Our feet are practically the most used part of our body and sadly the most neglected part as well. We really need to stop tiptoeing around foot care and start taking foot care seriously. Given the active lifestyle we are leading to stay healthy, our feet go through a lot of wear and tear.
Feet make up for 25% of our body bones, 18% of joints and 6% of the muscles. If it weren’t for their healthy functioning (count your blessings) we would be facing some serious physical and mental health problems. We tend to mishandle our feet by overworking them, stuffing them in shoes and heels and wedges that don’t fit its size and ignore when it shows signs of trouble.
We need to realize that taking care of our feet is important for our physical as well as mental and emotional health.
Feet connect us with the Mother Nature
Feet is our connection to Mother Nature. Probably why many cultures recommend walking barefoot on grass and mud. Lord Buddha says the foot feels the foot when it feels the ground. Staying connected to our mother earth is very important for various aspects of our health. Feet are also the way energy and vibration from the earth enters the body keeping us in sync with nature. These expose our feet to toxins found in nature, and thus we need to make foot care a necessary practice.
Feet has spiritual significance in many cultures
In many cultures, especially among the Asians, feet are given utmost importance. Especially in Indian culture and spiritual practices, feet are considered to be very holy. Indians believe that body and soul are connected and it is embodied in our feet. In many Asian countries, especially in India, touching the feet of the elderly to show them respect and receive their blessings in return is practiced on a regular basis. Throughout Asia, one can find feet imprints of various gods. Devotees gather around these shrines to offer prayers. The spiritual significance of feet is undebatable and thus to keep your spiritual energy positive and happy, it is important to keep your feet clean and healthy.
Feet are a map to the entire body
In many alternative forms of medicine be it Ayurveda or reflexology, it is believed that feet are a map to our entire body. Many people also believe that a personality of a human can be judged by looking at its feet. There are over 7000 nerve endings in each foot. All the critical organs of the body are connected to our feet through these complex networks of nerve endings.
People also believe that a lot of our health and emotional problems are revealed and also affected by our feet. Even in the science of acupressure, it is said that messaging the pressure points on our feet and hands can influence the corresponding points of our organs. It is said that our feet can show symptoms of diseases way before any other parts of our body. To give an example, ulcers on the feet that don’t heal easily can be a sign of diabetes. Having constant cold feet can indicate thyroid dysfunction. Given the importance of feet for physical health, it is only wise to practice foot care practices on a regular basis.
They are the gateway for the emotions and energy
According to reflexology, energy is always freely flowing. Feet are also a nesting place for various emotions and energies of the body. Few experts believe that different kinds of feet problems can reveal different kinds of emotional problems that a person might be going through.
If there is some bone related problems/pain in the feet, it can indicate undervaluation. If the problem is skin related, it can be a hint that the person is experiencing difficulty in communication. If the problem is related to joints, it can be a signal of lack of mental flexibility. Not only that, there are many nerves in your body that connect your feet with the brain; so any kind of problem with your feet can actually directly affect your brain and thus your mood and emotions. This gives us another big reason to take good care of our feet.
It is the branch that connects the body
According to Ayurveda, human bodies are an upside down tree. If the brain is considered to be the root of the body then feet are the branch of it. We use our feet throughout our lifetime. Many vital organs of our body depend on our constant movement for their healthy functioning. These movements are facilitated by the feet. Eye health is also connected with the health of the feet. Feet are important for our entire nervous system.
Any kind of serious problem with the feet can actually affect the wellness and health of the body. And like the wise men say, prevention is better than cure, it is only smart to take good care of the body part that literally takes the weight of the entire body.
What can we do to take care of our feet?
1) Padabhyanga- the Ayurvedic foot care
There are numerous ways to take care of our feet, but this Ayurvedic foot care ritual Padabhyanga is considered to be the mother of all foot care routines. This routine is considered to be much more than basic foot care rituals. It can be termed as a holistic approach to psychosomatic healing. It involves the use of medicated oils to massage on the feet; one can massage the feet with hands as well as kasa bowl (bronze bowl).
18 Benefits of this foot care routine involve:
- It will help in relieving roughness from the feet and make them softer.
- It will help in curing the stiffness of the feet.
- It will help in moisturizing the dry feet.
- It can ease numbness and tingling of the feet.
- It can help in treating feet fatigue and tiredness.
- It is claimed that it can improve blood circulation in the body.
- It can help in getting rid of the toxins from the body.
- It can help to induce sleep in people suffering from insomnia.
- It can help you with balancing your emotions and energy.
- It can improve eyesight and can also help in soothing the eyes.
- It also helps in regulation of hormones keeping them in check.
- It can help in relieving any kind of energy blockage in your body.
- It releases negative energy from the body.
- Helps in calming down the agitated mind and soothes the nerves.
- Reduced stress and anxiety level.
- It helps in regulating and activating the immune system.
- Massaging feet can help in activating metabolism rate
- It can actually help in taking care of the anxiety.
Two things to keep in mind when you practice foot massages:
- Massaging feet during the late evening and at night is highly recommended to reap the maximum benefits. However, it can be done during any time of the day.
- Foot massages should not be practiced if the person is suffering from fever, cold, any kind of toxic induced coma, disorders related to blood circulation in the lower limbs.
2) Marma therapy
According to many ancient sciences like Ayurveda, acupressure, acupuncture etc., different parts of the feet correspond to different organs in the body. There are various marmas or pressure points in the feet. Massaging these pressure points regulates the circulation and functioning of the corresponding organs. Even in reflexology, it is believed that any kind of energy blockage in the body can cause too many emotional and health issues. Massaging the pressure points can cure these energy blocks and restore emotional and health balance.
3) Foot baths
Imagine soaking your feet in hot water and slowly feeling all the tiredness go away and you can enjoy the blissful tingling sensation of bath salts and herbs relaxing your feet and body. Herbal foot baths are a very easy relaxing and pocket-friendly way to take care of the feet. Just add a few drops of essential oils like lavender oil, tea tree oil, rosemary oil, eucalyptus oil etc., in hot water and it’s good to go.
Foot baths are a great way to get rid of the dirt that might get accumulated throughout the day. They also help in releasing toxins out from the body. It is a good way to get rid of the dry skin that can make the feet look ugly. All in all it’s a great way to relax your body and soothe the mind after you have had a long hard day.
4) Keep them moisturized
Use a good moisturizer and massage your feet properly. We are well aware about the importance of keeping our skin moisturized, but somehow we tend to ignore the skin on our feet. It is equally important to keep them moisturized. Make sure you massage the moisturizer properly and let it sink in before you start walking again or else there is a risk of slipping. Moisturizing the feet makes them soft and gives it a healthy look. It also prevents cracking of the skin in feet.
5) Wear comfortable footwear
Too often we make the mistake of not wearing the right kind of footwear. Wearing the wrong kind of footwear is not only hazardous for your feet, but also for your posture and blood circulation. Make sure your footwear is of the right size. Yes, heels are cool and can make you look great but it can kill your feet and cause a lot of damage to your spine. Invest in the right kind of walking and running shoes to give your feet maximum support.
6) Keep them clean and dry
As it is the nearest body part to the ground, it is also the body part to catch maximum number of dirt and toxins from the ground. This can cause various problems like fungal infection, smelly feet etc. It is important to keep your feet clean and dry to keep them healthy. Also toxins from your feet can be easily absorbed in your body which can cause various health issues. Wet feet mixed with our sweat can cause various kinds of skin infection and diseases. Another tip to keep in mind is to give your feet enough time to breathe in fresh air.
Given the numerous ways our feet can affect our emotional and physical health, it is only smart to take good care of them. Not only that we need them for our moment and to get to places. They go through a lot of wear and tear and this can lead to severe pain. Foot care is a very important aspect of self-care. Make sure you are doing it right.
Debusting foot care myths
Foot care is an oft neglected concern. This is especially true in these wintry moths when the skin gets dry and scaly. Only when one faces a handicap from the problems of a neglected foot, one realizes the importance of taking proper care of the feet. Contributing to this neglect and improper care are a host of myths that have almost assumed proportions of scientific facts! Here, we bust 5 such myths with the objective of empowering people with the knowledge to care for their feet.
- Shoes cause bunions on the foot
Bunions are deformities that are caused when the big toe of the foot points towards the second toe. Though it is wrongly thought as the enlargement of the bone, it is actually the tenderness in the tissues surrounding the toe. As such, shoes do not cause bunions. When certain foot types get inherited, they are more susceptible to developing bunions. When these people who are susceptible to develop bunions or have already developed bunions wear shoes, it might turn out to be a more painful experience. The only way to treat these bunions is by corrective surgery though you can avail methods to ease the pain.
2. Wearing flip flops or walking bare feet is good for the feet
There is so much talk about the disadvantages of wearing high heels that it is automatically assumed that flat footwear or the flip flops is actually the solution. This is not the case because these footwear do not provide any support for the feet. Thus, you are susceptible to sprained ankles and severe heel pain if you make use of them for long hours. In worst cases, this could aggravate into tendinitis or plantar fasciitis.
Regarding the issue of walking barefoot, it is best avoided unless done in the comfort and confines of your own home. This is because the home is usually kept clean of any objects that might hurt your foot. Walking barefoot outdoors make you susceptible to cuts, wounds, abrasions and injuries. In worst cases this could lead to tetanus. And if you happen to be a diabetic, be extra careful for these wounds take a lot of time to heal and can become gangrenous in worst cases.
3. The foot does not need the application of sunscreen
This is a very dangerous myth! The fact is that there is a high mortality rate among people who suffer from skin cancer on their foot and leg because of negligence and late detection. Those with darker skin also falsely assume that their feet are saved from the dangers of skin cancer. These are all wrong assumptions and it would be advisable to either cover your legs and feet or apply sunscreen to them as often as you would do to other parts of the body. This is more applicable to women since their legs and feet and exposed more compared to the men.
4. Corns have roots that must be dug out
A corn is a hardness on the skin that is the result of a skin build up due to pressure and friction. The corn has hard material as its core but it does not have roots of any kind. Efforts to cut away a con could cause more harm than benefit and in worst cases, it could lead to the need for amputation also! Even using medicated corn caps or pads could cause an infection. It is best to refer the corns to a doctor. Many times, these corns are caused from either a hammertoe deformity or a bone spur which causes the skin to rub against the shoes. Though the underlying condition can only be corrected surgically, the shoes can be appropriately modified to prevent corns from forming. Only a qualified surgeon can deal correctly with the corns.
5. Warts and Athlete’s Foot are not contagious
Since these conditions look like outgrowths on the skin, they are often thought to be non contagious. This is not true. Public baths, common shower areas, swimming pools and locker rooms are the most likely places where you could contract warts or Athlete’s Foot. These infections get into your system through tiny cracks or openings in the skin. So, it is advisable to clean your feet regularly. The use of flip flops in public baths and showers is recommended. In case somebody at home has any of these infections, everyone must be extra careful that it does not spread. Wearing clean socks and regularly changing them will help to keep away the infections.