If your feet could talk, they’d probably have a lot to say about how you are — or aren’t — taking care of them. Those feet of yours might have some important secrets they’re itching (sometimes literally) to tell.
We’ve put together nine health secrets we think your feet would whisper in your ear or shout from the rooftops to get you to treat them better.
9. Just Keep Walking
In Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat, they recommend the best exercises for healthy feet. What’s at the top of the list? Walking! “When you walk, you put your foot through its full range of motion, from the time your heel hits the ground until you lift off with your toes.” Healthbeat also notes that walking is wonderful exercise for the whole body. Walking builds muscle tone, improves your mood, and keeps your cardiovascular system strong. If you want to add more challenge to your walking routine, pump your arms or use walking poles to tone your arms as you go.
8. Always Get Support
Your favorite comfy walking shoes might not be providing the great support you think they do. Especially if those comfortable shoes are old enough that some of the sole has worn away. Avoid extra stress to the joints and bones in your feet by adding shock absorbing pads inside your walking shoes. As we age, the fat pads in the balls of our feet begin to wear away. Extra shoe padding to support our feet helps keep our feet supporting our bodies that much longer.
7. Don’t Cramp Your Style
Fashionable shoes might make an outfit pop, but wearing styles that are too tight could cause your poor feet some serious health problems over time. When toes are cramped and squished together, the nerves in our feet can become compromised or even damaged. Those nerves could become inflamed, which triggers our immune system to take action and may cause feet to swell. Wearing shoes that give our toes space to wiggle and “breathe” is a simple but important health secret for happy feet.
6. Cross This Habit Off Your List
Your feet wish they could tell you that every time you cross your legs they struggle to get proper circulation. If your feet sometimes go numb while your legs are crossed, it’s probably because you’re pinching your pineal nerve. According to Mount Sinai Medicine, this major nerve “is a branch of the sciatic nerve, which supplies movement and sensation to the lower leg, foot and toes.” Crossing your legs often can eventually lead to damage of the pineal nerve, a condition called mononeuropathy. Symptoms include tingly and numb feet, trouble walking, and weakness of the feet and ankles.
5. These Shoes Are a Flop
A flip flop, that is! You’d think these fun, convenient and often cushy open-toed shoes wouldn’t add stress to your feet. Flip flops are cute, but your feet would beg you to wear something with more support. Your toes have to work overtime to keep flip flops in place, causing stress to those muscles and nerves. And flip flops are a foot’s arch enemy! Your arches get zero support from most flip flop styles, leading to damaging stress on your feet’s tendons, in particular the posterior tibial tendon responsible for holding your arch up as you walk.Related: 10 Tips to Fix Flat Feet Related Health Issues
4. Don’t Sweat It
Your feet might be wishing they could tell you a fun fact about their sweat glands. They have about 125,000 of them! Providing all those sweat glands some moisture control helps keep your feet healthier, plus itch and fungus free. A quick and easy hack for keeping your feet dry inside your shoes is to use an antiperspirant across the bottom of both. Wearing shoes and socks with breathability will help keep your feet fresh and dry all day. Not to mention how much better your feet will smell when the busy day is done.
3. Measure Up, Then Measure Again
If your feet could leave you a note in your shoes, it might read “Sorry, but we’re not a size 8 anymore.” Assuming you wear the same size shoe throughout your adult life is a mistake, and probably causing your feet unnecessary wear and tear. As we age, our arches can be less prominent. Our feet can spread from extra weight and use. Certain health conditions can cause our feet to swell. All these reasons and more make it important to take the time to measure your feet again now and then for the proper size.
2. Feet Love Spa Days, Too
For various reasons, our feet can easily become callused, develop corns, and get dry and scaly. Pampering your feet with a spa day regularly will help keep them healthy, looking good and feeling great. Foot soaks in warm or hot water can help relax your feet and loosen dead skin. Remove patches of dry, callused skin with a pumice stone or an exfoliating foot tool or brush. Then moisturize dried feet with an emollient lotion or cream made to penetrate thicker skin. For an extra pampering treat, try an exfoliating foot mask, too.
1. That’s a Wrap
When it’s time for bed, your feet would probably ask to be wrapped up in cozy socks for the night. Though your feet don’t like to be sweaty, they do like to be a little warm. Feet that are kept comfortably warm throughout the night help regulate the temperature throughout your entire body. Socks can also increase essential blood flow to your feet. If wearing socks while under the covers is just too much heat, try poking your sock-clad tootsies out from under the blanket. Then listen closely. We think your feet just sighed a happy sigh of gratitude.Related: Are Cold Hands and Feet a Health Alarm?