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Summer toe woes

The only thing that feels better than baring your feet in the summer is knowing they are healthy at the same time.

But people injure their feet more often in the summer because they wear sandals, flip-flops and open-toed shoes that expose their lower digits, according to Dr. Stephen Latter, a foot physician and partner with Dr. Ken Runte at the Foothill Podiatry Clinic of Grass Valley.

“We see a lot more puncture wounds and glass injuries in the summer here,” Latter said. “If you get cut, get it treated right away.



“People get into trouble by taking too much time to get it treated, and the concern up here is infection,” Latter said. “We have a high-risk population (of) diabetics, people with poor circulation, the elderly and those with peripheral neuropathy,” a condition that causes foot numbness and pain.

“I’m not against sandals. My kids wear them,” Latter said. “You just have to be a little more careful.”




Those who go barefoot can expose their feet to more than cuts, bruises and injuries.

“Once in awhile, we’ll see someone with sunburn on top of their feet,” Runte said.

To make sure that burning sensation does not happen, people should put sunscreen on the tops and bottoms of their feet, said Patti Glick, a registered nurse who has worked with podiatrists for years.

Glick is the “The Foot Nurse” from Cupertino. She has a foot health Web site and offers presentations on the subject in Northern California. She suggests knowing your environment before slipping off your shoes.

“Thirty years ago, we thought nothing of going to the beach barefoot,” Glick said on her Web site. “Now, we need to be aware of buried, smoldering charcoal briquettes, broken glass, and even used needles that can put us at risk for hepatitis or AIDS.”

Diabetics should not go barefoot, even indoors, according to Glick and Latter.

“Besides the possibility of stepping on something that might puncture the skin, there is the added danger of burns from asphalt or pavement,” Glick wrote.

Shoes

Sandals may be fine for walking around town, but wearing them to work or in an industrial situation is asking for injury, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. Same goes when working around the house or on the ballfield.

“Make sure you use sturdy shoes when operating lawnmowers, supportive shoes for summer games and other activities that involve footwork,” Glick wrote.

Flip-flops – those plastic or rubber sandals – are good for avoiding athlete’s foot fungal infections and plantar warts at public showers, the association said.

But they do not provide arch support or cushion the feet properly when worn for a long time, the association said. Don’t even think about running in them: You could easily sprain an ankle. The association recommends wearing flip-flops for only short periods.

Many women wear open-toed shoes with high heels in the summer. Those pose more danger for feet than flip-flops, the podiatric association said.

“They keep us in business,” Runte said of high heels. “They’re dangerous for falls, and the common thing we see from them is plantar fasciitis.”

Pronounced “fash-ee-EYE-is,” it’s a painful inflammation of the plantar fasciia, tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the toes.

People place of tons of pressure on their feet over the course of every day. Women wearing heels of more than three inches also put seven times more stress on the ball of their foot than they do with normal shoes.

Women wearing heels over a prolonged period can have trouble going back to regular shoes, Runte said. They should also select shoes that don’t pinch their toes to avoid irritations and other minor foot problems.

The best shoes for avoiding foot problems don’t meet high-fashion needs. “You need an Oxford-type, tie-up shoe,” Runte said.

Whatever you wear, the podiatric association suggests you have several pairs you can revolve during the summer. That’s better for your feet and lets the shoes dry out so you can avoid athlete’s foot and other minor foot maladies.

“Foot pain is not normal,” according to the podiatric association. Consult your physician or a podiatrist whenever it arises.

ooo

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

Summer foot safety tips

• Don’t go barefoot.

• Wear flip-flops and high heels

sparingly.

• Dry your shoes out to avoid fungus.

• Watch where you walk.

• Always wear sturdy shoes when working in the yard or playing ball.

– American Podiatric Medical Association


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