We use them every day, but few of us think about them enough. However, new research shows that foot health tells us a lot about your wider health.
Look after your feet, and the rest will follow. That’s the message from a growing body of evidence which suggests the condition of your feet can tell you a lot about the rest of you. By using simple exercises, you can improve foot condition and strength which could even help you live a bit longer – here are some top tips for tip-top toes.
All in the head
They may be at different ends of your body but little problems with your feet could indicate that something’s wrong at the top. In particular, if you have cold feet it could indicate poor circulation in your brain which could be depriving it of crucial nutrients and harming function. Chronic fungal growth, poor capillary refill time, white toenail beds or cramping in your feet signify that circulation to your feet is poor, which means it might also be poor in the brain.
If you’ve got any these problems it pays to find out what’s causing it. Your lifestyle may be a factor. If you’re spending too much time sitting down it can affect blood circulation. Especially during times of lockdown, you may not be getting as much exercise as normal. Other causes could be conditions such as anaemia, diabetes, low blood pressure or even heart disease.
Foot strength and longevity
For all sorts of reasons, we should probably all look after our feet more than we do. However, one of the most compelling reasons is that it might contribute to longevity. A recent study in Japan measured toe flexor strength of more than 1,400 men across various age groups. They found they could tell how well people looked after themselves based on these results.
The data accurately predicted people’s age, exercise, drinking and sleeping habits.
The condition of your feet, therefore, could be an indicator of wider health issues. However, low foot strength could also have an impact on you in the here and now. It could reduce your athletic performance and the impact of any exercise you do.
For example, without proper activation of your foot your entire movement suffers. If you’re a runner you’ll find yourself losing force which could be used to push you forward. In other words, you’ll start to slow down sooner than might otherwise be the case.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to put this right. Many of these are simple exercises you can do in the supermarket queue or while waiting to pick the kids up from school. Things like single leg stands, ankle push outs and toe raises can all build strength in your feet.
At the very least you should be paying more attention to your feet. If you look after them, they will look after you and may tell you a surprising amount about your general health and wellbeing.