On Your Feet

Protect your feet when tackling home improvement projects.

Did you know many home and yard projects contain hidden dangers for your feet? The good news though, according to foot and ankle surgeons, is most injuries are avoidable if you take appropriate precautions.

Amber Shane, DPM, FACFAS, an Orlando-area foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow Member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, sees many patients coming in with foot and ankle injuries from home improvement projects gone wrong.

“Feet may be the last thing people think about while working on home improvement projects, but we see so many different types of foot and ankle injuries in our office—many of which can be avoided with proper shoe wear and extra caution,” Dr. Shane says.

Dr. Shane advises to avoid working barefoot or in sandals when engaging in any projects around the house, even the projects that seem harmless, such as powerwashing decks or using a ladder.

According to Dr. Shane, if you’re not paying close attention while powerwashing, and not keeping a firm grip on the machine, the stream from the washer can hit your feet instead of your intended object.

“The pressure from a heavy-duty powerwasher is strong enough to take off the superficial layer of skin, especially on the toes. So, it’s best to wear fully closed-toed shoes to help avoid injury or damage to the skin,” she says.

Dr. Shane recommends wearing a sturdy, supportive shoe with good treads when doing roofing work or projects that require climbing up and down a ladder.

“Sturdy shoes will provide proper traction to keep a good grip and prevent any slipping. Repeated climbing on ladders without good support can lead to injuries, including stress fractures and neuromas or nerve compressions,” she says.

When working on wood surfaces such as decks or flooring, it’s best to wear closed-toe shoes to save your feet from slivers or puncture wounds from nails or wood splinters. Dr. Shane suggests, “To help protect your feet from injury, avoid wearing flip-flops or soft-soled shoes, such as popular foam-type clogs, while in a construction zone with exposed wood.”

If an injury does occur, Dr. Shane recommends contacting a foot and ankle surgeon near you to have the injury properly examined and treated, or for serious injuries, visiting the closest emergency room. To find a foot and ankle surgeon in your area and for more healthy feet tips, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ patient education website at FootHealthFacts.org.

DIY projects can bring tremendous joy and satisfaction to homeowners. At the same time, they are associated with certain risks. Use proper care and precaution to keep your feet safe and injury free.

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