If middle age has brought me anything, it’s foot wisdom! My painfully trodden path to enlightenment began around age four. As a toddler, my mom swears I insisted on buying ill-fitting shoes (sometimes two or more sizes off) just for the sake of fashion. Fast forward 20 years, and despite deteriorating feet, I was still justifying choices—like clubbing and walking back and forth to class in three-inch heels—that may have looked, but certainly didn’t feel, good. Decades of poor shoe choices, combined with competitive ice skating and ballroom dancing had finally taken their toll by the time I reached my late thirties. I had no choice but to get smart—I suppose better late than never. Now, at age 43, I and my poor feet are no longer willing to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fashion!
I’m sure many of you will totally resonate with my story. Women often speak about their forties as the decade of self-acceptance. This is the time in our lives when we finally realize that feeling good and looking fabulous don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Perhaps even more importantly, we start to recognize that we look our best when we actually feel comfortable and content. I find this to be particularly true in the shoe department! If my feet are in pain, I am cranky and unfocused. If my feet feel cozy, I am in a state of unwavering bliss.
One of the most valuable lessons I want to pass onto my 7-year- old daughter is how to nurture and respect her feet. What, however, can we do for ourselves if we are far more advanced in years and foot maturity? Get smart beginning now. Your can’t turn back the clock, but here are five things you can do to show your feet some love beginning today:
1. Never, ever, wear uncomfortable shoes. I put this first because, if your violate this, you might as well ditch the other four tips. The best way to love our feet is to give them a well-structured vehicle to ride around in. Make sure you have room to wiggle your toes, that the shoe doesn’t rub your heel, and that a boot isn’t squeezing your calf too tightly. If a shoe feels uncomfortable right away, take it off. If you’re unsure, put both shoes on (a must!), and walk around for 10 minutes indoors to gauge how they truly feel. (I’m particularly insistent that customers try both shoes on, after seeing so many women deliberating and confused whilst doing their test run with a 3-inch wedge on one foot and flip flop on the other. Of course the brain is confused!) Be honest with yourself and know that you’ll find another option if this pair doesn’t fit.
2. Lengthen your look with wedges over heels. This probably isn’t news to most of you, but it bears repeating. If you have tired or troubled feet, wedges are a great way to look chic sans pain. I’m particularly fond of Sorel’s wedge boots and sandals (wait until you see what’s coming from the brand this spring!) I, with particularly sensitive soles, can stand and run up and down stairs without suffering in a Sorel wedge, like the Joan of Arctic Mid Wedge, for a good 12 hours.
3. Soothe your soles with essential oils. Did you know that the pores on our feet are thicker than the pores on the rest of our body? Consequently, when we dilute and apply essential oils to the souls of our feet, they are absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream. Combine this idea with the practice and wisdom of reflexology, which suggests that various internal organs and systems of the body correspond with certain parts of the feet, and you have an amazing mechanism for promoting overall wellness and healing! Get some great recipes for foot soaks and rubs that you can mix yourself. Learn more about reflexology and find a great reflexologist in your area.
4. Pamper and prune on a regular basis. Ladies and gentleman, listen up: it’s time to stop feeling guilty about taking the time to get regular pedicures! Imagine what a beating our feet take all day, every day. We frequently squeeze them into poor-fitting shoes, dump all of our weight onto them, and then expect them to take us wherever we wish to go! They deserve some serious love and upkeep on a regular basis. Whether you choose to visit the nail salon or pamper at home, please make foot care a priority. Give attention to your toenails, cuticles and calluses. One of our favorite products for dry feet is Skinlove’s Citrus Spice Foot Balm. Packaged in a handy stick to rub right on your feet, this handmade product has a cult-like following at our Indianapolis store! Its users swear it works miracles on dry, cracked skin.
5. Cushion the blow with super-soft socks. This one has been a game changer for me, particularly during the colder months. Perpetually prone to blisters, I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure out that the perfect sock could make all the difference. Up until a couple of years ago, I almost never wore socks with my boots or sneakers. If I absolutely had to don a sock, it was usually a thin trouser sock that provided almost no barrier between my foot and the shoe. Enter Free People socks into my life and a whole new era of comfortable, blister-free feet! I love Free People’s socks because they seem to be just the right thickness for a boot or sneaker, they’re super soft, they stay up, and, well, they’re adorable. My current fave is the Free People Cable Knee Sock, which is the perfect mate to my ever-growing collection of comfy Sorel boots.
So, the next time you think about reaching for those supposedly sexy shoes that make you wince with every step, think twice! Is the suffering really worth it? I’ve been there far too many times and, as my husband who’s had to stop with me many times to buy new shoes along the way just so I can keep walking can attest, poor shoe choices can cost you dearly. Looking and feeling good aren’t mutually exclusive concepts.
Comfy really is the new sexy!