Do you have tired feet? If you’re on your feet all day at work, you’ll want to spend a few moments pampering them tonight so they can support you again tomorrow.
When you get home this evening, take off your shoes and socks, then soak your feet in some warm (not too hot, definitely not boiling) water. Nothing fancy is needed, you don’t need to shell out for a foot spa – a large bucket will do.
Add some Epsom salts – this is a combination of magnesium and sulfate that soothes and detoxes. If you want to go further, add a few drops of lavender oil. After 10 – 15 minutes (or longer if you want), take your feet out and place on a towel. Dry carefully. Then moisturize – anything will do but some people like a peppermint-based moisturiser for the astringent zest.
DIY foot massage
Harvard Medical School has a simple guide to relieve everyday stresses with a good foot massage. This is one which you can do yourself, if no one else suitable is around. You could use a foot roller, but using your hands to massage is more effective:
- Sit in a comfortable chair. Bend your left leg and rest your left foot gently on your right thigh.
- Pour some skin lotion or oil into your hand. Rub it gently into your foot and massage your whole foot including the toes, arch, and heel.
- Do a deeper massage. Press the knuckles of your right hand into your left foot. Knead your foot as you would bread. Or work the skin and muscles by holding a foot with both hands and pressing your thumbs into the skin.
- Using your hands, gently pull the toes back and forth or apart. This stretches the muscles underneath.
- Repeat on the other foot.
Not everyone likes having their feet touched by strangers, but there are many benefits to reflexology. It’s not just about relaxation but could have medical benefits too, explains the Mayo Clinic’s guide to the practice. Areas of the feet correspond to organs and systems of the body, and pressure applied to the foot is believed to bring relaxation and healing to the corresponding area of the body.
So you could be lying back, enjoying someone kneading a particular knotty muscles (one of 100 in your feet), then suddenly hear your stomach growling because the therapist touched a particular pressure point (it happens).
A word of warning from one of our Nano researchers who has traveled widely in Asia. They used to have regular reflexology sessions at a spa near their office in L.A.. Then, when on business in Beijing, they booked an appointment before catching the plane home.
“It was agonizing,” they told us. “Nothing like the soothing spa-style reflexology back home. Be warned. It was clear they treat reflexology very seriously as a preventative health method, and, by all accounts, the Chinese did invent the practice about 3,000 years ago. I couldn’t believe how painful the session was – but there again, it worked. I felt as if I was walking on air afterwards.”
Check your shoes.
Finally, take a look at your shoes – when they’re not on your feet. Can you see how your gait and weight distribution has worn down the soles in different places? That could be a contributory factor to feet fatigue.
Next time you’re at one of the larger drugstores, like CVS, see if they have a machine which examines whether you need orthotic inserts. The body biomechanics experts at Dr. Scholl’s have developed a FootMapping® technology and some stores have one of their Custom Fit® kiosks. Here’s how it works:
Step up to the machine then remove your shoes (but not socks) and use the antibacterial wipes provided to cleanse the standing area first. Step onto the machine and follow the instructions. It’ll ask you to move from foot to foot and adjust your weight so the 2,200 pressure sensors in the system can ascertain what’s going on.
It takes about two minutes to complete. Once it’s finished, you’ll see a foot pressure map with the out-of-alignment problems in red. You can either save the map and have it sent to you via email (if you feel comfortable sharing your details, or see which orthotics in-soles they recommend – available for purchase nearby (coincidentally).
If your feet fatigue doesn’t improve, you might need professional guidance or custom-fit insoles. The American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society can provide more information, and help you locate a clinic near you.
Healthy feet exercises
Finally Harvard Medical School has a guide to simple workouts to stretch and strengthen your feet including this one to stretch the muscles on the bottom of your feet:
- Stand with feet together.
- Step back with your left leg so your heel is raised and your toes press against the ground. You should feel the muscles on the bottom of your feet pull gently.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat with your right foot.
Try this when you get home tonight, and then soak your feet in the Epsom salts and lavender oil solution. Do a foot massage, then put on some soft socks to keep the oil from messing your bed linens, and get an early night.
Stay off your feet for at least eight hours and you’ll notice a new spring in your step tomorrow.