“Left foot, Left foot Right foot, Right. Feet in the morning. Feet at night.” -Dr. Seuss
As important as our feet are, far too many people neglect the basic care and maintenance needed to keep your feet not only looking good (somewhat important, depending on who you are) but also feeling good (very important no matter who you are). Don’t agree with the latter? Then perhaps you’ve never properly stepped on a lego lying in wait or experienced any number of foot-related injuries to their fullest. If you have not, you’re lucky-- also, I don’t believe you.
When your feet are in pain, your whole body is in pain. Of course certain injuries cannot be avoided simply by caring for your feet. Even the most beautiful toe can get ninja kicked by furniture in a dark room--all you have to do is walk in the dark in a room with a single piece of furniture; apparently that’s enough of a taunt to rile the furniture into action--so watch out. You can, however, ward off many things with just a bit of basic foot care.
Don’t laugh at this suggestion. Or do laugh… but I’d be willing to bet that some people don’t actually do it. WASH YOUR FEET. Yep. Wash your feet. This does not mean to simply allow the soapy water from the shower to wash over your feet; yes, there is soap and water involved, but come on, that’s not washing. Not to mention nasty! Wash between your toes and get the bottom of your feet. Use a washcloth or sponge--just about anything will do. Be sure to DRY YOUR FEET WELL (and between your toes) when you’re done. Both washing and drying at least once a day helps prevent Athlete’s Foot and other foot funk related things caused by bacteria and fungus.
WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES. Take it from anyone who has worn the wrong size just because they were the “perfect shoes.” It’s NOT worth it. Size does matter. So back it up even further to this tip--BUY THE RIGHT SHOES. Make sure you know what size you wear and try shoes on; not all shoes are created equally. Also, try to go shoe shopping at the end of the day when your feet are at their worst. If you try them on after a day of standing, walking, kicking, or whatever you do all day, and they fit, they’ll fit you all day long the first day you wear them. This may not be true of shoes tried on under one condition and worn in another. Be sure to choose the right material for your shoes too. Don’t think for a second that synthetic leather shoes will stretch or that you can “break them in.” That’s not to say that you should stay away from synthetic materials--just know what you’re getting into. Your shoes should NOT hurt your feet--regardless of how they look. Pain from shoes can result in blisters, corns, and calluses.
FLEX YOUR FOOT MUSCLE. Keep the muscles of your feet in peak condition if you want to prevent future issues such as fallen arches and more. This is something that goes beyond your feet and can affect knees, hips and other joints. Anything that affects your gait or stride has the potential to mess you up, well, pretty much everywhere. Taking walks is the easiest way to keep your feet in good shape. Done! I walk every day. Slap on your Apple Watch and now you can ensure that you’re getting in the prescribed number of steps. Boom. Done. But I have one more for you that, until today, I didn’t know existed. And I am SO doing this. Foot Yoga. Sounds made up, right? I swear it’s not (Check it out on YouTube). Here’s why I’m doing it. I have been doing Martial Arts for years and one of the struggles I have is cramped arches in my feet. Especially when we spar (if you’re familiar with Martial Arts, you know there is a great deal of bouncing on the balls of your feet). For me, sparring is one of the reasons I love Martial Arts; I WILL NOT give it up. So I deal with the aching feet. Foot Yoga here I come. I would encourage anyone with similar concerns to give it a try. I promise I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.
SMOOTH OUT THE ROUGH SPOTS. You know what I’m talking about; it’s those patches on the heel or the sides of your toe that get snagged on your bed sheets or silk socks. Just typing that made me cringe. If you have let your feet get that craggy, you really need to use a cheese grater (DO NOT DO THIS--of course this is a hyperbole used to make a point, not a real suggestion). All jokes aside, this is a very simple thing to do. Skip the Epsom Salt; it’s too drying. Just get a bowl or something big enough for your feet, add some warm (not hot) water and soak your feet. Pat them dry and use a pumice stone or foot file to get those rough spots smoothed. If they’re stubborn, don’t keep trying or push harder; try again the next day. It may take a couple of days before it’s as smooth as you’d like it to be. Don’t give up--it will come off.
The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art. -Leonardo da Vinci
MOISTURIZE your feet after washing or soaking them. You can use Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, or any of your favorite moisturizers. For an extra bit of help, coat your feet before bed, put on some thick socks, and sleep with your feet in little moisture cocoons. If you are lucky enough to be with someone who doesn’t mind feet, or better yet someone who even has a thing for feet (you know who you are), hand over the Foot Rub and sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s a win-win. You will get the benefit of having moisturized your feet as well as an invigorating foot massage, which is great for circulation, and the other party gets the pleasure of touching your feet.
PAINT AND PEDICURE. For a simple paint job, you can do this at home with very little cost and in very little time. You can get the long-lasting gel nail polish on drugstore shelves now. Paint on your favorite color followed by a top coat and the end. For those who prefer the salon experience, I offer this piece of advice--make sure you choose a reputable place. Salons who cut corners are subjecting you to serious risk of infection. Some don’t clean instruments or baths properly and you’re getting someone else’s foot funk--stewed to perfection. If you have, or get during the procedure, any open cuts--nope, I’m done. You can surmise the rest or Google it. I don’t have the stomach to finish that thought. Just be careful. Use Yelp reviews or ask friends for referrals.
Here is one final thought on feet. When I was doing what passes for research in order to write this blog, one thing I ran across several times was that to keep good foot health one should not go barefoot. Blaspheme! As a West Virginia native, I disagree, I am offended, and I object. My favorite pair of shoes is no shoes at all. I have standards; I’m not totally feral. I do try to wait for warm weather to go barefoot outside, I rarely go out in snow without shoes, and I almost never walk around in mud. And while it may not be dainty, delicate or even feminine, the bottom of my feet are similar to those of a dog’s paw. But screw dainty--I can walk across a gravel drive without shoes and I don’t even flinch…because I can’t feel it. The few times in my life that I went in for a pedicure I was terrified that they would scrape off my dog pads. Those took a lifetime to create! I cannot recommend going barefoot since there may or may not be a liability issue involved since the Internet doesn't want us to do it--and the Internet is always right. But I do have a great pair of shoes to recommend. I’ve attached a picture of mine. Yours will probably look a bit different since they are made as one of a kind. You can find them at the end of your legs. Use with caution.
“In the house, and on the street, How many, many feet you meet.” Dr. Seuss