Here are some more top tips on how to love your feet. If you missed the first installment, check it out here!
Our feet have a tough life — we squeeze then into shoes every day, and then pound them with every step we take. We ignore them most of the time, only giving them love when things go wrong. Not to mention most people don’t care what they look like until the summer send us looking for flip flops.
Love Your Yogi Feet
As we rush headlong towards winter, most people are reaching for socks and boots to keep feet safely cocooned away from the worst of the weather — but how many of us that spend time barefoot in the winter too? As a yogi, your feet don’t get the luxury of hibernation for the less clement months. They continue to bring you to your mat in support of your yoga practice whatever the weather.
Foot maintenance and grooming is essential to keep your feet comfortable and in the best of health. After all there is nothing worse than being distracted by moth-eaten feet in your best forward fold!
Wash Those Cares Away
Saucaa (cleanliness) is the first of the niyamas in the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali and a great place to start for our feet. You should wash your feet daily, taking care to wash and dry between the toes. Fungal infections like athlete’s foot lurks between your pinkies and it loves sweat that has been hanging around a few days.
Making sure you have fresh socks every day and avoiding wearing the same shoes two days in a row will also help to keep fungal infections at bay. If you already have athlete’s foot, don’t worry, it’s an easy fix. Simply treat it with one of the creams or sprays that you can buy over the counter from the pharmacy.
Banish Nail Worries
Our nails are essentially flattened claws — a throwback to when we lived in trees. Useless as they may be, nails still harbour problems and need looking after:
Fungal nail infections can make the nails discoloured, thickened and distorted. Again, a trip to the pharmacy for a treatment solution that you paint on to the nail will deal with this particular nasty. You need to be patient though, effective treatment can take many months to clear the problem fully. Alternatively, you can visit your GP as sometimes deep-seated infections need a prescription.
Ingrown toenails may seem trivial but can be very painful and will certainly change your practice if you roll over your toes in vinyāsas! They become painful when the nail embeds itself in the skin around it and can get infected. They are thought to be caused by ill-fitting shoes, badly cut toe nails, sweaty feet (sweat softens skin and makes it easier for nail to grow into it) and injury.
Ingrowing is best prevented through good foot hygiene, cutting toe nails straight across rather than curving the nail down at the sides and wearing shoes that do not press on your toes. Prevention is better than cure!
Rubbing Things The Wrong Way
Our feet rubbing in shoes can cause painful corns and calluses as well as looking unsightly. Regularly using an abrasive block, like a pumice stone, to remove calluses can prevent a painful build up of hard skin. Always do this when your feet are soft after a bath and never be tempted to use a sharp instrument (file or scalpel) to remove hard skin. Corrective insoles can work well to prevent callouses and a visit to a chiropodist for professional help may be needed in extreme cases.
Corns are smaller, though no less painful, areas where skin builds of to protect against friction. A trip to the chiropodist is needed to safely get rid of these.
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise
Your poor feet can get horribly dry, and dry feet have a nasty habit of cracking around the heel in particular. You can guard against this by using a specially manufactured foot cream or you could reach for some more common household items to deal with this scourge:
- Slathering your feet in vaseline every night before bed and wearing cotton socks to sleep is reputed to reap rewards in about two weeks.
- Applying mashed banana to the hard skin for about 15 minutes then washing in cold water can work wonders.
- Rub coconut oil, or any other base oil, with a drop of peppermint essential oil into your feet moisturises and energises tired feet.
Pampering Is The Way Forwards
We all love to pamper ourselves and trust me, our feet deserve it! If you want truly beautiful feet that you (and everyone else) can admire while you are on your mat, then indulgence is the way forwards. Try some of these — I know you’ll love ’em.
- Don’t just rub foot cream or oil into your feet: massage it in! Spend four or five minutes on each foot rubbing in little circles with your thumb or fingers. Even better, get someone else to do it for you.
- Sit with a tennis or golf ball under the arch of your foot and roll it around with as much pressure as feels good. You can get wooden foot rollers that do the same thing if you really want to treat yourself.
- Treat yourself to a pedicure: foot soak, exfoliation, massage, nail shaping, professional nail painting … enough said!
- Try reflexology — I love it. It is a holistic alternative therapy that aims to treat medical conditions with a very specialist foot massage so your feet will feel wonderful and other problems may get solved too!
I know these tips are only the tip of the footcare iceberg. I’d love to know of any other tricks that you have to keep your feet buff and beautiful. And I really think you should treat yourself to an autumn of lavishing care and attention on those feet of yours. They’re definitely worth it!