From long walks to tight shoes, it’s easy to forget that your feet are under a lot of pressure. As you get older and the skin on your feet thins, this can take its toll, making you more prone to problems such as corns, blisters and infections.
But this doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of ageing. Our simple footcare tips will keep your feet pain-free, as well as staving off knee, back and hip problems that sore feet can cause. Which means you’ll be able to stay footloose and fancy free, doing the things you love for longer.
Keep it clean
Any dirt you get on your feet, even from padding round the house, could cause them to become irritated and infected if it’s not washed off.
Aim to wash your feet every night before bed with warm, soapy water. While you’re there, gently rub a wet pumice stone in circular movements over any hard skin or callouses. Then dry your feet thoroughly (in between your toes, too) to keep germs, such as those which cause Athlete’s foot, at bay.
If your feet get sweaty easily, dab cotton wool dipped in surgical spirit in between your toes at this point.
There are no rules on how often to cut your toenails but you want to tackle them before they start rubbing on your shoes. At least once a month is usually a good idea. Always cut after a foot soak, once your nails are soft, and select good-quality toenail clippers rather than scissors.
Cut your nails straight across so they’re level with the ends of your toes – rounding them off could cause ingrowing toenails. Smooth off the rough nail edge with an emery board.
If you struggle to reach your feet, ask a friend to help or find a local chiropodist by calling The College of Podiatry on 0207 234 8620 or visiting www.scpod.org/find-a-podiatrist. Your doctor maybe to able to refer you to a free chiropodist through the NHS so ask at your GP surgery to see if you qualify.
Massage and moisturise
To avoid dry, cracked skin, moisturise your feet every day. Massage the cream upwards, from your toes towards your knees, to get your circulation going. Don’t apply cream between your toes – this area doesn’t need extra moisture and could become sore. For even smoother feet, use an exfoliating cream that pummels down dead cells. Creams containing salicylic acid will also combat any leathery skin that’s built up.
Pull your socks up
Make sure your socks and stockings aren’t too tight as this can restrict the blood flow to your feet. To keep feet fresh, go for sports socks that have a ventilation panel at the side, or antibacterial properties. Take socks off whenever you’re at home to let your feet breathe.
No new shoes before lunchtime!
Only shop for shoes in the afternoon when your feet have swollen to their biggest. Choose shoes suitable for the job you need them for too – so no summer sandals for a country walk.
To check the fit of new shoes, make sure there’s half an inch between the end of your toes and the end of the shoes and that they fit snugly around your heel and instep. Try them out on hard surfaces as well as carpet.
Kick up your heels
Our feet often swell after a full day on our feet. So make an effort each evening to put your feet up on a stool. Even better, lay down and prop your legs up with a cushion so they are higher than you are for a few minutes.
Simple exercises can also keep your feet healthy and pain free:
- Holding onto a piece of furniture for support, slowly rise onto tiptoes then lower
- Sitting down, straighten your knee and point your toes to the ground
- Sitting, lift one foot and rotate slowly at your ankle as if drawing a large circle with your big toe. Repeat on other leg
- With your feet flat on the floor, move your toes up and down
Bye bye blisters
Choosing correctly fitting shoes should stop blisters, but if they do appear, resist the temptation to pick at them. Bathe in warm water and cover with a blister plaster or a cushioned one if it’s under your foot. For blood blisters, apply a frozen bag of peas for 10-30 minutes.
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.