Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments. Virtually supporting the entire body, feet tend to hold or reflect the state of your mind and heart. If you don’t believe me, consider the seemingly endless foot metaphors to describe our moods and inclinations: When decisive, self confident, flexible, and on the move, we’re fleet of foot or quick on our feet. When immobilized, weak or wishy-washy, we have feet of clay or are dragging our feet. We get a foot up on our business competitors, and our dogs howl after a long day of rushing around. So put your best foot forward and consider the following ways to nurture your feet:
Warm Water Soak
Many spas provide a foot bath and scrub ritual as a prelude to any service. The root of this practice is found in the hospitality customs of ancient civilizations. To provide at-home TLC, try one of these warm water treats. Add Epsom or sea salts (natural exfoliators) to relax the feet and soften rough, dry patches of skin. Another option: add 1 to 2 cups of pure, organic pineapple juice to a footbath. The enzyme bromelain naturally sloughs off dry skin. Or, shower or bathe to soften skin, then scrub calloused areas with a mixture of 1 tablespoon sea salt and 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil. A pumice stone and gentle body wash also work. Rinse, towel off, moisturize, then don fluffy organic cotton socks.
Massage encourages better blood flow, and it just plain feels good. When you release tension in your feet, your mind-body physiology follows. Use a small amount of certified organic plant oil or lotion with several drops of organic geranium, lavender, patchouli, or tea tree essential oil, all of which possess potent anti-bacterial effects. Distribute the oil or lotion through the hands. Briskly stroke the soles, then massage the rest of the feet with small strokes. Work toward the heel, and thus toward your heart to direct blood flow. Gently pull each toe outward from base to tip. Put on organic cotton socks, and it’s time for bed!
Let Your Feet Breathe
With about 250,000 sweat glands, our feet can produce up to 8 ounces of sweat a day. Don’t use harsh products that attempt to block foot perspiration — it’s your body’s way of eliminating toxins.
• Take a footbath using essential oils with toning, astringent, and antiseptic properties—like eucalyptus, juniper, lavender, rosemary, and tea tree. Add 2 to 6 drops to warm water. The toning properties firm foot skin tissue, reducing the amount of oil and perspiration excreted. The antiseptic quality helps with potential odor.
• Soak your feet in a bath that’s been infused with black tea. Brew 2 tea bags in 2 pints of water, then add 2 quarts of cool water. The tannic acid acts as a drying agent and helps prevent odor.
Keep the Blood Flowing
It’s a long way from your heart to the tips of your toes. But for healthy, comfortable feet, it’s important to encourage blood flow. Massage and exercise play important roles, as do well-fitting shoes! Don’t forfeit comfort for style or you may walk a painful path, possibly filled with bunions, calluses, plantar fasciitis, deformed toes, and various other potential maladies (including musculoskeletal problems!).
Exercise is essential for maintaining the mobility and flexibility of your feet. Foot exercises may also relieve soreness. Naturally, see a podiatrist where warranted. Here are a few exercises that can be done anytime:
• Rock back and forth from your heels to toes for several minutes.
• Try picking up marbles with your toes.
• Lay a towel flat on the floor, then scrunch your toes up on the towel and draw the fabric toward you.
• Roll your arches over a tennis ball, golf ball or rolling pin.
• Stand in yoga’s Tadasana or mountain pose often for its foot rejuvenating benefits. Lift your toes and spread open wide before planting into the earth. Also, there are now yoga sandals that have spacers that separate each toe. They’re awesome!