Welcome to Part 2 of my Foot-Friendly and Fashionable Series! In Part 1 I shared with you some cute summer sandals that you can actually walk all day in and not end up with sore feet. Part 2 is all about how to keep your feet happy so you can keep on wearing cute shoes, conquering your world, and just plain being awesome.
This will be the first-ever Everyday Teacher Style guest post, and I’m super-excited to introduce you to Amanda Walrath, a physical therapist and fitness-slash-faith blogger at TempleTrain who’ll be sharing with you some ways to keep your feet happy in Part 2 of this series. Amanda and I go way back. I first met her at a hospital. No, she wasn’t working there…she was being born. Yep, Amanda’s my younger sister. She also happens to be the best physical therapist and fitness guru I know, so I’m thrilled to have her here letting us know how to keep our clod-hoppers in good working order.
Amanda Walrath, PT
Our feet are our foundation for supporting our entire body! Each foot sports 26 bones and over 100 muscles and ligaments. Today I’m sharing a few tips and techniques you can use to protect your feet from injury and maintain general foot health. Keep in mind that to diagnose a specific foot issue, you should see your physician or other qualified health care professional.
Over-the-counter cushions and supports:
There are many over the counter options that can cushion and/or provide support to your feet and help them stay comfortable when walking or exercising. Two examples are arch supports and metatarsal pads. You may need a more custom orthotic as well. YOUR HEALTH PROVIDER CAN HELP YOU DECIDE WHICH SUPPORTS WOULD GIVE YOU THE MOST BENEFIT.
For example, Jenny uses Spenco Total Support insoles in her fashion sneakers to provide support for walking, and they’re also great for working out if your running or training shoes’ built-in insoles are lacking. There are a variety of insoles for various foot needs.
Preventing & Treating Common Foot Issues
Here are a few tips to self-treat some common foot issues and keep your feet happy.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds are hard on weight-bearing joints and cause extra stress.
- Warm up before working out. This could be as simple as raising up and down on your toes 10-20 times or taking a short walk or slow jog.
- Stretch before, during, and after a workout. Warm muscles stretch better than cold muscles, so save most intense stretches for when your muscles are warm. (See standing calf stretch and Soleus Stretch below.)
- Wear well fitting shoes. Choose shoes with a wide toe box to maintain plenty of room for the toes. Toes should never be cramped or pushed together in shoes.
- Strengthen the muscles of the foot with balance and intrinsic muscle exercises. (See foot strengthening exercises below.) : 1. balance with one foot on a Bosu ball, mini trampoline, or even a pillow or couch cushion. Try to hold for up to a minute. 2. Scrunch a towel with the toes, repeat 5 x toward you and 5 x away. 3. Pick up small items ( tissues) with your toes.
Standing Calf Stretch
Face and lean into a wall. Extend one leg back and keep leg straight and heel down. Gently lean forward until a stretch is felt in the back of the calf. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat twice on each leg.
This stretch is similar to the standing calf stretch, except you slightly bend the back knee while maintaining your heel on the floor. The stretch will be felt lower in the calf and down into the heel.
A. Balance with one foot on a Bosu ball, mini trampoline, or even a pillow or couch cushion. Try to hold for up to a minute.
B. Scrunch a towel with the toes. Repeat 5 times toward you and 5 times away.
C. Pick up small items (tissues, etc.) with your toes.
If a foot injury occurs, remember RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. A great icing technique for the foot is using a frozen water bottle to roll under the foot.
With a little extra attention to your “foot foundation,” your feet will be able to carry you through everything with style.