(NewsUSA) - It's easy to take our feet for granted, but consider this: there are 26 bones and 33 joints in the human foot, and those small bones must take us where we need to go every day. By the time Americans reach the age of 50, they've logged 75,000 miles on their feet -- that's three times around the planet.
Common foot problems
Years of wear and tear on your feet -- aging, weight gain and wearing shoes that don't fit -- can cause foot problems such as
corns and calluses, bunions, hammer toes, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis of the feet and gout. Sometimes foot problems are the first signs of serious health conditions such as diabetes or circulatory disorders. Feet must last a lifetime, so it's important to practice good foot care.
Wear comfortable shoes that fit well
One of the best things you can do to protect your feet is wear comfortable shoes that have good arch support and fit well. As you age, your shoe size may change, so make sure you have the right size. The best time to measure your feet is at the end of the day.
Ditch those flat sandals or "flip-flops"
During warm weather, many people tend to wear flat sandals or flip-flops. Podiatrists warn against wearing them because they can damage your feet.
"Flip-flops should not be used on a daily basis as they offer very little support and leave the feet unprotected," said Dr. Silvia Arroyo, a podiatric surgeon at the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center in Southern California. "Being a flat-soled shoe, they offer no support to the natural arch of the foot and can result in not only foot pain, but knee, back and hip pain as well."
Dr. Arroyo added that flip-flops are often associated with falls, ankle injuries and broken bones from tripping. "Individuals with certain medical conditions -- especially those with diabetes -- should not use them. Any blister or cut can turn into an infection and may be hazardous to your health," said Dr. Arroyo.
Sandal use is only recommended when going to the pool or the beach, or while taking a shower in a public place. Wearing flat sandals or shoes is not recommended for long walks.
For more information about foot care, visit share.kp.org/footcare. For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk to your physician.