If you think about it, our feet are one of the most important parts of our bodies. We stand, walk, run, and balance, all with the aid of our feet. Therefore, it stands to reason that without good foot health, the rest of our body is likely to suffer.
April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, and it’s a perfect time to think about your feet! On average, Americans take 5,000 – 7,000 steps each day, and approximately 20 percent of us experience some sort of foot pain. Of course, the best medicine is prevention! Here are three essential things you can do to ensure you maintain happy, healthy feet.
Wear the Right Shoes at the Right Times
When it comes to your feet, you should never suffer for fashion. Wearing shoes that are uncomfortable or don’t fit correctly can do lasting damage to your feet. This goes for high heel stilettos as much as it does for flats and sneakers. What’s more, it’s essential to wear the right shoes for the right activity. This is more than not wearing casual shoes while running long distance, for example. Different types of shoes have different features that can provide comfort, but can also aggravate if worn for the wrong activity. It’s almost always best to consult with a professional in order to choose models that not only fit, but provide the comfort, support, and flexibility your feet need.
Stretch and Exercise Your Feet
Before any workouts, runs, or other foot-intensive activities, it’s a good idea to stretch your foot out, just as you would any other part of your body. Because your foot is the literal foundation of your body, keeping them strong and flexible will go a long way to ensure your exercise of choice is productive. Try incorporating a few foot stretches into your routine, including toe pointing, splaying, and curling.
Avoid Walking Barefoot
Some of us prefer to walk without anything on our feet. That’s understandable when we’re at the park, beach, or even in the comfort of our own home. However, there are two reasons to avoid walking barefoot as often as possible. First, walking barefoot often doesn’t provide the foot with enough support, so the more time you spend barefoot the harder your foot has to work to maintain stability. And the harder it works, the faster it can tire out, causing you to weaken muscles and tendons. Second, there are tons of microbes out there—even in our own homes! Bare feet are like magnets for these microbes, and some of them can be downright dangerous. It’s best to avoid walking barefoot as much as possible, so break out those flip flops, water socks, and slippers!