The Initial Evaluation: What Kind of Shape Are Your Feet In?

Take your shoes off and follow these simple steps for self-examination.

  • Skin. Check your skin for calluses, blisters or areas of irritation. Now stand next to your shoes. Are they shaped like your feet or are they causing areas of constriction that may result in calluses, blisters or irritation? Now put your hand inside your shoe. Are there seams, tacks or rough places in the shoe that correspond to the areas of irritation, calluses or blisters on your feet?

  • Circulation. Look at the color of your toes. Are they red, pink, purple or blue? Press down on the nail of your big toe until the color blanches. Now let go and allow the blood flow to return to your toe. The return of normal color should take 2-5 seconds in a person with average circulation.

  • Flexibility. How flexible are your toes? Try to pick up a marble (excellent) or a small dishtowel (good). To test your ankle flexibility, hang your heel over the edge of a stair while standing on the stair facing the stair. Now let the heel go below the level of the stair. If this causes pain, stop the test. If your heel goes below the level of the stair without causing strain in your calf, that is excellent. If there is some strain, this can be improved with flexibility exercises​.

  • Sensation. Take a pencil eraser and lightly run it on the top, bottom and both sides of your feet. The sensation should feel equal in all quadrants. It may tickle on the bottom of the feet. That is normal.

  • Pain. There should be no pain in the average foot.

  • Balance. A good test for balance involves standing on one foot, with your arms out to the side and your eyes closed. If you are less than 30 years old, you should be able to balance for 15 seconds, 30-40 years old for 12 seconds, 40-50 years old for 10 seconds, and over 50 years old for 7 seconds. This can be improved with exercise.

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