When our feet are feeling fine, we likely take little notice of them. But even minor foot irritation can affect everything from our mood to balance and stability.
Our feet are made up of 26 bones, 38 muscles, 56 ligaments, and an elaborate network of nerves and blood vessels. On an average day we take an astounding 4,000 to 6,000 steps. It is no wonder that with this level of normal wear and tear, our feet can be subjected to any number of discomforts.
Tired, Aching Feet
Our feet can become tired and sore after long periods of standing or wearing shoes that restrict blood flow. Limit time in constricting shoes by wearing a comfortable second pair while at your desk or while travelling in the car. Roll a tennis ball under your foot to stretch and strengthen foot muscles.
To revive your feet, spray a chilled mist of water with a few drops of peppermint oil added or roll a cold drink-type can from the refrigerator under your foot. A 10-minute foot massage or reflexology treatment will help assess the health of your feet. At the same time, you’ll receive the well-known benefits of both foot treatments.
After wearing sandals all summer and exposing your feet to the elements, they can easily become dry and start to crack (fissure) and even bleed. Fissures can be quite painful and create a risk of infection.
Occasionally soaking feet in warm water with 1/2 cup (125 mL) Epsom salts and a few drops of your favourite essential oil will soften skin so you can remove dead skin with a pumice stone. Finish off the treatment by applying a natural foot cream or 100 percent shea butter; cover feet with a pair of thick, breathable socks for at least a couple of hours.
Corns and Calluses
The body’s natural response to an area of friction is the buildup of dead, thickened skin in the form of corns and calluses. Corns are cone shaped and found on the toes, while calluses appear on the bottom of the foot.
Ill-fitting shoes are often the culprit. When purchasing shoes, always shop in the afternoon after feet have expanded, and always have your foot measured. Often your feet are different sizes from one another, so pick the shoes that fit the larger foot and ask for a cushion insert for the other. You should be able to wiggle your toes while wearing your shoes and you should be able to fit your little finger between your heel and the back of the shoe.
To treat calluses, soak feet in a footbath with Epsom salts until dead skin is soft and can be removed with a pumice stone. For corns, it is safest not to remove dry skin. Instead use a doughnut-shaped, nonmedicated moleskin around the corn to reduce the chance of further friction. Vitamin E applied to corns and calluses is very healing and also helps to soften the skin.
When rubbing on the back of the heel irritates the Achilles tendon, it forms a bump commonly known as pump bump. A fluid sac can form on the bump and become inflamed (bursitis). For immediate relief of this often painful ailment, gently massage with ice.
Encourage healing and reduce inflammation and pain by supplementing with natural vitamin C, as well as an essential fatty acid such as flaxseed oil.
Many people have also found that yoga offers relief from foot pain. A simple but powerful stretch is to stand on a slant board, gently stretching the heels.
Take care of your feet and they will help you keep the rest of your body in tiptop condition.