It’s the perfect time of year for outdoor fun — and peak season for foot pain. That’s the word from Columbia University researchers, who say the time we spend on our feet in summer’s flimsy sandals and flats significantly ups our risk of sore soles. The good news: These tips can keep your feet ouch-free all summer.
Painful toes? Add padding.
You were born with built-in insoles — cushiony pads of collagen and fat on the balls of your feet. But over the years, those natural shock-absorbers thin, leaving the delicate bones and nerves in your feet more exposed and increasing your risk of shooting forefoot and toe pain. A speedy fix: Tuck OTC forefoot pads into your favorite summer shoes and Danish researchers say you could feel relief after just one day of use.
Tender heels? Stretch your calves.
Studies suggest that keeping your calves flexible erases heel pain for 72 percent of women in two weeks. “Limber calf muscles are less likely to pull on the ligament that connects your heel to your toes,” explains podiatrist William Levine. To do: Stand on stairs, holding the banister for balance, and lower your heels, then rise onto your toes. Repeat three times.
Sore inner edge? Straighten this.
Bunions cause pain in big-toe joints and along the foot’s inside edge. Aligning your big toe with a silicone gel spacer can make your foot pain disappear in as little as 24 hours, Australian researchers say — plus cut the risk of future bunion troubles by as much as 55 percent. Try: Silky Toes ($10.01, Amazon).
Aching arches? Strengthen them.
Asian studies prove strengthening the muscles that support your arch will cut your risk of pain in half. To do: Stand barefoot. Tighten the muscles in the soles of your feet; hold for three seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.
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