On average, we take several thousand steps every day. Over the course of a year, this adds up to a thousand-mile walk. Surely this alone means your feet deserve a bit of special treatment?
There are all sorts of simple treats to help keep your feet, ankles and toes in good condition. You could try our fun work-out for feet, familiarise yourself with the therapeutic effects of a foot massage or place your feet in the hands of the experts – a pedicurist or a reflexologist.
Enjoy greater foot flexibility with a few simple exercises. And, as the strength and suppleness of your feet and toes improves, you should notice a sprightly spring in your step.
Follow this simple, 9 step routine to bring strength and suppleness back to tired toes and aching arches; letting your feet breathe and move as nature intended.
In and out
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.
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.)
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
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
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.)
For agility, strength and flexibility
Finish off by going up and then down on tip-toes (both feet together) ten times.
Please note: If any of the exercises causes discomfort, discontinue immediately and try again a few days later. If the problem persists, consult your podiatrist. Always do the exercises barefoot and finish off by giving your feet a warm soak and gentle massage (in the bath) to ensure that all muscles are relaxed after their exertions.
Because massages can help relax and revitalise at the same time, they make many people swoon. But when applied to the nerve-packed areas of your foot, a massage provides an extra-special treat. A professional masseur may even identify potential problems with your overall foot health, please seek professional advice if you beleive you may have a problem.
Health clubs, spas, pedicure centres and beauty parlours are just some of the places now offering accredited foot massage services. It doesn’t have to be a professional though, if you can persuade a partner, family member or close friend to give some attention to your aching feet!
Even a do-it-yourself foot massage can be a great experience. Just ten minutes of gentle pressure can help relieve the pain and strain of a day on your feet. A foot massage is one of the easiest ways to heighten your mood and your sense of well-being.
Scholl’s Seven Steps to Heaven
- Start out with a Scholl Fresh Step Soothing Foot Soak to cleanse and revive your feet. Dry your feet thoroughly, including between your toes.
- Then gently apply massage oil all over one foot from toes to ankles, top and bottom. (Place a towel under your feet and have extra towels or tissues within reach to wipe your hands.)
- Warm up with long gentle strokes along the tops, sides and sole of the feet from heel to ankle and then back again. (Skin tends to sag away from the ankle as we age and this can help redress the balance.)
- Use your thumbs to push up gently into the pressure pads on the underside of the toes. Use small, circular movements to alleviate tension. Run your thumb in long, slow strokes from heel to big toe along the inner arch of the foot. Repeat on the outer side of the foot.
- Take each toe between thumb and forefinger and gently stretch it forwards. This is particularly therapeutic if your toes show signs of crossing or curling under.
- Put one hand over the front of your foot and the other over the back part close to the anklebone. Move your hands gently in opposite directions as if wringing out a cloth.
- Finish your massage by repeating the gentle all-over massage used at the start. Then dry the sole of your foot with a towel to prevent it being slippery and repeat the whole process again for the other foot.
While a podiatrist provides remedies for particular foot conditions, a pedicurist concentrates on nail care, skin conditioning and your feet’s overall look and feel. And since your legs will be resting on a comfortable, padded surface, it’s a great opportunity to rest and relax, too.
Feet that look and feel healthy are often less prone to common problems including corns, cracked heels and calluses. A session with a pedicurist normally lasts for an hour or so. During that time, your feet will be treated to a range of treatments, which may include the following –
- A foot soak to soften skin and nails
- Application of moisturisers to soften skin
- Nail cleaning, trimming, shaping, buffing and painting
- Treatment of the nail if frequent varnishing has darkened its natural colour
- Cuticle softening, massage and realignment
- Foot massage
You can also recreate a pedicure session yourself. Start out with a soothing Scholl Fresh Step Soothing Foot Soak to cleanse and revive your feet. Then use products from the Scholl Foot SkinCare range of exfoliators, foot files, moisturisers and nourishing creams, which are specially developed to care for the unique characteristics of feet.
Not to be confused with massage, reflexology is a holistic therapy that’s based on manipulating ‘reflex’ points on the foot that are connected via channels to your arms, legs, muscles and vital organs. By touching these reflex points, the reflexologist can either identify ailments elsewhere or alleviate problems in the body by applying massage to the foot.
Essentially, reflexology seeks to balance energy (or chi) which flows through channels in the body. By releasing blockages, the flow of energy and blood is improved. The technique can be traced back to the medical cultures of ancient Egypt, as well as Thailand, India and China. The release of blocked energy can cause a tingling sensation and fill some people with the urge to laugh or cry.