Our top 10 tips for healthy feet
Tip number one for healthy feet: stick to taking breaks in wearing shoes and walk barefoot as often as you can.
Our first and by far the most important tip for healthy feet: walking barefoot as often as possible. It is the most natural and authentic way of walking. Walking barefoot is not just essential for healthy tendons, muscles and foot arches. The act of walking barefoot on different terrains leads to special sensomotoric activations and mobilisation of the foot. Plus – the sensation of walking barefoot through a meadow or on grass, sand or over the forest floor is truly wonderful. You also get a complimentary foot massage in the process and the fresh air does your feet the world of good. Sioux tip: you should endeavour to walk barefoot for some distance every day (and ideally also up some steps i.e. up the stairs or a ladder). We also recommend exerting your feet this way for longer period of time at least once a week (for example, early morning walks are a real treat for your feet).
Tip number two for healthy feet: spend the majority of your time in standard footwear. Only wear high heels in moderation
As we said in our article on high heels, raised heel sections are exceedingly harmful for your feet. This is due to the shortening of the muscular system in the foot and misalignments in the forefoot area. If you are really interested in style and fashion, however, and still wish to wear high heels, then you should really limit the amount of time that you wear them. Incidentally, it was once common practice to have a second pair of comfortable shoes stowed under one’s desk, which people could swap to relax their feet for most of the day – in between those few “glamorous” steps around the office in heels, of course. As it happens, this second “comfy pair” which was worn in the 1970s was often our fabulously comfortable Grashopper model. Here at Sioux, we recommend that you never wear heels with a heel exceeding 5 cm in height.
Tip number three for healthy feet: pay attention to the correct fit. Too tight, too wide? Don’t make any compromises.
The foot needs proper support and sufficient space in the shoe. If the shoe is too tight (not wide enough) or too short (small), then this can not only lead to painful abrasions on the surface of the skin, such as blisters, bruises and redness, but also to growth disorders and the development/worsening of misalignments. If, on the other hand, the shoes are too wide or too big (too long), the feet will slide around inside the shoe whilst walking, causing the toes to become squashed. You should not buy a pair of shoes if they don't fit your feet perfectly. Regardless of how much you like the style.
Tip number four for healthy feet: ensure you have the correct level of cushioning. Of course, this means choosing shoes which are not to hard – but they should not be too soft either.
This brings us to a very interesting topic: the right level of cushioning.
It is well known that a shoe sole must not be too hard, because otherwise the foot cannot get a proper grip on the ground or develop the correct roll-through movement/ cushioning effect, which play a part in the foot’s natural function.
But is it possible for insoles to be too soft? Just like a mattress which causes you to sink into the bed due to the lack of support, insoles which are too soft are extremely harmful to the feet too. Why is this the case? The foot does not have a proper grip, causing it to overstretch. It may well seem that an extremely soft insole is comfortable at first, but you will find after a few hours standing or walking that your feet quickly become tired. Studies shoe that the feet only require extra cushioning when walking/running etc. on extremely hard surfaces such as tarmac. In a nutshell, cushioning can be a good thing and is important, however, like many good things – only in moderation. What this essentially means is that wearing trainers to excess can cause damage to your feet, just as having insufficient cushioning can be harmful.
Another thing to pay attention to: an articulated support for the joints in your shoes. Many brands, like us here at Sioux, build their articulated supports from steel. These make the shoe particularly sturdy at the heel and support the natural roll-through movement. This is especially important for those who are carrying a little extra weight, as the articulated support ensures stability at the back of the foot. All of the shoes made here at Sioux feature these articulated supports. Many budget manufacturers do not build these supports into their shoes in order to keep costs low. One place you will certainly notice if your shoes feature these articulated supports – at the airport. Have you ever had to be individually checked by airport security staff, only to realise it was your shoes that set off the metal detector? Don’t let this annoy you – it just means that your shoes are high quality. Incidentally, this is also the part that may squeak in your shoes as you walk. If the articulated support is not covered properly, then it will squeak as you walk. We ensure that our shoes are covered thoroughly so that this does not happen.
Creating the optimal balance between softness and resilience of the sole is a science within itself here at Sioux. The cushioning effect of the soles is measured in “shore” (an index of firmness used in the industry). Nothing is left to chance with Sioux shoes, we even standardise and control the firmness of the sole based on our decades of experience.
Tip number five for healthy feet: The natural leather material – something not given its due credit.
It is imperative that the shoe is breathable and able to absorb and release moisture. Leather is a natural product with unrivalled properties. No other material is as durable, flexible and can so effortlessly absorb and release moisture to the same level. Here, at Sioux, we either fully line our shoes with a real leather lining (90% of shoes) or with a breathable microfibre (part of the canvas Grashopper features this lining). This leads to a healthy foot climate and counteracts feet prone to perspiration.
Tip number six for healthy feet: foot massage
Sore feet will always respond well to a good foot massage. Use a light amount of pressure to stroke the foot from the ankle down to the toes and then back. To massage the sole, make circular motions with your thumb from the heel to the ball of your feet, again whilst applying pressure. If you scrunch up your toes, tension is created in the plantar fascia (tendon plate at the sole of the foot) and you can also massage this. The individual toes can be taken between the thumb and finger and massaged using light pressure and also pulled gently to stretch them, which will mobilise them and increase their flexibility. You can strengthen the arch of the foot during the massage by placing your hand on top of your foot at a right angle and pulling the fingers towards one another.
Tip number seven for healthy feet: strengthen your feet with small, regular exercises
Quick and simple exercises for your feet are easy to work into your everyday life and can really do wonders for your feet. Having a strengthened muscular system prevents the development of misalignments. Try getting purchase of and lifting various small items such as tissues, coins, marbles etc. using your toes. Consciously using and moving your toes is a good way to help strengthen the muscles in them. You can also try spreading, bending or drawing in your toes to do this. It is more difficult to raise your big toe on its own whilst keeping the others flat on the ground or vice versa. When did you last walk on your tiptoes or on the back of your heels? Walking barefoot up a staircase or ladder is also a great exercise. It is definitely worth doing these exercises in order to stretch and strengthen the ankle and the calf and shin muscles as well. There are so many exercises that you can teach yourself at home. Simply search for the term “spiral therapy” in YouTube to find some examples
Tip number eight for healthy feet: massage and stretch the foot
The muscles, ligaments and toes often cramp up during the day and shorten. Stretch out your feet regularly to relieve this strain. Bend your toes and place your palm on top of them. Now pull your foot towards your body, stretching out the toes whilst doing so. It also works to do this in the other direction. Scrunch your toes, cover the ball of your foot with your hand and pull your foot towards your shin. Take each toe and stretch them out individually, applying slight pressure and using long motions to pull each one up and down slowly. A foam roller (fascia roller) can be additionally used in order to stretch the plantar fascia (group of tendons at the sole of the foot).
Tip number nine for healthy feet: encourage circulation of blood
Stay in and put your feet up. You should regularly make time for this. Elevate your legs and feet for a few minutes to promote blood circulation and relieve swollen feet. A convenient exercise which works wonders for relieving the lower back (which often is painful for those who sit regularly) is to lay your back on the floor, bend your knees and pull your legs to your chest. If you do not want to or cannot keep your legs raised like this for a length of time, then you can simply rest them on a chair whilst lying in the same position. At the same time, pull your feet towards you and then relax them again, turn each foot and stretch them out once more and then repeat this same movement, but with your toes. How to kill two birds with one stone: relaxing and mobilising your feet whilst relieving the lower back at the same time. In contrast, foot baths (which were “discovered” by a priest, Sebastian Kneipp, in the middle of the 19th century) can also improve the blood circulation to the feet, which in turn relaxes them and relieves cramping.
Tip number 10 for healthy feet: regular foot care. It is always better to prevent than to treat
Feet should be appreciated for what they truly are – a fascinating and complex natural wonder, a trusted companion and a means to make your way through the long and colourful journey of life. You should give them the attention and care they deserve. Feet that are well cared for encounter far fewer problems. Although they may be off-putting, you should not give more troublesome ailments the opportunity to develop (they can happen to the best of us). This includes the likes of athlete's foot, nail fungus, warts, corns and ingrowing nails. It is best to let medical professionals specialised in podiatry deal with your feet. This way, you will avoid complications and deteriorations at a later stage. Toenails are best cut or clipped in a straight line and you should only go near the edges with a file. By doing this, you should be able to avoid ingrowing nails and accidentally cutting the skin around the nail bed. Athlete's foot is best avoided by always wearing bathing sandals in public baths, saunas and wet rooms.