Winter can come with its fair share of challenges. Feeling shortchanged on hours of daylight can really affect your mood over time, and sliding your car hood-first into a snowbank can affect your mood immediately.
The season can also take a physical toll on many people’s feet. As we turn up our heaters and bury our toes in boots, the conditions can make for uncomfortable dryness and cracking, as well as problems with sweating and odor. Then, of course, there come the risks inherent in hitting a patch of ice or taking a hard bail on the slopes.
While it may be impossible to prevent every potential seasonal misfortune out there, investing just a little time and consideration can help you avoid the majority of them—and help you feel a lot more comfortable while doing so!
Take the following winter foot care tips into consideration, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or need help with a particular foot or ankle issue.
Make Sure Your Boots Fit Your Feet
If boots only tend to be a winter thing for you, it can be easy to keep donning the same pair year after year. That might not be best for your feet, however.
Our feet still change a bit from year to year, even as adults. Additionally, the quality of footwear can degrade over time even when they are not being worn. That 3-year-old pair of boots in your closet might not be fitting your feet well or providing you the support and warmth you need.
Boots that are too tight for your feet are not just uncomfortable, but can also restrict circulation. This can make you become cold faster in normal conditions, but also decrease your resistance to frostbite in extreme ones.
On the other side of things, shoes that are too large for your feet will increase movement and friction within them, making you more vulnerable to blisters, calluses, and corns.
In addition to a good fit, proper winter boots should also be composed of waterproof materials. That keeps outside wetness from getting in, although it’s not the full picture on moisture.
Keep Your Feet (and Footwear) Dry…
Keeping feet in winter boots can lead to more sweating. It’s that eternal tradeoff of keeping warm and not getting swampfoot.
Wet feet naturally chill more easily, and excess sweat can make foot odor and bacterial infections more likely. Keeping your feet and boots dry on the inside will go a long way toward preventing these factors.
First consideration: your socks. You want warmth, certainly, but look for moisture-wicking properties as well. Cotton and wool can be good candidates, although certain synthetic blends also work well.
No matter what kinds of materials you’re wearing, though, you should give them time to dry out after spending a day in them. Have at least two pairs of boots so you can switch between them, giving the previous pair at least 24 hours to air out. Investing in a boot dryer can also help get moisture out faster. Without moisture, bacteria that creates odor and sometimes even an infection will not have as much to live off of.
…And Then Keep Your Feet from Drying Out
Sweating is a potential issue, but so is your feet drying out. (We told you winter wasn’t easy.)
Heating elements can make for drier conditions, and taking long, steaming showers can also dry you out as well. Your feet in particular can suffer from dryness due to having fewer oil glands to lock moisture in. Dryness leads to discomfort, but can also lead to painful cracking and an increased risk of infection.
Using a moisturizer on your feet is a good way to keep dryness at bay. The best time to apply some is when your feet have just been damp, so after a shower is an ideal opportunity. You don’t need anything fancy, either. A simple moisturizer with ingredients such as glycerin, urea, and propylene glycol—among others—can be effective. If you have any questions about what would be best for your particular situation, though, we’ll be happy to help!
Prepare for Active Protection
You don’t have to necessarily hang up your outdoor running routine once winter rolls around, but you should be cautious about the conditions.
If your terrain tends to get icy sometimes, you might want to pick up a pair of spikes that slip on over your shoes. These can add traction in icy spots, and can be easily removed if the pavement clears.
Also, the shoes themselves should be as water resistant as possible, including having little to no mesh. Nothing worse than stepping in a slush puddle and having to deal with that for the next few kilometers.
No matter what you are wearing, be mindful as you run. Don’t expect to hit many personal bests when it’s cold and snowy out. Be more patient with yourself, take time to warm up properly before you even head outside (you’ll stay warmer that way and sweat less), and use a shorter stride for more stability in unstable terrain—even if you’re wearing spikes on your shoes.
Your Destination for Winter Foot Care (and All Other Seasons, Too)
Your feet might not feel like a priority when you’re rushing through winter, but the effort of caring for them well is absolutely worth it.If you run into any problems—no matter when—our offices in Burley and Twin Falls are here to help. Schedule an appointment at either of our locations by calling (208) 731-6321. You may also fill out our online contact form with any questions or appointment requests, and a member of our staff will reach out to you during office hours.