The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Feet

Most of us pay very little attention to our feet. But these workhorses are the superheroes of our body, carrying us around for everything we want to do. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your feet are well taken care of. Follow this comprehensive list to keep your feet in tip-top shape.

1. Get clean.

Healthy feet are clean. So scrub yours daily with water and soap. Consider one with tea tree oil to help kill the bacteria. Do your feet still smell? Foot deodorizing products can help, as well as spraying your shoes with a regular aerosol deodorant. Just remember to everything dry thoroughly before putting your shoes back on – fungi love moisture .

2. Pay attention.

It’s easy to ignore our feet since they’re so far away from our eyes. But prevention is always better than a cure. So inspect your feet each week, watching out for any nail discolorations, peeling or other irregularities. (Diabetics are prone to foot problems and should check their feet daily.) If you see something abnormal or experience any pain, swelling or other discomfort, go see a doctor! Like all health issues, foot problems are much easier to treat when they’re caught early. Better safe than sorry.

3. Skip the polish.

We’re not banning pedicures entirely – but nails are alive and need a chance to “breathe,” AKA get rid of chemical residue and grow healthily. So take a week off from the nail polish each month.

4. Don’t go barefoot.

Public pools, gym showers and locker rooms are teeming with fungi that can infect your feet. So get some flip-flops and avoid walking around barefoot.

5. Don’t share shoes.

Sharing shoes and socks pass as much bacteria around as sharing a toothbrush does – so avoid it as much as you can. While the occasional shoe rental for bowling is OK, consider investing in your own pair if you go a lot.

6. Take care of your nails.

If your nails are thick, discolored or cracked, see a podiatrist immediately – these are all signs of a nail fungus. You also need to cut your toenails properly in order to avoid painful ingrown toenails. Clip them straight across, rounding the edges with a nail file, and don’t cut too close to the skin. And don’t let your toenails get too long – otherwise they could alter the fit of your shoes.

7. Buy the right shoes.

Most foot problems can be avoided with properly-fitting shoes, so it’s crucial to buy the right ones. Shop for shoes in the afternoon, when your feet swell to their largest size. Always get measured since your foot size and shape change as you grow older, and bring along the socks/hosiery you’ll wear with the shoe. Look for breathable fabrics like leather that will keep your feet dry, and go for a broad toe and wide, stable heel. Finally, pay attention to how you feel! You should be able to wiggle your toes, and there should be a half-inch gap between the ends of your toes and the end of the shoe. Don’t buy the shoes if you can feel the seams, if you can’t get them on or off by yourself, or if they’re in any way uncomfortable – even if you want to “break them in,” the pain will just get worse as you wear them and you’ll end up wasting money. Still having trouble? Ask the salesperson for help! He/she should be able to point you to the shoes that are best for your foot size, shape, and arch type.

8. Moisturize.

Dry feet don’t seem like a health issue at first. But if your feet are cracked, bacteria can enter into your skin and cause infection – which means you need to keep your skin moisturized! Exfoliate your feet in the shower to remove dead skin cells and allow the moisturizer to penetrate better. Then, apply a foot cream to still-wet skin so they seep through. Pay special attention to your heels, which are much more prone to getting dry quickly.

9. Learn how to treat common foot problems.

Let’s face it – at some point, you’ll probably buy the wrong-fitting shoes or step barefoot onto the pool deck. So learn how to treat common foot problems like calluses, corns, blisters, ingrown toenails and plantar warts – and when to go see a doctor. You can learn all that information here.

10. Vary your footwear.

No matter how much you love a particular pair of shoes, you shouldn’t wear them every day. Shoes need at least 24 hours to dry out thoroughly – so avoid fungi by wearing each pair every other day and walking barefoot around the house. But that’s not the only reason switch it up! Protect your feet from potential health issues by wearing appropriate footwear for each activity – that means buying sport-specific shoes for your exercise of choice and replacing them regularly. Avoid wearing flip-flops all summer long, since they are unsupportive and will cause foot pain. Most importantly, vary your heel height! High heels are terrible for your feet. They stretch out your tendons, making it uncomfortable to wear flats, and change where you apply pressure so you’re likely to get bunions and hammertoe. Wear high heels and pointy shoes (which also alter your foot shape) on special occasions, and go for shorter heels or flat shoes whenever possible.

11. Wear sunscreen.

Wearing sandals? Don’t forget to apply your sunscreen to your feet too! Trust me, you don’t want red peeling skin you have to walk on, so apply at least SPF 30. And rub that cream into your nails, which are just as vulnerable to sun damage as your skin.

12. Get support.

The more you customize your shoes, the better they can be for your feet. If you have a lot of foot pain, see a podiatrist about getting custom insoles. You can also buy off-the-shelf products like insoles, toe inserts, arch support or heel cups – especially for athletic shoes.

13. Don’t forget socks.

Just like shoes, you probably wear socks everyday, so it’s important to invest in the right ones. Look for socks and tights that are made out of moisture-wicking material, especially if you work out a lot or plan to be outside for most of the day. Avoid nylon hosiery since they don’t absorb any sweat and don’t wear excessively tight pantyhose since it traps moisture. Get specialty socks for activities like hiking or skiing – merino wool ones dry quite quickly. Finally, change your socks every day! Hygiene is important.

14. Move your feet.

Contrary to popular belief, walking all day doesn’t mean your feet are getting a workout. It’s important to use targeted exercises to strengthen your feet. Find some here. And if you are walking around (or sitting) all day, raise your legs for a while to reduce swelling.

15. Eat the right foods.

Did you know that your diet can make your feet bloat? Swollen feet can be painful and will change how your shoes fit, leaving you at risk for the several foot problems described above. Avoid this by keeping sugary, salty and packaged foods to a minimum.

16. Drink water.

As if you needed another reason to drink more water! Just as your feet swell when they receive poor nutrition, they also swell when they’re poorly hydrated. So don’t forget to carry around your reusable water bottle.

17. Get a foot massage.

Foot massages don’t just feel great. In addition to soothing sore feet, they can actually help prevent foot and ankle injuries. Can’t get someone to give you a foot rub? Learn to do it yourself here.

Liked this? Check out 10 Workouts to Try in the Fall!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

Most of us pay very little attention to our feet. But these workhorses are the superheroes of our body, carrying us around for everything we want to do. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your feet are well taken care of. Follow this comprehensive list to keep your feet in tip-top shape.

1. Get clean.

Healthy feet are clean. So scrub yours daily with water and soap. Consider one with tea tree oil to help kill the bacteria. Do your feet still smell? Foot deodorizing products can help, as well as spraying your shoes with a regular aerosol deodorant. Just remember to everything dry thoroughly before putting your shoes back on – fungi love moisture .

2. Pay attention.

It’s easy to ignore our feet since they’re so far away from our eyes. But prevention is always better than a cure. So inspect your feet each week, watching out for any nail discolorations, peeling or other irregularities. (Diabetics are prone to foot problems and should check their feet daily.) If you see something abnormal or experience any pain, swelling or other discomfort, go see a doctor! Like all health issues, foot problems are much easier to treat when they’re caught early. Better safe than sorry.

3. Skip the polish.

We’re not banning pedicures entirely – but nails are alive and need a chance to “breathe,” AKA get rid of chemical residue and grow healthily. So take a week off from the nail polish each month.

4. Don’t go barefoot.

Public pools, gym showers and locker rooms are teeming with fungi that can infect your feet. So get some flip-flops and avoid walking around barefoot.

5. Don’t share shoes.

Sharing shoes and socks pass as much bacteria around as sharing a toothbrush does – so avoid it as much as you can. While the occasional shoe rental for bowling is OK, consider investing in your own pair if you go a lot.

6. Take care of your nails.

If your nails are thick, discolored or cracked, see a podiatrist immediately – these are all signs of a nail fungus. You also need to cut your toenails properly in order to avoid painful ingrown toenails. Clip them straight across, rounding the edges with a nail file, and don’t cut too close to the skin. And don’t let your toenails get too long – otherwise they could alter the fit of your shoes.

7. Buy the right shoes.

Most foot problems can be avoided with properly-fitting shoes, so it’s crucial to buy the right ones. Shop for shoes in the afternoon, when your feet swell to their largest size. Always get measured since your foot size and shape change as you grow older, and bring along the socks/hosiery you’ll wear with the shoe. Look for breathable fabrics like leather that will keep your feet dry, and go for a broad toe and wide, stable heel. Finally, pay attention to how you feel! You should be able to wiggle your toes, and there should be a half-inch gap between the ends of your toes and the end of the shoe. Don’t buy the shoes if you can feel the seams, if you can’t get them on or off by yourself, or if they’re in any way uncomfortable – even if you want to “break them in,” the pain will just get worse as you wear them and you’ll end up wasting money. Still having trouble? Ask the salesperson for help! He/she should be able to point you to the shoes that are best for your foot size, shape, and arch type.

8. Moisturize.

Dry feet don’t seem like a health issue at first. But if your feet are cracked, bacteria can enter into your skin and cause infection – which means you need to keep your skin moisturized! Exfoliate your feet in the shower to remove dead skin cells and allow the moisturizer to penetrate better. Then, apply a foot cream to still-wet skin so they seep through. Pay special attention to your heels, which are much more prone to getting dry quickly.

9. Learn how to treat common foot problems.

Let’s face it – at some point, you’ll probably buy the wrong-fitting shoes or step barefoot onto the pool deck. So learn how to treat common foot problems like calluses, corns, blisters, ingrown toenails and plantar warts – and when to go see a doctor. You can learn all that information here.

10. Vary your footwear.

No matter how much you love a particular pair of shoes, you shouldn’t wear them every day. Shoes need at least 24 hours to dry out thoroughly – so avoid fungi by wearing each pair every other day and walking barefoot around the house. But that’s not the only reason switch it up! Protect your feet from potential health issues by wearing appropriate footwear for each activity – that means buying sport-specific shoes for your exercise of choice and replacing them regularly. Avoid wearing flip-flops all summer long, since they are unsupportive and will cause foot pain. Most importantly, vary your heel height! High heels are terrible for your feet. They stretch out your tendons, making it uncomfortable to wear flats, and change where you apply pressure so you’re likely to get bunions and hammertoe. Wear high heels and pointy shoes (which also alter your foot shape) on special occasions, and go for shorter heels or flat shoes whenever possible.

11. Wear sunscreen.

Wearing sandals? Don’t forget to apply your sunscreen to your feet too! Trust me, you don’t want red peeling skin you have to walk on, so apply at least SPF 30. And rub that cream into your nails, which are just as vulnerable to sun damage as your skin.

12. Get support.

The more you customize your shoes, the better they can be for your feet. If you have a lot of foot pain, see a podiatrist about getting custom insoles. You can also buy off-the-shelf products like insoles, toe inserts, arch support or heel cups – especially for athletic shoes.

13. Don’t forget socks.

Just like shoes, you probably wear socks everyday, so it’s important to invest in the right ones. Look for socks and tights that are made out of moisture-wicking material, especially if you work out a lot or plan to be outside for most of the day. Avoid nylon hosiery since they don’t absorb any sweat and don’t wear excessively tight pantyhose since it traps moisture. Get specialty socks for activities like hiking or skiing – merino wool ones dry quite quickly. Finally, change your socks every day! Hygiene is important.

14. Move your feet.

Contrary to popular belief, walking all day doesn’t mean your feet are getting a workout. It’s important to use targeted exercises to strengthen your feet. Find some here. And if you are walking around (or sitting) all day, raise your legs for a while to reduce swelling.

15. Eat the right foods.

Did you know that your diet can make your feet bloat? Swollen feet can be painful and will change how your shoes fit, leaving you at risk for the several foot problems described above. Avoid this by keeping sugary, salty and packaged foods to a minimum.

16. Drink water.

As if you needed another reason to drink more water! Just as your feet swell when they receive poor nutrition, they also swell when they’re poorly hydrated. So don’t forget to carry around your reusable water bottle.

17. Get a foot massage.

Foot massages don’t just feel great. In addition to soothing sore feet, they can actually help prevent foot and ankle injuries. Can’t get someone to give you a foot rub? Learn to do it yourself here.

Liked this? Check out 10 Workouts to Try in the Fall!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

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