If you’re like most people, chances are good you made some health-related resolutions for the New Year. (Of course, most people have already given them up by the midpoint of January, but we digress. We’re not here to judge.)
That said, regardless of whether you set any specific resolutions or goals, the start of a fresh new year is as good a reason as any to re-commit yourself to healthy living. And the truth is that, if you want to have a healthy body and mind, you need to start with healthy feet!
After all, you aren’t going to get very far through your new exercise routine, or frankly even just through your nightly chores, if your feet are howling in agony after just a few minutes of standing and walking around.
So if you want to get fitter, healthier, and happier in 2020, make sure your feet get all the love they need and deserve! Here are a few helpful tips to get you started.
Get the Right Shoes
One of the most common ways people sabotage their own foot health is by choosing style over function when it comes to footwear. We’re not saying you can’t own cute shoes, but we are saying they should be the right fit—for both your feet and your activities!
Here’s your rule of thumb: if your footwear isn’t comfortable from the very first moment you try it on, it doesn’t fit. And if it doesn’t fit, you shouldn’t wear it. Your feet will hurt if you do.
Some tips to help you:
- Look for a firm (but not too tight) grip around the heel and ball of the foot, but also with plenty of room for toes to spread out and wiggle. Narrow, pointed toe boxes are a no-no.
- Good cushioning and arch support are a must.
- High heels should generally be avoided. If you must wear them, limit use to special occasions. Heel height should not exceed 2 inches, and the chunkier they are, the better.
- Avoid flip flops as well, except in specific situations where your feet need a thin layer of protection and you will not be walking around much (for example, by the pool). Comfortable sandals with good arch support will always be better.
- Always have a pair of activity-appropriate (and even sport-specific) shoes, designed for the kinds of movements you’ll be making in them.
- Try to shop for your shoes later in the evening, as your feet will likely be a little swollen already. Also, make sure the socks you bring to the store are appropriate for the type of shoe or boot you’re shopping for. These factors help better ensure your footwear will fit correctly under normal conditions.
Keep Your Feet Conditioned
You might not think of your feet and ankles as body parts requiring regular stretching and exercise, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!
On the contrary, you want your feet and lower legs to be strong and flexible, since they must support your weight and cushion your steps all day long!
Stretch your feet, ankles, and calves regularly—in the morning after you get up, before vigorous activity, before you go to bed, and really any other time you think to throughout the day. The good news is that exercises can be performed at home, require no special equipment, and many can even be performed while you’re eating breakfast or watching TV!
Additionally, avoid overuse injuries. If you enjoy certain high-impact activities, such as running or playing basketball, do not do these things every day unless you know you can handle it. Rest days are critical in helping your feet recover from vigorous activity and come back stronger! On your off days, you can do low-impact work such as weight training, riding your bicycle, or going for a swim.
Develop Good Hygiene Habits
Keeping feet clean and avoiding either excessive dryness or excessive moisture will help keep your skin and nails supple and strong, and prevent unsightly issues like cracked heels, athlete’s foot, and fungal nail infections.
Here are a few key tips:
- Wash your feet every day.
- Avoid excessively long or hot baths or showers, as they can actually dry out your skin by damaging it.
- Apply moisturizer and a clean pair of socks after your shower or bath to lock in that moisture.
- Do not wear socks or shoes that have become damp, even if it means you have to switch them mid-day. Opt for breathable, moisture wicking fabrics except in cases where weatherproofing is required (e.g., winter or rain boots).
- If possible, allow shoes at least 24 hours of drying time before wearing them again. Consider using foot powders or sprays to help prevent foul odor and fungi.
Don’t Wait to Get the Care You Need
Foot pain is often (mistakenly) considered “part of life,” and far too many people don’t seriously consider seeking out a podiatrist unless their pain is really unbearable and significantly limiting their lifestyle.
Don’t make this mistake!
Foot pain is not a normal part of life, and counteracting it as early as possible will spare you a lot of time, agony, frustration, and possibly even money in the long run. Nip a problem in the bud now, instead of coming back later for multiple appointments (or even a surgery.)
Family Foot & Ankle Center is here to serve you! We have six convenient locations throughout the Cincinnati area, including in both Ohio and Kentucky. Call us at (513) 728-4800 to schedule an appointment at your preferred office.