As incredible as our feet may be, few of us ever think about them until they hurt. Fortunately, if your dogs are barking, there are several things you can do to pamper them and prevent serious problems from developing. If you have diabetes or any problem with circulation, however, your feet require extra special care, and you should run these home remedies (and any other foot-care steps you're considering) by your doctor or podiatrist for approval before trying any of them at home.
Take a load off. If you have to stand a great deal, take breaks to take the weight off your feet. Whenever you can, elevate your feet at a 45 degree angle to your body, and relax for 10 to 15 minutes. Elevating your feet will move blood away from the feet and help reduce swelling.
Give them a soak. Put two tablespoons of Epsom salts into a basin of warm water, and give your feet a relaxing bath for 15 minutes. Then, pat your feet dry with a soft towel, and moisturize them with your favorite cream or lotion.
Alternate hot and cold. Sit on the edge of the bathtub and alternately run cold water then (comfortably) hot water (for one minute each) on the feet; end with cold water.
Give them the squeeze. There's nothing quite as relaxing as a foot massage. Have a partner massage your feet with massage oil, baby oil, or moisturizing lotion (then put socks on before you stand up to prevent slipping). Or treat yourself by massaging your own feet. First, apply oil and condition the foot with medium-light strokes, using your thumbs and fingers. Next, starting with the ball of the foot, work across and down the entire foot using the thumbs to make small, circular motions. Use the thumbs to make long, deep strokes along the arch of the foot, moving in the direction of the toes. Gently squeeze, rotate, and pull each toe. End by cupping the foot between both hands and gently squeezing up and down the length of each foot.
Ice 'em. A cool way to refresh your feet after a long, hard day is to ice them down with a washcloth filled with ice. It'll make them feel wonderful and decrease swelling.
Exercise your feet. Like any part of the body, the feet stay healthiest if they're kept strong and flexible with regular exercise. Walking in shoes that provide good support and cushioning is excellent exercise for the feet.
Feet also benefit from specific foot exercises. Try these:
Golf-Ball Roll: Sit down with your shoes off, place one foot on top of a golf ball, and roll (don't stand) on the ball using only the weight of the foot; repeat with the other foot.
Spill the Beans: Scatter beans or marbles on the floor, and pick them up with your toes.
Circle and Stretch: Sit in a chair with one foot raised in front of you, and make four or five small circles in the air in both directions with your foot. Next, point your toes as much as you can; then stretch them up towards you. Repeat six times with each foot.
Trim your toenails. Ingrown toenails may be inherited, but improper nail trimming can make the problem worse. Trim the nails straight across and only to the end of the toe, then file the corners to remove sharp edges that might cut the skin.
Buy shoes that fit. Too often, people buy shoes that don't fit their feet. They opt for fashion rather than fit or comfort. A good-fitting pair of shoes will improve virtually any foot problem. Look for shoes that:
have plenty of room in the toe area (toe box).
don't slip. The foot should not slide around in the shoe.
are wide enough. Your foot shouldn't bulge over the edges of the shoe.
fit in the store. Don't buy too-small shoes believing you'll "stretch them out" in time.
And do your shoe-shopping in the afternoon or evening, when your feet tend to be slightly larger.
Know your feet. Different types of feet require different kinds of shoes. For instance, if you have high arches, your feet tend to be rigid. Shoes with lots of cushioning will help absorb shock. Flat-bottomed feet are less rigid, but less stable, too, so they require shoes that control excess motion. To find out what kind of foot you have, wet your bare feet and stand on a concrete floor or piece of paper. If you have high arches, the outline of your foot will appear very narrow and curved like a half-moon. If the outline looks like a slab, you're probably flat-footed.
Wear the right shoes for the activity. Wearing the wrong type of shoes can cause a long list of problems, including knee tendinitis, chronic foot pain, heel spurs, and stress fractures. Choosing the right shoes is especially important when it comes to fitness footwear. Different sports and exercises have unique repetitive movements that require special support and cushioning. You wouldn't play basketball in a pair of heels. Likewise, don't rely on that old pair of sneakers if you're going climbing or hiking. Spend the extra money to buy shoes that are specific for the activity you're doing. The investment could save you and your feet a lot of pain.
Replace worn shoes. It's tough to give up those old favorite shoes, but often, we wear shoes long after they've lost their ability to support and cushion the foot. Keep in mind that looks can be deceiving: A pair of shoes may show few signs of wear-and-tear but no longer absorb the shock of pounding the pavement. Instead, pay attention to your body. If your feet are killing you, knees ache, or hips hurt after spending time on your feet, your shoes may no longer be doing their job.
Simple home remedies from the kitchen can help to relieve your foot pain. Keep reading to learn more about natural cures for aching feet.