9 Health Secrets Your Feet Wish They Could Tell You

Updated: Apr. 22, 2021

If your feet could talk, they might say, "You berate my bunions, curse my achy heels, and pop my poor blisters. Enough!" Here's how to give your feet the TLC they deserve.

Close-up on shoe of athlete runner man feet running on road

Thanks for the walk

Your feet orchestrate a complex network of 26 bones, nearly three dozen joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments for every single step you take. So, going on a walk is extremely beneficial. Weighing as little as one pound more than your ideal weight can increase pressure in your hips, knees, and ankles by as much as eight pounds, which puts even more strain on your feet. Read up on these common feet problems and podiatrists’ simple solutions.

Close-up of sportsman tying laces on his training shoes
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We need support

Even though your old, ratty pair of sneakers might be comfortable, they’re damaging your feet. When the sole of your shoe is worn it puts stress on the bones and joints in your foot leaving you vulnerable to getting hurt. The ball of your foot is packed with mini fat-filled chambers that serve as shock absorbers. As you get older, they start to thin and require additional support from your shoes. (Here are possible causes of ball of foot pain.)

Tanned young woman's legs in black suede leather sandals on the stairs. Stylish summer outfit, street fashion look
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Give me some space

Squishing your feet into shoes that don’t fit or mold your toes into unnatural shapes can lead to health problems in the future. If your shoes squeeze your toes together it can cause the nerves to become compressed, inflamed, and enlarged. This is commonly a problem in people who don’t have much of an arch in their foot because their toe joints are less secure and irritate the nerve more. Make sure that your shoes always have enough room and support to keep your feet comfortable. If you’ve tried every shoe under the sun and are still in pain, talk to your podiatrist. They can offer treatments such as a numbing medication and a steroid which will help decrease inflammation.

a hipster sitting downtown with crossed legs on a sidewalk bench on a sunny day toned with a retro vintage instagram filter app or action
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Uncross your legs

Crossing your legs when you sit down might be the more comfortable option, but it cuts off circulation to your feet. It pinches the peroneal nerve along the knee, which can leave your feet temporarily numb. That “pins and needles” feeling you hate is the nerve regaining function. These are subtle signs of disease your feet can reveal.

woman legs in summer flat slippers outdoor day shot in city

Ditch the flip-flops

They’re easy to slip on, but they wreak havoc on your feet. When you wear flip flops your toes have to over-grip to keep the shoe from flying off, which puts unnecessary stress on your feet. Also, the posterior tibial tendon relies on arch support to help you walk, since flip-flops are flat it has to work extra hard, which can cause pain to radiate from your ankle to inner arch.

Young black woman runner tying sport shoes

Prevent the sweat

Your feet have around 125,000 sweat glands, so they can get pretty moist. If your feet sit in a wet environment for too long day after day it can cause the tissues of the skin to break down creating an ideal environment for fungus to grow.  A swipe of antiperspirant on the sole of your foot, open shoes, or the proper socks can help keep moisture and odor to a minimum. Make sure you avoid these shoe mistakes that are killing your feet.

Opening the box of a new pair of shoes

Don’t always buy the same size

If your weight fluctuates throughout your life it can cause the ligaments and tendons to loosen and weaken. This is especially true for women who have children and carry around a lot of weight for months. Don’t try to squeeze your feet into the same size shoe you’ve been wearing most of your life, sometimes, going just half a size up can make all the difference. Watch out for these secrets your podiatrist won’t tell you.

Hand removing callus from feet using pumice stone

Pamper me

All of the friction from wearing shoes makes the top layers of your skin get thick and scaly. Use a pumice stone in the shower to help remove excess skin cells. (Just remember to pumice in one direction—that creates a smoother surface than scrubbing back and forth, which splits the skin layers and causes them to grow back flaky and rough.) Also, apply lotion or foot cream often, preferably one with urea and lactic acid so that it’s strong enough to penetrate the thick skin of your feet.

Close up of foot with socks,Feet and stretch lazily on the bed after waking up
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Cover me when you sleep

If you haven’t been sleeping with socks on, you should really start. When your feet are warm, the blood vessels dilate, which allows heat to redistribute throughout your body. That helps you fall asleep faster and gives your feet more time to rest. Watch out for these other ways your feet can mess with your sleep.