Sole Survivors

TLC for your tootsies is important, especially during party season.

Happy feet are important, especially now when you dash about the stores searching for those perfect gifts and wear your “look great, but make your feet ache” festive foot-wear to the flurry of parties. Before you put your best foot forward, why not give your feet some extra care?

In Hawai’i, your feet get more exposure than just about anywhere else on earth. Women wear open-toe sandals and shoes when dressing up, everyone wears slippers when dressing casual, and whenever possible, we go barefoot. No wonder your feet need attention.

Leonardo da Vinci said the foot is the greatest engineering device in the world. Your feet are your foundation, providing stability and balance. But if you’re like most people, you forget about caring for these extremities until they hurt. The nerves in your feet are closer to the skin than in many other parts of your body. When your feet ache, your entire body feels fatigued.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, the human foot contains 26 bones (the two feet contain a quarter of all the bones in the body), 33 joints, 107 ligaments and a network of more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments to allow for movement and agility. And, since the average pair of feet take more than 5,000 steps a day, no wonder that they show the strain with swelling, calluses, dryness, infections like athlete’s foot and just plain aching.

Podiatrists see plenty of problems walk into their offices. The most common are heel pain, nail fungus and pain in the balls of the feet. To a diabetic, any injury to the feet is an open invitation for an infection. An infection can lead to higher blood sugars, which can interfere with the healing process, leading to ulcers and potential amputation.

Ever wonder why you have nails on your toes? Your nails contain protein, keratin and sulfur, and are actually an extension of your skin. The tips of your toes contain the sensitive endings of the nerves that run throughout your entire body. Your nails protect them from injury. Your nails can also tell a great deal about the condition of your body. Normally, the human nail takes about four months to grow from base to end. During its growth, it frequently forms a metabolic record or window of what is going on in the rest of your body.

Healthy nails are pink, smooth and shiny. Variations in color, texture and shape of nails often point to specific nutritional deficiencies or other health problems. For example: blue nails may toenails prevents them from growing inward and causing infection. Exfoliation of dead skin cells on your feet prevents the cells from accumulating and causing bunions or corns, which can be painful.

The history of the pedicure can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Nail polish has been around since the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D.) and was once made from beeswax, gelatin, Arabic gum, and dyes obtained from henna, berries and fruits. Today, popular polishes may contain components that are actually harmful to your nails and overall health, such as toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DHB) and formaldehyde. Check the labels carefully for these carcinogenic ingredients.

Fortunately, you can find nail polishes that are far less toxic and good for the health of your nails.

Taking care of your feet is not a luxury—it’s a necessity that benefits your overall health. Cutting, and cleaning your

Follow these steps for a wellness pedicure you can do at home:

Wipe off old polish with acetone-free polish remover. Rescue those tired tootsies by soaking them for five to 10 minutes in a footbath of warm water and a half-cup of Epsom salts. Pat your feet dry with a towel. Exfoliate dead skin with a rejuvenating foot scrub that cleans, deodorizes and buffs away calluses and rough skin. Rub gently in a circular motion, paying extra attention to your heels and the balls of your feet, as these areas are especially prone to calluses. Rinse your feet with warm water.

When cutting or clipping toenails be sure not to cut them too short or you run the risk of ingrown toenails. File your toenails with an emery board. File straight across, gently rounding the edges. Use the flattened end of an orange stick to push back cuticles, rather than cutting them. Rub a drop of tea tree or coconut oil into the cuticle to prevent drying or cracking.

Restore vitality to your feet by massaging them with a foot balm or lotion made with moisturizing oils and shea butter to soften and soothe tired, dry feet and essential oils of peppermint, tea tree, grapefruit, rosemary, or juniper to create a fresh, clean feeling and melt away tension. If you polish your nails, choose toxic-free polishes. While the polish dries or anytime your feet feel fatigued, try this exercise that improves flexibility and stimulates blood flow: from a sitting position, spell out the alphabet in the air with each foot. Then put your feet up and relax.

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