Memorial Day was established as a national holiday so we can all take the time to remember and honor the courageous men and women who gave their lives fighting for our country. Those who sacrificed themselves in this brave way did so that we could all have (and keep) the freedoms we enjoy.
This Memorial Day, consider taking some time out of the day—doesn’t have to even be a lot of time, maybe even just a couple of minutes—to contemplate these sacrifices or explain to your children the importance of the holiday.
Of course, the timing of this holiday is such that it is considered to be the start of the summer season as well.
Living in the Southwest, the start of summer isn’t quite the same as other regions of the U.S. There are states in the north where it means temperatures will finally be warm enough to go swimming. Down here, our thermometers hit temperatures some northerners probably can’t fathom.
This doesn’t mean it’s a completely different experience, though! And one thing that basically is the same across the nation is the tradition of summer vacation for students.
Once upon a time—before television and the internet—summer vacation meant things like playing baseball, going to the pool, and being active. We hope that kids nowadays will still be encouraged to get out and run around at least a little (only an hour of physical activity every day can make a huge difference in child health!).
When children are active in the summer, an important consideration is making sure they have proper footwear while doing so.
We are noting this because if you take a look at all the foot and ankle injuries and conditions children—or anyone, for that matter—experience, you will see that many can be prevented simply by having the right shoes. This includes not only ones that are “activity appropriate,” but also those that fit properly.
With that in mind, the following tips will help when you go shopping for kids’ shoes for this summer (or later, when it’s time to go back-to-school shopping):
- Bring your child shoe shopping with you. Depending on age, children’s shoe sizes can increase every couple of months as they grow. If your son or daughter had been wearing a size “8,” this might not still be the case when he or she needs new shoes. Additionally, all shoes tend to fit differently, which means a “7” in one brand and model might be a “7 ½” in another. So the best practice is really to have your child at the store so he or she can try on different pairs of footwear before you buy them.
- Go shopping later in the day. Feet expand during the course of the day, so a pair that fits in the morning can be tight by the time night falls. This problem is easily avoided by simply heading out in the late afternoon or early evening to ensure the best possible fit throughout the entire day. Now, if your schedule is such that you absolutely have to go in the morning, this isn’t quite as big a concern for younger children as it is for teens (and especially adults).
- Fit the pair to the larger foot. Feet are rarely the exact same size, so have both measured and then find a pair of shoes for your child that is based on the larger of the two feet. When you do, make sure there is a thumb’s width of space between the largest toe on that foot and the front of the shoe, and also that the heel is properly cradled.
- Don’t plan on a “breaking-in” period. If a pair of shoes are not immediately comfortable, do not purchase them. As a thought, this further highlights the importance of actually bringing your child with you to the store when buying new shoes.
Whereas activity-appropriate, well-fitting footwear can reduce the risk of foot injuries and conditions, few are 100%-avoidable. If your child needs expert care for any foot or ankle issue or you want more information, we are happy to help, so don’t hesitate to contact our office.
Speaking of children’s shoes, embarrassing foot odor is something you probably want to avoid (and especially if you have teens!).
Now, feet have a reputation for less-than-desirable aromas—and this is particularly true during the summer months (when they sweat more often to stay cool)—but we have tips to help prevent foot odor, including:
- Choose the right soap. Anti-bacterial soaps will help to eliminate microorganisms that can lead to embarrassing foot odors. People often associate unpleasant aromas with sweat, but it’s actually bacteria consuming the sweat that is responsible for the odor. Those anti-bacterial soaps serve to address the root cause of the problem.
- Soak your feet. For more severe cases of foot odor, there are several methods of soaking feet that can both reduce moisture and eliminate bacteria. Depending on personal preferences—or whatever you happen to have on hand around the house—you can use vinegar, saltwater, or tea (cooled!) to create a soak to take away unpleasant odors.
- Switch up your socks. Socks made from materials like nylon will only serve to trap in moisture, which leads to fungal and bacterial growth. Instead of wearing ones made from those kinds of materials, choose moisture-wicking blends or wool socks to let your feet breathe and stay comfortable this summer.
- Spray your shoes. Use an antifungal spray on the insides of your shoes to eliminate any microorganisms that might be lurching inside. Also, consider alternating between two different pairs of shoes every other day. This gives each pair 24 hours to dry before being worn again.
In some cases, foot odor can actually be a symptom of an existing problem. If there is redness, pain, pus, or heightened temperature in conjunction with the funky smell, it’s best to have the situation evaluated by medical professionals.
One more summer foot health consideration we want to discuss today is protecting your feet from the sun.
For the most part, you could potentially wear sandals or opened-toed shoes almost the entire year here, so it doesn’t hurt to take measures to protect feet from sun damage all year long. That said, the sun is stronger during summer months, and this means you should take certain measures to protect your feet:
- Apply sunscreen liberally to the tops of your feet. A lot of people forget to cover their feet with sunscreen and they get burned for it. Instead of letting this happen to you, cover yourself in an SPF-30 (or higher) sunscreen from head to toe, while being quite literal with the “to toe” part!
- Avoid the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM. The sun tends to be at its strongest during those hours, so try your best to stay indoors or in shaded areas, or at least limit the amount of time spent in the sun. This is something worth keeping in mind when scheduling summer activities.
- Shield your feet. Definitely keep your feet cooler by wearing sandals or open-toed shoes, but consider covering your feet with breathable shoes—and perhaps moisture-wicking socks—if you have to spend extended periods of time outdoors.
- Inspect your feet often (if you spend lots of time in the sun). Now, this won’t necessarily prevent a serious situation, but it may enable you to catch a case of melanoma at the earliest opportunity – which is instrumental in giving you the best chance to have the issue properly treated. When you check your feet, keep an eye out for any abnormal-looking freckles or moles (and especially any that change in size and/or shape!). If you do find anything, have it biopsied as soon as possible.
Protecting children’s feet with proper shoes, avoiding and addressing funky feet, and preventing sun damage are all important parts of summer foot care – but these aren’t necessarily the only problems that can develop during this time of year.
If you—or any of your loved ones—ever have any lower limb issues that arise, come see us here at Preferred Foot & Ankle Specialists. We will assess the situation, provide an accurate diagnosis, and then create a customized treatment plan to resolve it.
Remember, early intervention is always best, so call us today at (480) 497-3946 or connect with us online if you need professional podiatric care!