The best way to keep your feet in good shape is to improve their flexibility and strength. Give them a regular massage and work on stretching the muscles and ligaments.
- Standing up in bare feet, wiggle your toes. Spread them apart and try to raise each toe individually. Next, rise up and stand on your toes for a count of 10, holding on to something for support if necessary. Go up and down a few times. This is also a great way to improve your balance as it calls lots of other muscles in to play at the same time.
- While you’re sitting or lying down, draw circles with your feet, moving from your ankles. Repeat in the opposite direction. Next, point and flex your feet several times.
- When possible, go barefoot and walk on the sand, grass or floor to stimulate nerve endings and pressure points. If it’s cold wear loose socks indoors.
After washing your feet check they’re completely dry, including between toes. This will reduce the risk of developing skin problems.
Manage calluses and dry skin by using a foot file at least once a week. Whether it’s a battery-operated device or a hand help file, making it a regular habit reduces the build up. Massaging your feet with a body scrub removes dry skin and improves circulation.
The golden rule for cutting your toenails is to cut them straight across. A slight curve is ok, but never cut down the sides. This prevents ingrown toenails. If you’re not confident about trimming your own nails go to a professional salon or see a podiatrist. Ask friends for recommendations if possible.
Athlete’s foot, also called tinea, is a very common infection and it’s contagious. The fungus grows best in warm, moist environments such as socks, swimming pools and locker rooms. Opt for cotton or wool socks, as they absorb moisture and wear your own thongs in communal areas. Fungal infections can also develop under toenails. Talk to your pharmacist about treatment options or consult a podiatrist.
Corns and calluses
Badly fitting shoes put too much pressure on certain areas and lead to calluses and corns. Carrying extra weight contributes too. To reduce the chances of developing either, don’t wear the same shoes every day if possible, and never wear shoes that are too small. Corn removal pads are available in pharmacies, but a podiatrist will remove corns and calluses quickly, effectively and painlessly.
If your feet are exposed to the elements on a regular basis the skin on your heels in particular, will become dry and eventually crack. To solve the problem - at night before bed, apply a foot cream or moisturiser to clean feet.
If your feet hurt or you have corns or bunions see a podiatrist. They’re foot experts and will work with you to find the best solution. Even if you don’t have a problem they’re worth a visit once or twice a year for a foot check-up and once over. Many private health funds include podiatry.
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