Tony Washington, CEO of Bonita Entertainment, admits that he doesn’t properly care for his feet.
“For 30 years, I practiced martial arts and football, which was hard on my feet,” he said. “My feet took a beating — loose toenails, jammed toes, bruises, cracks between my toes and chronic athlete’s feet — I ignored the pain and powered through it.”
Foot care is the central focus of Gloria L. Williams’ business, Footnanny.com.
“I have been a licensed nail technician, spa consultant and certified reflexologist for more than 20 years,” said Williams, whose mission is to promote health and wellness for feet globally.
Washington learned the hard way when his ongoing neglect landed him in the hospital.
“My feet were so swollen,” Washington said. “I could barely walk in shoes and suffered from unbearable pain.”
His doctor performed an ultrasound to determine if the swelling was due to blockage. He was treated and released, but he knew a significant change was necessary.
“I took over-the-counter and prescription-strength medication, but I knew I needed to do more to maintain healthy feet,” he said.
June kicks off the sandal season and to be prepared to bare healthy feet, Williams offers a few easy tips for foot maintenance:
• Check your feet and between the toes for anything unusual — cracked skin, sores, itchy, peeling skin, blisters, discolored toenails, swelling, etc.
• Soak your feet once a week in a foot salt or scented bath. This will help reduce sweaty feet moisture.
• Elevate your feet throughout the day for healthy blood circulation.
• Treat your feet to a pedicure once or twice per month as needed to keep your feet groomed. Long-term neglect is not advisable.
• Apply a foot cream with a blend of shea and cocoa butters, aromatherapy and vitamins at night before bed, which allows your feet to absorb the cream as a treatment.
Taking off your shoes and going for a walk in the park, on a sandy beach or refreshing grass, in your yard, or around the house for at least 30 minutes a day can improve your health. How? Going bare foot brings you back to nature and is an organic way to connect with the Earth, relieve stress, and enhance circulation.
Removing shoes and going barefoot can take a little getting used to. However studies show that there are many health benefits to going shoeless, if done correctly:
Some of the benefits of baring your feet are:
• Decreasing ingrown toenails. Toenails can grow more freely and without constriction.
• Athlete’s foot and toenail fungus do not thrive when feet are continually exposed to light and air.
• Better alignment of the joints, hips and knees. Painful backs, legs and feet discomforts are reduced or eliminated after going barefoot regularly and often.
• Muscle development. Going barefoot encourages natural toning, creating stronger foot and leg muscles.
• Reducing anxiety and depression.
• Fighting varicose veins.
• Diminishing sleep disturbances.
• Improving posture.
Williams’ motto, “Wellness beyond a pedicure,” has resonated across the nation as a result of her trademark “Footnanny” treatment consisting of reflexology of 2,000 strokes of foot-to-knee massage and detox wrap along with her brand of Footnanny products selected by O Magazine Favorite Things for two consecutive years.
The practice of reflexology, an ancient form of therapy, is applying pressure techniques to areas on the feet causing a positive impact on the related areas of the body and health concerns. The Foot Reflexology chart illustrates the reflex points on the feet that correspond to the body organs.
When reflexology is not possible, perform a self-foot massage, or ask someone to do that for you. It is a great way to relieve stress and relax your feet. Soak your feet in a bowl of warm, scented water (try adding a few drops of lavender or peppermint essential oils). Dry your feet thoroughly and rest your right foot on your left thigh. Rub your hand on the sole of the foot to warm the area.
Next, support your right foot with your left hand, use your right hand to flex, rotate, and squeeze your toes. Finally, use your fingers to support your foot and use both thumbs to apply deep, circular pressure on the sole of your foot. Switch feet and repeat the steps.
Washington is recovering and has a new outlook about how to treat his feet right. He sees a podiatrist regularly, checks his feet in between appointments, elevates his feet often, dries his feet and in between his toes thoroughly, and wears 100 percent white cotton socks at all times. He plans to bare his feet when the time is right.
Diabetic individuals are not encouraged to go barefoot because they are vulnerable to greater injury. The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics wear shoes and socks at all times. Always consult with your physician when making changes in your physical activities.
Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA, a public relations consultant, is the owner of Platinum Star PR and can be reached on Twitter @PlatinumStar or Instagram @PlatinumStarPR. Send “Health Matters” related questions to email@example.com and look for her column in The Wave.