How to care for your feet from
Feet are a complex mechanical wonder. One that is often overlooked. Each foot contains 26 bones, 38 joints, a complex network of muscles and ligaments as well as metres of blood vessels and nerve fibres. They carry us through each day. In fact, over a lifetime the average person walks about 160,000 kilometres. It should be no surprise then our feet wear the weight of time, and change in the process.
“Like all parts of the body, feet will change as we age,” says James Baxter, clinical director of Foot Mechanics. “We may experience collapse of the arches, arthritic changes to the mid-foot and big toe (hallux) joints, reduced fat
pad under the forefoot, more toe deformity like hammer toes and much more heel pain,” explains Baxter. “Often we may see corns and calluses forming due to some of these changes.”
According to Baxter: “We should see a podiatrist if we notice changes in the foot like a collapsing arch, or we are experiencing foot discomfort and pain.” And how can a podiatrist help you find relief? “There are many interventions around stretching, strengthening and orthotic management that a podiatrist can tailor to your needs,” he says.
As you walk through the day, weight in your shoe compounds and this extra weight can tire your muscles. What’s the impact? By the age of 50, our feet have lost up to half of the shock-absorbing capability of the natural foot pad. Joint tension mounts in the feet, ankles, knees, hips and sometimes lower back. To protect your feet it is important to have shoes that fit correctly. “Shoes are incredibly important to looking after feet long-term,” says Baxter. “We need good structure, e.g., a shoe that has a strong shank supporting the arch, to reduce midfoot and heel problems. Good fit and comfort are so important. And getting proper advice on correct fit and appropriate style is incredibly valuable to foot wellbeing.
“It’s hard to avoid the rigours of life but avoiding poorly fitted and constructed shoes, and being vigilant about changes in your feet, will go a long way to good foot health.”
Treat your feet
- Whether you love to swim, walk or practise yoga, exercise regularly.
- Before buying a new style, try on both shoes and make sure you walk around to suss the fit. More often than not, one foot will be slightly different to the other. It is important to fit the larger size.
- Maintain hydration with at least eight glasses of water a day.
- Soften calluses with a pumice stone, pumice-based paste or salt scrub.
- Soothe cracked heels or dry, rough skin by applying a hydrating moisturiser before going to sleep. Look for natural ingredients such as coconut, olive or avocado oils and sleep with a pair of socks on so the oils can fully absorb into the skin.
- Cut your toenails carefully, wash and dry your feet thoroughly.
- A foot massage can help with muscular pain and circulation. For a restorative foot treatment that relaxes your feet as well as your mind, consider reflexology.
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