"Doing This Can Lead To A Variety Of Foot Problems": Podiatrists Are Sharing The Most Common Mistakes They See Their Patients Make

Regarding our health, most of us seem to prioritize everything else but our feet. I know, talking about feet is the last thing many want to do, but taking care of them is more crucial for your overall well-being than you probably realize.

Close-up of a person's bare feet stepping forward on a wooden floor
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Whether you're someone who is a marathon runner, someone who works on your feet all day, someone who loves to wear the trendiest heels in the office, or someone who never misses a pedicure appointment, there is likely something you're skipping out on or doing too much of when it comes to your feet. I spoke to a few experts — including podiatrists and emergency room physicians — to learn more about common mistakes patients make when it comes to their good ol' feet. Here's what they had to say:

MISTAKE #1: Neglecting proper footwear.

Close-up of a person tying the laces of a white sneaker on a paved surface

"One specific [piece of] advice I always give is the importance of regularly replacing gym or running sneakers. Ideally, these should be swapped out every 300–500 miles of use. This is because the support and cushioning degrade over time, which can lead to injury," Dr. Whittington added.

MISTAKE #2: Forgetting that foot size can change over time.

a person looking at their foot on a toilet seat

MISTAKE #3: Neglecting exercising your feet.

Person sitting cross-legged on a couch, hands clasped together resting on their knees

"Another mistake is not incorporating foot-specific exercises into one's routine. Just like any other part of the body, the feet need to be strengthened and stretched," Dr. Whittington told BuzzFeed.

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"Regular stretching of the achilles tendon and the plantar fascia, as well as strengthening exercises for the small muscles in the feet, can significantly improve foot health and prevent injuries," Dr. Whittington added.

Here are some examples of helpful foot stretches and exercises.

MISTAKE #4: Trying to dig out your ingrown toenail.

A podiatrist in scrubs examines a patient's foot in a clinic

"[Doing] This can lead to the development of infection or cause lifting of the toenail and damage to the nail bed or root. A surgical procedure performed by podiatrists can fix ingrown toenails permanently and help prevent the development of pain and infection," advised Dr. Daughtry.

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MISTAKE #5: Not using supportive insoles in your shoes.

Person inserting an orthopedic insole into a white sneaker

Dr. Daughtry agrees by adding, "Most shoes do not have enough arch support for the average person so additional arch support or cushioning may be needed if standing or walking long hours or distances."

Also, arch supports don't need to cause you a ton of money. "Typically over the counter inserts should only cost about $50–$70," Dr. Daughtry continued.

She also said you don't need to waste money on buying orthotics from stores and instead "visit a trained professional if you want a true custom-molded orthotic,  where a mold of the feet is captured without gravity or bodyweight involved (no standing in a box or on a plate to capture the image of your feet), and the inserts are then made in a lab to be specific for the individual’s feet."

However, Dr. Daughtry warned to "Be careful of excessive cushioning in the sole of the shoe as this can cause balance issues for those with neuropathy or fall risk."

Friendly reminder to always speak with a professional first to know what's best for you and your feet.

MISTAKE #6: Not realizing staying hydrated plays a big role in foot health.

Person pouring water from a bottle into a glass on a wooden table

MISTAKE #7: Forgetting to moisturize your feet.

Person applying cream to their heel

MISTAKE #8: Not drying the space between your toes thoroughly after bathing.

Person standing on a towel beside a bathtub, picking up the towel with toes

Overall, it's important to stay on top of the health of your feet. If you have any issues or concerns regarding your feet, it's best to talk with a professional.