Keys to take care of our feet when the cold arrives

With the arrival of the cold, it is time to change clothes and shoes. And we tend to fall into the error of thinking that the feet, not being as exposed to the elements as in summer with sandals, do not require special care in winter. When the reality is that exactly the opposite happens.

Winter foot injuries

Among the most important injuries to the feet in winter are:

  • Chilblains: They are very frequent in winter. These are superficial skin lesions located in areas such as feet, nose, ears and hands after exposure to cold or humid environments. They tend to affect more elderly, women and people who work outdoors. It seems that having a low body mass index and suffering from hyperhidrosis (increased sweating) in the feet and hands are factors related to your appearance. If you change abruptly from a cold environment to a warm one, the blood vessels dilate so much that they become very painful. To prevent its appearance, it is vital to keep your feet dry and warm, changing your socks if there is moisture.

  • Eczema or dermatitis on the feet: Also very frequent, is recognized by the appearance of red areas with intense itching. Keeping the feet properly hydrated and dry prevents their appearance.

  • Juanetes o hallux valgas: They are congenital but can appear due to the use of narrow footwear with high heels. To avoid pain, it is recommended to use protectors or separators with a gel pad.

  • Chafing: Due to the use of narrow footwear, especially in women, chafing between the toes (interdigital calluses) may appear. They are avoided by using protective gel rings.

  • Calcaneal spur: It is about the growth of the calcaneus bone due to the appearance of tensions in the fascia plantar. It causes pain in the heel, as well as irritation throughout the area. The use of special tailored insoles or heels alleviate the symptoms.

Six tips to protect your feet in winter

  1. Wear suitable socks. It is recommended to give priority to natural and breathable fabrics such as cotton and wool, which do not compress or obstruct circulation, to maintain a correct temperature of the pies. Socks should be changed regularly to prevent them from becoming damp from sweating and causing a cold sensation. If we practice winter sports, it is important to choose socks that prevent the appearance of chafing and blisters, while maintaining the hot, dry feet.

  2. Breathable and wide footwear. The shoes we use must allow the foot to breathe so as not to increase the sensation of cold caused by sweat. Make sure you wear the right footwear for your foot size, since narrow footwear can cause injuries to the skin or nails to the proliferation of fungi. Regarding the use of heeled shoes, better than do not exceed 4 cm in height, with a heel as wide as possible. It is recommended to wear booties to maintain the temperature of the foot. As for the sole, better thick (to isolate from the cold) and non-slip (to avoid falls or sprains).

  3. Take care of your feet at home. We must keep our feet dry both when leaving the shower and if they have been wet from the rain, insisting on the spaces between the toes. When cutting nails, it should be done straight. Maintaining a good hydration of the feet daily with urea-based creams is essential in winter to avoid calluses and cracks. For those who practice sports, alternately hot and cold baths are recommended. Exercises can be performed at home to activate the circulation of the feet and facilitate venous return (elevate the legs for a few minutes, perform circles with the feet or walk on tiptoe).

  4. Avoid direct sources of heat. Faced with the cold, it is advisable to warm your feet progressively, avoiding sudden changes in temperature. Direct exposure to stoves can cause chilblains.

  5. Healthy life. The feet also win if we practice sports, drink plenty of water and eat foods with vitamins K, C and E, which promote good blood circulation.

  6. Go to the podiatrist in case of pain, wounds (especially in diabetic people), changes in temperature (cold feet), redness of the skin, changes in the color of the nails, etc. And to the physiotherapist if we suffer sprains, strains, contractures or tendinopathies.

By applying these simple guidelines, your feet will get out of winter gracefully, without being injured by cold, humidity, or inappropriate footwear.

Carmen Belén Martínez Cepa, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Physiotherapy, CEU San Pablo University and Juan Carlos Zuil Escobar, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Physiotherapy of the Faculty of Medicine, CEU San Pablo University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.

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