How well do you take care of your feet? With all they do for you, it's important to look after them now to prevent problems down the road.
Prevention is key for avoiding some of the most unpleasant foot issues from pain to fungus. Follow these 10 tips to keep your feet healthy no matter the season:
1. Be smart with your footwear.
The shoes you select can have short-term and long-term effects on your health and comfort. Aside from sore feet at the end of the day, shoes that don't provide proper cushion and arch support can lead to plantar fasciitis, bunions, painful calluses and even knee problems. It's best to look for shoes with a low heel, plenty of arch support and a firm sole that isn't easily bent. Always get properly fitted for shoes, making sure they fit securely but not too tightly.
2. Don't forget to clean well.
When you're rushing through your morning shower, you may not think to focus on your feet, but it's important to clean all the nooks and crannies of your feet to remove dead skin and bacteria that can lead to infection. Pay attention to the nail beds, removing dirt and debris. If you have a condition like athlete's foot, or would just like some extra protection against the bacteria your feet pick up, try combining warm water with 1 cup apple cider vinegar and soaking to kill germs.
3. Dry them completely.
Now that your feet are clean, it's important to let them dry before putting on socks and shoes. When you cover feet that are still warm or wet from your shower, you're creating an ideal environment for bacteria and fungus. You may also notice the skin on your feet peeling. Pat them dry with a clean towel right when you get out of the shower and then put on your socks and shoes last before you head out the door to keep your feet protected.
4. Keep them moisturized.
Hydration is also important for the health of your feet. When the skin of the feet is too dry, it can crack, causing painful openings that expose raw skin. These cracks can trap dead skin and bacteria and also cause a nasty infection. It's best to moisturize your feet daily to prevent this problem. Before bed, try a natural moisturizer like cocoa butter, coconut oil or argan oil. Massage the product into the skin thoroughly and wake up to softer, smoother feet.
5. Allow them to breathe.
When you get home from work, school or the gym, be sure to kick off your shoes and allow your feet some time to breathe, again, to help inhibit the growth of bacteria. If your feet feel especially icky, give them a quick wash and dry. Once they're completely dry, put on a clean pair of socks if you like. Allowing them to breathe also applies to nail polish. If you normally paint your toenails, consider giving them time off so the nails can get some air and prevent infection from worsening.
6. Stretch and strengthen.
Your feet carry you everywhere, so work them out like you do your arms, which carry all of your junk. If you're sitting at your desk all day, you can strengthen your feet by pointing and flexing them. Once you stand up, try doing some calf raises up to the balls of your feet. A good, old-fashioned foot massage is also great for circulation. Try using a massage oil with arnica in it, which is a natural pain reliever, to soothe those tired feet like a spa treatment.
7. Trim nails the right way.
To avoid bruised nails or ingrown toenails, it's important to keep your nails trimmed on a regular basis, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it. The wrong was is to cut nails very short and round the edges. The right way is to cut your nails straight across, short enough so it's comfortable in your shoes but left long enough that you still have some of the white tip at the end. Avoid picking or cutting at your cuticles to prevent infection.
8. Take a good look at them.
You know your feet best, so you'll know when something doesn't look, feel or smell right. If you experience severe pain, a strong odor, itchiness, rash or your toenails are thick, discolored or peeling, it's time to speak with a physician to assess the health of your feet and determine the best treatment. If you suffer from diabetes, checking your feet regularly for wounds that won't heal and symptoms like tingling or numbness is an important step in managing this condition.
9. Wear protective footwear when necessary.
Always dress for the weather and activity, especially when it comes to your footwear. As previously mentioned, your feet should stay cool (not cold) and dry no matter where you are. Also, when using a public shower at the gym, it's crucial to wear rubber flip flops to serve as a barrier between your feet and the shower floor as well as the locker room floor when you hop out. Your feet get pretty nasty when working out and you don't want to walk around in anyone else's mess.
10. Avoid sharing.
Girls especially, love sharing shoes, but unless you really, really, really trust the source, don't do it. You never know where their feet have been (intentionally or unintentionally) and what kind of bacteria is now hanging out in their shoes. If you just bought a new pair of shoes, which was probably tried on by more than one person, wipe the inside with a disinfectant wipe and allow to dry before slipping them on.
Are you ready to take better care of your feet? Pick up everything you need to pamper and protect them at eVitamins!