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Best foot forward for autumn                                                                     October 2009


Best foot forward for autumn

feetSomeone worked out that an average person walks at least a thousand miles every year. Certainly each day our feet are given a strenuous work out as we go up and down stairs and walk along hard pavements or over bumpy country paths.

Yet because our feet are at the extremity of our body, such a long way down and quite an effort to examine, they are often ignored. As long as our feet don’t hurt, we assume they are okay. But with so much daily toil, everyone should take proper care of their feet and give them some special treatment every so often. It is also lovely to be able to take ones shoes off at home or on holiday and not feel embarrassed about the state of one’s feet.

The first thing for feet is to check the nails and skin. Fairly short toe nails make sense so that don’t they don’t snag on socks or tights, but avoid cutting down the corners too far as this can encourage ingrowing nails. Most people recommend cutting straight across the toe nail, unlike the curved shape preferred for finger nails. Cutting nails after a shower or bath is easier as warm water will help to soften them.

Also keep a regular look out for hard skin. This can normally be removed with a pumice stone or a foot file; use an even rubbing motion and don’t press down too hard. For stubborn patches of hard skin, chemists sell special files such as the Scholl corn and callus file which can be very effective.

Most foot care experts recommend a daily routine to keep feet healthy and looking good. Cleanliness of course is vital, and this includes a proper clean in the area between your toes where dirt and bacteria can accumulate. A quick but thorough wash is all that is needed, over soaking can remove essential oils.

Then dry your feet well. This sounds pathetically simple but it is actually rather important and something a lot of people don’t do; for people with any sort of back injury letting feet dry by themselves seems so much easier. But fungi, including athlete’s foot and other problems which can discolour the toenails, thrive in damp conditions; so remember to dry between your toes.

Moisturising feet is a great idea and leaves them feeling soft as well as improving their appearance. The skin on the foot is generally much thicker than elsewhere on your body, so normal moisturisers don’t usually work very well. Instead, invest in one of the many specialist foot creams available at chemists; they have been specifically designed for the thicker and sometimes harder skin and can really make a difference.

Socks and shoes

Fresh “footwear” as modern terminology has it is of course important, for most of us it is automatic to change our socks or tights every day. Natural fibres such as cotton are always preferable to manmade fibres as they let the skin breathe through the fabric. Fit is important and as we get older we can forget that the shape and sometimes even the size of our feet can chance. If you have always been a 6 or a 10, don’t assume that is what you are today. Get your feet measured every so often to ensure you are selecting the right size socks and shoes. There should be ¾ inch or 18 mm from the end of the longest toe to the end of the shoe. Shoes should have adjustable fastenings for a good fit – such as laces, buckles and velcro straps. If the feet are an awkward shape, make sure there is no decorative stitching or seams that can rub.

Foot workout

When you think how much stress we put on our poor feet, it makes sense to keep them as fit as possible for the strenuous tasks ahead! Scholl is accepted as a leading foot specialist brand – they have been looking after feet for over 100 years since their founder, Dr William Mathias Scholl, made it his life-long mission to improve the health, comfort and well-being of people through their feet. Certainly ideas have changed since his day, and a new concept from Scholl is their Foot Workout - a simple nine step routine with the aim of bringing strength and suppleness back to tired toes and aching arches.


In and out - To relieve toe cramps and strengthen your feet

Start off by standing up straight and evenly balanced. Let your weight drop onto your heels and then curl your toes inwards. Straighten and repeat 10 times. Try this to help relieve toe cramps, ball of foot pain, or for overall strengthening.

The pull - An advanced strengthening workout

Place a towel on the floor, stand on it with one foot only and repeat exercise one but trying to drag the towel towards you using your toes. Repeat five times and then change foot. (When your feet become accustomed to this exercise, you can place a book or similar weighted object on the towel to increase resistance.)

Sole mates - To relieve shinbone tension and increase foot flexibility

Sit on a chair or stool and use the sole of one foot to rub up and down the opposite shin from knee to ankle and down again. Repeat 20 times. This helps relieve tension around the shinbone whilst also increasing the flexibility of the massaging foot.

The foot ball -To massage the bottom of your feet and banish discomfort

Roll a golf ball under the ball of your foot for two minutes. It massages the bottom of the foot and can help relieve the discomfort of heel pain, cramps or arch strain.

The write foot - For strong and flexible feet and toes

Stay on the floor with leg propped as above. Then imagine your toe is a pen and ‘sky-write’ the numerals 1 to 10 in the air. Repeat with the other foot.

Point to point - To relieve tension in your feet and increase their strength

Stay on the floor as above. Hold your foot upright (toes up, heel down). By flexing your ankle point your toes towards you, and then reverse direction to point your toes away from you. Repeat ten times.

The pick up - Advanced strengthening workout

Place ten small (non-sharp) objects around the floor. (Marbles are perfect but small coins will also do.) Pick up each object by using your toes to curl around it. Drop each one in a bowl or jar. (To ensure you are using all your toes, you can also try a pencil as a variation on the above.)

Tip toes - For agility, strength and flexibility
Finish off by going up and then down on tip-toes (both feet together) ten times.


Foot massages can really help your feet and your overall sense of wellbeing. Many health clubs, spas and specialist centres offer foot massage services, or you can easily do it yourself - just ten minutes of gentle pressure can help relieve the pain and strain of a day on your feet.

footcare salt scrub

First, the good news…although over the course of winter the skin on your feet can become something reminiscent of animal hide, a good course of exfoliation can fix the problem in no time. And since you’ll already be scrubbing away at your bod to get it fake-tan-ready, take 30 seconds to include your feet too. Once or twice a week is fine to keep up the good work; and with so many scrub-worthy products on the market you’ll be spoiled for choice. Salt based ones are our favourite, like this one from the Sanctuary spa.


Footcare Salt Scrub
Price: £5.99
Stockist: The Sanctuary


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