By Cara Murez
health day reporter
TUESDAY, Dec. 27, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Getting around in winter works best if you take good care of the feet that take you along.
Orthopedic specialists at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York say they often see an increase in preventable injuries and foot problems during the winter.
They offered some tips for winterizing your feet.
First, make sure your winter shoes and boots still fit.
“Our feet change as we age, and the shoes that suited us last year may now be too tight,” said Dr. Mark Drakos, orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at HSS Long Island and Leading Hospital. of Manhattan. “Tightening your feet in shoes that are too tight can lead to foot pain, blisters, bruises and other problems.”
Drakos recommends buying new shoes and boots in the late afternoon or evening, as feet get bigger throughout the day. Pack the socks you plan to wear in cold weather. Thicker socks require more space.
Don’t forget good traction, which can help you stay upright on snowy or icy ground.
“It might sound like common sense, but the first winter storm of the season often catches people off guard, and we tend to see more injuries,” said Dr Andrew Elliott, orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at HSS in Manhattan and Paramus, New Jersey
Elliott recommends keeping a spare pair of winter shoes at work in case of unexpected snow. Non-slip overshoes can also provide traction on smooth surfaces. They are easy to find online.
Foot care is also important, experts noted in an HSS press release.
Moisturize your feet daily if you are prone to dry, cracked heels or similar issues.
Keep fungus and infections like athlete’s foot at bay by keeping your feet dry. Moisture-wicking acrylic blend socks can help with this.
Change your socks after exercising, doing winter activities or at the end of the day. Dry all wet shoes and socks overnight, Elliott said.
Exposure to cold air can slow blood circulation to the extremities. To avoid frostbite, be sure to wear insulated, water-resistant shoes and warm socks if you’re out in the cold, doctors have recommended.
If you start to feel numbness or pain, move to a warmer environment as soon as possible. People with diabetes are particularly at risk because nerve damage known as neuropathy can prevent them from feeling cold, Elliott said.
Before hitting the slopes, do some strength training and conditioning to prepare your body, said Dr. James Wyss, a physiatrist at HSS Long Island who treats patients with sports injuries and other painful conditions.
“Everyone should also take the time to warm up before a sporting activity,” he said. “It’s essential to avoid injuries.”
Wyss suggests a 10-minute warm-up that targets the muscles that will be challenged that day. Someone who hikes or snowshoes can take a brisk walk on a flat surface or climb a few flights of stairs.
Wearing a shoe with good traction is important if you’re running year-round, added Dr. Tony Wanich, an orthopedic surgeon at HSS Sports Medicine Institute in Manhattan. A specialty shoe store can help you make the right choice.
“Just like how we change our tires to deal with winter conditions, we advise riders to wear the appropriate footwear for the season,” Wanich said.
He also recommends wearing insulated socks in very cold weather to prevent mild frostbite. Awareness of falling temperatures is key to staying safe.
Stop if you feel pain during an activity and take a break, doctors advise. See a doctor as soon as possible if you have foot pain that does not improve.
The US National Library of Medicine has more on foot injuries and disorders.
SOURCE: Hospital for Special Surgery, press release, December 14, 2022