I made one of those critical mistakes those of us can make who are trying to take care of our elderly parents and don’t have any of the skills needed to do it right. I recently discovered that one of the major reasons my mother was having trouble walking is because she hadn’t been taking care of her feet and hadn’t seen her podiatrist in more than six months. I felt like a horrible son, but I rectified things as soon as I knew about them.

Kimberly Ann foot careTruth be told, I’m not always the best at taking care of my feet. Although I’m diabetic, which means I really need to be better at it than I am, I tend to only pay attention to them when they’re giving me real grief. I say it that way because they’re always in some kind of pain. I walk a lot and I’ve put stresses on my feet over the years that makes them ache more than I wish they did.

With that said, I do know how to take care of my feet, and I’ve started taking much better care of them. After all, we need our feet to walk, right? Here are some tips to proper foot care that will make them feel better and keep them from eroding on you.

1. Wear proper fitting shoes

Who knew? For decades I’ve always worn the same size of shoes that I wore when I was 16 years old because I thought my feet had stopped growing. It turns out that they’d grown at least 1/2 an inch since that time. Also, these days shoe sizes are different than they were in the past.

This means that most of my shoes are between 1/2″ to a full inch larger than they used to be. Overall my feet are a lot more comfortable. Of course, since I haven’t done the second tip in the proper way yet, I’m missing out on a lot more comfort.

2. Think about inserts

I wore the same type of shoe for almost 30 years until the company discontinued them. From that point on, it was difficult finding shoes that fit right… until I started spending more money on footwear (it seems you can’t get a nice pair of shoes for $20 anymore; sniff). Almost all shoes you buy these days has a sole that comes out, which means sometimes you have to think about changing inserts that make your feet feel better.

My podiatrist wants me to have permanent orthotics, but at $650 a pair I’ve balked at going that route. Instead, I buy inserts at a local store that caters to runners and use those. The difference between them and other stores is that they custom cut them to fit your shoes so you’re not buying “one size fits all”. They’re not inexpensive, at $25 a pair, but it costs a lot less than the orthotics and my feet do feel much better.

3. Massage your feet

Sometimes I go to a spa just to have my feet massaged. Whereas that feels really good, the effects don’t last all that long and my feet start hurting again. I even went to a professional massage company and had a massage that made my feet feel good for at least half a week, but once again the effects did wear off.

What I do now is before going to bed I’ll sit on the side and massage my own feet for at least 2-3 minutes each, sometimes 5 minutes. I’ve found that doing along with the addition I’m mentioning next makes my feet feel much better when I go to bed, and I sleep better because my feet aren’t making me wake up during the night.

4. Add lotion or oil

It turns out that both of the above make it much easier to massage your feet, and if you put on a pair of socks whatever you use will stay on your feet longer instead of rubbing off while you sleep. I’ve experimented with both and both work pretty well, but certain types of lotions or cremes might work better, depending on your feet.

The one I use most often overnight is a petroleum-based creme that also helps to soften my heals and ankle, while works wonders for one of my feet because for some reason it rubs against my shoes on the outside and gets rough and irritated. If I remember in the morning I add some aloe vera gel to it for healing purposes.

By the way, don’t put either of these between your toes, or if you do don’t leave it there longer than an hour (which means don’t sleep with it). Supposedly it can cause yeast infections and irritations because of the heat that’s generated and make your feet itchy and uncomfortable. Just make sure you keep it on the outside.

5. Cut your toenails often

You’d think this one would be a no-brainer but it’s not. I tend to only cut my nails when I’m starting to feel irritation, but when it gets to that point it’s much too late and you’ve probably been ignoring your feet yelling at you. I’ve had to set a weekly alarm to cut them because it was something I dismissed, figuring I’d get to it eventually.

However, waiting that long might encourage the nails to start curving back into the toes or to start cutting into another toe. Even though we change socks on a regular basis, we’re probably not paying attention to what our toenails are doing.

There are a lot of other tips that will make your feet feel better, but these are some essential steps to take because they’re things you can do on your own. At least they’ll be a good start to better foot care.

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