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Your feet have 26 small bones with 200 ligaments and 20 muscle.

Your feet have 26 small bones with 200 ligaments and 20 muscles. They all work together to miraculously support your body’s entire weight! However, it’s hard for feet to do their job when squeezed into shoes that don’t fit properly.

Most people don’t even notice their feet until they feel pain. Corns, calluses and bunions are unattractive–but are also avoidable and treatable.

It’s the constant friction between your feet and shoes that causes calluses and corns. Soft corns develop between toes when they rub against each other in the confines of a pointed shoe. Friction from the sides of the shoe often causes a harder corn to form on outside toes. Corns can hurt quite a bit, while calluses, formed on the soles of your feet, usually don’t.

To dissolve corns and calluses, try soaking your feet in warm water for 15 minutes, then sand off the growth with a pumice stone. Rub in tea tree or calendula oil to speed healing. It may take several treatments.

For a quicker but slightly messier method, mix a teaspoon of dried camomile flowers with a crushed clove of garlic into a teaspoon of lemon juice. Massage the mixture into the area two or three times a day.

The thickening of the head of your big toe’s metatarsal bone into a bunion can send your foot out of alignment, causing a great deal of tenderness. Taking a daily dose of 25,000 IU of vitamin A provides pain relief. Don’t take large doses of this supplement for more than one week--nerve damage can occur with prolonged use. Acupressure is another alternative pain reliever. Press the point located on the top of the foot between the joint of the big toe and second toe for one minute.

Warts and athlete’s foot are very common summer foot ailments. A wart is a virus that’s easily picked up from others. It enters your body through a cut or a scrape on the skin and can easily spread to your feet by scratching or rubbing your bare foot or from the deck at a neighbourhood pool. Warts will usually clear up by themselves but you can assist the process by crushing a capsule of vitamin A with a little bit of water to make a paste. Daub it on the wart in the morning then apply a drop of castor oil to the area in the afternoon. Finally, add a drop of lemon juice at night to help dissolve it.

That itchy, flaky, cracking skin which starts between your toes and spreads to the soles of the feet is a sure sign of athlete’s foot. This fungus is contracted by walking barefoot in gym change rooms, showers and pools. The fungus thrives on moist skin, so keep your feet as dry as possible by wearing breathable, natural fibre socks. Avoid going barefoot in shoes that make your feet sweat. Dust your feet with arrowroot powder or corn starch to absorb sweat.

Anti-fungal treatments include applying undiluted tea tree oil to the affected area; putting crushed garlic into your socks and wearing them overnight and rubbing on homeopathic calendula ointment in the morning
and at night.

Pampering Pedicure

Start the road to beautiful feet by soaking your tired, aching feet in a lavender and juniper bath. Add 10 drops of each essential oil to two litres of warm water and immerse your feet for 10 minutes.

The next step: a friction rub with cider vinegar and a loofah to exfoliate dead skin. Plunge your feet into cold water for 30 seconds to increase blood flow--then it’s time to remove any corns or calluses with a pumice stone.

Now clip and file your toenails in a straight line and smooth out any rough edges. This will prevent ingrown toenails. Rinse your feet and dry them well, especially between your toes. Apply almond oil to the cuticles to soften and push them back. Massage your feet thoroughly by kneading your instep, sole and toes using a herbal cream or essential oil of your choice. This will relax your muscles and increase the circulation to your feet. Finish your pedicure by wiping off the cream, buffing your toenails with coconut oil and dusting your feet with absorbent powder.

Treat Your Feet

Lavender, rosemary, peppermint, geranium and thyme are just some examples of essential oils you can use directly. Mix them with a carrier oil or add to your favorite lotion when giving yourself (or getting someone else to give you) a relaxing and therapeutic foot massage. All of the following massage movements may be done while sitting down and starting with whichever foot is the most comfortable to grab.

Circulation: Start with your thumbs on the top of your foot at the instep. Rotate your thumbs in opposite directions down the centre of your foot to your toes (approximately three to five times). Then rotate your thumbs from the ball of your foot to your heel.

Thumb Compression: Make a fist with your hand, leaving your thumb out. Using that thumb to apply firm upward pressure move your thumb along one side on the bottom of your foot from the heel to the ball, then follow with downward pressure along the other side towards your heel.

Kneading: Place both thumbs underneath your foot with your fingers on top of your foot along your metatarsal bones, and massage each bone as if you were kneading dough.

Joint Relaxer: Hold your ankle in one hand and place the fingers of your other hand on the top of the big toe and your thumb under the toe. Then rotate the joint in a circular downward motion. Work each toe separately. Switch your finger position, placing your thumb on the top of your toe and your fingers underneath, then rotate the joints in a circular upward motion.

Deep Rubbing: Make a fist with your right hand and place it on the bottom of your foot. The other hand rests on top of the fist. The right hand fist twists into your foot, while the left hand applies downward force. This deep compression is done all over the sides and bottom of your foot.

Percussion:Using your fingertips, tap your entire foot lightly to complete the massage. n

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