Our feet carry us through life. We walk, run, and dance on them. We also tend to forget about them, until they hurt!
Keeping your feet happy and healthy should be part of your daily routine. The good news is that taking care of your feet daily can prevent most foot problems, and improve your overall health.
Foot Care: A Long-Term Health Investment
Feet are wonderfully complex!
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, each foot has 26 bones, held together by an interconnected framework of muscles, tendons and ligaments. They absorb the impact of your full body weight with every step. They also keep you balanced, and standing upright.
Common foot-related problems can include cracked skin, fallen arches, foot odor, corns, ingrown toenails, fungal infections, and even damaged bones. All of these cause discomfort, and negatively impact our mobility .
Many of us suffer from foot problems. In fact, surveys show that 61% of women and 30% of men report suffering from foot pain. Daily care ensures better long-term mobility and posture. As we age this is increasingly important.
Taking care of your feet for just a few minutes a day is easy. A straightforward daily foot-care regime will help keep the skin, bones and muscles of your feet functioning optimally.
Just like any other muscle, your feet need exercise to stay strong. No weights needed: just by taking a daily walk, you keep your foot muscles firm, and the tendons and ligaments flexible. Walking with your friends, family, and pets, is a great workout for your feet, and an opportunity to enjoy some social time while you’re at it.
It’s an easy step to skip, but ensuring that you wash your feet regularly is important. When we are working, our feet spend most of every day trapped inside a pair of shoes. The moisture and sweat provides fertile ground for bacteria to grow, which can eventually lead to fungal infections and other skin problems.
By thoroughly washing with gentle soap, focusing between your toes, you can prevent infections from developing.
Make sure you dry your feet properly to prevent the development of fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Foot powder also helps keep feet drier for longer when wearing closed shoes.
It is important to moisturize your feet regularly, especially if you are wearing sandals. In dry, sandy climates, feet endure a lot of wear and tear. This can result in areas of dry or scaly skin, which can crack and bleed, or become irritated. By moisturizing, you keep the skin supple, smooth and healthy. Try jojoba or coconut oil to relieve cracked heels.
Choose the Right Shoes
Choosing the correct shoes is important. Poorly fitting shoes can lead to the development of several painful foot conditions, including corns and calluses, hallux valgus (bunions) and toe deformities . Inappropriate shoes can also lead to falls, which can cause many health complications .
Not sure how to choose the right shoe for your foot? Here is the recommendation from the Healthy Footwear Guide:
“The Healthy Footwear Guide recommends that a ‘healthy’ shoe should be of adequate width and depth, with a toe box and sole that allow for normal foot function. The heel should be stable and approximately 25 mm high, and the shoe should keep the foot stable.”
|Fact-box: Foot-care and Mobility
Decreased mobility has a very serious impact on our physical and mental health. Lower mobility restricts activity and social participation, causes isolation, anxiety and depression, and contributes to an overall poorer quality of life. Not only that, but studies have found that mobility limitations are a strong predictor of subsequent disabilities. Keep yourself mobile by taking care of your feet!
Your feet work very hard every day—why not pamper them from time to time? Peppermint oil has multiple health benefits. Studies have shown that using peppermint oil topically is an effective natural painkiller and muscle relaxant, as well as a natural odor killer. Treat yourself to a simple, natural, and relaxing foot rub, and take care of your feet along the way!
Diabetes, Back Pain, and Foot-Care
For diabetics, foot-care is even more important. According to Hamilton Health Sciences, diabetes can cause problems with the nerves and blood vessels in your feet. By checking your feet and legs each day, and sitting with your feet up when possible to keep the blood flowing, you severely reduce the risk of pain, swelling, and redness.
Feet can have far reaching consequences. According to the Framingham Foot Study, over- or under-pronated foot function, where body weight is distributed unevenly and results in abnormal leg and foot movements, may contribute to lower back pain in women. Wearing the correct footwear is one way of managing this condition and therefore easing lower back pain.
Keep Your Feet Happy
By following a simple foot-care regime that includes regular walking, washing, moisturizing, and choosing the right shoes, you can keep your feet happy and healthy. Invest a little time on your long-term mobility, and keep dancing for years to come!