Why Caring For Your Feet Is So Important For Your Health
Have a think about everything you do on a daily basis. Driving or walking to work, doing the shopping, squeezing in a gym session, heading to the bars for a night out. Whatever your daily tasks include, it’s your feet that continuously carry you and your weight, day in, day out. Whether you’re a woman fitting your feet into 6 inch high heels, or a tradesman trudging around in heavy duty boots, your feet go through a lot more than you think!
They’re basically the workhorses of our bodies, but we give them so little respect. And not intentionally, but it’s easy to take our feet for granted. They’re just there, putting up with a host of challenges. Let’s not forget about how easy it is to just wrap them in sweaty socks for long periods of time, or forget to maintain toenails, leading to overgrown, brittle nails.
While suffering those indignities, our feet take the full force impact from just an average day of walking. You may be familiar with ‘pounding feet’ – usually the first alert to the body that they are taking on a lot. Healthy feet are incredibly important for feeling good, staying active and living a healthy life. Neglecting your feet can lead to unnecessary pain and other foot problems, as well as further problems across the rest of your body.
So let’s look at the right ways to look after them:
Your feet need to stay clean and dry
Healthy feet start with good hygiene, and this simply means keeping them clean and dry as often as you can. It’s easy to say you should be thoroughly cleaning and scrubbing your feet with soap and water daily, but if you think about taking extra effort in the shower or bath, it can be done without being a lengthy job.
After cleaning them properly, dry them off well. Fungal organisms love moisture, so if your feet don’t contain much moisture, you’re actually depriving fungus of any wetness, making it impossible to develop and thrive. It’s the toes that are usually the ones to watch for this, so be sure to dry well between each individual toe. Any excess moisture between the toes can create a great environment for a fungal infection to begin.
Check your feet regularly
Something that a lot of people aren’t yet doing is regularly performing a foot self-examination. And no, it isn’t as intense as it sounds! Just once a week, ideally when you have just had a bath or shower, take a good look at your feet as you’re drying them off. Properly examine them from all areas – from the soles to the toes. Take a good look at the entire sole of your foot and check for any hard or scaling skin or any peeling between the toes. Red, peeling skin can be a sign of athlete’s foot, and some people don’t realise they have it until it escalates.
Look for any signs of discolouration to the nails, which could indicate a nail fungus. If you always wear nail polish on your toenails, try to remove it and keep them polish-free every couple of weeks, so that you don’t miss those telltale signs of discolouration.
It isn’t normal for your feet to hurt
If you hear people complain about sore feet regularly, or if you’re guilty of this yourself, then please be aware this shouldn’t be the case. Your feet shouldn’t cause you pain on a daily basis.
Your choice of footwear can usually play a big part in this, as tight shoes can create bunions, or worsen any existing bunions. They can also distort your toe shape and cause painful foot growths.
If you do suffer from bunions, it’s best to tackle them straight away before they get worse. A lot of people wonder ‘do bunion correctors work’? Whilst some say they slow down the growth and ease the pain, a lot of people look straight at surgery to get them removed.
For those who wear high heels, these can push your toes at an abnormal slant, crushing them to the tip of the shoe, causing nail problems and again, toe distortion. Choose heels that are wide enough and stable to walk in. If you’re struggling to walk in your heels, then think about how much your feet will be suffering in them!
The tip of your shoes should always be as wide as possible, which can be difficult if you prefer the pointed toe shape shoes. If you do choose to wear pointed toes, the toe boxes shouldn’t begin their narrowing shape until well past the ball of the foot.
Alternate the shoes you wear each day.
To protect your Achilles tendon from shortening, heel wearers should remember to alternate heel heights regularly. That way, your feet don’t start to mould into an unnatural shape. And yes, it may mean having two pairs of your favourite everyday styles, but shoes also need time to air out to avoid triggering foot odour or infections too.
The average person tends to wear the same pair of socks all through the day too, which isn’t the best way to keep your feet fresh and well aired. Ideally, change your socks or tights more than once a day, and especially if you go to the gym in the evenings. Make sure you bring a change of socks in your gym bag.
Avoid completely flat shoes
It may sound a strange one, but shoes that are completely flat can actually cause more problems for your feet. For example, flip-flops and completely flat pumps don’t provide any support for the arch of your foot. And neither does walking barefoot.
Women are especially prone to developing flat feet, encouraged from walking barefoot or in super flat shoes, which can lead to other foot problems and poor posture. To keep feet strong and healthy, minimize the amount of time you wear shoes that lack supportive arches. The ideal shoe should have a small platform which lifts the foot of the floor slightly, and a slight, smooth arch in the sole.
In general, remember that your feet bear the burdens of your day, and shouldn’t be neglected. Make sure you wash and dry them daily, keep them fresh with a change of shoes and shoes, and that your shoes are as supportive as possible for your feet. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to having healthy feet, that encourages a healthy body.