As an intense physical job, farming can be pretty hazardous at times, particularly for your poor feet. But often, taking care of our feet is the furthest thing from our minds.
Neglecting your feet can lead to any number of common foot injuries, including plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, sprains, calluses, and blisters. You might also run into simple aches and pain.
Thankfully, many of the injuries listed above are preventable. You just need to take a few steps of precaution.
Proper footwear. Wearing the right footwear is the best step that you can take to prevent injury, hands-down. Proper boots will not only keep your feet and ankles well-supported, but will also help protect you from workplace injuries like slips, falls, or mistakes with machinery.
Switch up your posture. Farming involves a lot of standing, walking, and crouching. So when you can do a task sitting down, do it! Bring a crate, stool, or tarp if you need to. Your feet need to rest regularly to prevent foot damage.
Vary your tasks. Whenever possible, make sure to vary your tasks so that you’re not spending too long of a period doing one thing. For example, you can switch from a task that requires standing to a task that requires walking.
Keep feet dry. Soggy boots lead to blisters and fungus, plain and simple. See above for more tips on keeping your feet dry and bacteria-free.
Exfoliate often. Calluses can be unsightly, but more importantly, they can be uncomfortable enough to affect your work, which can lead to further injury. Soak your feet and then exfoliate with a pumice stone, foot file, or gentle foot scrub.
Don’t ignore pain. Your feet shouldn’t hurt! If you notice persistent aching, joint pain, heel pain, head to the doctor to get your feet checked out. Most of these problems will only get worse over time if they’re ignored.
Stretching. Just like your other muscles, your feet need to be stretched properly to prevent injury. There are a wide range of foot stretches that you can do. Some activities, like yoga, are also a great option. Start gentle at first, but stretch every day for best results.
One example of a popular foot stretch is the “foot roll,” in which you take a golf ball (or similar round object) and roll it back and forth from your toes to your heels. Another common stretch is the “towel stretch”: sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place a towel around your toes, and pull the towel towards you. Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds and then release. This helps prevent plantar fasciitis, a common injury.
Massage. When you’re on your feet all day, massages are not a luxury, they’re a necessity. Massages relax your foot muscles, relieve joint pain and aches, and prevent injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
If you don’t have a willing partner or trusty nearby spa, give yourself a foot massage instead. Bend one leg and rest your foot on the opposite thigh. Then gently rub a natural oil into your skin and nails. Hold your foot with both hands and press into the skin. For a deeper massage, press your knuckles into your foot and knead it like dough.
Rest. Healthy feet need two basic things: exercise and rest. Farming provides the exercise, so you must provide the rest.
Foot Skin Care
Beyond keeping your feet injury-free, you probably also want feet that you can proudly wear in sandals if you feel like it. Farming is definitely hard on the skin on your feet, but there are lots of things that you can do to keep your feet smooth, soft, and pretty.
Wash thoroughly. When you wash your feet, make sure to do so thoroughly, including between your toes and under your toenails.
Moisture, moisture, moisture. This one simple step makes a huge difference when it comes to how soft and touchable your feet are. Use your favorite lotion or cream; coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter are three great natural options. During the winter months, you may have to moisturize your feet more than once a day or use a richer cream.
One more reason to exfoliate. It’s important to get rid of all those dead skin cells on your feet, which contribute to calluses and other issues. While your feet are damp, use a pumice stone or foot file on your heels and any calluses. You can also make a foot scrub using sugar, salt or other plant-based ingredients. Just make sure to moisturize afterward!
Foot soaks. For an extra treat, soak your feet in hot water and epsom salts with a moisturizing soap. This softens the skin, prepping it for exfoliation and moisture, while also soothing and relaxing your foot muscles.
Sunscreen. You probably know how important it is to wear sunscreen, but don’t forget your ankles and feet if they’re exposed to the sun.
Toenail care. For low-maintenance toenail care, keep your toenails trimmed and cleaned. Moisturize your cuticles with vitamin E oil or cuticle cream.
If you’re into pedicures, choose your nail salon carefully – foot baths can be a breeding ground for foot fungus, so only go to salons that use a fresh disposable bag for each new customer. Also, look for natural nail polish and nail polish remover if possible, as many of the chemicals in nail polish can dry out the nails and make them brittle.
Routine Foot Care: Footwear Fundamentals