Ten Tips for Foot Health

We don’t really think about the health of our feet unless they are causing us pain or discomfort, but foot health can have a knock-on effect on the rest of the body, so it is definitely worth paying attention to. Here are ten tips for optimising your foot health and so your overall wellbeing:

  1. Choose ‘barefoot’ footwear
  2. Go barefoot at home
  3. Go barefoot outdoors every day
  4. Walk barefoot over a variety of textures
  5. Walk over uneven surfaces
  6. Try toe stretchers
  7. Give your feet a work out
  8. File away rough skin
  9. Moisturise and nourish your feet
  10. See a podiatrist regularly.

The toes should be the widest part of the foot, and the foot naturally splays on impact with the ground when walking or running, but the narrow nature of modern footwear often impedes that natural shape and movement. Added to that, the human foot is widening with the generations, possibly because we are getting heavier. The good news is that a growing number of companies, such as Vivobarefoot and Xero Shoes, are producing healthier, more natural shaped footwear.

To really allow your feet to be their natural shape and to move naturally, avoid wearing footwear at home. Go barefoot or wear slip-proof socks about the house instead. It will help to maintain the strength and function of your feet.

As well as going barefoot indoors, schedule some barefoot time outdoors every day to ground yourself and to support your health & wellbeing. The Earthing Movie: the remarkable science of grounding is a fascinating exploration of this.

Try walking barefoot on a variety of textures, such as grass, pebbles or sand, and on uneven surfaces to stimulate your nervous system and promote good balance. You can make it a mindful practice by really tuning in to the sensations under your feet.

Toe stretchers, also known as yoga toes, separate the toes to promote the natural shape of the foot and stretch out the soft tissues, which can prevent and treat various forms of foot pain. I would recommend using the softer gel stretchers, which are more comfortable to wear. You don’t need to walk around in them all day, just a few minutes every day can make a difference. They certainly helped me to get my feet back to a healthier, more natural shape.

Exercising the feet is as important as exercising the rest of the body. If our feet are not strong, it can cause imbalances and pain further up the musculoskeletal system. Foot strength can also help with balance. For that reason, we do a lot of exercises for the feet and toes in qigong. Standing up with your feet flat on the floor (ideally barefoot), try lifting one toe at a time from the ground starting with the big toe and moving out to the little toe, then lower them one at a time starting from the little toe and working back to the big toe. Then try stretching out all your toes at once before scrunching them up, repeat several times, imagining that you are trying to gather in a sheet under your feet using your toes. Finally, feel the contact of the base of the big toe, the base of the little toe and the centre of your heel in contact with the ground, like a tripod, and keeping those three points of contact, draw up through the centre of your foot, feeling your arch lift. Release and repeat a few times.

Regularly filing away rough, dead skin from your feet will help prevent the build up of calluses, which can cause pain and discomfort. Try making it a weekly self-care ritual.

To keep the skin on your feet soft and supple, apply a good quality foot cream daily (ideally after a bath at bedtime to optimise absorption). I like the Swedish brand CCS. Their Foot Care Cream makes my feet feel so alive and good!

Last, but not least, see a podiatrist regularly, like you do the dentist. It is important to have your foot health checked by a professional to prevent and treat any problems.

I do hope that this post has inspired you to give your feet the TLC that they deserve for all that they do for you. If you look after your feet, they will look after you...