My feet depend so much on the ground to walk.
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day, Freakonomics, and it got me thinking about feet (of course it did, the episode is called “These Shoes Are Killing Me!”).
I have seen a lot of feet throughout the years and let me tell you, people don’t take care of their feet! We seriously under-appreciate our tootsies. They’re a pretty important piece of anatomy and are the foundation for our entire body. If you didn’t have your feet how would you walk, run, or dance? If our feet are out of sorts our back, hips, and knees hurt.
Everyone thinks that feet are stinky, but that’s because they’re in shoes most of the time. If we kept our hands enclosed all day they would probably smell too. Shoes definitely keep our feet protected but we tend to wear them far too much. Keeping our feet jammed in shoes all of the time can cause other issues as well like shortening of the Achilles tendon and the muscles in the back of the lower leg.
Taking care of our feet does not mean keeping them constantly confined in foam, leather, pleather or any other material. The ancient Chinese practice of foot binding is coming to mind (If you don’t know what that is you can read an interesting article from the Smithsonian.com).
Some pointers to keep your feet healthy:
- Let your feet breathe as often as you can. Fungal and bacterial infections, like athlete’s foot, usually occur because we keep our feet trapped in warm, damp, and dark environments.
- Wash your socks in hot water, separated from the rest of your laundry. Studies have shown that fungus can transfer from feet to socks and detergent alone will not kill it.
- Take off your shoes and socks and make fists with your toes (watch Die Hard for inspiration).
- Go for a barefoot walk through (clean) grass (this feels even better if the grass is a little moist from rain or dew). Notice all of the new sensations when you don’t have shoes and socks interfering. Reconnecting with the muscles and sensations in your feet can help your whole body including your mind.
- Try picking up marbles with your toes.
- Practice foot recovery every day. You only need 5 minutes. Do it while you brush your teeth or watch television. Take a golf ball, Lacrosse ball, or other similar ball and roll it from toes to heal and back again.
- Roll your calves on a foam roller for a few minutes at the end of the day.
- Raise your feet when you are sitting or lying down to help increase circulation.
- If you sit for long periods of time, stand up, walk around and stretch to get the blood flowing.
- Soak your feet in warm, not hot or cold, water.
- My very favorite is to get a foot massage. I will massage lotion into my own feet after a shower but it feels so much better when someone else does it for me.
- To avoid ingrown toenails or infections, cut your toenails the right way. Buy straight-edged toenail clippers (the big ones not the small ones) and cut your nails straight across instead of in a curved shape. Use several small clips instead of trying to clip the whole nail all at once. After you have finished clipping all of your toenails, make sure to clean and dry your clippers well.
- Find a barefoot park or join a barefoot club. Over 100 barefoot parks and paths were founded across Europe in the past 20 years. These parks include specially designed walking paths that meander over grass, logs, smooth stones, water, and even mud. The United States, to my knowledge, does not have any barefoot parks but there are barefoot clubs.
If you’re interested in more foot stuff listen to “These Shoes are Killing Me” podcast from Freakonomics (found on Stitcher or through the Freakonomics website), the “Barefoot Strong” podcast from Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood found on Spotify or directly from the Yoga Body website or read Barefoot Strong by Dr. Emily Splichal.
Our feet take a lot of abuse every day. This sometimes manifests as plantar fasciitis and/or knee, hip and back pain. We don’t have to stop wearing shoes (let’s be real, there are way too many cute pairs of women’s shoes out there to stop) but, if we practice a little TLC every day, we can avoid injury and pain.