It's that time of year again when women up and down the country relegate their beloved strappy sandals to the back of the wardrobe until the promise of spring draws them out again.
If that means your feet won't get lavished with the attention they so rightfully received during the summer until it's warm enough to bare them again, do them a favour. Treat them to one last pamper session before autumn officially sets in. Since it's World Reflexology Week (September 19-25), it's the least you can do.
If you're currently tramping around the high street seeking out your new autumn wardrobe, your feet will thank you for the extra TLC, especially if you've already converted to toe-pinching shoes and boots.
Here's how to keep your feet sweet:
Salt soak Place a handful of sea salt in a large bowl of warm water and soak your feet for up to 20 minutes. The salt helps deodorise and soften the skin. If your feet are a bit whiffy, add a few drops of tea tree oil. Once dry, use a foot file to remove hard skin, moisturise with sweet-smelling foot cream and cheer up your toenails with two coats of colour.
Blast hard skin If you've built up a particularly thick layer of hard skin over the summer, have it professionally removed by a qualified chiropodist or podiatrist (find one at feetforlife.org). A foot expert can help get rid of nasties such as verrucas, corns, athlete's foot and bunions too.
Rub them better After a long day at the shops, indulge your feet with a soothing massage. Using a dollop of foot cream or massage oil, rub your hands together until they're nice and warm, then glide them over one foot using long, stroking motions. Massage each toe individually, starting with the big one, then apply pressure to the soles using your fingers, knuckles and thumbs in a rotating motion, as if you were kneading dough. Then repeat on the other foot.
Ice roller Place a plastic bottle of water in the freezer and when your feet are particularly in need of refreshing use the bottle as a foot roller. The coldness will help reduce soreness and swelling, and boosts blood flow too.
If you feel your feet need a professional treat, book a session with a qualified reflexologist, or pop round to your local salon for a pedicure. It will set you up for the season.
Meanwhile if you're buying new shoes or boots, make sure you get the right size. According to experts, around 80% of people wear the wrong size shoes - that's partly because shoe sizes tend to vary from one brand and style to the next, and partly because feet tend to spread as you get older (so you may need a size bigger).
Also since feet tend to swell up during the day, always buy new shoes at the end of a shopping session rather than at the beginning. And don't forget those neat gel cushion products that go inside your shoes - they're brilliant at relieving the pressure wearing high heels puts on the balls of your feet (which is particularly good news with the party season just around the corner). Stock up with a packet or ten now.
Does your favourite footwear make your feet scream? Isn't it a bitch when that happens?
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