I am the first to hold up my hands to say how much I neglect my feet. Taking care of my feet tends to end up at the bottom of my list when it comes to jobs and things I need to do. I think it is because they are often hidden inside socks and shoes, that I don’t always give them the attention they deserve. Especially for the extensive mileage they take me on.
National Feet Week
It turns out that this week is National Feet Week, so I am taking that as a nudge to do some much needed foot maintenance. You would think I would learn after having to see a podiatrist back in 2017, but no. I have just literally kept walking. It seems, in reflection, that I only start thinking about my feet when there is a problem. And that is a problem in itself!
In the last six months, I have walked a total of 2,497,672 steps. (thanks to Pacer app for helping me measure my Apple Health data) which is good innings considering Manchester has been in some kind of restrcitive measures for Covid for more than three hundred days. As well as all that stepping, my feet keep me skipping, balancing, working out and doing weights. So they have been working very hard.
Feet are pretty important, if not very pretty!
Although many of us will admit that feet are certainly not our favourite parts of our bodies, they are both important and amazing. They contain the most bones out of all the parts of our anatomy, comprising over 50 bones, 200 muscles, 60 joints, tendons and ligaments. They are pretty much a feat of natural engineering (if you pardon my terrible pun!).
Our feet play a really important role in the general health and wellbeing. They provide our mobility to be active, get out shopping and to do our daily activities like cooking, moving about our houses and then also carry out our hobbies. If you have ever had painful feet, you will be more than aware of the impact it has on everything you do.
The bare minimum of footcare
Having spent most of my childhood barefoot, thanks to doing gymnastics and also simply loving having my toes free, I have incredibly broad feet. I started wearing barefoot shoes full time back in 2017, following my ganglion situation, and haven’t looked back. Vivo barefoot are the only shoes with a wide enough toe box for my paddle shaped feet.
Giving my feet space to be feet is pretty much the only care that I give my poor trotters. I recently became aware that they have developed some nice hard skin around the heel, which I vowed to rectify at some point. Turns out that ‘some point’ actually doesn’t have a deadline or a date, so they are still in the same boat. Only, I have stopped noticing it.
Taking care of my feet
While I am rather lax on my approach to taking care of my feet, I do do some things for them. Having walked on crutches for over twn years, things tightened quite a lot through my right leg and ankle. Last year, I discovered Ben LeVesconte and the Vivobarefoot Broadcasts, which have been hitting Instagram and YouTube since the pandemic hit. As someone with very tight angles and feet, they have been a great way to exercise and increase some flexibility. See, I’m not all that mean to my footsies!
That being said, though, I could do with making my foot exercises more of a habit. Something I do on a daily basis along with my daily walks. Something for me to ponder this week, while I look at ways to take care of my feet better.
Creating a regular routine for foot healthcare
From my reflections on how I take care of my feet so far, it appears that I need something more grounded and solid. Seeing at it is National Feet Week, information and resources are much easier to find than ever making now the prefect time to start a new routine for our tender little (or big in my case) feet.
Being a rookie in the footcare sphere, I am not going to overload myself with things as I know full well that they won’t integrate if there are too many, so I’m going to start out gently.
I do love a foot bath. I have a nice big bag of fragranced epsom salts as well. While there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims of how good a foot bath is for you, it is suggested that a 30-60 minute foot bath twice per week can reduce inflamation. The only downside of a salt bath is that it can dry out the skin, so it is important to do some other maintenance at the same time.
Just like the rest of our bodies, we shed our skin so exfoliating is a good thing. I find that after soaking my feet, it is the perfect time to get the pumice out or an exfoliating cream to remove the dead skin. It always surprises me how much comes off.
With my hard patches on my feet, I discovered a handy tip from The Foot Files sugegsting that vinegar might be the magic ingredient to my foot care plan. According to their article on “Ways to remove dead skin from feet”, it suggests mixing vinegar with water and applying to the tough areas for 15 minutes before washing off with warm water. The vinegar is supposed to soften the skin to help it come away in the water. I’ll be giving it a try and will let you know how I get on!
So after drying out the skin with the salt and vinegar, it is time to rehydrate those plates of meat. With the extent of the course skin on my heels I have been using Flexitol Heel Balm, which I was recommended years ago. It works really well and can even get through the thickest and most cracked of heels (when used regularly…something I don’t do!)
Exercise and Stretching
Regular stretching and exercising the feet and toes. With so many muscles, bones and tendons in these relatively small parts of our bodies, it seems only fair to give them some regular stretching. I have vowed to myself (and now you!) that I will be doing daily exercise for my feet. Both for flexibility and for relaxation.
I know that taking care of my feet will start with small steps, but I am happy with that. As a fan of making changes gradually, I think it will work out.
This week, tonight even, will see the start of the new routine. I will make the time to soak my feet and give them a little bit of TLC. They won’t know what’s hit them! The next challenge is keeping that footcare going after this week.