DIY Foot Care
Give your hardworking feet the TLC they deserve by following these foot care tips.
Make sure you’re wearing the right shoes
Ill-fitting shoes that are either too tight, too loose, not designed for the activity your participating in (wearing gym shoes during a trail run, for example) or not supportive enough for your feet are the main cause of injuries to your feet, both during exercise and in everyday life. Injuries can range from an annoying blister on your big toe to tendon and muscle soreness from a shoe that completely throws off your running form.
To find the right shoes for you, visit a specialty store (such as a running shoe store like The Running Room, an outdoors store like MEC, or a team sports store specializing in a single sport) with a shoe fit expert on staff. Aside from measuring the length and width of your feet, a shoe fit expert will want to assess your walking and running gait to determine whether you’re more of a supinator (your foot rolls outward) or pronator (your foot rolls inward) when you walk or run, as well as what kind of arch you have (flat or high). This will help determine the type of shoe you need (a stability shoe if you have moderate overpronation or a neutral shoe if you have slight supination and a medium-size arch, for example). If you can’t find a shoe that ensures the best fit, visit a pedorthist to see if custom orthotics are right for you.
Keep them dry
Although having dry feet can also cause issues (such as cracked skin on your heel), having wet feet seems to be a bigger issue for us sweaty and active people. Not only can moist and sweaty feet make you more prone to athlete’s foot and other fungal problems, but also blisters and chafing inside your shoe during exercise. The key to keeping your feet dry during exercise is to wear lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking socks and to stay out of puddles (or wear waterproof shoes) when hiking or running outside. If you do head out for a muddy trail run, ensure you have a towel and a spare pair of shoes and socks with you that you can change into as soon as you finish your run.
Give yourself a pedi
You don’t have to visit the spa to give your feet the TLC they deserve—regular foot care and maintenance, which can be done at home, is one of the best ways to keep blisters, bunions and black toenails at bay.
Start by soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salts to soften the skin. After 10 minutes, dry your feet and use a foot file to file down rough patches and callouses—but not too far down. Runners in particular need to keep a bit of callous build-up to protect their feet.
Next, clip your toenails short—this is especially important if you’re a trail runner, as your feet tend to slide forward in your shoes on descents and you’re much more likely to trip on a rock or tree root out on the trails, causing you to bruise or break your toenail.
If you have a large or bothersome blister, sterilize a needle with soap and hot water and make a small hole in the blister to drain it. Ensure both your hands and the area of the blister is clean before you do this.
Finish your at-home pedi by applying a light moisturizer to your feet and letting them dry out fully before putting your socks and shoes back on. (It’s even better if you can get your partner or spouse to do this last step for you and get a foot massage in the process!)