What Shape Are Your Feet In?

RFS - magnifying-glassPeople with diabetes need to check their feet regularly. Here are a few simple tests to find out what shape your feet are in.

Take off your shoes and socks.

Skin. Check your feet for calluses, blisters or areas of irritation. Also, examine your shoes. Are there areas that might be constricting and causing those calluses, blisters or irritation? Examine the inside your shoe with your hand. Are there seams, tacks or rough places in the shoe that correspond to the areas of irritation on your feet? If your shoes are causing problems, replace them.

Circulation. Look at the color of your toes. Are they red, pink, purple or blue? The skin color should be a nice flesh tone; which is a sign of proper circulation. Blue indicates too little blood flow and red or pink may indicate an infection. Press down on the nail of your big toe until the color is gone. Now let go and allow the blood flow to return to your toe. A healthy foot will return to normal color in 2-5 seconds.

Flexibility. How flexible are your toes? Try to pick up a marble (excellent) or a small dishtowel (good). To test your ankle flexibility, place your foot on the edge of a stair (be sure to hold onto the handrail), then let the heel go below the level of the stair. If this causes pain, stop. If you can do this without causing strain in your calf you have excellent flexibility. If there is some strain, you can improve this 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 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 exercises.

Symptoms of Foot Problems

The examination above may indicate whether you have some foot problems but other symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the feet or legs can be a sign of inflammation, infection, or poor circulation.
  • Hair no longer growing on the lower legs and feet or hard shiny skin on the legs.


National Institutes of Health

American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society