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Jump into spring feet first April 8, 2022 @ 9:55am

The topic of feet can make many people squeamish, but most of us have them, and they need to be cared for as part of our regular health routine.

“Don’t tiptoe around foot health! Take care of your feet, and they will take care of you for a lifetime.” -Annette Hunter

You need to be aware of and practice three levels of foot care during your lifetime: personal foot care, professional foot care, and medical foot care. This article will discuss personal and professional foot care strategies that you can access and practice to help ensure that you needn’t spend much or any time on medical foot care.

First, I want to discuss foot acceptance- you can’t go to a store and purchase a new set of feet. You are bound to what you have between you and the earth, so accepting that is crucial to care for them properly. Not all feet are shaped the same, and (sorry to break your fortune-telling myths) this is based on genetics and lifestyle. A long second toe does not mean a long and healthy life. It does, however, mean that your ancestors probably had long second toes.

The shape of the feet can be changed by the footwear chosen or your gait when you walk. Be aware of the current state of each foot and consider possibilities of genetics or lifestyle when it comes to their shape and condition. Wearing comfortable shoes and varying footwear to the activities you are engaging in can go a long way to maintaining foot health.

“With how much I walk, gardening season and now Raynauds (disease), my feet take an absolute beating. I would love to say visual aesthetics is a priority, but it's not realistic in my world; Footcare to ensure I can continue with my routine is.” -Rachelle Campeau

Let’s dive into the basics of at-home self-care. Did you know that many people don’t even wash their feet? In the shower, water and soap DO run over the feet, but without manual manipulation, this does very little to remove the sweat, dirt, bacteria and skin buildup present on most people. Rub each foot as if you were washing dirty hands using soap and warm water. If done in your daily shower or bath, this should be sufficient in keeping your feet and toes clean. Gently pushing the cuticles back while your feet are still damp is the best (and most comfortable) time to allow natural growth.

Dry your feet well after every time they get wet. Microorganisms grow in the dark, moist, damp and dirty conditions- removing one or two of these conditions will significantly reduce your risk of infection or disease.

Keep your nails cleaned underneath and trimmed straight across or slightly curved to the end of your toes. Use a wooden pusher to do this as metal can cause micro-tears which make the body susceptible to infection. Cutting the nail too far down on the sides can lead to uncomfortable ingrown nails that may require medical intervention if left for too long. The nail's structure includes the sidewalls of the eponychium and tiny nail grooves like tracks that the nail follows as they grow- if these are disrupted too much, the nail will start to curve inward, causing the pressure associated with ingrown nails.

An aesthetician will have the knowledge and the experience to trim the nail in a way that should restore these structures without having to remove part of the nail matrix, as is done in corrective medical procedures.

When asked what is essential in footcare: “having someone who know(s) how to do ingrown nails without having to cut (the whole) nail.” - Carole Tjostheim-Dodds

A few final tips for your at-home self-care would be to use foot lotion on dry, hot, or tight feet, ensuring that it is all absorbed before putting on clean, dry socks. After a long day on your feet, try massage with a tennis ball or put your feet up! For swollen feet, try elevating your heels slightly above your hips to help with fluid drainage and restore regular circulation to the area. Wear a slip-on type sandal (the ones with the strap between the toes can cause irritation) when out in the summer or in public places like pools to ensure you don’t pick up any unwanted microorganisms.

“For me (having been born with clubfoot), foot care is important in that I wear shoes that support my feet, nothing super flat. No flip-flops ever. That piece between the toes is so bad for feet, as is the flatness. Haven’t worn heels for years.” -Anna Tripp

This leads us to the second level of foot care- professional pedicure services. Stettler has so many service options for pedicure services that you can try out various practitioners and treatments that work the best for you until you come to a comfortable, professional, individualized care routine. I recommend getting a spa pedicure every 4-6 weeks to maintain optimal foot health, but that isn’t possible for everyone, so seasonally would be a good starting point.

The main parts of a professional pedicure include a good cleaning, nail trimming and cuticle care, skincare, massage and polish if desired. Many spas offer additional services with their pedicures which can consist of masks, specialty products, essential oils, paraffin treatments, gel polish or special massage techniques. Seek out services and providers that make you feel comfortable.

“I should really have regular foot care as I have poor circulation, but I am sad to say I have never had professional foot care done.” - Alyssa Sitko

Professional aestheticians can often detect issues before you are aware of them because they get up close and personal with the area. They will examine between the toes and on the soles of the feet, where you often can’t see dry skin or cracking. They can advise various treatments or refer you to your GP or a podiatrist if the issue requires medical attention. Aestheticians can often address nail disorders such as bruised nails, beau’s lines, eggshell nails, leukonychia (white spots), hangnails or split and brittle nails. They also address common skin problems such as surface cracks, blistering, light callouses, dry skin and minor irritation.

Professionals also have massage training that will help with various concerns like circulation and fluid retention. Ask your technician about what kinds of massage they offer and try out different options to find what you like; Options may include circulation massage, drainage massage, deep tissue massage, reflexology, cold therapy, vibration, and lower leg techniques.

Lastly, sometimes most importantly, your aesthetician can give you beautiful toenails that you will be proud to show off in sandals! The possibilities are endless when it comes to nail art! Polish colours galore, nail art and gel applications keep your pedicure looking great between appointments.

Are you going on vacation? Try a gel polish that will last for 6-8 weeks so that your toes are picture-perfect in the sand. It is a myth that you need to let your nails ‘breathe’ in between appointments. A polish change so the aesthetician can see your nail health is all that is required.

“If your feet hurt, everything hurts. Then you feel more tired than you really are. The state of your feet affects your posture, which affects your whole body. Feet and their appearance are important in your overall wellness. I always feel a sense of wellness and health after I have enjoyed a well-done pedicure. Pretty polish makes me feel happy!” - Deb DeClercq

I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you with a nod to the importance of medical care on the feet when needed.

As good as Aestheticians can be, we can not diagnose or treat disease- therefore, getting your MD to look at any foot concerns you may have during your regular physical is the best course of action. Listen to your doctor about what is medically best for you if disease or malformation becomes an issue.

My hope for everyone is that your feet will take you as far as you wish to go in life! Cheers!

Photo credit: Alicia Kneeland-Teasdale, Barbara-Lynn Goodwin

References: (not directly quoted)

Alicia Kneeland-Teasdale, Owner

Stettler Medi-Aesthetics

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