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Best Foot Forward: How Caring For Your Feet Will Benefit Your Life

Best Foot Forward: How Caring For Your Feet Will Benefit Your Life

Our feet carry a lot of weight. They carry our bodies throughout our entire lives. We can neglect caring for them correctly. Having the occasional pedicure is not enough. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have the physical ability to walk we need to do more. Caring for your feet will benefit your life.

Feet are the first parts of our bodies to age and when our feet are unhealthy, it can impact our general well being. Foot ailments can prevent us from staying limber and fit and this can affect our fitness and health. Despite their distance from our hearts, the condition of our feet can impact our health in quite serious ways . In fact, it is probably because they are so far from our heart that they need special care. Sometimes the necessary oxygen rich blood required for our feet to function well does not get to our feet properly for various reasons. It may be due to poor circulation or unhealthy vessels and this can cause a lot of damage to feet.

Feet are very complicated body parts.

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“Together, your two feet contain more than 50 bones, accounting for about one-fourth of all the bones in your body. And somehow they also make room for more than 60 joints and 200 muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold them together and help them move.” Eric Metcalf MPH, Everyday Health

It is not surprising that so much can go wrong with feet, considering their complexity and the amount of work they do. Walking, standing, running and carrying excessive weight can damage our feet over time. Suffocating them in ill fitting shoes or high heels, neglecting our toe nails and common conditions like diabetes can also have adverse effects on feet. If our feet are unhealthy and not working optimally, we end up leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and this is one of the leading causes of disease.

There are many common ailments that can impact our feet. As we age our feet change shape and deteriorate and we can experience fallen arches or ‘flat feet’. This condition is often associated with osteoarthritis; a degenerative disease that can afflict the aged. Other issues like cracked heels, hard nails, sores, ulcers, corns and warts can all develop over time if we don’t look after our feet.

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Looking after our feet can easily become a daily ritual and doesn’t have to break the bank. We can do most things at home with little to no cost and just having awareness about the condition of our feet and then addressing the issue can put us on the road to healing and maintaining life long foot health.

These six ways to care for our feet are a step in the right direction:

Yoga

Yoga is beneficial for our entire body, but it can be particularly helpful for strengthening the muscles and tendons in our feet. Foot yoga poses include those that require conscious spreading of our toes and even distribution of weight across the entire foot. Many common yoga postures depend upon this and when we practice perfecting these poses we learn to balance our body weight over the space of our feet entirely. This knowledge and expertise can then become a daily habit and just standing in a queue or on public transport doesn’t have to become painful and tiring.

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We start to understand how to hold our body upright using all of our muscles and releasing some of the force and pressure that inevitably ends up on our feet. We tend to use our skeleton to hold up our bodies; yoga teaches us to use our muscles to hold up our skeleton, which is more efficient and low impact. Poor posture, slouching, swinging our hip and throwing our weight to one side only can cause uneven distribution of body weight which can strain our muscles and tendons. Yoga teaches us to strengthen our core by holding in our stomachs and lifting our pelvic floor. When we unlock our knees and honor the natural curve of our spine we achieve strength and balance. This in turn relieves our feet and causes realignment of our entire body.

Massage

Nothing is more soothing than a good foot massage. Reflexology massage of the feet has many benefits and can alleviate pain and discomfort, improve circulation and soften the skin and nails with the use of a good massage oil or cream. These days there are many therapists that can provide a professional service, but we can do this at home easily too. Some claim that the feet are a map to the entire body and massaging them can reach pressure points that will influence various organs in the body. The research is not conclusive, but improving circulation, stimulating blood flow and relaxing the tendons and muscles of the feet can certainly improve foot health as well as general well being.

Bathing

A good foot soak can work wonders to relax the entire body at the end of the day. Hydrating our feet will not only soften the nails and skin to prevent bunions, corns, cracked heels and ingrown toe nails; it can also reduce the bacteria build up associated with foot odor and athlete’s foot. For some, showering daily is enough, but particularly if our feet are in closed shoes and socks all day, if the feet are trapped in gym shoes while exercising and are sweating excessively or if we wear high heels or ill fitting shoes all day, a daily foot soak or foot spa will undo some of the damage we may be causing.

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Scrubbing dry skin

Having dry and cracked skin on your feet, particularly the heels can be a cosmetic problem or it can become a more serious medical issue and cause infection. Daily care of the skin on our feet can become part of our usual routine and doesn’t have to be a burden. Just scrubbing the skin with a pumice stone and applying a good quality foot cream may be enough. More serious ailments can be assessed by a podiatrist and treated accordingly.

Going barefoot

The latest fad of going ‘Earthing’ or walking barefoot in nature is not just something for hippies. Early scientific research has shown that connecting with the earth directly on our bare skin has many health benefits. Drawing electrons directly into our bodies from the earth is shown to improve sleep and reduce pain. Walking around barefoot on the soil, grass and sand feels good for a reason. It reconnects us to the forces that our modern lifestyle has become separate from and can reduce the stress that we place on our feet daily. We can even go one step further and do yoga barefoot on the ground and really amp up the positive effects.

Wearing good shoes

Although it is much more comfortable to be barefoot, we do need to wear shoes for the most part to protect our feet and conform to societal norms. Wearing shoes for fashion can sometimes force us to abuse our feet. Podiatrist Dr William Knudson discusses the importance of wearing proper fitting and good quality shoes in order to make sure our feet don’t suffer unnecessarily. Making sure the shoes we wear are the correct size and provide appropriate support depending on the activity we are doing can greatly assist us to look after our feet and ensure optimum health.

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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