I get it. As busy as you are in the gym, on the mat, or in the ring, it’s hard to find the time to take care of your feet. Yet, taking care of your feet is just as important as taking care of any other part of your body, if not more.
Foot health is crucial for our well-being and overall comfort levels, as well as our athleticism and ability to fight. Yet, despite the advantages of great foot hygiene, more often than not people neglect to take care of their feet, leading to bad health issues down the road. So, taking care of your feet not only benefits you in the long run, but it also puts you ahead of your competition today. Keep reading to see five things you need to know in order to look after your foot health.
- Choosing the Right Socks:
The foundation of foot hygiene starts with the things that your feet make the most contact with throughout the day: socks. As boring as they may seem when you open up a nicely wrapped Christmas gift only to discover a single pair of white socks, picking the right socks is a huge contributor to the overall health of your feet.
To start, it is important to choose socks made from natural materials, such as organic cotton or bamboo. These materials are much kinder to your feet and have many additional benefits as well. For example, bamboo itself has unique moisture and odor-stopping properties that, when used in socks, can stop your feet from smelling at the end of a long day. Natural materials like these regulate temperature and moisture far better than other, less natural sock ingredients.
So, consider investing in natural, sweat absorbing socks that are designed to keep your feet dry and odor free. These kinds of socks will also keep your feet cool on hot summer days because of their natural ability to regulate temperature and moisture.
- Wear Properly Fitting Shoes:
Have you ever noticed at the end of a long day that no matter how you stand, your feet just… hurt? It’s probably because of your shoes! Choosing the right pair of sneakers is crucial to your foot health.
While style is important, prioritizing the comfort and support of your everyday shoes can have a significant impact on how your feet feel at the end of a long day. The fit of the shoes themselves is extremely important as well, because your foot support needs may change depending on how wide and long your feet are.
Some things you should look for when you are purchasing shoes are the right amount of arch support, cushion, and ankle support that you need depending on the size and shape of your feet. These factors help prevent blisters, athlete’s foot, and bunions, or even more severe injuries such as sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis, and hammertoe. Knowing your shoe size and picking the right level of support will minimize minor injuries in the present, and will keep you safe from more severe issues long term.
- Practicing Good Foot Hygiene
No matter how good your socks and shoes are, if you don’t take good care of your feet, they won’t save you if you don’t clean your feet consistently. Cleaning your feet and maintaining good foot hygiene are crucial to keeping your feet as healthy as possible. Of course, the bare minimum is to wash your feet daily, with warm running water and soap. It is important to pay close attention to your toes, and the area between them, in order to thoroughly clean your entire foot. Fungi often grow in these small cracks, so cleaning them consistently is the easiest way to keep your feet smelling fresh.
Next, it is important to cut your toenails regularly to ensure that they do not grow too long. Trimming them regularly is crucial to stopping ingrown toenails, which are extremely painful and hard to fix. Further, if you are an athlete, trimming your toenails can help avoid cracking or even completely breaking them off.
Finally, taking care of any abnormalities in your feet such as warts or athlete’s feet is extremely beneficial in the long run. There are various different wart removers and other ways to treat warts. For an athlete’s foot, there are numerous antifungal medicines that can help alleviate some of the discomfort.
- Exercising your Feet
Yes. As silly as it may seem, exercising your feet is one of the best ways to improve your foot health. Not only do certain exercises boost strength and speed, but also improve your blood circulation and flexibility as well. Some exercises include different toe stretches, calf raises, or even using your toes like hands to pick up and move objects. These exercises will also improve your balance and coordination, allowing you to move more at ease throughout the day.
Going outside and actually letting your feet feel grass not only provides added stimulation for your feet but also statistically improves your mental health significantly. It will help you feel grounded and in touch with nature and the rest of the world around you.
- Rest and Recovery
Finally, none of these factors will ever benefit you much if you don’t prioritize rest and recovery. As athletes and fighters, we are on our feet a great deal throughout the day, and just like any other part of our body, it is important to give them rest in order to minimize burnout or overuse injuries.
A few things that you can do to maximize your recovery are simple habits like scheduling regular breaks, elevating your feet at night, and prioritizing muscle relaxation activities. Allowing your feet to come into contact with multiple different healthy environments is also very beneficial.
These environments include grass, sand, and salt water, so the beach is a great place to give your feet some relief. The combination of all of these things will greatly rejuvenate your feet, and allow you to start every day with the energy needed to continue to be the elite athlete and fighter you are.