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So I walk barefooted…what’s the problem?

Foot Health with Leana

So I walk barefooted…what’s the problem?

The problem is that you can develop varied foot ailments. However, many of us were spared from some of these simply due to trying to avoid a ‘beating’ if caught. In West Indian culture where “licks” is a common staple as a child, you knew that venturing out barefooted equalled a serious “cut tail” from your parents or a “hard lash” from an older sibling/authority figure in your life. “Put a slipper on your foot” was the common refrain heard from the mouths of adults. I find myself raising my voice at my cousin who’s a toddler because, although not yet 3, she’s fully aware that slippers are supposed to be worn at all times including in the house. This stress about “in the house” is made because many people would state, “I don’t walk barefooted, only in the house.” Same difference … then you do walk barefooted!

Obviously, we can’t just go barefoot all the time and everywhere. Basic etiquette and society dictate when and where shoes are most appropriate. People enjoy walking around barefoot. They love the way the grass feels under their feet, and how comfortable it feels to walk without shoes on. If they only knew how gross it is to walk barefooted, worse yet, especially outside, they might reconsider.

Kicking off your shoes and tromping around barefooted is not only dangerous, but disgusting. Sure, the feel of warm grass is probably great on occasion, but just beware of what may be lurking in the grass … dog mess, sharp particles, broken glass, amongst other bacteria; stick that into the equation and you’ve got yourself a disaster.

What do doctors have to say?

For Toddlers

Many paediatricians and parents believe that allowing a baby to walk barefoot is more natural and an easier way to learn. By going barefoot, your child can feel the floor underneath their feet, using the toes for balance. They are able to develop better motor and muscular skills. Therefore, when your child first starts exploring on their own, going without shoes is fine. However, as your baby grows into the toddler phase, pre-walker shoes are a good idea, giving the child a little better grip, especially as they gain speed with age.

A drawback to this method is that allowing your baby to go barefoot is not always a practical choice. Obviously, if you were out shopping, you would not want your child walking around without shoes.

For Adults

Joel Foster, a doctor of podiatric medicine from Lees Summit, Mo., says viral infections like warts are common for people who walk around barefoot. “It’s especially disgusting if you have nasty feet,” Foster says. “If you have a fungus, you could be spreading it around to everybody else.” Foster also asserts that people should avoid walking barefooted, and those with plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes sole of the feet pains, should always steer clear since it only worsens the condition.

Members of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons say they treat thousands of cuts, punctures, wounds, and burns, which can lead to infections and surgery because people opt to go barefoot. Toes can even be lost while mowing the lawn barefoot; while bacteria and viruses in locker rooms and swimming areas cause athlete’s foot and plantar warts (fish eyes).

Issues with walking Barefooted and being Diabetic

Foot care for the diabetic is crucial, and good maintenance can prevent serious foot problems. Diabetics are more likely to experience foot problems than non-diabetics, and long-term issues and loss of limb are possible if proper care is ignored. Regular checkups with a health care provider are important, and proper techniques in tending to the feet should be observed.

Significance

  • Diabetics face challenges in many arenas related to health care, including heart and kidney disease, stroke, skin, eye, oral health and foot problems.
  • Diabetics should never go barefoot because of the potential to get a cut or abrasion. The healing process for someone with diabetes is longer, and an injury could increase the chances of infection or other serious side effects beyond the feet.
  • Because of poor circulation to the feet and nerve damage, diabetics can easily develop foot problems, resulting in pain and loss of sensitivity in the feet. Therefore, a diabetic may not even realise that an injury has occurred.
  • Keeping the diabetic’s feet clean, dry, and covered with well-fitting socks and shoes is very important to avoid potentially serious foot problems.
  • Diabetics should have a complete foot exam every six months by their physician, and more frequently if problems exist. At every visit to your health care provider, shoes and socks should be removed, for the feet to be examined.

Concerns

Effects

Considerations

Prevention/Solution

Next time you want to kick off your shoes and run around barefooted, you might want to think again…  And if you insist on going barefoot, be sure to watch your step!

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

Leana Huntley is an English trained foot health practitioner attached to ALMAWI Limited – The Holistic Clinic. E-mail your questions / concerns / comments to lhuntley@almawiclinic.com; or call to make an appointment at 662-1732 Tuesday – Saturday. Check for the Clinic at www.almawiclinic.com.

23/03/12

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