Our feet haul us through thousands of steps per day. Yet, we cram them into pointy pumps, pound them on the pavement, and often tend to them last when it comes to self-care.
A 2014 survey shows that eight out of 10 Americans have experienced a foot problem — defined as everything from an ingrown toenail to chronic foot pain. And depending on how long that foot problem lasts, it could potentially impact one’s overall quality of life and health. If you’ve got foot pain or even a minor skin irritation, you’re more likely to shirk exercise, for example. Essentially, if your feet fall behind, so do you. They keep us moving and take us everywhere we need to go, which helps us live the way we want and prevent many psychological, social and physical dysfunction.
10 easy ways to treat your feet right and keep them pain-free
Foot health 101
• Don’t wear too-tight shoes.
• Don’t share shoes.
• Don’t share pedicure utensils with your pals.
• Don’t hide discolored nails with polish. Let them breathe and treat the underlying issue.
• Don’t shave calluses.
• Don’t perform “DIY surgery” on an ingrown nail.
• Do try the legs-up-the-wall yoga pose after a long day or a hard workout.
• Do give yourself a foot massage, or book a reflexology session.
• Do roll a tennis ball under your feet.
• Do soothe irritation with a vinegar foot soak.
Make sure your shoes are a shoe-in
Many people have one foot that’s larger than the other, and if this is true for you, remember to fit your shoes to your larger foot. Purchase shoes in the afternoon to be sure they fit properly right away and not need “breaking in”.
Perfect shoe fit
• The ball of your foot should fit comfortably in the widest part of the shoe.
• You should have enough depth so that your toes don’t rub the tops.
• Stand up with the shoes on and make sure you have a half inch (about the width of your finger) between your longest toe and the front of the shoe.
• Walk around in the shoes and make sure you don’t experience any rubbing or slipping.
Wear your heels like they’re worth millions — sparingly
We may love the way heels elongate our legs and make us feel powerful, but when we wear them a lot, we may sacrifice our health. Fifty-two of the bones in the human body are actually in our feet and ankles. High heels, which tip us forward, change the natural position of the foot in relation to the ankle. Wearing high heels sets off a chain reaction up through the legs and lower spine, which could lead to chronic knee, hip, or back pain. If you’re not willing to part with your heels, choose sensible ones and wear them sparingly. Find a shoe with as broad a heel as possible to increase surface area contact between the shoe and the ground. This will decrease the pressure on the foot.
Always inspect your shoes
No matter what types of shoes are in your closet, you need to inspect them regularly for wear and tear.
The “good shoes” checklist
• Replace your running shoes every 300 miles.
• Nice flats or boots can usually be fixed, but watch for cracking on the upper part, softening in the soles, and damage to toe boxes.
• Check high heels for the same concerns, as well as for exposed nails; an indicator you need a new heel lift.
• Check sandals for loose or broken straps.
• Repair, recycle, or toss out when appropriate.
Wearing the wrong shoe can exacerbate existing problems such as pain or arthritis in your hips, knees, ankles or feet. Even a short time in the wrong shoes can cause stress and pain to your bones and joints, and the soft tissues that support them. Bad shoes will cause corns, calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails and other types of irritation.