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August 17th, 2009

Work on Your Feet? 5 Tips to Keep Hard-Working Feet Happy

Nurses.  Teachers.  Factory Workers.  Their  feet take a beating on a daily basis. These are the people who somehow manage to work double shifts, all on their feet.  I know from experience in the classroom how long hours spent on your feet can make you feel like you’re walking on glass.  In empathy for those tough-as-nails workers, I’m offering the following five tips to keep your feet healthy and happy, especially if you depend on them at work.

1. Get the right shoes. As you mosey through the shoe racks, look for styles that will evenly support your whole foot.  Flat shoes are better than heels for working on your feet.  Rounded toes allow your tootsies enough space to kick around at your toe.  Nothing should

Seaside by Michael Kors

Seaside by Michael Kors

pinch or rub as you walk.  Check out this post’s photos for a few Shoefly flats that will feel great late, late into your shift.

2. Get the right socks. Once you’ve selected your shoes, go on a sock-finding expedition.  Below-the-knee stockings may be a good choice, as they are said to increase circulation and reduce swelling.  Others swear by toe socks, as they reduce irritation and allow your feet to sweat properly.  Try out a few thicknesses and styles, so that you know what works best for you.  Then, stock up on that style of sock.  If you’re working an extra long shift, why not bring an extra pair of socks?  Something as simple as changing your socks halfway through a shift can feel like a mini-spa to sore feet.

3.  Soak and Sigh. Take care of your spirit and your feet at the same time with a relaxing foot bath. Fill a clean shallow tub with warm water, and add a handful of Epsom salts.  Throw in petals or scent for a rejuvenating aromatherapy experience.  Enjoy for 10-20 minutes.

Cori by Tsubo

Cori by Tsubo

4.  Exfoliate. Polishing through exfoliation is vital part of proper skin care.  When your feet are regularly exfoliated, they are free of dead skin and less likely to form callouses.  For a simple, natural exfoliant, mix 1/4 cup honey with 1/4 cup natural or raw sugar.  Add two tablespoons of grape seed oil and rub gently over your whole foot, adding a few drops of warm water when needed.  (See more free foot exfoliant recipes here.)

5. Moisturize overnight. For a complete foot spa, soak, exfoliate, and moisturize overnight.  Once your feet are exfoliated, apply your favorite moisturizer.  A few drops of essential peppermint or lavender oil will make your feet smell sweet.  Stick your feet in soft, comfy socks and drift off into dreamland.  You’ll wake up to such radiant feet, you’ll think you’re still dreaming.

Most of all, take care of yourself. Whenever you can afford it, and especially when once you get home, give yourself a break.  Don’t just mindlessly go to your next task on your to do list– notice how your  feet feel and give them the attention and love they deserve.  Here’s one final parting tip, a bonus from this yin yoga-teaching shoe-ista:

6.  Take Legs Up The Wall Pose.  (Viparita Karani in Sanskrit.)  This yoga pose is perfect for

Right by Camper

Right by Camper

unwinding and undoing the day’s damage.  Gather a couple of soft blankets and an eye pillow.  Fold up the blankets until they are in a strip about 3 feet long by 2 feet wide.  If you are more stiff, you will need less padding.  Place your blanket(s) lengthwise along the wall.  Roll yourself onto the blanket so that your low back is supported by the blanket, and your tailbone is against the wall.  (You can get closer to the wall by scooting yourself along, tucking your shoulders under; or you can press against a helpful friend’s legs.)  The entire length of the back of  your legs should be against the wall.  Stack your joints.  Your hips will be slightly higher than your heart, and your legs will be above your head and supported by the wall.

Legs Up The Wall Pose, from EpicSelf.com

Legs Up The Wall Pose, from EpicSelf.com

Wiggle until you can relax completely in a comfortable pose.  Place your eye pillow over your eyes, and begin to deepen your breathing, inhaling and exhaling deeply and smoothly through the nose.  Bring your hands to your sides, with your palms facing the sky.  Relax every muscle in your body, and hold for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.  This position is rejuvenating.  It reduces hypertension, slows your heart rate, and gently stretches your whole back body.  Take this pose in the evening and feel your whole stressful day melt away.

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