Second installment of Makeover Monday series
I’m going out on a limb (hee-hee!) here and assuming most of us have feet. (If any of you don’t have feet, my apologies for the erroneous assumption. I hope you still find something of value here.)
You might think feet are a particularly un-glamorous topic for a makeover series, and you’d be right about that. But think about it: most of us are running and walking and pounding our feet more than we ever have before. We count on these babies, homely though they may be (or not—your mileage may vary), to carry us through our new, improved physical lives, but chances are we haven’t really changed the way we care for them. (And let’s don’t get started on the abuse they took when we were at our heaviest!)
The reason I chose feet as a makeover topic is that mine are bad. Really, really bad. So bad I had to buy a picture of feet for my sidebar. So awful I had to have surgery on my pinkie toes last November to try to reshape them and eliminate painful corns. (It only sort of worked.) Venturing further into TMI World, I also have dry feet and problematic heels. Simply put, my feet are pitiful. Pit-i-ful! And with flip-flop season rapidly approaching, it’s time to pay a little attention to them. Feel free to join me.
There are three fundamentals of foot care:
• Wearing appropriate shoes
• Exercising your feet daily
• Pampering your feet after each exercise session
Just kidding! I wouldn’t leave you hanging here! We’ll delve into each area a bit.
Wearing appropriate shoes
Shoes that fit properly have wiggle room in the toe area and a heel that fits snugly enough that it doesn’t slide up and down when you walk. Mash the toe area with your thumb; there should be a small gap between the top of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. The only way you’re going to know this is if you try on the shoes (both of them!), lace them up, and walk around in them for a few minutes. Also, you should wear the same thickness of socks to the store that you’ll be wearing while you exercise. (Can’t tell you how many times I’ve made that mistake!)
If you’re lucky enough to live near a running store or other fitness apparel store, you might want to check them out for advice on a good fit. Many stores have a gizmo for “blueprinting” your feet to help staff recommend the best style of shoe for you.
Exercising your feet
What? you exclaim. Haven’t you been reading my blog? I exercise all the time!
Of course I’ve been reading your blog! I saw that you ran and jumped and swam and rode a bicycle and did yoga and kettlebells and everything else under the sun. But I haven’t seen anyone post anything about exercising their feet. Gotcha!
Here are a few exercises that will help you maintain flexibility, strength, and mobility in your feet and toes:
Simple Foot Stretch:
Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Loop a towel around your feet. Keeping the backs of your heels on the floor, pull the ends of the towel to draw the mid foot and toes toward your body. Hold for five seconds, relax, and repeat 3-5 times.
Tennis Ball Roll:
Sit in a chair and place a tennis ball under your foot. Roll the ball along the entire sole of your foot to break up tension held in the feet. Of course, you should do this for both feet. Less tension = greater mobility.
This one is too simple for words. Clench your toes, hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat 4-6 times. (Personal note: When I had toe surgery, I found out in a hurry that I clench my toes in my sleep. Youch!)
From a sitting or reclining position, raise your leg slightly and draw circles in the air with your feet. Move one foot at a time, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise five to six times. This is a great exercise for the ankles!
Pampering your feet after each exercise session
Ah, the fun part!
It goes without saying (or it should, anyway) that we wash our feet every day, but when we work our feet especially hard, we should pay special attention to the between-the-toes areas. We should also inspect our feet for red spots or burgeoning calluses that could indicate friction problems. A little Vaseline or petroleum jelly applied to the area should take care of the problem.
But that’s just the everyday stuff. To truly pamper your feet:
Soak your feet in warm water (use warm milk for an added treat) for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove hardened or rough skin
Pat your feet with a towel, but leave them a bit damp. Use a pumice stone to get rid of hard skin on your heels and toes. Don’t be too harsh, though. It’s better to remove build-up a little at a time rather than try to undo serious problems all at once.
An excellent and completely natural foot scrub is easily available in your kitchen. Mix together a cup of vegetable oil and a cup of sea salt. Cut one or two oranges into thick slices and dip into the oil/salt mixture. Rub the orange slice all over your feet, especially the areas with thickened or hardened skin. Rinse your feet thoroughly after scrubbing.
Cut your nails
Dry your feet thoroughly. Cut your nails in a straight line. Use a file to remove any sharp edges.
Apply a generous amount of cream (peppermint or tea-tree varieties are especially good for the feet. Massage your feet while the skin is absorbing the cream. Put some cuticle oil on and gently push up your cuticles.
Put your feet up
After exercising and pampering, put your feet up on a pillow for at least 15 minutes. Not only could they use the rest, it helps with water retention and swelling.
And that, my friends, is how we take care of our good pals: the feet. We give them properly fitted shoes, exercise them well along with the rest of our bodies, and then show the love when we’re done. In turn, they’ll love us back, but it’s not an unconditional kind of love.
For more info on foot care, check out this link for the American Podiatric Medical Association.
And if you have tips and tricks of your own for excellent foot care, please feel free to share them in the comments!
Now, although I have many blogs to read, I must first go heed my own advice and pamper my p itiful, but entirely necessary, feet!