Preventative Foot Care

Preventative Foot Care

No building can stand without a strong foundation and your body’s foundation is your feet.  As a a former light infantryman (the light infantryman often relies on his feet and not on mechanized transportation during operations) I was well schooled in proper preventative foot care  for military operations.  Many of the same preventative foot care techniques are applicable to hiking, bugging out or even a long day if you work in one of the many occupations that has you on your feet all day.

CARE OF THE FEET

FM 21-75, Combat Skills of the Soldier (Approved for public release, distribution is unlimited) gives the following advice on foot care:

  • Wash and dry your feet daily.
  • Use Foot Powder  on your feet to help kill germs, reduce friction on the skin, and absorb perspiration.
  • Socks should be changed [at least] daily.
  • After crossing a wet area, dry your feet, put on foot powder, and change socks as soon as the situation permits.

Change Socks & Powder Feet

Foot Care is one area thought that you need to go way beyond the Army’s wisdom if you want to keep your foundation healthy and maintain your mobility.

Good shoes protect your feet by cushioning your feet from the ground and spread the impact of items dropped onto your feet so there’s less of a chance of causing injury.  Additionally, quality footwear should allow your feet to breath so that moisture can dissipate into the air.

If increased protection is needed you can add a steel shank (to protect the soles of your feet from injury by stepping on something that penetrates up through the shoe’s sole) and/or a steel toe which is used in industrial settings to protect the foot from heavy items dropped.  Steel shanks and toes have the undesired effects of making your footwear much more rigid and less suitable for comfortably walking long distances.

If you need waterproof and/or insulated footwear there are now man-made materials like GORE-TEX that are both breathable and waterproof but I’m still a fan of natural leather.  The man-made materials certainly ‘perform’ better but leather is much more fire resistive.

Footprint

Good shoes are better than cheap shoes but I like boots even for everyday wear.  Additionally, boots are especially important if you may have to walk on uneven terrain because they reduce the likelihood of turning an ankle.  Unfortunately, picking out quality shoes isn’t a simple as looking for a well known brand or even the price (cheap shoes are cheaply made but so are most expensive shoes).   I’m partial to Danner Boots and Red Wing Shoes and boots as well as New Balance Shoes (for running because they have a straight last and don’t try to change your foot’s natural shape).

Red Wing stores or independent shoe stores with a certified orthotist or similarly credentialed professional should be able to guide you past the overpriced garbage and assure a good fit.  Speaking of Orthotists…don’t be intimidated by the process of having a custom made orthodic insert. A custom made insert can make a good pair of shoes or boots great and a great pair something that you want to leave to your children as a family heirloom…but of course it wouldn’t fit…

Finally, after you buy yourself quality shoes that will protect you and your feet…wear them.  For years my wife tried anything possible to get me to take my shoes off as I entered the house.  She was concerned that I’d track dirt into the house but I’d much rather track in a little dirt than occasionally break a toe or my foot itself after dropping any of a million common household items  (usually a can of food in her case).  For purposes of marital bliss I will point out that I’ve also broken a few toes through the years as well but only when I wasn’t wearing shoes because I’d just jumped out of bed and failed to put on my slippers!

Preventative foot care is all about taking care of your feet so they can take care of you.

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