Serving in the military means making a number of commitments. You are not only committed to serving your country, but also being in sound physical shape to do so.
We sincerely thank all of you who have stepped up to these commitments. There is a great deal of effort and discipline that goes into your duties, and at least a small part of that should be dedicated to your foot care.
Your feet and ankles need to carry you through plenty of tasks and situations. Conditions such as heel pain and injuries can wear not only on your physical reserves, but also your mental resolve as well.
We are always here to provide you the direct diagnosis and treatment you need for a variety of foot and ankle conditions. Please don’t hesitate to see us sooner rather than later whenever a problem arises. The earlier you get the treatment you need, the faster you can put it behind you and return to full strength.
But of course, it also pays = to know how to prevent or address many issues on your own. Here are some tips that can be effective wherever your service may find you.
Never Just “Toughen Up” and Ignore It
There is a common misconception that the best way to deal with foot problems in the military is to make your feet “tough” by putting them through plenty of abuse.
There is a small bit of merit to that. The more you reasonably exercise your feet, the stronger your bones, muscles, and other tissues become – which makes them more resistant to strain and injuries.
But there’s a big difference between working out your feet and overworking them. Overuse can easily result in injuries if your feet just aren’t prepared to take that strain yet.
And if you’re just cramming your feet into rough, ill-fitting boots to “toughen them up,” all you’re going to get is pain instead.
So “toughen up” wisely. Treat your feet like any machine. Improve them through deliberate, beneficial means – not by just beating them around!
Address Your Calluses
Calluses fall firmly into the “toughen up” school of thought, but having them can do more harm than good. They’re not so much a sign of your feet being stronger as much as there being a weakness in your footwear or foot structure. This weakness can be especially terrible if a long day of marching causes a blister to form under that tough skin.
Whatever may be causing your calluses, having these issues properly addressed can eliminate those sources of friction and make you feel a lot more comfortable. We are happy to provide you help with that.
To deal with calluses themselves, soak your feet in warm water for 15-20 minutes to soften the skin, then rub the callus gently with a pumice stone. It takes several sessions to properly pare a callus down – do not try to grind it all off in one go or you’ll damage your skin.
Remember, the goal here is not giving you pampered, baby-smooth feet; it’s to treat a problem.
Ensure Your Military Boots Provide the Support You Need
Military footwear must meet specific requirements, but that doesn’t mean you have to force yourself into boots that aren't comfortable or don't meet your needs.
Your military boots should provide full support for your arches, enough room for your toes to wiggle around without being crammed together, and be lightweight while still protective. These factors will help prevent friction, fatigue, ingrown toenails, and overuse injuries.
You might also be in a position where custom orthotics can provide you significant help for occasional heel pain, gait abnormalities, or even pain in your legs, knees, and lower back. If this is the case, it is essential that your military boots be able to accommodate the inserts.
Your Socks Matter – A Lot
Having good socks should never be an afterthought.
Socks should always fit properly. If they’re too loose, they can shift around as you walk and increase your chances of blisters. If they’re too tight, they can impede circulation, causing swelling and irritation.
The material of your socks also matters greatly. Ordinary cotton just isn’t a great choice. It tends to absorb sweat instead of wicking it away, leaving it up against your skin. This can also increase your chances of blisters, as well as fungal infections and just being plain miserable with swampy shoes.
Wool (especially merino wool) and certain synthetic materials do a much better job of keeping your feet dry and comfortable. Try several types and go with one that feels best for your day-to-day duties.
If your feet sweat excessively through the day, however, even a pair of moisture-wicking socks might not be able to keep up with your output. If possible, having a pair of extra socks to swap into midway through the day can be a big help for your comfort.
Keep Your Feet at Their Peak
The better you take care of your body, the better it will serve you. Your feet and ankles are no exception!
Having discipline about your body means knowing when you need to get help for certain conditions, and we are here to proudly support members of our military with whatever they need to do their work more comfortably and effectively.
The longer you wait to seek treatment for persistent problems, the more likely they are to become something even worse or longer-lasting. Schedule an appointment with us by calling either of our area offices:
- Enid: (580) 237-3338
- Oklahoma City: (405) 947-8041
You are also more than welcome to contact us electronically if you prefer. Just fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will reach out to you during our standard office hours.