Take Care of Your Feet

We’ve included everything you need to know in order to take care of your feet: exercises and stretches for feet, ways to pamper your feet, foot anatomy, how to pick shoes that are good for your feet, and a foot Q&A.

Are there exercises and stretches for your feet and ankles?

There are many exercises and stretches for your feet. Some people go for a wobble board that builds overall balance and helps the legs by improving blood flow, while also preventing ankle/foot injuries and improving posture. Here are some that you can try for foot fitness.

Toe Grip: Drop something on the floor that is safe for you to pick up with your toes. This could be a crayon or a sock – you have a lot of choices. Then, simply pick up that object with your toes and hold it for ten seconds. Drop. Repeat.

Toe Lift: While your other toes remain flat on the ground, lift your big toe. You’ll find that this takes coordination but don’t give up. Once you’ve mastered the big toe, move on to the others. If you’re really coordinated, try doing both big toes at the same time and move your way to the little toe. Once you’ve mastered it, it’s time to try out for one of those “talent” TV shows.

Toe Abduction: It sounds like a really bad Liam Neeson movie but in reality we’re trying to get your toes to spread out. Take your shoes and socks off, stand upright on your heels. Now, stretch out those toes – do your best to keep them on the ground as your stretching.

This foot exercise PDF, created by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, contains 9 additional exercises, with pictures.

How to Stretch Ankles
Here are some examples of ankle stretches: The first video shows how to stretch the muscles of the ankle area in six easy steps. The second video shows a variety of ankle stretches.

A group of people stretching together, touching their toes, following the instructor.

It’s Time to Relax Your Feet

Maybe one of the most underappreciated parts of your body, your feet carry you around all day long. Give them some time to relax!

Foot Massages: Mix lavender essential oil or tei-fu essential oil with lotion or warm water. Make sure that your hands are warm before you start to give the massage. Before you start to massage the feet, wash them off with your warm water – essential oil mixture. Glide your hands across the bottom of the foot. Using your thumbs, press down firmly into the heel of the foot and then make your way up the heel.

Reflexology: Thumb walking, hook and backup, rotation on the point, finger walking. It can be done on the bottom, sides, and top of the foot.

Butter Up: If you have cracks in your feet, try using Shea butter.


Foot Q&A

Is it okay to wear flip flops? When you do, you’re causing extra work for your toes. They have to grip tightly, which isn’t necessary with other shoes.

Do socks really matter? Absolutely, they help protect your feet while you’re wearing shoes that could rub or damage your feet. On top of this, there are special socks, such as socks for work boots and diabetic socks, that are specifically designed to improve foot health.

What is the Thompson test? The Thompson test is used to help diagnose a ruptured Achilles tendon. The patient lies face down and flat with their feet hanging over the table slightly above the ankle. The doctor will squeeze the patient’s calf to see if the foot moves.

What is an MRI? MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, gives a doctor a look into their patient’s body structure, including organs and tissue.

Who is Achilles and what’s up with his heel? Achilles was a Greek warrior whose only soft spot was his heel.

Did you know that your Hallux is your big toe?

What is the average foot size for men and women? In the United States, the average foot size for men is ten and a half inches. The average foot size for women is close to nine inches.

Who is known to have the biggest feet? According to the Guinness Book of World Records, and reported by NBC News, Jeison Hernandez of Venezuela’s feet are the longest. His feet are 16 inches long.

What is the medial side of the foot? If you’re walking on the beach and look at your footprints, you won’t see the medial side of your foot. It is the side of the foot with a noticeable arch. The medial side is the inside of your foot – the medical side in each foot faces each other. The other side of your foot is the lateral. This is the side of your foot that faces away from your body. When one part of the foot is damaged it affects the rest of the foot.


How to Pick Shoes that are Good for Your Feet

Part of the answer to this question really boils down to what you’ll be doing while you wear the shoes. You may be looking for racing shoes, dancing shoes, work boots, cowboy boots, or every-day-wear-to-the-office shoes. We’ll talk in generalities here – principles that can apply no matter what shoe you’ll be wearing. If you’re interested specifically in running shoes, we recommend this article.

Of course, if you work in the trade sector or have a physical job then you’ll most likely need work boots to not only protect your feet but also provide comfort while standing for so long. Low-quality boots will cause pain in your soles, arches, or ankles after a while so you need to ensure you’re only buying footwear that is built to last. You should also look for the best insoles for work boots to help give your feet that extra level of comfort. The proper footwear can keep your feet healthy and pain-free.

There are shoes that aren’t good for your feet: flip flops, high heels, and ballet flats, for example. They don’t provide the support that your feet need to feel great and avoid injury. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should never wear these types of shoes – just wear them sparingly.

Make sure that you actually try on the shoes before you purchase them. Walk around in the shoes – you shouldn’t have to “break in” your shoes. They should feel comfortable from the first step. As you’re shoe shopping, make sure you bring a pair of socks (perhaps this is an opportunity to break out your beloved socks with faces!) – you want to know what the shoe feels like wearing your socks – not the cheap nylon provided at the shoe store. The size of your feet can vary slightly throughout the day so shop the end of the day when your feet are typically as swollen as they’ll get.

Woman keeps two stylish pumps in the shopping mall and can't choose the one for her

Foot Anatomy

Heel Bone (Calcaneus):cutaneous_nerve

While heel pain may not be as serious as some of the pains you’ll feel in your feet, it still hurts!

What is what is plantar fasciitis? There is a ligament that connects the front of your foot to the heel of your foot. If this ligament becomes strained, you may feel a stabbing pain in your heel or the bottom of your foot. This is called plantar fasciitis.

If you have high arches of flat feet, have sudden weight gain, wear shoes that lack support, are on your feet longer than usual, or run for a long distance, you have a greater chance of getting plantar fasciitis. (1)

Heel spur symptoms may include: A calcaneal spur (heel spur) is a buildup of calcium that has attached to the bottom of the heel bone. As the soft spots on your feet experience friction, a callus may be created. Heel spurs do not always cause pain.

Achilles Tendon: The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle with your heel bone. If pain is coming from the back of your heel, the pain may be Achilles tendinitis.

Planter Fascia Ligament: This ligament connects your heel to your toes.

Phalanges: When you wiggle your toes – the part you see wiggling are your phalanges. Your little toes have one. Every other toe has two.

Metatarsal Bones: Where your phalanges end your metatarsal bones begin (technically they are connected by metatarsal-phalangeal joints). They are located between the phalanges at the front of your foot with the cuboid and cuneiforms.

Tarsal: The part of your toe that connects with your foot.

Joints in your feet include: The ankle joint, Syndesmosis, Calcaneocuboid joint, Talocalcaneonavicular joint, Subtalar joint, Lisgranc joint complex.

Tendons: Flexor tendons run down the back of each leg to the inside of the ankle then to the lower extremities of your feet to your big toe. Amongst other things, this tendon allows you to bend your big toe and flex your feet. The flexor tendons can become inflamed (flexor tendonitis).

Blood Vessels: The blood vessles that run along the top of your feet are called dorsalis pedis. The vessles that run along the bottom for your feet are called Posterior tibial artery.

Human foot anatomy cutaway representation, showing skin, veins and arterias, muscles, bones. With clipping path included.

This article is for educational purposes only and in not meant to diagnose.

Additional Resources

  1. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007021.htm
  2. http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/05/how-to-choose-the-best-shoes-for-your-feet-infographic/
  3. http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/running-shoes.html
  4. http://healingfeet.com/foot-care/big-toe-no-no-five-causes-of-flexor-tendonitis-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it

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