable because their feet sweat, and also because they often are in a hurry to put on their shoes and socks after a workout — just as you are when you’re getting ready for work in the morning.

Make sure you dry your feet thoroughly after washing them, particularly between the toes. Change your shoes and socks or stockings frequently. And air out your feet from time to time.

CIRCULATION: Poor circulation is frequently caused by peripheral vascular disease. Blood vessels in the lower body become narrowed by plaque and unable to deliver blood and oxygen in sufficient supply to working muscles in the leg. If you feel a pain in your calf after a certain amount of walking and the pain goes away when you stop and rest, you may have peripheral artery disease.

You should see a doctor because diseased blood vessels in the lower body usually are an indication that arteries could be clogged near the heart as well. The solution is not to stop walking, but to continue. Walk until the pain becomes unbearable, stop and rest, then start again. The goal is to build collateral arteries to take over from those that are occluded.

DIABETES: Persons with diabetes are at risk of foot problems, in part because they have weakened circulation and also loss of normal sensation because of peripheral nerve problems related to their disease. If a sore develops on the foot, the patient may not notice it until the ulcer presents a serious problem, in some cases, resulting in amputation. Good foot care is important for everyone, crucial for diabetics.

As a diabetic, you should wear comfortable shoes and avoid walking barefoot, particularly outside. Wash your feet every day and inspect them carefully for red spots, cuts, swelling and blisters. Use a mirror, if necessary, to check the soles. Your doctor should examine your feet at least once a year.

SWOLLEN FEET: Your feet and ankles can swell after you’ve been standing all day with little movement. And women often experience swelling because of hormonal changes related to the menstrual period. But swollen feet and ankles also can be a sign of fluid retention related to heart failure or lymphedema, problems that require a doctor’s attention. There are many other foot problems: corns, calluses, warts, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, fractures and neuromas. You probably have suffered from one or more of them and know how miserable it feels to have sore, aching feet. You can avoid that feeling by taking good care of your feet and putting them in shoes that will carry you all the way to your mother’s house — and wherever else you wish to go.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.