It's easy to forget about your feet when they feel good. But when they hurt, you'll quickly realize the importance of keeping feet healthy. Your feet can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. They keep you moving and get you where you want and need to go. In fact, you're likely to walk over 100,000 miles during your lifetime. That's a lot of steps!
If you want to walk, run, jump, dance and enjoy just about any type of physical activity with ease, take a few extra steps (pun intended!) to care for your feet. After all, foot pain not only puts a damper on your recreational activities, but can also make it hard to get around on a daily basis.
Here's how to be good to your feet so they'll be good to you:
- Wear supportive, comfortable shoes. What you put on your feet can greatly affect how your feet feel. Avoid shoes with no support or arch, such as flip-flops. Wearing this footwear can contribute to plantar fasciitis, a painful condition affecting the tendon in the bottom of the foot near the heel. Also avoid high heels, which can lead to a number of foot ailments. Walking around barefoot is also not great for your feet, so wear supportive shoes even in the house.
- Make sure shoes fit properly. When was the last time you measured your feet? Feet can change size over time and you may be wearing shoes that no longer fit. Shoes that are too tight can cause painful blisters, bunions, corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails. Feet swell as the day goes on so shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening.
- Switch shoes often. It's not good for your feet to wear the same shoes day after day. Alternate between a few pairs of shoes so your feet aren't always feeling pressure in the same exact places. Like tires on your car, shoes should be replaced when treads become worn.
- Stretch. The muscles in your feet and calves can get tight, especially as you age, and this can lead to foot pain. One of the best stretches you can do to maintain flexibility is to stand on a step with your heels hanging off the edge. Lower your heels as far as they'll go and hold for a count of 10 before returning to a starting position. Repeat this stretch 8 - 10 times.
- Lose weight. The more weight you carry, the harder your feet need to work to support your body. Losing even a small amount of weight takes some of the stress off your feet and can reduce foot pain.
- Cut toenails straight. When you round the corners of your toenails, you're more prone to developing an ingrown toenail. This is one of the most common causes of foot pain and is easily preventable.
- Give your feet a break. Being on your feet for long stretches of time is hard on them. Give feet a rest, especially when they hurt. Ice reduces inflammation. A foot massage stimulates circulation. Over-the-counter pain relievers may ease discomfort when foot pain flares up.
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Date Last Reviewed: February 16, 2023
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD