If you have lived in our region for a decent amount of time, you are no doubt used to the kind of conditions winter can bring around here.
We didn’t say you had to like it—we just said you’re used to it.
You may have a seasonal ritual of preparing for winter: changing to snow tires, cleaning your gutters, saying a tearful goodbye to your shorts. But are your feet part of your winter care checklist?
It’s easy to overlook winter foot care, but if you suffer from dryness, your feet chill easily outdoors, or you’ve sprained your ankle on a nasty patch of ice, you could certainly benefit from some precautions!
We have compiled a few healthy considerations to take when the cold and snow are in effect. As you likely know, just a little bit of forethought can make a big difference in winter.
Throw Out Those Old Boots
If you have a pair of boots you’ve been wearing for the past few years, odds are high that they’re not providing your feet as much support and protection against the elements as they deserve.
Even if you only use a pair of footwear seasonally, the materials that compose them can degrade and deteriorate over time. Our feet are also still prone to changes over time through adulthood, so a pair of footwear you bought years ago may not fit you best today.
And when It’s winter, you want your boots to fit you as well as possible! Boots that are too tight can interfere with circulation in your feet, which helps them feel colder a whole lot faster (and if you find yourself in extreme conditions, your risk of frostbite also increases). Boots that are too loose can leave your foot sliding around within, leading to blisters, corns, or calluses.
A good winter boot should also be waterproof, have solid grip in the soles, and should not be an ordeal to get on or off.
Take Precautions on Dangerous Terrain
If you don’t retreat to treadmills and still run outside in the winter, we are not going to stop you. It’s pretty impressive!
We do hope you will go out with a safe mindset, though.
Common routes can turn treacherous when ice forms or uncleared snow bunches up. A slip or misstep can lead to a painful sprain or other injury, and time spent away from what you love to recover from it.
Giving yourself some extra insurance against accidents is a wise move in winter. A pair of slip-on spikes to go over your shoes can help you maintain traction when the environment calls for it, then can be easily removed once you’re in the clear. (And you’ll want to do this. Leaving the spikes on just wears them down if you’re using them on non-icy terrain.)
Another measure to take on uneasy terrain is to be mindful of your stride. When things get slippery, shorten your steps. This keeps your feet tighter beneath you and adds the benefit of a more stable center of gravity. In other words, that foot you put out in front of you is less likely to fly out and upward.
But even with proper equipment and techniques, it is most beneficial to be realistic with your expectations. Don’t be trying to bust best times in winter.
Take it slower when conditions are bad, or find alternatives. This might include splitting your running time up within a day, or even choosing to postpone or hit the treadmill instead. It may not feel ideal, but it will be in the long run.
Keep Your Feet Moisturized (When Not Keeping Them Dry)
Huh? Yeah, we understand this tip may seem contradictory, but bear with us.
Dryness can run more rampant in winter thanks to a need to keep the heat up in our homes, but did you also know that long, steaming showers can also draw moisture out of our feet?
We know it feels good, but try to keep your showers shorter and milder. And when you get out, it’s a great opportunity to apply some moisturizer.
Moisturizer works best when your feet are already a little damp. Look for ingredients such as glycerin, urea, salicylic acid, and lactic acid, among others. These all work to help keep moisture within the skin. Fragrances and other extras are optional.
One important note, however: when you apply moisturizer, do not place it between the toes if you have diabetes. It’s important to take extra precautions to protect your feet, and it’s too easy for moisture to build up in those crevices, increasing risks of fungal infection.
Unfortunately, stewing in your own sweat is not the same as moisturizing. Given the way boots and socks trap heat, however, it’s easy for your feet to sweat up a storm, potentially causing problems with odor and bacteria.
To help avoid this, make sure you wear socks that work to wick moisture away from the feet. A good wool can do this, but some synthetic materials are also built this way.
When your boots come off, you’re not in the clear yet. All that sweat that can build up in boots can make them a haven for odor-causing bacteria and the fungi that cause athlete’s foot and fungal toenails.
Give your boots (and other footwear) at least 24 hours of free time to dry out before putting them on again. That means having more than one pair of footwear to switch between!
Having a boot dryer can also be effective, as can applying a bit of antifungal powder. How much action you wish to take is dependent upon how much your feet sweat. If it’s excessive and nothing has seemed to help slow things down, come see us. We can help!
Family Foot Care for Every Month of the Year
Whether it’s cold, hot, wet, dry, or anywhere in between, never delay getting you or your family expert care for persistent foot and ankle problems!
We have six offices in the area to provide the best in advice and treatment, always with the goal of keeping our patients as active and comfortable as possible.Schedule an appointment by calling us at (513) 728-4800 or by filling out our online contact form.