The Wayne Post (in New York) just published an article about Tips for happy feet during barefoot season.
One really wonders where they get their information.
Well, the article says that they got it from the New York State Podiatric Medical Association, but I couldn’t find anything like it on their website, and their “recommendations” seem to go beyond even the usual bias of so many podiatrists.
Here are their “tips”, along with my commentary.
1. Beach Blanket Blisters
Avoid walking barefoot, even on the beach. Hot sand can burn the bottoms of the foot, and a puncture or cut from a sharp shell or stone can lead to infection, plantar warts, or even ringworm! Always wear sturdy flip flops or sandals when beachcombing, to avoid burns and injuries.
So, their first tip for “barefoot season” is NOT to go barefoot. Right. And don’t even go barefoot on the beach. Instead, you should look like a dork with those stupid water socks.
Can hot sand burn the bottoms of a foot? Yes. That is why they have the sense of touch, so that you can avoid it! And how did people ever manage to go to the beach for the last million years?
Of course, you don’t want to go to a beach in which sharp pointy objects are strewn about. But that’s true for building sand castles, or even lying on the beach.
And the comment about plantar warts is just wrong—just like for athlete’s foot, plantar warts do best in warm, dark environments, and are usually picked up in the moist environment of a shower. The constant ultraviolet light at the beach takes care of the virus. Oh, and ringworm? Ringworm is a form of athlete’s foot—there is no “worm” involved. (It’s called ringworm because of the way the fungus spreads, in a circular fashion, just like Fairy Rings).
And then there’s the crap about “sturdy” flip-flops. If there is a hidden nail, it’ll still go right through the sole, and you won’t be able to feel it until you’ve put your full weight on it. If barefoot, you’ll feel it immediately and have a chance to react and keep it from being driven in too deeply.
Make sure you apply sunscreen all over your feet, especially the tops and fronts of ankles. And don’t forget your toes and even the bottoms of your feet if you are lounging in the sun. They can get sunburned as easily as any other part of your body.
Okay, this one is not too bad. But let me limit it by saying that if you use sunscreen, don’t forget to do the feet, too. I tend not to use sunscreen, and get an all-over tan early in the season that protects me. (While any sun does do damage, from the studies I’ve seen, it’s the burns that really increase one’s odds of skin cancer.)
And I did have a friend who sunburned the bottoms of his feet (first time out in Florida sun, and he was lying face down with his soles pointing up). It should be harder to sunburn, though, simply because the skin on the soles is that much thicker and the living dermis is thereby that much more protected.
3. Pack the Swim Shoes
Wearing swim shoes is important in rocky lake waters as well as the ocean. Jellyfish stings can cause a nasty allergic reaction, including difficulty breathing, swelling in the mouth, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Seek medical attention promptly if these symptoms arise after a sting. For less serious stings, use seawater to wash the affected area, which helps to deactivate the stinging cells.
Well, yeah, if you are walking on sharp coral, you might wear protection. But from jellyfish??? Do jellyfish only sting on the feet?
Of course not.
If you are in an area with jellyfish, you need to be careful all over your body, or maybe don’t go in the water. To list this as something special about bare feet makes no sense at all. It’s as if they are looking for an excuse to denigrate bare feet.
And I don’t know why they think lake waters would be rocky. The ones I’m aware of have sand or muck on the bottoms. And even if they do have rocks (and I know of some of them, too, e.g., Sunfish Pond along the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey), if you can walk on rocks above water (which of course is not hard) then you can equally do it below water. Additionally, your sense of touch can help you find a good surface to step on.
Oh, and swim shoes are wonderful breeding grounds for athlete’s foot.
4. Avoid Flip-Flop Fiascos
Choose a flip-flop style that bends only at the ball of the foot and provides some arch support. A flip-flop that bends or easily twists offers virtually no support or stability. Avoid blisters by buying soft leather styles. And never wear flip-flops for playing sports, hiking, or around any kind of lawn/gardening equipment. Consider them beach attire.
Sigh. The old “support” canard again. So again, the foot’s arches do not need support any more than the center of an arched bridge needs support. In fact, that support weakens the muscles and tendons of the foot, ruining the supportive feature of the arches. I’ve noted this a zillion times before: populations that regularly go barefoot do not have a problem with collapsed arches. (They may have naturally low arches, but they don’t cause the problems of collapsed arches.)
But I do agree with this: “And never wear flip-flops for playing sports, hiking, or around any kind of lawn/gardening equipment.” Just go barefoot!
5. See a podiatrist if you injure your foota
Foot pain of any sort is not normal, and a podiatrist can diagnose and treat any foot injuries.
Aha! The whole point of the article. Drumming up business for podiatrists!
I’ve never seen a podiatrist in my life. But if you take a lot of the advice in this article, you may need to see one.