Taking better care of my feet
Feet are a strange topic, often associated with personal hygiene, but I have been trying to take better care of mine. Not just from a perspective of hygiene and skincare of the foot, but from a functional perspective.
I spent the better part of ten years wearing heels a lot, almost every weekday. I no longer admire women who can live in heels. If you choose to do that, good for you. I won’t stop you. But I used to be that person, and I could definitely—as the old adage goes—run a marathon in heels. The truth is that I don’t want to anymore. I don’t have any feminine urge to be running away from anything. 😛 Really, I guess I can’t go back. After living the sneaker life, prioritising my comfort over whatever reasons I had to be wearing heels, I couldn’t stand the feeling of having my toes squashed.
I danced ballet for over ten years, with several of those years being on pointe shoes. I started lifting weights in my twenties. I found it a huge laugh that I had core strength, strength from dancing on my toes, and overall became relatively fit, but came to the same conclusion: high heels are fucking bad for your feet. 😆
If I think about the reasons I wore high heels, I think it was a combination of factors. I was short, so high heels made me look taller. As I got older I learned that it doesn’t really matter whether you wear heels or not. In the real world when people see you, outside of photos and videos and whatnot—you’re short. You look short compared to others. And the fact that you’re wearing heels won’t make a difference. Come to think of it, I wore very high platform heels for my wedding, but I was still much, much shorter than my six-foot-tall husband, and the difference in height between me and other people in the wedding photos wasn’t too noticeable.
Confidence is a part of it too. I can understand why some people wear heels. It gives them a boost of confidence. I realised that my confidence level was the same no matter what shoes I wore. I began to feel more confident in my clothing in general, because I started to wear clothes that accurately represented my style. I think the pandemic also made me prioritise comfort over style. I don’t think I will ever have slouchy streetwear or activewear as a staple in my day-to-day wardrobe, but I definitely did away with most clothing and shoes that restricted movement or that made me feel uncomfortable.
It was around this time that I also experienced pain in my heels, feet, and ankles, and after trying to wear wider, flatter shoes for a while, still found it really difficult to walk without pain. I saw a podiatrist and wore orthotics for about a year. The podiatrist said my ankles and calves were really tight and my toes were essentially “permanently clenched” as a result of being squashed inside my shoes all the time. I still wear my orthotics occasionally, but I found that I didn’t need them as much after I replaced most of my ill-fitting, pointed-toe shoes with sneakers or shoes with a wider toe box. This made a huge different to my comfort when walking because I could also feel my toes able to wriggle a little bit in my shoe. There was actually room for them to spread and support my steps.
There is some scientific research to suggest that not only can high heels affect posture, but wearing specially designed shoes, or ensuring you wear a variety of shoes, “barefoot shoes”, or walking barefoot can reduce the negative effect that certain shoe designs can have over time. It’s not something I’ll write too much more detail about as it’s not difficult to locate the articles online. However, it’s affected the way I view my footwear, and I definitely try to make better choices with my shoes.
In terms of skincare, I have been trying to be more diligent about cleaning my feet thoroughly when I shower—honestly, something that’s easy to be a bit careless about, especially when it can feel awkward to thoroughly clean your feet and in between all of your toes and whatnot while you’re standing under running water. On top of that, I’ve tried to use a file more regularly to file down rough skin on my feet. Let’s face it, feet don’t have to be yuck. They can be nice and soft. I’ve been using a foot mask from Innisfree, since I find them quite affordable at $5 a pop. Innisfree is a (mostly facial) skincare brand, and I know there are some speciality brands out there that create foot masks, but I would take $5 over the $10–13 I’ve seen some other foot masks priced at. The Innisfree ones also really do make the skin on my feet feel soft.
I’ve noticed that my toes no longer feel comfortable in some of the shoes I’ve owned for a while, especially the ones with less room in the front. They actually feel so much tighter than I remembered. In fact, I bought a pair of shoes a few months back, and had to size up to a size EU 37 (I’m normally EU 36). I have a suspicion that after spending a long time wearing shoes that let my toes spread and have a little movement, my toes no longer have that “clench” or bend to them. So it’s possible that I was wearing a shoe size too small, or forcing my toes to squeeze into a shoe when the better option would be to get a larger size or a better toe shape.
I’ll have to do another cleanout of my shoes for sure!