Feet…Oh Happy Feet!

We stand on this pair, we walk on this pair, we dance on this pair…and tons of our life activity, in some or the other way, depends on this pair…yet, we forget to take care of this all-integral pair — our feet.

Imagine standing for hours on feet full of calluses, with hundreds of pins-needles piercing your soles — and together these two wreaking havoc on your lower back!

However, it’s shocking to note how few intelligent ones actually take care of their feet — keeping them pretty, healthy and happy. Ungrateful of possessing a perfectly functional pair, many ignore their feet, never bothering to care for them.

There is extremely low awareness about foot health too — with some even not knowing what or who a podiatrist is. Now, go look up, if you too are one of them! Then, there are others who continue to confuse mere beauty with health and happiness (of feet). Well, a prim and pampered pair is surely a sight to behold. Gowns, Salwar Suits, Sarees — all look great in dressed up, beautiful feet. But, if the feet are jammed into a crazy stiletto, or if the bearer of this pair spends hours wailing in pain, the situation is hardly ideal.

Well, get your act together — like right now, and aim for holistic health for your feet.

So, what all exactly should you be taking care of? Here’s a lowdown —

1. Cleanliness

Whether you get regular pedicures or not — keeping your feet clean and dry is non-negotiable.

Give special attention to washing your feet, while bathing. Gently scrub heels, nails and hard areas. Do go to bed, without washing and drying your feet.

Dry your feet well, including the area between your toes. Keeping your feet skin moisturized. Keep toe nails clean and clipped. Get professional pedicures or clean your nails yourself to remove cuticles, dead skin and any deposits.

Infections — Not following a proper cleanliness routine can result in infections and itching. Fungal infections like Athlete’s foot and nail infections are quite common, among people who wear shoes for long periods, or the ones living in damp surroundings. Don’t let a strange patch, itch or discoloration go unattended.

2. Hygiene

Wear a fresh, clean and dry pair of socks each time. 100% cotton socks are ideal!

Always air shoes well, after wearing. Do not wear a pair of shoes, especially without socks, after you have left it in a damp place for more than a week. Moldy shoes must be thrown away or at least cleaned and aired well.

Take steps to manage sweaty and smelly feet. Special powders and lotions are available to take care of these niggling issues.

Extra smelly feet, corns, itching/ contact dermatitis must be referred to a dermatologist or podiatrist at the earliest. Do not scratch your feet to calm an itch — scratching will make matters worse.

3. Special Care

Every day — your feet are at the receiving end of pollution, pressure and environmental stresses like grime and sunlight. Skin discoloration, bruises, corns, calluses, hard skin, patches — are likely. Ensure you give special care to your feet.

Do not go to bed, without applying a gentle moisturizing and healing foot-cream or lotion on clean and dry feet. Devote some time to massage your feet well.

Dip your feet in warm soapy water, infused with aroma oils and/or bath salts — at the end of a hard day, or at least twice every week.

Let your feet breathe. Avoid going to bed with heavy socks on — even in winters. And, at work, remove your shoes for some time every day, especially if you wear closed-toed, formal shoes or stilettos.

4. Exercise

Strong and flexible ankles, feet, legs and calves provide a base for stable movement. They must be exercised and rested well, thus. Stretch gently, numerous times through the day to drain the stress and ease the pressure.

When you can, gently massage your shoe-less feet. Read up or consult a physiotherapist to get a good idea about feet and leg stretches and flexibility work out.

Foot circles, flexing and stretching toes, ankle circles on heel and ball of foot, leg and calf stretches, calf raises are all good exercises. Resistance training work-outs are great too. However, if you suffer from any pain or back/leg issues, please consult your doctor, before performing any exercises.

5. Shoes

“I cried that I did not have good shoes, until I saw a man who did not have feet!”

Well, this or another variation of this beautiful thought is good enough remind that foot health scores over shoes and their beauty (or lack of it) any day!

You may already know of the kinds (of shoes) that are simply suicidal for your feet. Whatever be your reasons for wearing killer (literally) shoes, stilettos and those to-die-for 5 inch heels — limit their use, as much as you can.

Let comfort dictate the game — at least, when it’s about work, work out and all-day shoes. Look around and pick a favorite that gives you both — comfort and class. It may come with a hefty price tag, but isn’t it worth!

If you suffer from pain, or tend to stand for long hours, get yourself shoes with good arch support, and possibly a cushioned sole. Invest in insoles, heel pads or customized inserts.

A lot of the times, the material (from which the shoe is made) matters too. Find the one that’s perfect for you. Any shoe that causes itch, bruise or undue pressure is not right!

6. Beauty and Grooming

Ones who swear by it will agree that there’s nothing sexier and more alluring than a pair of perfectly groomed, neat feet.

Ugly, dirty feet can take away the charm of even the prettiest outfits and faces. Imagine a pair of cracked heels peeping from below a splendid saree! Reminds you of a commercial for a foot cream — doesn’t it?

There are tons of professional beauty treatments as well as simple home remedies to beautify and pamper feet. Pedicures, nail polishes, nail art and massages — all will do a world of good to your feet, looks and confidence

Tip — Whenever you apply a face pack, save some for your feet too. Apply homemade masks on your hand and feet, and see how happy they seem.

7. Managing Pain

Don’t let any sort of foot pain go unattended, especially if it persists for more than 24 hours.

Warm water dips are good to soothe tired, achy feet. Massages are a good way to handle temporary aches too. Rest your feet. Lie down, and raise your feet, by placing pillows under your feet to ease pressure. If an offending shoe is the cause, eliminate it completely. You can also try some gentle stretches to ease the pain. Ensure this doesn’t intensify the pain, though.

Ice packs are the best to deal with sprains and swellings, resulting from ankle twists and bruises.

However, if a situation seems more serious, consult a doctor. A visit to an orthopedist or neurologist may be needed, if a foot pain rises up to your legs and back. Bone spurs and heel bone/ nerve pains are other serious issues that need immediate care. Wear appropriate shoes, insoles and heel pads to manage chronic pains.

Following these simple yet vital steps for feet health and happiness will change your life in more ways than one — we promise. Cheers!

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