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Local doctors give advice for healthy summer

6/18/2014, 10:39 a.m.

Summer has finally arrived and beach goers and those who pursue outdoor activities will be shedding their boots and putting on sandals, flip flops and running shoes. Members of the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association (IPMA), know that exposed feet bring a host of risks that can put a dent in your summer fun, but if you follow these four tips, you’ll be less likely to suffer any foot injuries:

Flip flops: wear them judiciously. If these are your everyday footwear during the summer you may be at risk for heel pain or toe injuries. IPMA members recommend you wear them only at the beach, pool, locker rooms and public showers. According to Dr. Megan Leahy of the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, when people wear flip flops they use their toes to grip the top of the shoe so it stays on. “Doing this, over time, puts that person at risk for a number of toe, foot and heel problems,” she said.

Runners and weekend athletes are another group emerging from the winter doldrums should exercise caution when starting or restarting a running routine.

“If you’ve been somewhat idle or a bit of a couch potato, check with your physician or podiatrist to make sure you are healthy enough to start a workout regimen,” advises Dr. Sarah Dickey, DPM, of Loyola University Medical Center.

Then, get a proper athletic shoe that is sport specific from a specialty store where your gait and foot type will be analyzed. Taking this step upfront can help avoid problems down the road. All athletic shoes should be switched every 400-500 miles. This can add up quickly.

Before you begin working out, warm up properly and stretch if necessary.

If you experience foot pain, stop your workout and consult a podiatrist as soon as possible--Foot pain is never normal.

Safe pedicure: As we bare our feet and toes during the summer, more ladies will head to the pedicurist to touch up their toes. To ensure a safe pedicure and fabulous and healthy feet all summer Dr. Bela Pandit of Pandit Foot and Ankle Clinic in Evergreen Park, Ill. recommends the following tips:

“Instruct your pedicurist to gently push back the cuticles, not to cut them. Cuticles provide protection,” she said.

Try to schedule your appointment earlier in the day when the salon or spa hasn’t seen several customers already.

Dr. Pandit cautioned that if you have diabetes, circulation problems, or other chronic health conditions, it is best to consult your podiatrist before having a pedicure.

Over the course of the summer be sure to remove your polish and examine your nails. Often, women get in that comfy chair, open a magazine and zone out…it’s important to check your nails after the polish is removed to see if there is a fungal problem or other discoloration.

“Often times women are not aware of toenail changes seen after several months because their nails are constantly painted and they don’t take a peek between applications,” Dr. Pandit said. “If possible, give yourself a break between applications to allow your nails to breath and try not to leave polish on longer than a couple of weeks.”

Sunscreen: Finally, Dr. Helena Reid from Moline, Ill., cautions her patients to apply sunscreen on their feet during the summer.

“Summer brings with it heightened awareness of skin cancer but many people may not realize that skin cancer does occur on the feet, so don’t forget to use SPF 30 or higher on your feet, and most importantly, your children’s feet,” she advises.