Total foot care may help you battle foot pain

If you're like many other women, you probably hit the gym to keep excess pounds at bay, have an intense grooming routine, choose comfy yet stylish clothing and allow yourself some alone time to soak in the tub and melt away stress. But are you applying this kind of total care to your feet?

Just like any other part of your body, your feet need exercise, regular cleaning, support and stress relief. Otherwise, you may end up with bunions, fallen arches, infected toenails or just plain ugly feet.

Work those feet

It may not occur to you that your feet need exercise because they seem to do enough work just carrying you from point A to point B. However, simple walking isn't enough – your tootsies need targeted stretching and strengthening exercises.

One simple thing you can do while watching TV is to simply stretch your toes out for 5 to 10 seconds, then squeeze them in for the same length of time. Ten sets of this exercise on each side should be adequate. Also try moving your ankles in circles clockwise and counter-clockwise to keep them flexible and strong. You may also find it beneficial to practice grabbing a towel with your toes for added strength.

And scrub 'em good, too!

Feet with dead skin and calluses are better off hidden by sneakers. If you want to bare your toes this summer, invest in a good scrub, a foot brush and a pumice stone, making sure to exfoliate at least once a week.

A quick at-home treatment requires little more than a tub, some Epsom salts and thick lotion. Soak your feet in hot – but not scalding – water and a pound of salts, as the minerals will dissolve and provide a soothing feeling while they neutralize bacteria. Give them a quick scrub, dry off with a soft towel and slather on a luxurious cream for the prettiest feet in all the land.

Don't abuse with shoes

Teetering around in heels may give you legs for days, but it may also leave you with bunions and corns. Luckily, this is easily avoidable by choosing more sensible footwear. If the thought makes you cringe, keep in mind that ballet flats with arch support and wedge heels are stylish options that won't cause you foot pain.

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