Your feet are vital. Not only do they carry the weight of your body and help you ambulate around, but they also help your joints function in a way that is most beneficial to your overall body health. So its easy to see how badly affected your life can be if your feet are painful and no time is this more obvious than during the holiday season. Heading into the shops for Christmas shopping can put considerable strain on your feet as you often can spend countless hours walking on unforgiving terrain, not to mention all of the additional weight bearing activities that need to be done to make sure everything is ready.
Whilst the source of your foot pain may be various, pain is often associated with swelling and inflammation which can make even wearing of previously comfortable shoes, uncomfortable. As discussed in previous blogs, there may be underlying overuse of joints, ligaments and muscles that can also result in foot pain. That is why this week I have compiled a small list of points that I believe can help get you and your feet through this holiday season:
- If you have existing foot pain or concerns, get them addressed EARLY. Trying to slog through the holidays with the idea of ‘it’ll be okay’ might end up doing more harm than good. Remember, acute (short-term) conditions are easier to treat than chronic (long-term) ones.
- Avoid any particular activities that cause your feet discomfort. This may seem like an obvious point, but many people are reluctant to give up wearing heels, pointy toed shoes, flat shoes or the trust old faithfuls which may be worn beyond reasonable measure. If walking on hard surfaces barefoot makes you feet sore, always try to have some element of cushioning underneath the foot (this may even be in the form of a slipper of sandal).
- Plan your day and ensure that you incorporate regular rest intervals to give you and your feet a chance to rest and relax.
- Wear shoes that are suitable for your feet. This may be a hard point to achieve but wearing tight shoes whilst you have a blaring bunion will be counter intuitive and almost certainly will result in the bunion being sore, and you cursing the shoes you wore. Focus on wearing wide fitting, deep and cushioning shoes when you plan on spending hours on your feet.
- Plan for foot and joint swelling during the day. Most people’s feet will swell during the day with the peak being achieved between 1pm and 3pm. This might make shoes feel a little more uncomfortable and tight. The swelling might go down with time and rest, however different types of compression socks can help improve the circulation and reduce swelling.
- Give your feet a bit of a massage at the end of the day. Slowly massaging the soft tissues in the arch and through the ball of the foot can help ease discomfort associated with tightness of muscles and reduce chances of injury. Stretching your calf muscles daily can also assist in reducing foot and leg discomfort particularly if you have been wearing heels regularly.
- Soak your feet in warm water with EPSOM salts. This might help settle down sore muscles and joints. If you are looking for a bit of an alteration, try putting a bag of marbles in the bottom of your foot soak bucket/basin, and roll your feet over the marbles. You will get the combined effect of a massage and warm, relaxing soak.
These are just some points, in a no way exhaustive list of actions you can take to reward your feet for being good to you all year long. Keep your feet happy and the craziness of the holiday season will be all that more manageable. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
Dr Anel Kapur (Podiatrist)