In the winter months, it’s sometimes more difficult to put your ‘best foot forward,’ as a variety of ailments related to the feet can arise as a result of the weather and seasonal activities. Each year, doctors see an increase in falls and injuries during these months.
In this post, we’ll examine why it’s so important to pay extra attention to our feet in the winter, what the most common issues are, and how to keep your feet feeling fantastic despite the potentially wet and cold elements.
The Importance of Foot Care During Winter
Practicing proper winter foot care is vital to maintaining healthy feet. Because the weather in the Pacific Northwest can range from damp to cold to freezing, you’re navigating potentially hazardous terrain in your everyday life. Furthermore, if you’re someone who enjoys seasonal sports, you have additional risk factors for injury and exposure.
Common Foot-related Ailments Suffered During Winter
Because conditions are often slippery due to rain or ice, and winter sports such as snowboarding and sledding can cause accidents, an increase in foot stress fractures and sprains occurs each year. What’s more, many mistake the associated pain for fatigue after an activity, causing the issue to worsen. If pain, swelling and/or redness occurs following a fall or minor wintertime injury, be sure to seek care immediately to get a proper diagnosis.
The same protocol should be followed for skin issues on the feet and ingrown toenails — the earlier a medical professional can check it out, even if it seems minor, the sooner proper treatment will begin, and healing can commence.
In extreme conditions, where feet have been exposed to freezing temperatures for a prolonged period and become red and numb, frostnip and frostbite can set in and cause harm to skin, tissue and muscles. To avoid more serious consequences such as nerve damage and infection, seek treatment immediately if you fear you have frostbite symptoms.
There are several things you can do to achieve healthy winter feet. What follows are our top tips.
Mind Your Size
When shopping for boots and other shoes that completely cover your feet, and sometimes also your ankle and/or leg, be sure that you’re buying the right size for the type of socks you’ll wear, and the amount of activity that you’ll endure while wearing them. This will prevent issues such as ingrown toenails and blisters from developing. In addition, well-placed insoles and other orthotics can help stabilize feet once inside shoes and boots — especially while participating in sports.
Be Powder Friendly
When feet are constantly covered by socks and shoes, they are prone to sweating, which can lead to infections if socks are not kept dry. One good way to ensure this is to sprinkle foot powder inside your socks to absorb excess moisture.
Buy Sensible Socks
If you’re exercising outside in the winter months, or if your shoes aren’t waterproof, you’ll want to be sure that your socks are made from a fabric that absorbs moisture, especially if you’re not also using foot powder. Look for pairs made from wool that advertise insulation and thermal protection.
Stretch and Flex
Cold weather makes muscles less elastic, so if you’re hitting the slopes or merely going for a run, don’t forget to properly stretch and move your feet to warm up first. This will serve as an extra layer of protection against injury.
Though it may seem like common sense, it’s worth stating that bare feet shouldn’t be exposed to the cold for any length of time. Regardless of how much moisturizer you may have used on your feet, they will be susceptible to frost bite and other serious issues in cold temperatures if not protected properly by adequate footwear.
Talk to a Podiatrist
If you’re suffering from a foot injury or experiencing symptoms of an ailment in your feet, it may be time to consult with a professional. Visit our Podiatry page to learn more about services offered, or for more general inquiries complete a contact form.