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Don't Get Cold Feet This Winter

Winter is coming. Gone are the sandals and flipflops of summer (though that's a topic for another day). So let's look at how you take care of your feet this winter season.

Boots can be a good choice for winter footwear, but not all boots are made alike. Check the sole of the shoe to see how much traction it has - a slippery, bare sole that skids on even a wood floor isn't going to be of any use. Bend the sole: if it twists and bends like rubber it's not going to support your foot. It should bend under the ball of the foot, but not at the arch. Don't wear a shoe that needs to be 'broken in', if it doesn't fit in the shop, it may never fit properly.  

Check that the shoe fits correctly. You should be able to move your toes inside the shoe and have a 2cm gap from the end of the shoes. The toe box should be 'deep' enough that your toes don't hit the upper part of the shoe while standing. You should have room to move your toes. This might sound a bit obvious, but shoes should be foot-shaped - not pointed.

One idea is to stand on a piece of cardboard and get a friend to draw outlines of your feet. Walk around barefoot for a few minutes before drawing the outlines, to allow your foot to relax. Then draw outlines of your bare feet, cut them out, bring them to the shoe shop (hide them in your bag if you feel a bit embarrassed), and put them inside the shoes. That way you can feel inside the shoe and check that the foot cut-out has room around it and has a finger's width gap between its longest point and the front. It shouldn't have to be bent up at the edges to fit in, but should happily lie flat. You can try this on your current shoes too, many people are wearing shoes a bit too small for them. Shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet will be a little bit bigger than in the morning. Try them on and walk in them and if they hurt or rub, leave them back, no matter how good the deal. Wear shoes in gradually - don't just stick them on your feet and go off for the day, try them for an hour and see how you do. Remember to account for the room taken up by warm socks.

Now about those socks - thermal socks can be ideal for winter if you get cold easily, as well as knee high socks under trousers. Socks should come up over your ankle if you are wearing boots, to prevent rubbing. Throw out socks with holes in them or that have seams that make marks on your feet. 

Around the house it can be tempting to wear slippers, but remember, if you have diabetes, balance issues, poor eyesight, or problems with your feet, or you have fallen before, slippers can make it easier for you to fall or might not provide enough support. A comfortable pair of well-fitting light shoes, like runners, as 'house shoes' might be a better option if you have these issues. Keeping warm is important, but don't sit warming your feet at or on the fire. People fall asleep and burn themselves on stoves and fireplaces all the time. At the very least, 'granny tartan' is not a good look. Similarly, if your feet get cold at night, fill the hot water bottle an hour or so before you go to bed and put it in the bed waiting for you. That way your bed is warm when you get into it, and you won't have a scalding hot rubber bottle to burn yourself on while you sleep. If you don't have good feeling in your feet, take the hot water bottle out of the bed before you go to bed.

Try to wear shoes that will keep the wet out, and if your feet do get wet while you are out, dry them with tissue or towel, and put dry socks on if you can. It's worth bringing a dry pair in your bag if you know you are going to be caught out in bad rain and won't be able to go home. If you are wearing wellingtons, do try to wear socks with them. 

And please, don't wear flip flops through the winter. You'll get frostbite. Take care of your feet. You want them to last you a lifetime.

Author: Constance Corry