1. Complete some pre-shopping foot work.
Before you head out, make sure your feet are healthy. This means good toenail grooming, massage and moisturizing. That’s right, we just gave you a great excuse for a pedicure.
2. Wear the shoe that’s right for you.
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that are right for your foot. This might mean you need to get to know your feet a little better. Looking at your footprint or the wear patterns on your favorite shoes can offer clues to how you walk, the height of your arch, your current foot problems, and even how you may be able to prevent injuries.
Follow these general guidelines for super-shopping shoes:
• Adequate arch support
• Good cushioning, especially at the heel and ball of foot
• Roomy toe box
• Low heel
• Slip-resistant outsoles and heels
• Roomy toe box
• Flexible uppers
Beware of wearing any brand new shoes on your shopping spree, even walking shoes.
3. Pick the right socks.
Next to shoes, socks just may be one of the most important steps for foot comfort. Today’s socks are high-tech and can wick moisture away from the foot while keeping the foot at your desired temperature. Keep these tips in mind:
• Make sure you’re covered. If you choose wisely, socks can help prevent shop-stopping injuries like blisters. Notice where you most often get blisters and make sure you choose the right sock height to cover that area. You can also choose one of the many blister-prevention socks available that can help reduce friction between your skin and your shoe.
• Pick the right warmth for your shopping climate. If you’re power shopping at the mall, a light sock that allows the foot to breathe may be ideal. If you live somewhere cold and tend to hit outdoor stores, a sock that retains warmth can be a better choice.
• Switch it up. Even the best sock needs to be changed. If your socks get wet from rain, snow or sweat, change them to avoid friction between your wet sock and your wet skin.
4. Get the support you need.
• Orthotics and insoles are worn inside the shoe and can help correct problems in your feet or ankles, such as flat feet, arch pain and heel pain.
• Compression socks and graduated support hosiery can help enhance circulation by squeezing the veins in the legs from the ankle up, which helps move blood toward the heart. This is especially helpful when you’re walking on hard surfaces for several hours at a time. This may keep you from coming home with swollen feet or legs. Regular use of compression socks can also help prevent or reduce varicose veins.
5. Give your feet a workout.
Shopping all day can take endurance and strength. Like any good athlete, an endurance shopper should keep their muscles in tip-top shape. Keeping your feet strong and flexible may help you avoid foot pain and injuries.
Try a few of these to avoid or help relieve discomfort from the following:
• Heel pain, arch pain and foot cramps: Roll a small ball, like a golf ball, or a frozen water bottle under the ball of your foot.
• Toe cramps, hammertoes or pain in ball of the foot: Place a small towel on the floor then pick it up with your toes, curling them toward you. You can also try picking up heavier items off the floor, such as marbles, and transferring them to a small bowl.
Like any good workout, resting the muscles between and after exercise is important. This includes resting between shopping sprints, too!
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American Podiatric Medical Association: “Holiday Foot Care”
American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society: “Orthotics” http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Orthotics.aspx
American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society: “How to Keep Your Feet Flexible”