Our feet take a lot of punishment, and some of us rarely give them a second thought until the pain is too much to bear. We squeeze them into uncomfortable heels, very rarely pampering them. It’s no wonder then that we experience pain, blisters, corns and calluses. In addition, some foot problems can be the first signs of serious health conditions such as diabetes or circulatory disorders. It’s easy to take your feet for granted.
Consider that there are 26 bones and 33 joints in a human foot, each one helping you move about. In the course of a lifetime, the average person will walk a distance equivalent to twice the world’s circumference! Caring for your feet means keeping your muscles, tendons and bones strong. These form your feet’s foundations, and in turn support your entire body. Make smart choices about your footwear, and spare your feet a thought with these helpful tips.
Wear comfortable footwear. Do you abuse your feet? Pointed shoes and high heels may look sexy, but wearing them frequently alters the mechanics of your feet and may lead to permanent damage. Wear shoes that have good arch support, and remember to choose the right size. Sneakers and sandals are your best bets, but balance your desire for style with your need for comfort.
Exercise! When it comes to health and fitness, not many people think about these two important tools that keep us going (literally) all day long. Being active is an excellent way of keeping your weight under control and conditioning your feet. Walking, dancing and swimming all improve blood flow to your lower extremities.
Prevent skin problems. Just as you care for your face, so too you must look after your feet. Keep them clean, and use materials and substances that aren’t harmful. Sweaty feet can cause rashes and eczema, not mention terrible foot odour. Stick to 100% cotton socks when possible, and avoid shoes made of plastic or rubber.
Avoid walking barefoot. Though it feels comfortable and free (on the right surface), walking barefoot often leads to injury and/or infection. Wear clean shoes and fresh socks when you go outdoors, and keep your feet from making contact with too many germ-heavy surfaces.
Beat the heat. Shedding your footwear in the summer increases the odds of hurting your feet. Cover your feet with socks and shoes to prevent tan lines and heat burns. Though it may sound strange, applying sunscreen of SPF 15 or more can help. Drink plenty of water to keep your feet from swelling.
Maintain good hygiene. Healthy feet begin with good hygiene. Inspect your feet regularly, paying attention to changes in colour, texture and appearance. Wash them thoroughly, and remember to get between your toes (a bit talcum powder here can keep you moisture-free). Sharing footwear is never advisable.
Moisturise! In order to stay healthy, your skin needs moisture, and this goes for your feet, too. Gently rub a thin layer of lotion, petroleum jelly or cold cream all over your feet and nails. Done daily, it will keep the skin there supple and healthy.
Trim your nails. Nail care is an essential part of proper foot care. Trim your toenails on a regular basis, and use a nail file to smoothen the corners. In-growth nails are a common problem, but you can prevent them with the right regimen.
Don’t ignore foot pain. Examine your feet weekly. If you have corns or calluses, do not cut them. Instead, seek medical help. Apply ice to prevent swelling and reduce pain. If you have diabetes or are at risk of getting it, annual foot exams should be a priority.
Prevent cracked heels. Poorly moisturised skin, excessive showering, harsh soap, and ageing can all contribute to cracked heels. After you treat your feet, wear socks to retain the moisture. Regular cleaning and exfoliating are important, and most anti-crack creams work wonders.
Let your feet breathe. It’s good to give your feet time in the open. At home, keep your shoes off so they can breathe. Sweat and dirt foster a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Make sure you remove your nail polish every now and then to give your nails the same benefit.
Butt out. Smoking harms not only your heart and lungs but your feet, too. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common foot problem faced by smokers. A healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats, rich in fruits and vegetables, and moderate in sodium can decrease your risk of PAD.
Pamper your paws. Treat your feet to some relaxation and pampering with a pedicure every two weeks. Not only will you keep your feet clean, it’ll also improve your mood. In addition, you have the added bonus of beautifying your feet!