Take Care of Those Tootsies!
Beauty routines are important to keep yourself looking and feeling your best. Skincare is most likely the top ranking routine, and for good reason! Skin is the largest organ in your body, it needs attention and grooming daily. Hair and nails are next, requiring lengthy treatments to keep them shiny and strong. It's easy to pay attention to your hands, washing them and moisturizing frequently throughout the day. But what about your feet?
I, like a lot of girls, am in love with shoes. Now, I don't indulge in heels or wedges (even though I'm short in stature), but I love a good sneaker. My first pair of awesome sneakers were Barney the Dinosaur hightops in kindergarten. I graduated to Saddle Oxfords, then moved on to Converses, platform Xhilaration sneakers (although, I'm glad that trend ended), canvas shoes, Five Fingers, and Nikes. I enjoy the practicality of a sneaker. They can get you through the day with almost no pain, they're easy to wash, and you can look cute at the gym. I assumed, because they weren't heels, there was no way I was in danger of any kind of foot related injury. Boy was I wrong.
The trouble began once I got to college. My alma mater doesn't have what most would consider a “large campus,” but when you've got up to six classes in one day in different lecture halls, it can lead to a lot of walking. I don't like elevators, so I was running up and down stairs frequently as well. In my sophomore year, I began working out, sometimes up to three times a day in between classes at the University Rec Center.My studies as a fine art student included painting classes, I often took back to back studio classes to maximize painting time and would be standing sometimes for as long as six hours. The lack of support in my fashionable shoes led to knee and ankle stiffness and pain. I attributed it to the high impact kickboxing classes I was in at the time and switched to spinning instead.
I completely moved from the old standby tennis shoes to low-profile fashion sneakers. They were allowed on the fitness floor at the gym, and better yet, I didn't have to carry around my tennis shoes which I estimated added an extra five pounds to my already heavy backpack. Since I wasn't having any foot pain, I ignored the lack of support in my shoes, thinking I simply didn't need it. In my senior year, I suffered a herniated disc. Did I learn my lesson yet? Of course I didn't! (Don't look at me like that.)
Expenses related to moving to another state for graduate school have prevented me from owning a vehicle, so I walk quite a bit (ok a lot). It's great exercise, and on my busiest days I've gotten in as many as 6 miles, maybe even more on the days I work. But, one little issue. I was still wearing the no support, fashion canvas sneakers I had been before! If my body couldn't get my attention yet, it did a few months ago in two words: plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the tendon running under the heel and along the bottom of the foot. Wearing shoes with no arch support or soft support are some of the causes of this injury. Bingo! That's me.
Most of us have probably grown up being told that pain is just a part of looking beautiful. Physical pain is certainly part of life, but if it can be prevented, it should be.And as far as looking good, it can be completely unnecessary. Arch support inserts in all of the flat sneakers I wore in the years past could have saved me quite a bit of pain now. I was uninterested in my mother's nagging about the support of the shoes because I thought," well it doesn't hurt, so it can't be bad."
I was more interested in how my feet looked rather than what was obviously happening to my joints. It sounds silly to completely ignore foot pain to look stylish. However, pregnant Kim Kardashian recently turned heads and raised eyebrows after wearing strappy stilettos on her swollen feet. While that's an extreme example, you can get the point. Looking your best should never mean damaging your health.
Footcare for the Fashionista
If you're a shoe aficionado and have an active lifestyle, footcare needs to be one of your daily routines. Here are some tips to keep those dogs from barking:
Make sure that you are wearing the correct shoe size. Too small is just as bad as too large.
Wear your heels, but cap the height.
Limit how much you wear flip flops or shoes with little coverage.
Alternate the types of shoes you wear regularly.
Keep your toenails trimmed.
Throw out beat up shoes.
Always consult a clerk to measure your feet when you buy shoes.
Never buy shoes without trying them on first.
Already have foot pain from sky high heels or unsupported shoes? Here are some natural remedies to ease the pain and soften potential calluses:
Epsom salt foot soak. Epsom salts can be purchased at any drug store, and a few cups in a bath make for a wonderfully relaxing soak for achy feet and muscles. The soak will also help soften rough patches.
Foot massage. Massage of any kind is greatly relaxing, but a foot massage can really help relieve pain and stiffness in tired feet.
Stretching. Rolling a ball under each foot will help arch pain and stretch the tendons. Ankle circles are also beneficial.
Buy cushions for tender spots, such as the balls of the feet.
Buy appropriate orthotic insoles to offer more support.
Be sure to exfoliate and moisturize your feet as you would the rest of your body after bathing to keep the skin smooth and callous free. Consult your doctor for chronic pain or other issues.
The Best Kept Secrets in Shoes
Finding comfortable, affordable, and cute shoes is the ultimate triple threat. You'll more often have to sacrifice one in order to make a purchase on a budget. However, I've found some great shoes at good prices. Dr. Scholl's is a brand better known for their insoles (which I highly recommend), but the company also makes shoes, incredibly cute ones at that. One of the newest styles that I adore is their women's “Jennie” shoe. You can buy a pair in a variety of colors from Amazon.com, beginning at a jaw dropping $27. For frequent heel wearers, Foot Petals has created a spiffy little kit called the “Stiletto Survival Kit” that contains cushions and padding to make wearing your favorite heels ouch free. For extreme heel pain, I've found Tuli's Heavy Duty Gel Heel Cups are excellent at shock absorption, and you can get a pair for around $10 at the drugstore.
Remember, your feet are an important asset your overall health! Be kind to them, it will be worth it!