Think about how valuable your feet are in your day-to-day life. Amongst other important functions, they get you to your car in the morning, allow you to hold your yoga pose, and carry you to the top of the stairs. A huge amount of our waking lives is spent on our feet.
Yet, despite their importance, they’re a part of our body that we tend to neglect and take for granted. And because they do so much for us every day, our feet are vulnerable to a range of problems. Foot cramps, strain, fungal infections and skin ailments are all common issues and 'sore feet' is just something we too easily get used to that can cause bigger problems for the rest of our body if left ignored. And in the majority of cases, these problems can be avoided with proper care.
So, how can you avoid common health problems and ensure your feet remain your foundation for overall body health and wellness? Here are my top tootsie tips.
1. Keep 'Em Clean!
Hygiene is crucial in caring for your feet. Remember, they are more prone to collecting dirt and sweat throughout the day than other body parts. Wash (but don’t soak) your feet in warm, soapy water and make sure you dry them thoroughly, especially between your toes. This is because moisture creates ideal conditions for fungus to grow (!!)
After you’ve washed your feet, the skin should feel soft, which will help you to remove any dry skin or callouses. I recommend using a pumice stone or granular body scrub to gently exfoliate the dead skin. Think of it as another aspect of your beauty routine; your feet will look and feel amazing afterwards.
2. Moisturise Wise
Many of us moisturise our face daily, yet we fail to offer the same courtesy to our feet. Moisturising our feet plays a key role in preventing them from getting calloused or cracked. When applying lotion to your feet, use the opportunity to massage them and help relieve any tension or strain they’re carrying. A pleasantly scented lotion can do double duty to invorgorate the soles and combat any smells at the same time. But again, make sure you don’t use too much moisturiser and avoid putting the lotion between your toes without rubbing it in completely. Go next level on super dry feet by donning cotton socks after applying lotion or body oil after your shower and wake up with soft, twinkly toes!
The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.
- Gautama Buddha
3. Take Care of Your Toenails!
No one wants to deal with an ingrown toenail so trim your toenails in a straight (rather than curved) line to help avoid this, as it prevents any sharp edges of your toenails growing into the skin. You may also like to use a nail file to smooth out ridges. Don't rip sharp nails as they can pull the nail too far down and cause bleeding, irritation and infection that can become especially painful in heels or tight closed-in shoes! Gently does it with clippers and a file, or leave it to the pro's in a sanitised salon.
4. Check for Changes or Book a Foot Dr
If you’re cleaning and moisturising your feet regularly, it’s a good idea to also use the opportunity to give your feet a close inspection for anything unusual. Note changes to your natural nail colour and the skin underneath, and get anything checked out by your medical practitioner that you are unsure of. Don't pop blisters, pick at sores or walk barefoot around sharp objects. Your feet might be tough, but small problems can turn nasty and take your down fast. Taking the time to truly care for your feet can mean one less thing to worry about in your day and keep you standing tall (and Happy Feet dancing) for longer!
5. Keep Your Feet to Yourself
Even though it’s super tempting to share shoes with friends, experts say this is best avoided, as bacteria that may be harbouring in the shoe can spread to your feet. By the same token, if you’re showering or changing in a public place, like a gym or a public pool, you’ll also want to wear thongs (flip flops) or shower shoes to protect your feet.
6. Protect your feet during and after exercise
It’s during cardio activities like running and jumping that we really put the most pressure on our feet. Make sure your shoes have good shock absorption so they can take the hit for the type of exercise your're doing. There's a huge variety on the market beyond the norm of what you see on the shelves of your local sports store. And if you still feel like your feet are getting a battering from your exercise routine, you might also want to look into getting a shoe insert to help cushion your feet. Just be sure to get professional advice first to avoid doing further damage.
When you’re finished exercising, take off your shoes and socks as soon as possible and allow your shoes to air out. This will help prevent bacteria from building up in the moisture. If you’re planning a long day of exercise, it can also be worth spending a little extra on moisture-wicking socks or bringing extra pairs and changing throughout the day.
Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.
- Theodore Roosevelt
7. Wear Appropriate Footwear
This point is crucial, especially in preventing long-term injury. Make sure that your shoes fit correctly – shoes that are too tight can lead to painful ingrown toenails and hammer toe, while shoes that are too loose can cause blisters and callouses. Keep in mind that your feet swell from heat during the day, so it’s always a good idea to go shoe shopping in the afternoon, or after walking, to ensure that you’ll always be comfortable in the size you select. (I used to work in footwear and trust me, it's much more pleasant for the server too!)
As before it’s also important to make sure you wear the right shoes for the activity that you’re doing. For example, thongs may be great to wear in summer, but if you’re doing a lot of walking, they don’t provide any arch support and can be dangerous in some terrain. Investing in some trendy, yet comfortable sandals (such as Birkenstocks), or breathable sneakers cushioned specifically for walking (such as some Skechers or Merrells) will be well worth it for the pain and discomfort that you avoid..and for all the extra sights you'll see and experiences you can comfortably have!
Don't hold yourself back - use these tips for your happiest healthiest feet and see the world standing strong.
And if you have any great shoe hacks I need to know, drop them in the comments below.
Here's to putting your best foot forward!