You may be doing a lot of walking, dancing, standing and sitting in one position throughout the holiday season. Half of all Americans report experiencing foot pain at some point in their lives, according to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). No one wants soreness or injuries to slow them down during the holidays, so it's important to care for your feet so they can carry you through all those seasonal celebrations and chores.
The APMA offers some advice for keeping feet healthy (and happy) this holiday season:
* Moisturize - Dry winter air and cold temperatures can take a toll on skin. Moisturize feet daily to help avoid dry, cracked and irritated skin.
* Exercise your feet - Stretching is a good way to avoid muscle cramps. Stave off toe cramps by raising, pointing and curling your toes for five seconds. Repeat 10 times. Rotating your ankles can also help relax feet. Cup your heel and turn each ankle slowly five times to loosen ankle joints.
* Massage - Foot rubs not only feel good, they're a great way to release tension, boost circulation and refresh skin after a long day on your feet. Take a few minutes to massage your feet at the end of a day of shopping and celebrating. Use lotion and take care of moisturizing at the same time!
* Pedicure properly - Picture-perfect toes are part of a great holiday wardrobe for many women. Whether you do it yourself or go to a salon, be sure your pedicure is done properly. Never use a razor to remove dead skin - opt for a good pumice stone instead. Don't cut cuticles; push them back gently with a rubber tool made for this purpose. Use toenail clippers with a straight edge to cut nails straight across.
* Raise your legs - Feet and ankles can swell from sitting too long in one position (taking a long flight to grandma's house for the holidays, for example) or if you've been on your feet all day (shopping, baking or cooking). Elevate your legs to reduce swelling. Lay or sit and lift your legs above your heart.
* Wear smart shoes - OK, so you'll never give up your sparkly high heels when it's time for that special soiree. But for other holiday activities such as shopping, traveling or cooking, ditch the high heels. When you know you'll be on your feet all day, wear comfortable shoes with good arch support and a padded sole. Check out APMA's website to see which types of footwear have received the Seal of Acceptance and Seal of Approval for promoting foot health.
* Get help - Feet shouldn't hurt all the time. Persistent foot pain can be an indication of injury, irritation or illness. See a podiatrist if you experience pain; don't wait until the holidays end.
Visit www.apma.org to find a podiatrist in your area and learn more about foot health.