These warm days mean 80 percent of us are spending more time strolling through gardens and parks. And the last thing you want is to be sidelined by foot pain when you’re ready for fun. Luckily, these fixes erase stubborn foot pains and aches.
Needle-like heel pain when you first stand is likely plantar fasciitis — inflammation of the ligament that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. Back in the day, that meant cortisone injections or custom shoe inserts, but now there’s a better option at your drugstore. Dutch scientists say tucking silicone heel cushions ($9 per pair, Walmart) into shoes tames heel pain as effectively as expensive orthotics. Plus, they provide relief for longer than painful cortisone shots! You can also try a pair of sandals designed especially to ease the pain of plantar fasciitis.
If a day of outdoor fun leaves you with sore arches, try this: Sit in front of one basin filled with cold water and another with the warmest water you can comfortably stand. Slip your feet into the cold water for one minute, then into the hot water for one minute; repeat three times. Texas foot surgeon Craig Thomajan, D.P.M., says big temperature swings make blood vessels squeeze and relax, creating a pumping action that flushes trapped fluids and inflammation out of arches.
A bump on the side of the big toe can flare up after summer walks. To ease the ouch, kick off your shoes. “Barefoot walking instantly improves foot circulation, easing bunion pain,” says Carol Frey, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in California. And when you’re pulling on shoes, Australian scientists say tucking a silicone gel spacer between your big toe and second toe cuts the risk of bunion pain by 55 percent in 24 hours. That’s better results than overnight foot splints provide.
For something so small, corns can cause a lot of ouch. Luckily, you can erase the bumps by massaging them twice daily with a lotion that contains at least 20 percent urea, a natural exfoliator and moisturizer. German scientists say it softens thick corns in as little as one week and triggers a 65 percent improvement in one month. One to try: Ebanel Urea Cream (Walmart).
Up to 88 percent of us are wearing too-snug shoes, which Harvard scientists say triples the risk of foot troubles. Since feet naturally spread as we age, experts advise measuring your foot before purchasing new shoes. Most women need to size up or go wider every 10 years to prevent pain.
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.