Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Your feet are just as important

Published:Monday | November 30, 2015 | 12:00 AMCathy Risden

Your feet are probably the last part of your body that you think about until they start hurting.

They are too important to overlook. They absorb the impact of your full body weight with every step, keeping you balanced and upright. However, there are some nuisances that disturb the function of your feet - odour, cracked skin, corns, fallen arches, ingrown toenails, fungal infections and even damaged bones - which cause discomfort and reduced mobility.

While some of these problems are congenital, you can avoid many of them with a little more care.

Maintaining healthy feet is a simple regimen of daily care that will help keep the skin, bones and muscles of your feet functioning properly. Here are five foot care steps you can use everyday.

 

WEAR THE CORRECT SHOES

 

Wearing the wrong size shoes can affect many aspects of your health. The shoes must fit, and not too tightly, because it can cause hammer toe (toe bent downward), corns, ingrown toenails, bunions, and general foot pain. On the other hand, overly large shoes prevent your heels from settling in the proper place as you walk, causing blisters and calluses, sore heels and excessive shoe wear. Also, the correct shoes for running, the office, etc, goes without saying. They were not only made for aesthetics.

 

WALK BAREFOOT

 

This might seem counter-intuitive since walking puts stress on your feet. The muscles in your feet are just like other muscles; they need exercise to stay strong. You can't lift weights with your foot muscles, so the best thing to do is to take a walk.

 

WASH YOUR FEET EVERYDAY

 

Your feet spend most of the day trapped inside shoes. All the moisture and sweat provide fertile ground for bacteria to grow, especially between your toes. Keep those areas clean and dry.

Treat your feet to a soak as often as your feet require.

First, soak your feet in water for 10 to 15 minutes to help soften the skin. Gently remove the thickened skin with a pumice stone. Make it a habit to use a pumice stone or foot file on damp heels and calluses.

Apply moisturising foot scrubs made from botanicals such as crushed fruit pits, sugar or chemical defoliators to help remove dead skin. After you scrub, apply a rich foot cream or balm containing shea or cocoa butter. Look for balms or heel creams containing salicylic acid or urea to soften tough calluses.

 

USE MOISTURISER

 

The wear and tear endured by your feet each day can result in areas of dry, cracked or scaly skin. If you wear sandals frequently, this problem may be a significantly worse. The cure is simple. Use a lotion containing cocoa butter (a natural emollient) on the skin of your feet everyday. You can do this in the morning, and it's recommended that you skip the area between your toes.

Look for creams containing petrolatum, an emollient; or a humectant such as lactic acid, which pulls moisture into the skin.

If your heels are very dry and cracked, see a podiatrist or dermatologist for prescription treatment.

 

WEAR SOCKS

 

Socks absorb moisture. Most of the impact of walking or running is absorbed by a layer of fat in your heels. If you spend a lot of time on your feet, your heels might need some extra help. You can use shoe insert, but a soft pair of socks can add some shock absorption as well. As you age, that fat layer gets thinner, so socks become even more important. In addition, socks act as a barrier between your feet and your shoes, reducing blisters and calluses.

Take the time to show your feet some TLC. After all, they keep you going!

cathy.risden@gleanerjm.com