The human foot is really one of nature’s miracles—a complex network of 26 bones, 42 muscles and 33 joints. We depend on our feet to literally carry our weight every day. That stress means they’re vulnerable to injury, more so than many other parts of the body. Foot health can also offer clues to our overall well-being: for instance, pain in these joints could be a sign of gout; stiffness may indicate arthritis; swelling might be tied to kidney disease, and numbness or tingling could signal diabetes.
Dr. Mark Wallen of the Santa Monica Podiatry group says the most prevalent ailments he treats are heel pain/spurs and plantar fasciitis. Other common problems are bunions, hammertoes, sprained ankles, warts, and stress fractures. In general, he sees more women than men due to the high-heel factor. While we totally get how great a towering pair of stilettos can make our legs look, we should also be aware of how hard they are on our feet. Dr. Wallen reminds us that we should never accept pain in the feet, ankles or legs as normal and offers these important tips:
● Wash and dry feet regularly
● Change socks often to avoid foot odor
● Keep toenails trimmed
● Avoid walking barefoot, especially in public spaces
● Wear good quality, supportive shoes, particularly athletic shoes for sports activities
● Minimize running/walking barefoot in the sand
● When your feet are tired, soak them in Epsom salts (unless you are diabetic)
“Heeling” Hints For What’s Hurtin’
Dr. Wallen suggests that for dry skin, sweaty feet and mild calluses, it’s okay to use over-the-counter products you can easily find at a drugstore. For nail polish, look for formaldehyde-free brands, especially ones with tea tree oil. For corns, severe calluses or ingrown toenails, you can use over-the-counter, medicated products with a doctor’s guidance (or ask for prescriptions).
As we age it’s even more important to keep on our toes when it comes to foot health. Dr. Wallen advises to never self-diagnose foot or ankle problems, wear age-appropriate shoes that offer support, and maintain a healthy weight and good nutritional habits.
Beautiful feet are happy feet. Try a two-minute chemical peel that removes dead skin, prevents corns and calluses, and keeps your feet hydrated such as Lova Skin Instant Foot Peeling Spray. Get extra-soft feet with a mask like the Aveeno Repairing CICA Moisturizing Foot Mask or the Sephora Lavender Foot Mask.
Earth Therapeutics offers a complete foot repair kit that includes a foot scrub and balm, both of which contain tea tree oil to kill odor and bacteria. There’s also a pumice stone, a brush to remove dead skin, and a roller to massage and relax your feet. After all, they work hard and deserve it.