The foot needs to hold our weight and support us, needs to be flexible and allow us to move, and is very important at picking up sensation in our feet that the central nervous system needs to help us with our balance.
Similarly the skin on our feet and legs needs to be checked regularly and it is important to check that the skin has not been broken or damaged.
Problems with the feet or lower legs can be localised foot problems such as forms of arthritis, verrucaes, localised infections, or localised wounds, or mechanical problems such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet, bunions etc. However there may also be systemic problems going on in the body that can affect the foot and lower leg such as diabetes, neuropathies (affecting the nerves in the legs from a range of different causes), heart disease, gout to name but a few.
A quick check list of things to look for are:
- Sores, or wounds that are not healing
- Tired, throbbing and painful legs
- Varicose veins
- Dry itchy and scaly skin
- Any reddish / brown staining around or above the ankle
- Cramping or pain after walking
- Hot inflamed and tender skin
From a mechanical perspective:
- pain on walking and or limping
- pain in the heel or other pain in the foot
- changes of sensation to part or all of the foot
- difficulty raising onto your toes or back on your heels
If you find anything that you are concerned about, get your feet checked out by your GP. Similarly podiatrists are skilled at assessing for such changes, and will screen for such issues and advise you on the best course of action and whether you need to see your GP.
There are lots of little things we can do to keep our legs and feet healthy. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Your skin’s a good indicator of your leg and foot health. Keeping your skin in good condition can also help soothe or prevent some legs conditions.
- Moisturise your legs with an unscented moisturiser every day.
- Check your skin for breaks, cracks and swelling.
- If broken areas are not healing or you notice any changes in the colour or texture of your skin, visit
- your GP surgery for advice.
Move your legs and feet regularly in any way that feels good for you – it’s great for circulation and reducing swelling.
- Try to walk for about 30 minutes at least three times a week.
- If walking is difficult, just move your feet around in circles, then up and down – you can do this sitting down.
- Avoid standing for a long time.
There are two big things we can do, not just for our leg and foot health but for our overall health and wellbeing too.
- Maintain a healthy weight – carrying extra weight increases the chances of developing problems in your legs and feet and makes swelling worse. Aim to eat a well-balanced diet and get enough exercise.
- Stop smoking – smoking decreases the blood flow to the legs and feet, and makes healing more difficult. Stopping will help to keep your legs healthy.
Get more information on leg and foot conditions at legsmatter.org/