For those of us living the Northeast, as well as many other parts of the U.S., this winter has brought us its fair share of snowy conditions and cold temperatures. Whether you are a city dweller facing the cold terrain of the city streets or someone who loves outside winter sports, the sub-zero temperatures can wreak havoc on your feet. Here are some tips to keep your feet protected, warm and cozy.
Appropriate shoes. When walking, wear warm boots or shoes. I often see people walking around in shoes that are inadequate for cold temperatures. Ditch the heels, fashion dress shoes and flimsy sneakers and put on a good pair of warm winter boots. Rubber boots should be lined with a warm sock or liner to protect from cold temperatures. Perspiration can worsen cold, so get a drying foot powder or anti-perspirant spray if your feet tend to sweat. This will reduce odor and chance of infection.
Get fitted! For winter sports, it is important to get fitted for the appropriate sportswear. Skating, skiing and snowboarding all have specific shoes. Be sure to get the right size! According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), boots should immobilize the ball of the foot, the heel and the instep but there should be adequate room to move your toes. You can also use an insole to help control the movement of the foot inside the boots and skates. Properly fitted shoes for winter sports can prevent a variety of injuries and can reduce the chances of getting blisters or chafing.
Stretch to increase circulation. Since the toes are one of the first to experience numbness during cold temperature, it’s a good idea to keep the blood circulating. Stretching the intrinsic muscles of the feet before going outdoors will keep them warm and supple. While outside, keep your toes wiggling in your shoes. Constant blood flow will reduce the chance of numbness and keep those toes warm. Toe warmers (activated heat packs) can also be placed in shoes. Diabetics and smokers should be extra careful since they may have poor circulation in their feet and may not feel the cold as well as others because of nerve damage.
Moisturize. Cold temperatures and dry heat can lead to dry skin. Get a good foot moisturizer and apply to your feet daily. Dryness can lead cracking of the skin, which can be painful and lead to infection. Daily moisturizing will help keep your skin soft, smooth and flexible.
The winter may be brutal, but doesn’t have to be to our feet. Keep these tips handy to protect from cold and injury.