Words by Sorcha Dunne
We know that many of our body parts need regular TLC. We brush our teeth and cleanse, tone, and moisturise our face daily but a body part that tends to get overlooked in our routines is our feet! After all, they serve as the foundation for our entire body in support, balance, and posture. Sorcha Dunne shares 9 tips to keep your feet healthy this Summer.
Examine your feet regularly for problems
Feet are incredibly complex and with 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons, they’re bound to run into some trouble from time to time. So aim to start examining your feet daily for cuts, bruises, discolouration, callus build-up, or anything abnormal. If you struggle to see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror, or ask someone to help you.
Wash your feet every day in warm water
Wash your feet at least once per day with warm water and soap to maintain proper hygiene and prevent irritation – using a flannel or a bristle brush can also help when washing your feet to remove any dead skin cells. However, please note that soaking your feet may increase your risk of foot problems by drying out your skin, which can also cause cracks to form and lead to infections.
Keep your feet dry
After washing your feet, make sure to thoroughly dry them, particularly in between each toe. The space between your toes is an ideal environment to hold in moisture, and fungal organisms love moisture. If the feet are kept moist and warm after washing, bacteria and fungus can begin to grow and lead to conditions such as athlete’s foot and fungal nail.
Moisturise your feet daily with lotion, cream, or petroleum jelly. It’s imperative to do this as we get older because the nerves that control our feet’ sweat and oil glands can get damaged. When they no longer work, it causes our feet to get dry, leading to peeling and cracking.
Cut your toenails
As simple as it may seem, cutting your toenails properly is essential and can save you from rather painful nail problems, such as broken toenails, ingrown toenails, and infections. Cut your toenails straight across with a pair of clean, sharp nail clippers, leaving them long enough so that the corners lie loosely against the skin at the sides. Cutting the toenails straight across will ensure the toenail continues to grow forward, though you can file any sharp corners or jagged edges away.
Spending some time wearing no shoes can allow foot reflex zones to be stimulated, which benefits the entire body. With time, the muscles in your feet will also begin to strengthen, and your toes and tendons will stretch out. Other benefits include better control of your foot position, improvements in balance, proprioception, body awareness, and better foot mechanics.
Wear supportive footwear
While it can be beneficial to go barefoot from time to time, you don’t want to start going on hikes or long walks or doing strenuous labour in unsupportive shoes. This can be dangerous for your feet and put you at a higher risk for back or knee injuries. Instead, find shoes with good arch support that don’t constrict the natural shape of your foot. Foot conditions resulting from unsupportive or constricting shoes include bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and ingrown toenails.
Rotate your shoes
It is essential to rotate your shoes to change up the forces on your body. This ensures that you use your muscles differently (because of the different shoe shapes) and prevents overuse and underuse of other muscles. In addition, the shoe rotation allows you to dry out your shoes thoroughly, reducing the mould and fungus that can proliferate in sweat-laden shoes.
Know when to see a doctor
Like most health issues, the longer you leave it untreated, the worse it will get, and the longer it will take to mend. So, if you suspect you have a foot issue, do not wait to seek attention from a professional, especially if you have other medical conditions.