In the warmer months, we all love biking with the grandkids, hiking with friends, or strolling around the block. Yet according to the American Podiatric Medical Association, chronic discomfort in ankles, heels, and toes prevents 83 percent of people from enjoying all that summer has to offer. The good news: These simple (and natural) tips will send foot pain packing.
Warm temperatures can dilate blood vessels, causing fluids to painfully pool in feet and ankles. The fix: Spoon up frozen banana “nice cream” (a fruit-based, vegan, dairy-free version of ice cream). Its potassium begins to flush excess fluids and shrink swelling in as little as 40 minutes. Bonus: It tastes like ice cream, but with fewer calories. To do: Slice 1 banana and freeze for 2 hours. Blend until smooth, then enjoy.
For folks with plantar fasciitis — needle-like heel pain caused by inflammation of the ligament that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot — a quick foot rub can help. Massaging a blend of one teaspoon of ground cayenne and one tablespoon of vegetable oil into your feet calms pain much like NSAIDs, research suggests. Pepper’s capsaicin confuses chemical messengers in the body so they’re less able to transmit pain signals.
Dip your feet into a cool chamomile soak. The chill constricts inflamed vessels in the bump on the side of your big toe. Plus, the flowering herb brims with anti-inflammatories that Case Western Reserve University research suggests works like Advil to ease pain. To do: Steep 3 chamomile tea bags in one cup of hot water for 5 minutes. Pour the brew into a basin filled with ice water. Soak feet for 10 minutes.
The small patches of friction-hardened skin can make it feel like you’re walking on sharp stones. An easy fix: Crush an aspirin and add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to form a paste, then smooth over skin and let sit for 10 minutes. It softens hard skin enough so you can buff it away with a pumice stone.
You lose more fluids on hot days, triggering a shortfall of muscle-relaxing magnesium that can cause painful foot cramps. But rubbing magnesium lotion on your feet delivers the mineral where it’s needed most to ease aches.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.