Published in Plaid Magazine Online, June 2012
Illustration by Madison van Rijn
Summer can be tough on your feet. The warm weather invites the need for more open and light-weight shoes, and our feet lack the support necessary to stay pain-free and in good condition during the summer months. Our feet are often the target for pain, discomfort, and many unpleasant but common nuisances. They become more prone to dryness, calluses, cracked heels, blisters, and other problems.
Dr. Hartley Miltchin, podiatrist at the Toronto clinic Accent on Feet, explains why our feet are often the victims. “Our feet are the foundation of the body so all of our weight rests on the small 26 bones. They take a lot of abuse because of the mechanics of the foot, the surfaces we walk on, and the shoes we wear.” Dr. Miltchin calls feet the most ignored part of our body, and frankly, they are usually the part that get abused for the sake of fashion. How often do we squish them into shoes that are too tight or too high?
“Most people are born with a genetic imbalance in their feet called overpronation,” explains Dr. Miltchin. “That’s what a lot of people wear prescription orthotics for, to maintain, proper balance in their feet.” But when wearing flip flops, sandals, or no shoes at all, this imbalance isn’t being corrected by proper shoes or orthotics.
Not only do we walk barefoot in the summer, but we tend to walk more in general during the season. The obvious solution is to find a shoe that’s comfortable, which is sometimes hard to do.
Dr. Miltchin recommends, “If you’re going to do some kind of walking, for example, going on a trip to Wonderland, wear “proper” shoes, like an athletic shoe, and only wear flip flops occasionally, for short periods of time, for example, going to a barbeque.” Simply put, the rule is to wear the proper shoe for the activity. If a sandal is desired, Dr. Miltchin suggests European sandal brands such as Naot or Birkenstock, which are known for their comfort.
The ideal shoes for your feet are those that allow the foot room to breathe (because of the many sweat glands), those that leave enough room for all the toes, and those that protect the feet from things like dirt and insect bites to help keep your feet clean.
Moisturizing in the summer is also important (not only in the winter when people tend to moisturize more) because of the thousands of sweat glands in the feet. Dr. Miltchin suggests using creams from Tripod Labs, which contain collegian and are able to penetrate the thicker skin of our feet, a place that doesn’t usually benefit from regular creams. And as always, don’t forget to apply sunscreen!
Lux Spa in Toronto is a spa that specializes the amount of services they provide to focus on hand and foot care. Their pedicures provide attentive care and offer a variety of different services, ranging from a “choco-LUX” (using cocoa extract) to “herba-LUX” (with refreshing rosemary mint), each for specific purposes. The “rescue-me-LUX!” consists of treatments for those who have problems with fungus, calluses, cracked skin, or dry skin. Maintenance is key, but how you maintain is also important.
“Pedicures are beneficial because they address the cuticles, toe nails, and the skin,” says Lux Spa President, Cathy Crispo. “During a pedicure, particular attention goes to any dry rough spots, callused areas, or cracked skin. These areas or issues should be addressed with a foot paddle and NOT a blade. Taking skin off using one of those instruments is super dangerous. Not only is the dead skin being taken off, but live skin comes along with it. You also open yourself up to serious infection and disease. When you blade the feet, because one is removing live skin, when the skin starts to grow back, it first grows scar tissue which is hard and rough and makes one think they need another pedicure.”
Foot problems can also lead to other problems in the body.
“Because of the numerous nerve endings per square centimeter in the foot, more than in any other part of the body, you can suffer from poor digestion, lower back pain, a misaligned spine and frequent headaches,” says Crispo. “Not taking care of your feet will result in problems with your overall health.”
She goes on to explain, “Your feet mirror your general health. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet – so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.”
Crispo recommends products from Camillen 60, a German line that uses the Chamomile flower in all of their products. They produce a range of products including foot soaks, creams, scrubs, and foot sprays, for a variety of foot ailments.
Beauty shouldn’t have to be painful. Save your favourite shoes for short-term wears, and be smart about taking care of your feet so you don’t have to pay the price after an enjoyable day or night.