… For achy arches, heel pain and more.
Heal thy achy feet
Choose shoes with stable, supportive soles to prevent abnormal motion. Heels up to two inches high are fine, but avoid pointy-toed shoes.
Feet bear the brunt of an active lifestyle more than any other body part, and how do we repay them? By shoving them into tight shoes, pounding them on treadmills and still expecting them to look perfect in our new strappy sandals. About 75% of people will experience a foot problem at some point in their life, and women are four times more likely than men to be affected. Below, find the symptom that’s bugging you and try the home remedies that follow to keep your feet feeling – and looking – terrific.
SYMPTOM: Tightness or pain in your arch or heel when you stand up. Likely condition: Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascial band – the ligament that runs from the heel to the ball of your foot. Typical causes: Hyperextending your feet by pounding in step aerobics class or running or walking on an incline. Standing for long periods of time or being overweight are other contributing factors. How to treat: For immediate relief, massage the bottom of your foot by rolling it over a can of frozen orange juice or a bottle of water. Get the right exercise shoe for your foot shape: People who pronate (arches flatten out while standing) need a ‘motion control’ shoe, which offers the most support, to keep the foot stable. If you have high arches, you should wear a ‘neutral’, flexible shoe. SYMPTOM: A bump on the side of the foot at the base of your big toe. Likely condition: Bunion, an enlargement of the toe joint. Typical causes: The tendency to get bunions is inherited. Wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow can exacerbate their development. How to treat: See a podiatrist: You may need orthotics or surgery. In the meantime, use a non-medicated bunion pad in your shoe and ice the area to relieve pain. Choose shoes with stable, supportive soles to prevent abnormal motion. Heels up to two inches high are fine, but avoid pointy-toed shoes.
SYMPTOM: A buildup of thick skin on your toes or the soles of your feet. Likely condition: Callus or corn (a corn is on or between toes; calluses are on the bottom of the foot). Typical causes: Shoes that are too tight or too loose rub and irritate the skin. How to treat: Use a pumice stone, a fine-grade Swiss file or an exfoliant cream a few times a week. Don’t use razors or drugstore corn removers, which often contain acid, because they can damage healthy skin.
SYMPTOM: Tenderness in the ball of the foot. Likely condition: Metatarsalgia, pain where the metatarsals – the long bones of the foot – meet the toe bones. Typical causes: Age and pounding activities can wear away the pad of fatty tissue that normally cushions the
Always walk to warm up before running. Don’t try to increase more than one workout element – duration, incline or mileage – at a time or by more than 10% a week.
ball of the foot. Wearing heels intensifies the pressure in this area. How to treat: Take ibuprofen or another over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug, ice the area, and use a metatarsal pad to ease pain. Don’t walk barefoot: It can aggravate the condition. Your feet need support.
SYMPTOM: Itchy, flaky blisters between your toes or on the bottoms of your feet. Likely condition: Athlete’s foot. Typical causes: A fungus that thrives in warm, moist environments like pools or locker rooms. How to treat: Use an over-the-counter cream or powder containing ciclopirox, terbinafine or clotrimazole. See a doctor if the condition doesn’t clear up in two weeks. To prevent reinfection, wear flip-flops in the locker room. Choose moisture-wicking socks; avoid stockings. Alternate shoes; allow at least 24 hours to air them out. SYMPTOM: Redness and swelling around your toenail. Likely condition: Ingrown toenail. Typical causes: Cutting nails too short and/ or wearing pointy-toed shoes. How to treat: Soak feet in salts to ease pain and stave off infection, but don’t try to dig out the nail at home. See a doctor within a few days, because ingrown toenails can get infected quickly. Wear shoes with a wide toe box to ease pressure on the area. Prevent ingrowns by trimming toenails straight across.
SYMPTOM: Tightness at the top of the heel. Likely condition: Achilles tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendon that connects the ankle to the calf muscle. Typical causes: Frequently wearing high heels shortens the tendon. When you switch to flats or exercise shoes, the tendon is abruptly stretched and you feel pain. Another cause is increasing your running mileage, speed or incline too quickly. How to treat: Always walk to warm up before running (and stretch your calves afterward). Don’t try to increase more than one workout element – duration, incline or mileage – at a time or by more than 10% a week. Wear flats when at your desk or on your walk to work.