By giving your foot some well-deserved attention, you can help prevent painful problems.

Here are some important steps you can take to prevent problems with your feet.

Check out your feet. Paying attention to your feet can help prevent problems and prevent small problems from getting bigger. This is particularly important if you have diabetes, which can go along with arthritis.

  • Examine your feet daily. Check for blisters, cuts, sores and/or cracked skin. If your nerves or blood flow is affected, even these small problems can become big.
  • Keep your feet clean. Wash them in warm soap and water daily. Always wear clean socks.
  • Keep your feet moisturized. If your feet are dry, rub lotion into dry areas. Dry, cracked skin can open your feet to infection.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed. If they are hard to trim, try clipping them after a bath or shower when they are softer. Cut around the shape of the nail to help prevent ingrown toenails.
  • Inspect your shoes. Before putting them on, run you hand through your shoe. Check for pebbles, rough seams or anything else that might irritate your foot.
  • Wear socks. Always wear socks or hose with your shoes to help protect your feet and reduce friction, which can cause blisters. Look at your feet every day to check for problems.

Learn more about diabetes-related foot problems and how to prevent them from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Learn more about caring for your feet and managing foot pain.

Exercise. Although your feet will never look buff like well-exercised abs do, exercise will help keep them strong, flexible and pain-free. Below are several sets of exercises to keep your feet fit. Check with your doctor before embarking on any exercise regimen.

  • Achilles stretch. Lean against a wall, palms flat on the wall, one foot forward, one foot back. Keep your heels on the floor and lean forward, feeling the pull in your Achilles tendon and calf. Do three times, holding for 10 seconds each time.
  • Big-toe stretch. Loop one thick rubber band around your big toes and pull the big toes away from each other and toward your other toes. Hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  • Toe pull. Put a rubber band around the toes of each foot and spread your toes. Hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Read more advice on exercises for the feet.

Lower Body Exercises: Dos and Don'ts

Help for Heel Pain

Select proper footwear. Ill-fitting or unsupportive shoes and high heels that thrust the foot forward can lead to foot problems, particularly in women. Shoes with lower heels, a wide toe box and proper protection and support can reduce the risk of certain foot problems. When shopping for shoes, go at the end of the day when your feet are bigger. Break in new shoes slowly – say by wearing them an hour or two a day for the first couple of weeks.

Read about shoe-related foot problems in women from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Read about how to select proper footwear.

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