Among the last things you’re thinking about during the holidays are your feet, unless they happen to be sore after too much shopping or socializing. But healthy feet are vital to mobility. The average person walks approximately 100,000 miles in their lifetime. Feet go through a lot of labor besides balancing our weight and walking, but taking care of them is not usually a priority. However, we are so dependent on our feet that when a problem does occur, it can be debilitating, and cause psychological strain too. Foot issues can lead to back, hip and knee pain as well. But with the right foot care, you can keep your toes tapping along and your feet happy.
Choose the right footwear
Waterproof footwear is essential in winter climates. Buy shoes that fit the length, width and shape of your foot while providing good cushioning and support. The same goes for ski boots and winter shoes — you should be able to wiggle your toes, but not the rest of your foot. It can be tempting to buy your kids a larger boot with the intent to get a few years of wear out of them, but proper sizing prevents blisters, chafing and ankle/foot injuries. On the other hand, if footwear, including socks, are too small, it can cause toes to bunch together, leading to blisters or corns.
Practice good hygiene
Bulky footwear can leave your feet sweaty and damp, and therefore more prone to bacterial infections. Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is an infection caused by fungi that grow in warm, moist environments. If this is an issue for you, consider using foot powder, and change socks at least once a day. Rotate shoes so each pair has time to dry out.
Don’t skip your feet in the shower. Wash them with warm water and soap, and pat dry. Cut your toenails straight across and sanitize your nail clippers often.
Check your feet regularly
Look and feel for any bumps, blisters or bruises. Take care of any cuts or cracked skin that could be infected. Tingling, pain or numbness can be a sign of nerve problems. Temperature variation (one part warm, another part cold) can be a sign of lack of blood flow. If you have pain that isn’t going away on its own, consult a podiatrist or the appropriate foot health professional.
Quick tips for happy feet this winter season
- Just like your face and hair, winter air can dry out your feet. Moisturize them daily to avoid cracked and irritated skin.
- Avoid muscle cramps by stretching, especially before a run or exercise. Curl your toes and rotate your ankles to loosen those joints.
- Elevate your legs if you’re going to sit in the same position for a long time, or if you’re going to be on your feet all day.
- Wear comfortable shoes; save the heels and loafers for parties. Opt for shoes with a padded sole and good arch support when you can — especially for those long holiday shopping days.
- Don’t stay in damp socks — if your socks get wet or their thickness is causing you to sweat, it could make your feet more prone to bacterial and viral infections. Make sure the insides of your winter boots are dry, and use foot powder when necessary.