Tips to keep feet happy this holiday season
Holiday shopping, decorating, parties and traveling are all part of our holiday revelries. But while you’re making all that merriment, how happy are your feet?
You may be doing a lot of walking, dancing, standing, and sitting in one position throughout the holiday season. “Half of all Americans report experiencing foot pain at some point in their lives, according to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA),” says Donald J. Adamov, DPM, a podiatrist and APMA member. “No one wants soreness or injuries to slow them down during the holidays, so it’s important to care for your feet so they can carry you through all those seasonal celebrations and chores.”
APMA offers some advice for keeping feet healthy (and happy) this holiday season:
- Moisturize—Dry winter air and cold temperatures can take a toll on skin. Moisturize feet daily to help avoid dry, cracked, and irritated skin.
- Exercise your feet—Stretching is a good way to avoid muscle cramps. Stave off toe cramps by raising, pointing, and curling your toes for five seconds. Repeat 10 times. Rotating your ankles can also help relax feet. Cup your heel and turn each ankle slowly five times to loosen ankle joints.
- Massage—Foot rubs not only feel good, but they’re also a great way to release tension, boost circulation, and refresh skin after a long day on your feet. Take a few minutes to massage your feet at the end of a day of shopping and celebrating. Use lotion and take care of moisturizing at the same time!
- Pedicure properly—Picture-perfect toes are part of a great holiday wardrobe for many women. Whether you do it yourself or go to a salon, be sure your pedicure is done properly. “Never use a razor to remove dead skin—opt for a good pumice stone instead,” says Dr. Adamov. Don’t cut cuticles; push them back gently with a rubber tool made for this purpose. Use toenail clippers with a straight edge to cut nails straight across.
- Raise your legs—Feet and ankles can swell from sitting too long in one position (taking a long flight to grandma’s house for the holidays, for example) or if you’ve been on your feet all day (shopping, baking, or cooking). Elevate your legs to reduce swelling. Lie down or sit and lift your legs above your heart.
- Wear smart shoes—Okay, so you’ll never give up your sparkly high heels when it’s time for that special soiree. But for other holiday activities such as shopping, traveling, or cooking, ditch the high heels. When you know you’ll be on your feet all day, wear comfortable shoes with good arch support and a padded sole. See which types of footwear have received the APMA Seal of Acceptance for promoting foot health by visiting www.apma.org/seal.
Feet shouldn’t hurt all the time. “Persistent foot pain can be an indication of injury, irritation, or illness,” Dr. Adamov adds. “See a podiatrist if you experience pain; don’t wait until the holidays end!”
Shoe shopping for kids: A parent's guide to a year-round task
What is it about children's feet that make them seem like the fastest-growing part of their bodies? With back-to-school shopping behind you for another year, you might hope you can stop spending on shoes—at least until flip-flop season arrives with spring. But kids’ feet do grow year round, right along with the rest of them. In fact, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), a child’s shoe and sock sizes may change every few months. Comfortable, sturdy shoes are among the most important articles of clothing you’ll buy for your child at any time of year. Ill-fitting shoes can cause problems that range from minor blisters and discomfort to serious injuries and impaired development.
“A pair of well-made shoes can keep children safe from foot problems such as sprains and strains, both in class and on the playground,” says Donald J. Adamov, DPM, a podiatrist and APMA member. “Unless your child complains of discomfort, you may not realize he or she needs new shoes. Parents need to be vigilant to ensure kids are wearing shoes that fit properly and provide the stability and support kids need.”
Conduct the time-honored toe test—using your thumb or forefinger to determine where the child’s big toe is inside the shoe—once a month. Inspect shoes regularly for signs of wear that could compromise their stability. When it’s time to buy children’s shoes, APMA has some guidelines for parents.
“Checking for three different aspects of a shoe’s design makes it easy for parents to distinguish which models are foot-friendly,” Dr. Adamov says.
APMA recommends parents perform a simple, three-step inspection on new shoes before buying:
- Look for a stiff heel. The heel counter should not collapse when pressed from both sides.
- Ensure the shoe bends at the toes, but nowhere else.
- Finally, make sure the shoe does not twist across the middle.
In addition, keep these tips in mind to help ensure kids are wearing comfortable shoes and practicing good foot health:
- Take children with you when you buy their shoes and shop at the end of the day when feet are at their biggest. Every shoe fits differently, and allowing a child to have a say in the shoe-shopping process can help promote healthy foot care habits down the road.
- Always buy for the larger foot. Feet are rarely the exact same size, so buy a shoe that fits the slightly larger foot.
- Avoid shoes that require a “break-in” period to feel comfortable. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Be sure your child tries on the shoes wearing whatever type of socks or tights he or she will use with them.
- Never hand down footwear. Just because a shoe fits one child comfortably doesn’t mean it will fit another in the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread athlete’s foot and nail fungus.
- Whenever possible, purchase shoes at a shoe store staffed by well-trained shoe fitters. An experienced salesperson can help relieve worries over getting the proper fit.
If your child’s shoes show uneven wear or wear out on the heels quickly, it could indicate a problem that should be examined by a podiatrist. You can see a list of podiatrist-recommended children’s footwear by visiting www.apma.org/seal and selecting “Find Products by Type” then “Footwear, Children’s.”
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