Taking care of your feet is important. But for such an essential part of our bodies, we seem to put little thought and effort into treating them kindly. Our feet allow us to stand, jump, run and balance. With the aid of muscles, tendons and ligaments, our feet are the most used and abused body part of the body. Often, for the sake of fashion, we subject them to ill-fitting footwear: shoes that are too tight, too high or too cheap. Also, our feet change with age. As we get older they rebel against all the beatings we put them through. In time the abuse surfaces and the precious pedestals we stand on are no longer healthy. If you take care of your feet now they will not hold you back from enjoying life in the long run.
I abused my feet and eventually paid the price. When I began running I overdid it, as I usually do with most everything I do. I stubbornly set my mind to achieving greatness as a runner. I didn’t gradually increase mileage. I ran every single day, going longer and faster each time. Sometimes, after running, I went on rough 15 mile hikes with the same running shoes, with no additional ankle or arch support. Soon I developed plantar fasciitis: Inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament which runs along the bottom of the foot. It was a painful condition in the arch of my foot. I learned my lessson the hard way. Now I time my runs. I wear perfectly fitted shoes and run less than ever before, which really kills me. But I am not ready to give up just yet. I have become more aware of how important my feet really are and how careful I have to be when choosing my footwear and caring for my feet.
Here are some tips on how to take care of your feet to avoid the same fate I suffered:
Have your feet measured and stick to that size. But beware, not all shoes are sized the same. Try to buy quality, all-leather shoes. They’re breathable and will stretch and mold to your feet. They are pricy, but worth the investment. Also, avoid wearing flats with no arch support for long periods. Feet flatten as we age (unless you already have flat feet), and this can cause pain and plantar fasciitis.
Also read: Choosing the best healthy diet in midlife
Socks: Try to avoid 100 percent cotton socks. They absorb sweat, take longer to dry and cause blisters. The longer your feet stay damp, the more chances of developing athlete’s foot or similar fungal diseases. Choose your socks according to the activity you’re engaged in. Merino wool is my choice as it’s great for both cool and warm conditions, they absorbs moisture and provide cushioning. They are a bit on the expensive side but they last for years. REI is a great resource when choosing the right socks for you.
Sandals: After having your feet safely protected all winter, avoid getting blisters the first few times you sport your summer shoes. Apply Body Glide. It works wonders. Wear different shoes every day. Feet sweat and you must allow your footwear to dry completely before wearing them again. This is good for shoes and as well as your footsies.
After the shower: Apply a moisturizing cream like Eucerin Intensive Repair Foot Cream.
At night: Apply Vaseline or any body butter that is rich and hydrating; socks are optional. Get a professional pedicure at least once a year. Keep your toenails nice and short. Apart from being uncomfortable, long nails can turn black and fall off if they rub against your shoes.
Stilettos: You are not going to like this tip. As much as they are beautiful and sexy, wearing too high of a heel shortens the fibers in your calves. According to The Independent wearing high heels places great strain on your calves, making them more vulnerable to injuries. Wear stilettos only if you plan to spend most of the evening sitting down. Not all shoes made for comfort are ugly. Brands are becoming more fashion-conscious. Think Tsubo, Camper, Ecco, El Naturalista. There are many beautiful shoes to choose from, even heels!
Take care of your feet. Every step you take toward their well-being in the present will help them in the future!