Foot self-test

How do you know your feet are healthy? Here are some general guidelines:

  • Ankle flexibility. To test ankle flexibility, hang your heel off of a stair. Now let the heel fall below the level of the stair. If this hurts, stop. However, if your heel falls below the level of the stair without pain or strain in your calf, that’s good news. If you feel some strain, try stretches to improve flexibility.
  • Circulation. Examine the colour of your toenails. Do they look ‘normal’, or are they tending towards shades of red, white, purple, or blue? Press down on the nail of your big toe until it loses colour. When you release the pressure, the return of normal colour should take 2 to 5 seconds, if you have average circulation.
  • 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’s normal for it to tickle on the bottom of the feet.
  • Skin. The skin on your feet should be free of calluses, blisters, or areas of irritation.
  • Shoes. Are your shoes shaped like your feet? Or are they causing areas of constriction that can or does result in irritation? Put your hand inside your shoe. Are there seams, or rough places – if so, they are likely to result in calluses or blisters.
  • Toe flexibility. Try to pick up a marble or a small dish towel with your toes. Normal toes should have no problems.