The new year is a time of new beginnings and change. Exercise and being more active are one of the most common New Year’s resolutions or goals. Often, people want to start an exercise program but foot pain can quickly stop this. Healthy feet are the firm foundation needed for a successful new start to the year.

Healthy feet are important for staying active, feeling good, and being healthy. If you neglect your feet it can lead to unnecessary pain in the foot or other parts of the body, such as infections and open wounds.

Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your feet healthy. Healthy measures such as good hygiene, self-examinations, and properly fitting shoes can help keep you active and pain-free. Here are some tips on how to have healthy feet in the new year. Nails can tell a lot about your feet and your overall health.

Proper nail care is good for healthy feet. It is best to cut toenails straight across and avoid trimming them too close to the skin or cutting into the corners of the nails, which can cause painful, ingrown toenails. Clip or file your toenails every one to two weeks. It is best to wear your nails naked and natural; it will help you stay on top of what’s going on with your nails. Don’t try to hide “ugly” toenails with polish.

A discolored, thick, cracked, or crumbling nail could be a sign of a nail fungus. Applying nail polish to an infected nail could make the problem worse. Just cutting the nail is not enough, it’s best to have that checked and treated.

Exercise is important to health of the whole body including the feet. The feet can be the beginning or a quick end to your exercise program. Healthy feet are needed for any successful exercise program. Walking is the best exercise that everyone can do every day. It is best to stretch the feet and toes on a regular basis to improve the range of motion and function of the feet. It is good practice to always stretch before beginning any exercise routine and to cool down afterward.

Wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes play a critical role in healthy feet; they can help to support or hurt your feet. Shoes that are too small and tight can cause pain and long-term foot problems. It’s best to shop for shoes at the end of the day to compensate for foot swelling that occurs later in the day. Wear the same type of socks or hosiery you’ll be wearing with the shoes to ensure a good fit.

Choose a squared or rounded mouth shoe with plenty of room for your toes and a wide, stable heel. Avoid pointy-toe shoes, which can cramp your toes and cause ingrown toenails, hammer toes, pain, and calluses. To help keep your feet dry and healthy, wear shoes made of leather to allow air to circulate and keep your feet cool. If you’re prone to excessively sweaty feet, look for shoes made of mesh fabrics for maximum breathability.

Stretching is important to maintain flexibility in the feet and legs. A great deal of demand is placed on your feet every day. If you take a few minutes to stretch your feet, you can help prevent injuries and help your feet to function better. Common foot stretches are towel stretch, toe stretch, step stretch, and foot roll where a ball is rolled under the foot.
All these stretches can be used daily to prevent injury and also used to treat foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis or heel pain. Remember to always start your stretches by being gentle and gradually increase the number and intensity of the stretches. A little stretching goes a long way and can prevent injuries – so keep stretching your feet.

Time to pamper your feet. Massaging the feet is an easy way to pamper the feet and make you feel good all over. It brings blood flow to the feet and helps it to heal faster. Moisturize your feet – you can use a nice lotion or oils such as coconut, shea or cocoa butter to keep your skin nice and soft. Treat yourself to a pedicure at home or at a salon – just make it is a good salon and ensure all the instruments are clean! Put your feet up every now and then…and relax. You deserve it!

Rest is important for your feet as well. At the end of the day, after standing for long hours there is nothing more welcoming than an evening of rest for your feet. Whenever there is foot pain or a suspected injury, it is best to stop the sporting activity and rest the foot. Rest can be complete rest – meaning no activity at all – or it can be relative rest where the injured part is resting but you can use other parts of the lower extremity. An example of relative rest would be if you have an injury to the big toe; you will not be able to run or jump but you may be able to swim or lift weights.

Take care of your feet by keeping them clean and dry. Healthy feet start with good hygiene. Thoroughly clean and scrub your feet with soap and water every day when you bathe or shower. Afterward, dry them well. Fungus loves to live in moist dark areas, it’s best to prevent moisture and make it more difficult for them to grow. Be sure to dry between toes well. Any excess moisture between the toes can create a great environment for a fungal infection to begin and spread to the nails. Applying moisturizing lotions and creams can help keep your feet in good condition.

Remember, foot pain is not normal and should be checked out right away. We cannot give you “new” feet – but by following these tips your feet will be healthy and feel like new in this new year. Wishing you healthy feet in 2022.

Dr. Monique Mitchell