Our feet go through a lot on a daily basis. With each step we take, the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments in our feet are hard at work. Unfortunately, many of us don’t think about taking care of our feet until we reach for a pair of sandals in warmer weather.
Healthy foot care extends beyond appearances or a fresh coat of nail polish, and taking care of your feet should be a year-round effort. The health of your feet can be an indicator of your general health,1 so a good foot care routine should be a part of your overall plan for health and wellness. Here are some foot care tips for happy, healthy feet.
Wear Shoes That Fit
If your shoes hurt your feet, they are probably not good for you. Shoes that are too tight can distort the shape of your toes, cause painful foot growths or blisters, and worsen existing foot problems. Also, don’t wear the same shoes every day. Skipping a day in your favorite shoes will give them more time to air out, which will help prevent foot odor and infections.
If you wear high heels, opt for heels that are two inches or lower with a wide, stable heel base and a wide toe box that doesn’t crowd your toes. Also, avoid wearing unsupportive flat shoes for long periods of time, like flip-flops, ballet flats and other styles that don’t offer arch or ankle support.
Wash Your Feet Daily
Good foot hygiene starts with keeping them clean, but just getting your feet wet in the shower doesn’t count. Wash your feet regularly and dry them thoroughly to help prevent foot odors and problems related to bacteria and fungus. Take time to wash between each toe with soap. If you have trouble bending over in the shower, use a shower brush with a handle long enough to reach your feet.
For a pampering treatment, soak your feet in warm, soapy water. Try adding lavender Epsom salt to your foot bath, or use our recipe for a refreshing foot bath with Tea Tree Oil for spa-like foot care at home.
Moisturize to Avoid Dry, Cracked Feet
Keeping your feet moisturized with foot lotions, especially in winter months, will help prevent the skin on your feet from getting dry and cracked. Over time, dry skin can build up on your feet, particularly on your heels, which looks unsightly and can crack, leading to some serious health concerns. Cracked skin leaves your feet more vulnerable to certain infections.2
If you notice a buildup of dry skin on your feet, use a pumice stone to gently exfoliate before using a moisturizing foot treatment.
Don’t Go Barefoot in Public Places
It might be tempting to forgo shoes in some public areas, like swimming pools or gym locker rooms and showers, but going barefoot in public spaces can increase your chances of getting fungal infections. Use caution at salons and spas as well. The foot baths and tools at your nail salon need to be cleaned frequently with anti-fungal agents to prevent the spread of certain diseases3, so be sure to choose a salon with good cleaning habits.
Take Care of Your Toenails
Trim your toenails regularly with a pair of trimmers that follow the natural curve of your nails, and if you paint your toenails, keep an eye on the ingredients in your nail polish. Ingredients in some nail polish and removers can dry out nails and make them brittle. Avoid ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and choose a nail polish remover that doesn’t contain alcohol.4
Go for a Walk
Feet are made up of a complex system of muscles, tendons and bones, and they need exercise to stay healthy and reduce risk of injury. Experts say walking is the best overall foot exercise5, improving both the strength and flexibility of your feet, but there are plenty of flexibility and resistance exercises that you can do while sitting. If you have a condition that limits your mobility, talk with your doctor about which exercises are best for you.
We hope these foot care tips will help you take care of your feet all year round. If you have a great daily routine for foot health, share it with us in the comments below.
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1 Slideshow: What Your Feet Say About Your Health: WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/ss/slideshow-what-your-feet-say (Accessed 10/30/2017)
2 Cellulitis: WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/cellulitis#1-2 (Accessed 10/30/2017)
3 Top 5 Infections You Can Pick Up at the Nail Salon: How Stuff Works. https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/nail-care/health/5-nail-salon-infections1.htm (Accessed 10/30/2017)
4 6 Tips for Foot and Nail Care: WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/foot-cream-toenail#1 (Accessed 10/30/2017)
5 Exercises for Healthy Feet: Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/exercises-for-healthy-feet (Accessed 10/30/2017)