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Chiropractic and Winter Footwear for Healthy Feet

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By Paul Rothbart

Chiropractic and Winter Footwear

Good health means taking care of your entire body and some parts need special care. For instance, your feet. Along with your ankles, feet bear the entire weight of your body whenever you stand, walk, run, or jump for your entire lifetime. Unless you’re Huckleberry Finn, they spend most of the day encased in socks and shoes. That’s a pretty tough gig. Your tootsies need some TLC, especially in the winter. A chiropractor can be helpful.

How Can Chiropractic Care Affect Your Feet and Ankles?

Foot and ankle pain is not uncommon, especially for people who are on their feet all day. It’s uncomfortable and can really slow down your progress on your daily tasks.

Chiropractic care can have a positive effect on the foot or ankle. Ankles are joints and chiropractic adjustments to joints can relieve pain and restore full range of motion.

The work that chiropractors do on soft tissue can help reduce healing time ankle injuries such as sprains. Ankle adjustments can reduce inflammation and relieve stiffness that can contribute to pain and reduced mobility.

The body is meant to function as a whole and that is how chiropractors treat it. Problems in the knees, hips, and spine can put added stress on the ankles and feet. Adjustments on other parts of the body help them function properly and remove that extra stress from the body’s lowest parts.

Are There Exercises to Strengthen the Feet and Ankles?

A strong body is a healthy body. It is less likely to be injured and can perform any task at its best. Exercise is one of the keys to strength and there are exercises for the feet and ankles.

One-leg balance - Stand on one leg with an arm against a wall for support. Slightly arch the foot you are standing on and hold for 12 seconds. Repeat five times for each foot. Doing this once a day strengthens the ligaments in the feet and ankles.

Golf ball roll - Sit up straight in a chair and place a golf ball on the floor in front of you. Place one foot on the ball and roll it around, using your foot. Press as hard as is comfortable for a good massage. Do this for about two minutes, then switch to the other foot. This exercise relieves tightness in the arch and can be used to prevent plantar fasciitis.

Achilles stretch - Face a wall and extend your arms so the palms are flat against the wall. Step back with one foot, keeping the knee straight. Bend the opposite knee and keep both heels flat on the floor. Move your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your heel and calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then switch to the other leg. This will strengthen the Achilles tendon and help prevent strains to it.

What Happens to Feet in Cold Weather?

When the weather gets cold, you have a whole new set of circumstances to deal with when it comes to keeping your body comfortable and healthy. Your feet have it tough. Extremities of the body have less muscle mass and fewer blood vessels. The feet are among these parts that are negatively affected by the cold. Blood flow is what warms the body, and less of it means feet and hands tend to feel the effects of the cold more severely.

In extreme cases, restricted flow of blood can lead to frostbite, a serious condition that can lead to tissue or nerve damage. Another common cold weather foot problem is chilblains. Prolonged exposure to cold air can inflame blood vessels and cause itchy red patches and blisters, as well as a significant amount of pain.

In cold weather, the air is much drier than at more comfortable temperatures. Your skin can become itchy and flaky. Dry skin is more susceptible to infections, and toenail fungus is more common when the temperature drops.

Why Is Winter Footwear Important?

Proper footwear is always important to foot and ankle health. However, there are extra considerations in the winter. The main issue is keeping your extremities warm. Feet do tend to get colder than larger body parts so footwear needs to be able to retain body heat.

Keeping the feet dry is another important task for footwear. As you keep your feet bundled up in cold weather, you may notice increased sweating compared to when it's warm. Moist feet tend to feel colder and become more uncomfortable. The trapped dampness inside your shoes and socks creates an environment conducive to fungal growth. You could easily get athlete’s foot, which is itchy and very unpleasant.

If you live in an area that gets snow in the winter, you will want footwear with good-gripping soles to prevent slipping and falling. If you don’t take such precautions, you could easily become injured after taking a tumble on an icy driveway or stairs, for example.

What Types of Footwear Are Geared for Winter?

When it comes to winter, the answer to footwear is boots, especially if you live in a snowy area. Winter boots come in a variety of types and styles from snow boots to Uggs, the favorite of many young women.

In extreme weather, it’s important to emphasize comfort and safety over style. Boots should be water resistant and lined with a cozy insulating material such as merino wool.

Boots come in various heights and you will want a pair that at least comes over the ankles to keep moisture out. Rain in cold weather can seep into low-cut boots just like snow. If your region regularly gets heavy snow, boots that come to your knees are highly recommended.

Either slip-on or lace-up boots can work. Just make sure they fit well and keep out the cold and damp.

Rubber boots such as galoshes or a pair of good old Wellingtons are a good choice if you live in an area that tends to experience flooding during thaws. Keeping your feet dry is critical.

What Kind of Socks Are Important for Winter Wear?

Boots have a partner in the quest for protecting the feet in winter. Don’t overlook the importance of the right kind of winter socks. A good pair is very helpful in keeping your feet warm and dry.

Choose a pair made of a comfortable and breathable material. Natural fabric is usually best; cotton socks are a good choice. Make sure they fit right and come up well above your ankle.

Wool socks are the best for people who live where winters are extremely cold. Wool is soft and will keep the feet warm even if it gets wet. Alpaca wool has become popular and socks made of it are especially warm and comfortable.

Whatever kind of socks you choose, make sure they fit well. If they are too tight, they will restrict circulation. If they’re too loose, they can slide around and cause blisters. You may be tempted to wear more than one pair at a time. This is not a good idea. The extra thickness can make your boots too tight and may cause pain or even injury. Put on a single pair of nice cozy socks and you will be fine.

What Should We Look for in Winter Footwear?

Although individual tastes play a role in what we choose to wear, there are some things that everyone should look for in winter footwear.

First is fit. Shoes, boots, and socks that don’t fit properly can cause pain and damage, and will not do a great job of keeping your feet warm and dry. Always try on boots before buying.

A sole with good traction is important because you will be walking around on snow and slippery surfaces. There are boots with spikes but that’s overkill. You could accidentally step on your own foot -- or someone else’s -- and cause an injury. A grippy bottom will do the job.

Ankle and arch support is as important to winter footwear as it is to any other kind. The upper parts of the boots should have enough flexibility to not restrict movement, Choose durable but lightweight materials that won’t tire you out from clomping around in them.

A waterproof outer and a warm breathable inside will keep your feet warm and dry. There is no shortage of winter boots on the market, so do your research, try them on, and find the perfect pair.

Winter can be a lot of fun but cold weather with rain and snow is brutal on the feet. Proper footwear can help prevent problems, as can regular visits to a chiropractor. The Joint Chiropractic has clinics all over the country, and they accept walk-ins. Put on your warmest boots and stop in for an exam. Your feet may thank you for it.

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