Happy Feet

feet and paws

Have you paid attention to your feet lately?  For most of us, our feet take us everywhere and we take them for granted. We try to stuff them into shoes that are too tight or too narrow. We make them walk in high heels or run in flip-flops.

There are so many different aspects to happy feet. I thought I would just mention a few here for you. If you feel your feet tingling while you are reading, they might be trying to tell you something.

Footwear

Proper footwear

What are the proper shoes for you? You want to wear shoes that are comfortable and fit your feet properly throughout the day. The best time of day to shop for shoes is the late afternoon or evening because your feet actually change size throughout the day and are usually larger towards the end of the day.

Make sure you are standing if you have your foot measured because your foot changes shape when placing your weight on it.  You also want to make sure you try the shoe on standing and if able walk around the store to make sure they are comfortable.

You want to make sure your toes have enough room in the toe box that they are not cramped, but you do not want too much room as this can cause rubbing. You want to have some room in front of the toes, at least 3/8″ to 1/2″ between your longest toe and the front of the shoe when you are standing.

The soles of the shoe should have adequate traction to prevent slipping but avoid rubber soles that are too “grippy” as this may cause you to “catch” your foot, trip and fall.

Orthotics and Insoles

Orthotics or insoles can make your shoes more comfortable, provide extra cushioning, and give your feet more support where you need it. If you are healthy, pain-free, and have good biomechanics you probably do not need orthotics.

If you have foot pain, obvious biomechanical issues, arthritis, or diabetes you can probably benefit from orthotics. You want to make sure you get properly fit orthotics from a professional.  Orthotics that are not properly fit for you may cause more pain or harm to your body.

There is some controversy over whether wearing orthotics is beneficial as some experts are saying walking barefoot is better. The main thing is to make sure you are not using orthotics to compensate for dysfunction that can be corrected with strengthening and stretching. You want to work on correcting the problem and the orthotics might be a temporary solution.

You do not want to be walking around barefoot if you are diabetic, have decreased sensation or circulation in your feet or if you have balance issues.

Connection

Have you ever tried to sense the connection of your feet touching the ground as you walk? Give it a try. Put your focus on feeling the soles of your feet meet the ground as you walk. Can you notice what part of your foot touches the ground first?  How about last? Is it the same for both feet?

This is a great way to get in touch with the mechanics of your gait.  When walking, it is normal for your heel to strike first, followed by the mid-foot with pronation to absorb and distribute the weight of the body, then the forefoot touches, and finally the heel lifts up as you push-off.  If you have any foot or leg pain, paying attention to how you step may help give you an awareness of what might be contributing to the problem.

Massage

Give your feet a treat.  Foot massage helps increase circulation and relaxation.  Foot reflexology is an applied pressure therapy that believes there are zones in the feet that correspond to specific areas of the body.  So by massaging your feet you could be improving the overall health and energy of your body, not just your feet.

foot on massage ball

The simplest way to give yourself a foot massage is to get a ball about the size of a tennis ball and roll the bottom of your foot over the ball.  My favorite ball to use is a massage ball with tiny spikes or sensory nodules. If you have the energy and are flexible enough, use your hands, get in touch with your feet and give yourself a foot rub. You can also buy mechanical foot massagers and foot baths that do a great job at soothing your feet.

Lotion

Dry, cracked skin can lead to wounds and infections. Lotion helps keep the skin on your feet soft and healthy.  Wash and dry your feet thoroughly especially between the toes. Then use lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet. Do not use any lotion over open areas, wounds, or between your toes. If you are diabetic or have fragile skin, make sure you use a lotion recommended by your doctor.

Exercise

Exercise can help strengthen the muscles, increase flexibility, and increase circulation of your feet. Yes, I know your feet get exercise all day long by carrying you around. But if your feet are weak or inflexible, this can cause foot pain, leg pain, and even back pain.

A great time to exercise your feet is while you are watching television.  Just prop your feet up, pump them up and down (point your toes, then flex the foot up) a few times and make a few circles with your feet.  You can get your ball out and roll your foot over the ball to give your foot exercise and a massage at the same time.  If you have foot problems see your local physical therapist or doctor for specific foot exercises that are just right for you.

Inspection

If you are diabetic, have neuropathy, or any trouble with sensation in your feet you should do a daily inspection using a mirror to observe your entire foot. Look for any red, swollen, hot, or open areas. If you find any changes see your doctor right away and take the proper measures to prevent infection.

Daisy inspecting her paw

You also want to inspect the inside of your shoes before you put them on.  I found a small pill box in a patient’s shoe that had been missing for two days.  She did not have feeling in her feet and had no idea it was there.

If you are diabetic or have neuropathy in your feet, take extra special care of your feet because you may not be able feel the warning signs of pain. The following websites are good resources for special foot care tips:

http://ndep.nih.gov/media/FootTips.pdf

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/foot-care.html

One Last Thing.  Thank Your Feet Today!

Happy Day! Here’s to Keeping Your Feet Healthy and Happy!

2 thoughts on “Happy Feet

  1. Pingback: The power of touch | The One Train

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