By Madeline Del Guerra, Take Control Staff
How often do you think about your feet? Most of us don’t give them a second thought until they start to hurt, but they are an important part of our overall good health. A change in your feet can be one of the first signs of a serious health problem. Feet (and other extremities) are the first to show signs of problems in your body, because when things go wrong, our body sends blood to our internal organs and brain first. Paying attention to your feet will allow you to get to know them well, and identify any problems sooner rather than later.
Summer is a great time to take care of your feet. Since we’re often wearing flip flops or sandals, they’re easy to notice. Summer weather can be hard on feet – the hot air dries them out, walking barefoot toughens them, and the moist, sweaty environment in shoes can invite fungus.
So while your feet are front and center this summer, take some time to examine them and pamper them. The following tips will help keep your feet in good health:
Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes. Use a large bowl or a bathtub with a chair in front of it. Fill with warm/hot water and add ¼ cup of Epsom salt. Epsom salt contains magnesium, which helps reduce inflammation and pain. You can also add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil(s). Peppermint or lavender are great choices.
After soaking for 10-15 minutes, use a pumice stone and gently remove any calluses and dead skin. Rub the pumice stone in a circular motion over the pad of each foot and each heel. A pumice stone will exfoliate your feet without causing any harm. I recommend the “Trim” pumice which can be purchased at Walmart for around $3.00. It’s inexpensive, and delicate on sensitive skin.
Examine your feet and check for any cracks, cuts, blisters, or sores. If it’s hard to bend to see your feet, place a hand mirror on the floor to check your feet. Some symptoms of larger problems include sunken or marked toenails, no toe hair, foot cramps, flaking skin, numbness, morning pain, and sores that don’t heal. If you find any of these symptoms, or signs of infection, pain, or swelling, particularly if you have diabetes, schedule an appointment with a physician or allied health professional to have them checked.
Moisturizing your feet prevents calluses and painful cracks that can lead to infection. Apply 1-2 thin coats of lotion to the top and bottom of your feet. Do not apply lotion between toes, as the moisture accumulation can lead to infection. I recommend “Miracle Foot Repair Cream” by Miracle of Aloe. It’s available at Walmart or Walgreens for about $12.00.
Unresolved foot problems have unexpected consequences. For example, if your feet hurt, you’re likely to move less, and that could lead to weight gain. If your feet hurt, you may compensate and shift your balance in a way that leads to falling or creates pain in other areas of your body. So take the time to take care of your feet, your overall health depends on it.