Keeping Diabetic Feet Happy
If you have diabetes, it’s important to stay active and get exercise. Walking is probably the most commonly recommended exercise for diabetic people—it’s simple, low-impact, and you don’t need expensive equipment.
If you’re ready to start a walking routine, be sure you talk to your doctor first! Take it slow to start. Making a schedule and finding some friends or family to join you can help you stick to it.
Walking is great for diabetes, but it’s important to take care of your feet to prevent injury. Follow these eight tips to keep your feet happy:
- Wear the right shoes and socks
- Keep exercise moderate
- Keep feet clean & moisturized
- Keep your feet dry
- Protect your feet from injury
- Inspect your feet every day
- Focus on healthy habits
- See your podiatrist regularly
Wear The Right Shoes And Socks
Your podiatrist can help advise you on what shoes will be best for a new walking routine. You’ll want a comfortable, roomy fit that won’t rub or chafe. People with diabetes need to avoid poor-fitting shoes that will cause friction or constrict their feet. Look for models with wider toe-boxes and good support. Special insoles can provide targeted support and reduce friction.
Special diabetics socks are designed to avoid cutting off circulation. Socks that fit well will help reduce friction, and moisture-wicking material will keep your feet dry and healthy. Light-colored socks are recommended— dark socks can hide blood from an injury you might not be able to feel.
Keep Exercise Moderate
It’s important to take it slow and not over-exert yourself. Start with a short distance, and increase it over time to allow the muscles and ligaments in your feet to adapt to the new level of activity. Even a low-impact exercise like walking can injure your feet, if your body’s not used to it.
If you experience an injury that feels like a sprain or pinched nerve, be sure to see your podiatrist—especially if it doesn’t improve or worsens with activity. You may need different shoes, custom orthotic inserts to support your feet, or medical treatment to alleviate pain. Minor issues can turn into painful problems without prompt treatment.
Keep Feet Clean And Moisturized
It’s important for people with diabetes to take special care of their feet. Washing your feet every day with warm, soapy water and using a moisturizer will help you avoid common diabetic skin problems. Be sure to dry your feet thoroughly.
Diabetic neuropathy can reduce feeling in your feet, and make it hard to sense temperature. For this reason, it’s important to be sure your bath water is not too hot. Hot water dries out the skin, and extremely hot water can scald your feet.
Keep Your Feet Dry
After exercising or bathing, it’s important to be sure your feet are completely dry. Your feet are likely to sweat on your walk, so change into dry socks as soon as you get home.
When you have reduced circulation from diabetes, damp feet are more likely to lead to fungal infections. Fungus, like athlete’s foot or yeast, loves moist environments, and can develop into serious problems for diabetic patients. Keeping your feet dry will keep them happy!
Protect Your Feet From Injury
Diabetes can result in reduced feeling in your feet. Walking around barefoot, even indoors, is a common source of injuries for people with diabetes. You may step on something sharp and not realize your foot is cut or bruised.
It’s good to remove your walking shoes after you exercise, so your feet can stay dry—but remember to put on slippers or house shoes to avoid accidentally injuring your feet at home. Remember that going barefoot could result in injury.
Also, inspect all your footwear for rocks or other foreign objects that may damage your feet. Clean out any debris that’s inside your shoe. Even a small pebble inside your shoe can lead to a wound that’s hard to heal.
Inspect Your Feet Every Day
Because you may not feel the pain of an injury, it’s vital to carefully inspect your feet every day. Look for signs of blood on socks or shoes. Note any cracked skin, bruises, or other wounds on your feet.
Reduced circulation often means injuries are slow to heal. Along with this slow healing comes the risk of serious infections that can spread beyond your feet. See your podiatrist immediately if you discover an injury—it’s important to treat it thoroughly so it doesn’t develop into a bigger problem.
Focus On Healthy Habits
Walking is a great step for your health. Other good habits, like eating right and controlling your blood sugar, are important parts of managing diabetes.
Diabetes increases your risk for cardiovascular issues and other health problems, so it’s important to take action to reduce that risk. Quitting smoking, exercising, and losing weight can also help with other issues like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
See Your Podiatrist Regularly
If you have diabetes, your feet need special attention—but that shouldn’t keep you from putting them to good use! A walking routine is full of benefits for your health and happiness, as long as you’re mindful of foot care.
Podiatrists are foot specialists, and they are highly experienced with diabetic patients. If you’re starting an exercise regimen, make an appointment with a podiatrist to discuss ways to keep your feet happy!