tips for healthy feet

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 conducted by APMA. 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.

Follow this advice to keep 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, they’re 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. 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. Lay or sit and lift your legs above your heart.
  • Wear smart shoes – OK, 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 Seal of Acceptance and Seal of Approval for promoting foot health.
  • Get help – Feet shouldn’t hurt all the time. Persistent foot pain can be an indication of injury, irritation or illness. See a podiatrist if you experience pain; don’t wait until the holidays end.

Tips to Keep Feet Warm and Cozy All Winter Long

Whether you're slogging through deep snow and sub-zero temperatures in the north, or contending with dampness, chill, and muddy conditions in the south, it's important to take care of your feet all winter long. You'll want them to be healthy and ready for action when spring finally arrives.

Most Americans will have walked 75,000 miles by the time they turn 50. Is it little wonder, then, that APMA's 2010 foot health survey found that foot pain affects the daily activities—walking, exercising, or standing for long periods of time—of a majority of Americans?

"Each season presents unique challenges to foot health," said Matthew Garoufalis, DPM, a podiatrist and APMA past-president. "Surveys and research tell us that foot health is intrinsic to overall health, so protecting feet all year long is vital to our overall well-being."

APMA offers some advice for keeping feet healthy in common winter scenarios:

  • Winter is skiing and snowboarding season, activities enjoyed by nearly 10 million Americans, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Never ski or snowboard in footwear other than ski boots specifically designed for that purpose. Make sure your boots fit properly; you should be able to wiggle your toes, but the boots should immobilize the heel, instep, and ball of your foot. You can use orthotics (support devices that go inside shoes) to help control the foot's movement inside ski boots or ice skates.
  • Committed runners don't need to let the cold stop them. A variety of warm, light-weight, moisture-wicking active wear available at most running or sporting goods stores helps ensure runners stay warm and dry in bitter temperatures. However, some runners may compensate for icy conditions by altering how their foot strikes the ground. Instead of changing your footstrike pattern, shorten your stride to help maintain stability. And remember, it's more important than ever to stretch before you begin your run. Cold weather can make you less flexible in winter than you are in summer, so it's important to warm muscles up before running.
  • Boots are must-have footwear in winter climates, especially when dealing with winter precipitation. Between the waterproof material of the boots themselves and the warm socks you wear to keep toes toasty, you may find your feet sweat a lot. Damp, sweaty feet can chill more easily and are more prone to bacterial infections. To keep feet clean and dry, consider using foot powder inside socks and incorporating extra foot baths into your foot care regimen this winter.
  • Be size smart. It may be tempting to buy pricey specialty footwear (like winter boots or ski boots) for kids in a slightly larger size, thinking they'll be able to get two seasons of wear out of them. But unlike coats that kids can grow into, footwear needs to fit properly right away. Properly fitted skates and boots can help prevent blisters, chafing, and ankle or foot injuries. Likewise, if socks are too small, they can force toes to bunch together, and that friction can cause painful blisters or corns.

Finally—and although this one seems like it should go without saying, it bears spelling out—don't try to tip-toe through winter snow, ice, and temperatures in summer-appropriate footwear. "More than one news show across the country aired images of people in sneakers, sandals, and even flip-flops during the severe cold snap that hit the country in early January," Dr. Garoufalis said. "Exposing feet to extreme temperatures means risking frostbite and injury. Choose winter footwear that will keep your feet warm, dry, and well-supported."

pedicure Dos and Don'ts

Whether you like to get a pedicure in the nail salon or at home, follow these easy Dos and Don'ts to keep your feet looking and feeling their best.


  • If you have diabetes or poor circulation in your feet, consult a podiatrist so he or she can recommend a customized pedicure that both you and your salon can follow for optimal foot health.
  • Schedule your pedicure first thing in the morning. Salon foot baths are typically cleanest earlier in the day. If you're not a morning person, make sure that the salon filters and cleans the foot bath between clients.
  • Bring your own pedicure utensils to the salon. Bacteria and fungus can move easily from one person to the next if the salon doesn't use proper sterilization techniques.
  • When eliminating thick, dead skin build-up, also known as calluses, on the heel, ball and sides of the feet, use a pumice stone, foot file or exfoliating scrub. Soak feet in warm water for at least five minutes, then use the stone, scrub, or foot file to gently smooth calluses and other rough patches.
  • When trimming nails, use a toenail clipper with a straight edge to ensure your toenail is cut straight across. Other tools like manicure scissors or fingernail clippers increase the risk of ingrown toenails because of their small, curved shape. See a podiatrist if you have a tendency to develop ingrown toenails.
  • To smooth nail edges, use an emery board. File lightly in one direction without using too much pressure, being sure not to scrape the nail's surface.
  • Gently run a wooden or rubber manicure stick under your nails to keep them clean. This helps remove the dirt and build-up you may or may not be able to see.
  • Maintain the proper moisture balance of the skin on your feet by applying emollient-enriched moisturizer to keep soles soft.
  • Use a rubber cuticle pusher or manicure stick to gently push back cuticles. If toenails are healthy, you can use nail polish to paint toenails. Make sure to remove polish regularly using non-acetone nail polish remover.


  • Resist the urge to shave your legs before receiving a pedicure. Freshly shaven legs or small cuts on your legs may allow bacteria to enter.
  • If you are receiving a pedicure and manicure, don't use the same tools for both services as bacteria and fungus can transfer between fingers and toes.
  • Although certain salons offer this technique, don't allow technicians to use a foot razor to remove dead skin. Using a razor can result in permanent damage if used incorrectly and can easily cause infection if too much skin is removed.
  • Don't round the edges of your toenails. This type of shape increases the chances that painful ingrown toenails will develop. 
  • Emery boards are extremely porous and can trap germs that spread. Since they can't be sterilized, don't share nail files with friends and be sure to bring your own to the salon, unless you are sure that the salon replaces them with each customer.
  • Don't use any sharp tools to clean under nails. Using anything sharp makes it easy to puncture the skin, leaving it vulnerable to infection.
  • Be sure that you don't leave any moisture between toes. Anything left behind can promote the development of athlete's foot or a fungal infection.
  • Because cuticles serve as a protective barrier against bacteria, don't ever cut them. Cutting cuticles increases the risk of infection. Also, avoid incessantly pushing back cuticles, as doing so can make them thicker.
  • If you suffer from thick and discolored toenails, which could be a sign of a fungal infection, don't apply nail polish to cover up the problem. Nail polish locks out moisture and doesn't allow the nail bed to "breathe." Once you fix the underlying issue, then it is safe to paint nails. If the problem persists, be sure to visit your podiatrist.

Top Ten Foot Health Tips

Diseases, disorders and disabilities of the foot or ankle affect the quality of life and mobility of millions of Americans. However, the general public and even many physicians are unaware of the important relationship between foot health and overall health and well-being. With this in mind, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) would like to share a few tips to help keep feet healthy.

1. Don’t ignore foot pain—it’s not normal. If the pain persists, see a podiatric physician.2. Inspect your feet regularly. Pay attention to changes in color and temperature of your feet. Look for thick or discolored nails (a sign of developing fungus), and check for cracks or cuts in the skin. Peeling or scaling on the soles of feet could indicate athlete’s foot. Any growth on the foot is not considered normal.

3. Wash your feet regularly, especially between the toes, and be sure to dry them completely.

4. Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Be careful not to cut nails in corners or on the sides; it can lead to ingrown toenails. Persons with diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems should not treat their own feet because they are more prone to infection.

5. Make sure that your shoes fit properly. Purchase new shoes later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest and replace worn out shoes as soon as possible.

6. Select and wear the right shoe for the activity that you are engaged in (i.e., running shoes for running).

7. Alternate shoes—don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day.

8. Avoid walking barefooted—your feet will be more prone to injury and infection. At the beach or when wearing sandals, always use sunblock on your feet just as on the rest of your body.

9. Be cautious when using home remedies for foot ailments; self-treatment can often turn a minor problem into a major one.

10. If you are a person with diabetes, it is vital that you see a podiatric physician at least once a year for a check-up.


Walking: Rx for Health, Happiness

For a healthier, happier lifestyle, try walking–the most popular form of exercise.

It’s easy, safe, and inexpensive. It’s also relaxing and at the same time invigorating, requires little athletic skill, and does not call for club membership or special equipment other than sturdy, comfortable shoes. And it is fun and natural–good for your mind and self-esteem.

The results of walking are physically rewarding–a trim, fit body better able to enhance general health and add enjoyable years to your life.

Fundamental walking–also called healthwalking–can be done almost anywhere and at any time, year around–to the store, in the mall, or in your neighborhood; alone, with your dog, or with others; and at your own pace. It is simple, uncomplicated–physical fitness at your leisure.

Walking benefits most everybody, regardless of age. About 67 million men and women are walking regularly. Convinced that it is good exercise, they’re making it a part of their daily routine. And their numbers are increasing every year, according to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

A Sure Way To Fitness

For those with a long history of inactivity, problems with obesity, or who just don’t like strenuous activity, walking is an excellent way to begin an exercise program. You can start slowly, then increase your speed and maintain a steady pace. A good conditioning program begins with moderation and dedication.

Podiatric and family physicians recommend walking to ease or ward off a number of physically related ills. Walking can help you:

  • Strengthen your heart and lungs, and improve circulation.
  • Prevent heart attacks and strokes.
  • Reduce obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Boost your metabolic rate.
  • Favorably alter your cholesterol.
  • Improve muscle tone in your legs and abdomen.
  • Reduce stress and tension.
  • Reduce arthritis pain; stop bone tissue decay.

Walking: There’s An Art To It

Before you start walking, some simple warmup exercises–but not strenuous, advanced stretching–can give your muscles added flexibility. Body twists at the waist, in a slow hula-hoop motion, and a few toe-touching or knee-bend exercises are appropriate. When you’re ready to begin, the best way to start is walking 20 uninterrupted minutes at least three times a week. Walk at a comfortable pace, slowing down if you find yourself breathing heavily. Don’t tire yourself. If 20 minutes is too much, cut back to l0 or l5 minutes. You can gradually increase your time and pace as your body adapts to the exercise.

There are several ways to measure your pace. One is to walk on routes which you have pre-measured with your car’s odometer. Perhaps the simplest is to use a wristwatch. Count the number of steps you take in a 15-second period; if you’re taking 15 in that time, you’re walking about two miles an hour. At about 23, you’re probably going three miles an hour, and at 30, the pace is close to four miles an hour.

You may want to keep an activity log, in which you jot down the dates, times, and estimated distances of your walks, plus other notes, such as routes, milestones, and incidental experiences.

Some Walking Tips:

  • Move at a steady pace, brisk enough to make your heart beat faster. Breathe more deeply.
  • Walk with your head erect, back straight, abdomen flat. Keep your legs out front and your knees slightly bent.
  • Swing your arms freely at your sides.
  • As you walk, land on the heel of your foot and roll forward to push off on the ball of your foot.
  • At least at the beginning, confine your walks to level stretches of flat surfaces, avoiding excessively steep hills and embanked roadways.
  • If you’re walking in the evening, be sure to wear clothing with reflective material sewn in, or otherwise attached.
  • Cool down after a long, brisk walk to help pump blood back up from your legs to where it’s needed. Here’s where some stretching exercises can be helpful. A good one is standing about three feet from a wall, with your hands flat on the wall. Then take five or six small steps backward, maintaining your hand contact with the wall. Repeat the exercise five to ten times.


Racewalking is a very specific technique that’s used by walkers for both fitness and competition. It has greater aerobic benefits than healthwalking, since it is faster and increases the heartbeat rate.

If you get to the point where you think racewalking is for you, there are clubs which can be contacted in most places.

Walking Footwear: Comfort and Fit

Choose a good quality, lightweight walking shoe with breathable upper materials, such as leather or nylon mesh. The heel counter should be very firm; the heel should have reduced cushioning to position the heel closer to the ground for walking stability. The front or forefoot area of the shoe should have adequate support and flexibility.

Fit is very important. Go to a reputable store and have both shoes fitted for length and width with the socks you’ll be using. (Do this late in the afternoon, since your feet do swell enough during the day to affect your shoe size.) Make sure the shoe is snug but not too tight over the sock. The shoe should have plenty of room for the toes to move around. Several walking shoes have qualified to use the APMA Seal of Acceptance.

Your choice of athletic socks is also important. Sports podiatrists frequently recommend appropriately padded socks of acrylic fiber. Acrylic fibers tend to “wick” away excessive perspiration, which active feet can produce from 250,000 sweat glands at a rate of four to six ounces a day, or even more. Again, there are popular brands of athletic socks which are authorized to use APMA’s Seal of Acceptance.

Some Other Tips

  • Check on the shoe width; it must comfortably accommodate the width of the ball of your foot.
  • Make sure you get good arch support.
  • See that the top of the heel counter of the shoe is properly cushioned and does not bite into the heel or touch the ankle bones.

Do You Need A Checkup?

If you are free of serious health problems, you can start walking with confidence. Walking is not strenuous; it involves almost no risk to health. You should, of course, exercise good judgment, not exceed the limits of your condition, and not walk outdoors during extreme weather periods, until you have a good walking program established.

You should, however, consult your family or podiatric physician before you begin a walking regimen. A checkup is suggested, particularly if you are over 60, have a disease or disability, or are taking medication. It is also recommended for those who are 35-60, substantially overweight, easily fatigued, excessive smokers, or have been physically inactive.

One of your physicians will help you determine your proper walking heart rate. Heart rate is widely accepted as a good method for measuring intensity during walking and other physical activities. The formula says that subtracting your age from the number 220 yields your maximum heart rate (beats per minute), and that the proper walking rate is 60-70 percent of that number. For a 50-year-old, that’s 220 minus 50 equals 170; 60 percent of that is 102 and 70 percent is 119. Other factors should be considered, though; a physician’s advice is the best indicator of your correct rate.

You are now ready to begin a walking program. It is a prescription for a healthier, happier life.

Shoe Tips

  • Check on the shoe width; it must comfortably accommodate the width of the ball of your foot.
  • Make sure you get good arch support.
  • See that the top of the heel counter of the shoe is properly cushioned and does not bite into the heel or touch the ankle bones.