Unlike car tires, your feet can’t be retreaded or replaced after 50,000 miles. Instead, feet need regular maintenance to help them last a lifetime.

Choose The Right Socks

When shopping for socks, look at them inside and out. Make sure there are no lumps that will chafe once you have a shoe on. You have probably heard to choose socks without seams. Unfortunately, some otherwise excellent socks do have seams. If a sock has a seam, look at its construction; it should be soft and flat.

Choose socks that are the correct size. Too-large socks bunch up in your shoes; too-small socks squish your feet.

Avoid Socks With Tight Tops

Choose socks that are soft and cushioned, such as padded sports socks. If such socks are too thick to fit inside your shoes, that’s a reason to replace your shoes. Look for socks especially made for people with diabetes or that are meant for walking.

For everyday wear, choose whatever fabric you like best. For exercising, acrylic and polypropylene beat out cotton. Cotton squishes over time, losing its cushioning. It also doesn’t wick moisture from your feet as well as synthetics.

Don’t darn worn-out socks; throw them away or demote them to rags.

Choose The Right Shoes

Once you have good socks, it’s time to get good shoes.

Always shop for shoes in the evening when your feet are largest. Take along your thickest socks so that you can make sure the shoes you test fit over them. Shoes should fit when you buy them; never buy shoes expecting them to stretch to fit.

With your socks on, there should be about 3/4 of an inch between the end of your big toe and the shoe when you are standing. The widest part of the shoe should occur at the widest part of your foot. Going to a shoe store that has trained fitters makes getting a good fit easier. Because feet can change size over time, have your feet measured every time you buy shoes.

Choose flat shoes, preferably ones that lace up. If you can get away with it at your job, walking shoes are a good choice for regular everyday wear. For exercising, choose a shoe that matches the sport.

Thick, resilient soles protect your feet from sharp objects. Rounded toes give your feet more room, and leather shoes let your feet breathe better.

Feel around inside prospective shoes to make sure surfaces are smooth and soft. Rough spots, wrinkles, and seams can irritate your foot.

If you can afford it, it’s good to have at least two pairs of shoes. That way, shoes can dry out between wearings. Some doctors suggest changing shoes after four to six hours of wear.

Your foot doctor may prescribe orthotics (inserts) or therapeutic shoes for you, which can help distribute pressure better and compensate for certain foot problems.

Wear your new shoes for the first time for an hour at home on a carpeted surface. Then check your feet to see whether the shoes have rubbed or irritated your feet in any way.

Protect Your Feet From Injury

  • Don’t treat calluses, corns, or warts at home. Trimming them yourself can lead to foot injuries; so can applying harsh chemicals to destroy them.
  • Trim toenails very carefully. Avoid cutting them too closely to the skin. If your nails are very thick or curved, or if your sight is impaired, you may need professional help to cut them properly.
  • Don’t pull hangnails.
  • Before putting on your shoes, look inside and feel inside. Make sure there are no foreign bodies (rocks, pennies, paper clips) in them and that the shoe itself has not developed any rough spots or torn linings.
  • Wear clean socks every day.
  • Ease your socks over your feet gently; don’t yank. It’s too easy to snag a toenail or hangnail and tear it.
  • If your socks have seams, align them carefully on your foot before putting on your shoe.
  • Don’t walk barefoot. Always keep slippers next to your bed so that you have something to wear when you get up at night.
  • Put on warm socks if your feet are cold. Don’t soak feet in hot water or put a heating pad or hot water bottle on them.
  • Put a moisturizer on your feet after bathing, but not between the toes.
  • Test bath water temperature before putting your feet in.

Keep Your Blood Flowing To Your Feet

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Don’t wear garters, socks with elastic tops, or anything else constricting around your legs.
  • If your doctor approves, walking or other exercise can help improve blood flow to your feet.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels well controlled if you can.
  • Don’t sit with your legs crossed.

Check Your Feet Each Day

Make a routine of checking your feet each day. Look at both the tops and bottoms of your feet, as well as between your toes. A mirror comes in handy here. Or enlist a friend or relative to help with your foot checks. Also use your hand to feel the tops and bottoms of your feet.

What should you look for? Anything that’s different or injured–blisters, cuts, redness, hard skin, breaks, scratches, hot spots, cold spots.

If your foot has a cut, blister, or ingrown nail or if the foot seems to have changed color or shape, contact your doctor right away. Waiting even a day can allow a serious infection to set in.

Make Sure Your Doctor Examines Your Feet

Injuries can be painless if you have diabetic nerve damage. So it’s important that your doctor check your feet carefully, even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong with them.

In fact, your doctor should take a look at your feet at every visit. As a reminder, take your shoes and socks off when you see your doctor.

Also, the American Diabetes Association recommends that your doctor give you a thorough foot examination at least once a year. One part of this exam for many people should be testing how well your feet can feel sensations. Often, doctors will use a monofilament (a nylon bristle) for this testing.