Five ways to care for your feet
Five ways to care for your feet
By Anna Beetham, BHSC (Pod) MAAPSM, Podiatrist and creator of Healed Natural products.
Feet… not the sexiest part of our body, nor is my profession the most glamorous, yet without them both we would be lost (and very unsexy!).
Your feet are often an overlooked and neglected part of your body, yet we would struggle to get through each day without them. So why do we take them for granted or only wait until something’s wrong to realise just how essential they are?
A FEW FOOT FACTS
The average person takes between 8,000–10,000 steps every day, which adds up to over 185,000km over a lifetime (enough steps to walk around the circumference of the earth four times!).
Our feet are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and account for 25 per cent of the bones in our body. When you walk and lift your heel off the ground, your toes carry half of your body weight so it’s pretty easy to see that when our feet are out of alignment, our whole body will be.
Foot ailments can be the first sign of a more serious medical condition. Your feet mirror your general health, so conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet.
Nine out of 10 women wear shoes that are too small for them and more women experience foot problems that men.
Only a small percentage of the population is born with foot problems. It’s generally neglect and a lack of awareness of proper care – including ill-fitting shoes – that cause the problems.
So how can we look after our feet?
Here are five ways you can look after your feet at home (and hopefully prevent a visit to your podiatrist).
1. LOVE YOUR FEET
‘But I love your feet only because they walked upon the earth and upon the wind and upon the waters, until they found me’ – Pablo Neruda
Give your feet a bit of TLC every day. Check in between your toes for any redness or dampness (signalling the start of a fungal infection) and ensure you dry between those toes well. Using a wooden foot file on dry skin before showering to remove any thickened, dry skin and then massaging a good quality all-natural foot balm into your feet (after showering) not only gives you a sense of calm and relaxation, but it gets you to stop and focus on your foot health for one to two minutes a day.
2. WEAR THE CORRECT SIZE, FIT AND STYLE OF SHOE FOR YOUR FOOT TYPE.
‘Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world’ – Marilyn Monroe
Have your shoes fitted by a professional and choose good quality materials that last and shoes that suit your foot type and shape (and are comfortable). Invest in a few great pairs that work well with your wardrobe and once you find a great pair, buy another!
I also suggest that while wearing high heels may not be ideal, regular podiatry treatment, education about more appropriate high heel choices (height of the heel, width and depth of the toe box and style of heel), the use of insoles to cushion the ball of the foot and the tailored prescription of stretches and strengthening exercises to prevent calf muscle shortening and weakness plus arch pain may be of use to women who choose (or are compelled) to wear them.
3. LET YOUR FEET, LEGS AND BODY ADAPT TO CHANGES IN ACTIVITY, SLOWLY.
‘Walking is the world’s oldest exercise and today’s modern medicine’ – Johnny Wowk
When starting an exercise program that involves using your feet to walk, run or jump, ensure you gradually increase the load when you train. This allows both tendon and bone to adapt slowly to the load, decreasing the chance of overuse injuries such as stress fractures and shin splints. Choose a training program (or trainer) that is tailored to you, not 30 other people in a boot camp-style class. Ensure your trainer has knowledge of biomechanics and how the body functions (and knows who to refer you to should they feel you need further assessment of your posture, function, strength and/or biomechanics, or you become injured during training (ie podiatrist, physiotherapist).
4. CHOOSE RUNNING/EXERCISE SHOES WITH YOUR HEAD, NOT YOUR HEART.
‘Forget the glass slippers, this princess wears running shoes’ – unknown
When choosing a pair of runners/trainers, have these fitted by a professional and try not to be swayed by this season’s latest colour and/or fad. Shoes that you exercise in need to be suited to your foot type, the sport or activity you will be playing/taking part in and fitted perfectly – there is no point playing netball in a running shoe; nor is there any point running on a road in a minimalist/barefoot running shoe as these shoes were designed to run on natural surfaces, just like the surfaces you’d run on if you had no shoes on).
Note: If you want to start running in a barefoot/minimalist style shoe, ensure you build up to this very slowly and only run on natural surfaces, ie grass, dirt.
5. TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF EVERY NOW AND THEN.
‘Walking barefoot is like being radiated with the heartbeat of the ground with each step you take’ – Lone Alaskan Gypsy
Go barefoot whenever you can, and I mean pure barefoot (unless of course you have a foot condition that requires treatment and you have been recommended by your podiatrist to wear certain shoes and/or orthoses). I mean walk around the house, on the grass or beach barefoot whenever you can. Our feet spend so much time in shoes (and often ones that don’t fit or support us correctly), so going barefoot is a great way to wake up our muscles and ground ourselves.
Anna is a qualified podiatrist with over 13 years’ experience treating athletes from the social, elite and the adolescent and everyone in between. Anna has also created a range of completely natural foot products called Healed. Healed Sole Food – Foot Balm is the only all natural foot balm on the market that not only works, but looks, feels and smells fantastic. Nourish Melbourne Members, you save 25% each time you purchase Healed products online (excluding blister packs).