April is Foot Health Awareness Month—good foot health is essential for an active life. With 26 bones plus 33 joints, feet serve as the foundation for the rest of the body. If the feet are not mechanically sound, it can affect the knees, hips and even the lower back.
We carry approximately four to six times our body weight across the ankle joint when climbing up stairs or walking steep inclines. We need our feet to carry us an average of 115,000 miles in our lifetime; therefore, avoiding foot problems should be a priority.1
The importance of feet serves as the foundation for reflexology, which studies how one part of the body relates to another. Practitioners of reflexology rely on a “map” of the foot, where each part corresponds to another body part, notably the internal organs. Pressure applied to different parts of the foot is believed to stimulate or activate corresponding parts of the body.2
Food is a great enabler for foot health. What we eat can help avoid swelling and other discomforts of the feet. For example, eating food with diuretic properties may help prevent fluid retention.3 Incorporate watermelon, asparagus, parsley, beets, grapes, green beans, leafy greens, cucumbers, pineapples, pumpkins, onions, leeks and garlic into your diet.3
Foods to avoid (or least to partake of infrequently) include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, dairy products, animal protein, dried shellfish, fried foods, gravies, olives, pickles, salt, soy sauce, tobacco, white flour and white sugar.4 Fortunately, what we should incorporate and what we should reduce in our diet correspond to basic healthy eating, Mediterranean style. (link to https://nikkenactivewellness.com/2017/03/14/go-mediterranean-for-good-nutrition-and-health/)
Other ways to maintain foot health include:
• Stretching the feet, ankles and lower legs every day and before exercising. This helps to keep the muscles strong and to avoid injury.
• Keeping a healthy weight. Excess weight puts pressure on the feet, leading to foot pain, stress fractures, circulatory issues and possible arthritis.
• Making sure shoes fit properly. Avoid rubbing or squeezing toes, and try to maintain a half inch space between the longest toe (usually the big toe or the second toe) and the end of the shoe.
• Replacing worn out shoes. Some of us have a favorite pair that are especially comfortable; however, if they are worn out inside or outside, they can cause foot strain.
• Keeping feet clean and dry in between the toes. This will help prevent fungus, otherwise known as athlete’s foot.
Feet are one of the more complex parts of the human anatomy, so they are prone to a wide variety of issues, such as ingrown toenails, neuropathy, bunions and more. In addition, it’s fairly common to have one foot be slightly larger than the other, so always wear shoes that favor the larger foot in fit.5 We also need to be aware that our feet may not stay the same size—as we age, they tend to flatten out, and some pregnancies may cause feet to enlarge.
Two of the Nikken flagship products are the insoles. Founder Isamu Masuda developed the magnetic insoles to simulate the therapeutic pebbles in the Japanese public hot baths. The Kenko mStrides® and Kenko mSteps® can both be cut to size to fit right into your shoes. The magnetic nodules massage the soles of the feet and act similarly to the acupressure practiced as part of reflexology. People who work while standing find Kenko insoles particularly helpful in keeping feet energized and stable.
The KenkoGround® is a Nikken product that can work in tandem with bare feet. Simply place the KenkoGround in direct contact with bare feet while seated or sleeping, and experience a reconnection with nature to help feel more relaxed, and less stressed.
3, 4 www.foot.com