Usually, we put some effort into our hair and makeup, but for some reason, we tend to forget about our legs even though pain or swelling in that part of the body can easily spoil our day. It’s important to show your legs and feet some love! And of course, it is useful to know how to relax your feet after a long day of wearing uncomfortable shoes or high heels.
Bright side has researched what it takes to take care of the legs and feet. Here are 10 recommendations to help keep your feet looking and feeling healthy.
1. Don’t forget about pedicures — and do them right!
Avoid pedicures if you have bites or scratches. The basins for pedicures might collect bacteria that can enter the body through injuries, causing infection. Also, wait a couple of days after you’ve undergone any hair removal.
Exfoliate the dead skin from your soles regularly with a hard sponge or pumice stone. Let the feet soak in warm water for a while and then exfoliate the skin. This will make them look neat and help avoid getting painful cracks.
Moisturize your feet regularly. Foot care specialists recommend applying an oil-based cream twice a day. Do it after a shower or a pedicure.
2. Dress your feet properly and safely.
Be careful when wearing high heels. Too high of a heel or spending a long time in them might give you stiffness in the joints, foot pain, and even ankle and foot damage.
Cut down on your time in flip-flops. Wearing this type of shoe can cause inflammation between your toes and pain in the balls of your feet. Also, your toes are unprotected and may get scratched or hurt. To keep your feet safe, change flip-flops to shoes that cover your toes and support your feet.
However, don’t forget your flip-flops when using a public swimming pool, sauna or shower. Otherwise, you’ll be susceptible to fungal infections. Fungal infections can result in pain and nail deformation.
Change your socks often. Choose the thickness of your socks according to the kinds of shoes you wear and change them whenever your feet are wet. If possible, wear light socks that let your feet breathe. All this will protect your feet from smelling bad and from developing fungal infections.
3. Sports don’t always do good.
Don’t exercise without taking proper precautions. If you have been a couch potato your whole life and then suddenly try to run 6 miles, this might cause so-called stress fractures. These are technically foot-bone cracks. To avoid getting these, progress with your training slowly and don’t forget to warm up.
4. Foot massages
Learn how to perform a good foot massage. Start from the balls of your feet and proceed to the toes. Toes should be massaged from top to bottom. Do it yourself or find a professional.
This is an enjoyable way to relax sore muscles, ease the pain and stiffness, and avoid joint deformation. Foot massages are useful after a long day of walking. However, it’s better to consult with your doctor before you start doing it, especially if you have any health conditions, e.g. arthritis.
5. Perform relaxing exercises after a day of standing and walking.
Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Position a rubber band around both big toes. Slowly drag the big toes from each other toward the other toes. Hold the toes for 5 seconds, and repeat 10 times.
Continue sitting. Move the rubber band so that it goes around all the toes of one foot. Slowly spread your toes as wide as you can. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
Repeat the stretching 10 times. Then move the band to the other foot.
The exercises will help you to release the tension from your joints after lots of walking or wearing heels. They relive muscle pain, ease stiffness and prevent joint deformation.
6. Raise your feet up.
Do you ever experience swelling in your feet and ankles in the afternoon? One way to get rid of it is by putting your feet on a pillow or something else that keeps them raised. If you have been walking a lot and the swelling is combined with tiredness and some slight pain, try using ice pads as well.
However, if the pain is bad or there’s no particular reason for the swelling, contact your doctor. It might be foot damage or a symptom of something more serious, like vein or lung problems.
7. Eat right and control your weight.
As any other part of your body, your feet react to what you eat and drink. If you suffer from swelling, avoid salty products but include more protein in your diet.
If you suddenly feel burning/tingling in your feet, this might be a sign of alcohol abuse. Reduce the number of drinks you intake and check if you take enough vitamins.
Generally, remember that all the pressure of your body falls on your feet. Being overweight may cause foot pain. Also, scientists assume that fat could be a potential reason for the inflammation of foot tissue.
8. Stop smoking — just quit!
Do you experience severe pains in your feet and hands? Are there sores appearing on them? Do you smoke? If your answer is “yes” to all 3 questions, it is high time for you to stop the bad habit.
Smoking is harmful to your body, and here’s one more reason why. As you inhale the smoke, the vessels in your feet suffer from blood circulation problems. This can even go as far as gangrene, which almost always leads to amputation.
9. Treat corns and calluses right.
Hard, thickened patches of skin on your feet are called calluses or corns. The latter are usually painful and have a central point of dead, dry skin. Both might give you some unpleasant feelings while walking and generally look untidy. Corns and calluses are usually provoked by tight or uncomfortable shoes.
The main treatment and prevention method for this condition is changing your shoes. Moisturize the areas well before you go to bed. Rub a callus with a pumice stone after a bath. Use corn pads to avoid more damage.
Some specialists also recommend using salicylic acid to help the thick tissue dissolve. However, consult your doctor before you get one and closely follow the instructions.
10. Use tea to deal with smelly feet.
Sometimes you sweat too much or don’t have the chance to change your shoes every day. That can produce a strong odor. Wash them with mild soap, and dry carefully. Apply some antibacterial cream or baby powder to your feet.
To fight the constant odor, let your feet soak in strong black tea for 30 minutes. Take 2 tea bags per pint of water, boil for 15 minutes, and add 2 quarts of cool water. Alternatively, try a mixture of 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water.
What are your techniques to keep your feet healthy? Please share your advice in the comments!
Illustrated by Alena Sofronova for Bright Side