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A Hudson Valley podiatrist shares eight essential tips to keep those toes toasty when the temperatures drop below freezing.
Feet have it rough in the winter. From slipping in and out of thick, moisture-sucking socks to packing it into clunky boots to shovel snow, there’s no shortage of wear and tear on our much-suffering extremities as the mercury dips lower. While it’s nigh unto impossible to avoid the dreaded wintertime foot fatigue, it is possible to ease the dryness and frostbite that go hand in hand with the season.
To help us take care of our heels and toes this winter, Optum Medical Care podiatrist Raisa Tsvaygenbaum, DPM shares her top eight tips. With a little effort and pre-planning, your feet will thank you all year long.
Say “Yes” to Fuzzy Socks
“Wool can absorb a high amount of moisture, even more than cotton, and stays insulated even when feet are wet,” explains Tsvaygenbaum. “Toe warmers and leg warmers are also nice options for keeping warm when outside for an extended period of time.”
Choose the Right Footwear
“Closed-in shoes, above the ankle, and waterproof are best,” she notes. “Make sure snow cannot easily get into your shoes!”
Exercise the Right Way
“If you like to exercise outside, wear lightweight, waterproof running shoes,” she recommends. “Also, make sure to run or walk on groomed pathways. Traction cleats, such as Yaktrax, can help stabilize your feet when walking on snow or ice.”
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Stay Away From Fashion Boots
“Ladies, the long boots we all own will not necessarily keep your feet warm,” Tsvaygenbaum advises. If you do plan to wear stylish shoes, try to find a pair that is warm and insulated inside.
Invest in a Remote Car Starter
“Consider getting a remote car starter installed, which will help ensure your car and your feet are nice and toasty before you drive off to your destination,” she says.
Easier said than done, right? Not really, explains Tsvaygenbaum. To keep frostbite far, far away from your toes, limit your time outdoors to a minimum. “Don’t wear anything too tight, including shoes, because tight clothing increases risk of frostbite. If you start to experience redness and/or a stinging, burning, throbbing, or a prickling feeling, head indoors fast and use warm water to help bring feelings back to normal,” she says. As an additional preventive measure, she recommends staying hydrated and limiting alcohol consumption, since both alcohol and dehydration can lead to greater risk of frostbite.
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Moisturize Like You Mean It
“Exposure to cold air dries your feet,” Tsvaygenbaum reveals. “Crackling of your feet and skin can lead to breaks in your skin and bleeding or just painful and annoying calluses.” To avoid dryness altogether, try to maintain a regular moisturization routine in the morning or before you go to bed. Trust us, your feet will love it!
Remove Sweaty Socks
“After exercising, damp feet caused from sweaty socks will not only make your feet colder,” warns Tsvaygenbaum. She adds that, on top of the slightly gross chill, the dampness from sweaty socks can lead to athlete’s foot or fungal infections in the toenails. To take a pass on all things fungus-related, get in the habit of removing socks and shoes right after exercising or, you know, shoveling snow.
While these practices are all essential to maintain foot health in the cold weather, Tsvaygenbaum explains that certain individuals can still be prone to Raynaud’s disease, a condition that causes extremities to turn white, then blue, and feel numb and cold. “As your body warms up and circulation improves, the affected areas may turn red, throb, tingle, or swell,” she says. If you suspect you have Raynaud’s disease, she recommends contacting your physician for guidance.