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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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