If you were looking for another body part to utterly obsess over, get ready to freak out — over your feet, that is.
I don’t really pay much attention to my feet. I get biweekly pedicures during sandal season and keep them nice and tidy when I plan on wearing boots and socks.
I also have a pumice stone somewhere in my apartment, which means I’m taking care of my heels, right?
However, when your mother is a podiatrist, you quickly notice there is a whole encyclopedia of things that can go wrong with your precious heels and toes.
The scary part is, you can really f*ck up your feet just by doing the things you’re probably doing every day.
Out of fear my feet will one day look like Shrek's, I asked the one doctor I knew would give it to me straight: Dr. Polina Zaydenberg, DPM. She is also more well-known as my mother.
1. Seriously, ditch the heels.
I don’t need to tell you how much heels will f*ck you up in the long run. Besides the possibility of obtaining a broken ankle, they mess with your circulation and can definitely screw you up long-term.
“Depending on the size of your heel and how often you wear them, your Achilles’ tendon gets shorter,” Dr. Zaydenberg explained. “It then becomes very difficult to wear flat shoes."
Think your heels hurt now? They’ll get even worse as you’re older. Fat pad atrophy is the breakdown of the fat that cushions the bones of your feet. When you wear heels, it can get destroyed. This is particularly bad because when you start losing cushioning, your favorite pair of Manolo's might become even less walkable.
“That’s the only place in your body where you want fat,” said Dr. Zaydenberg. “And when you lose that, you will have serious trouble with heels."
You can also go all Kylie Jenner and get temporary fillers on the balls of your feet. Personally, we like the “heels for special occasions" approach more.
2. Actually pay attention to your pedicurist.
We all love to plug in our headphones and rev up the massage chair as someone caresses our poor tired little piggies.
You should be able to relax, but keep an eye on your technician.
“Make sure the salon uses sterile instruments or just bring your own,” Dr. Zaydenberg warned. “Otherwise, you risk getting a fungal infection in your nails and skin, as well as infected ingrown toenails."
“Sterilized" doesn’t just mean the utensils have been soaked in a jar filled with bright blue liquid. Make sure your technician is opening the pouch of tools in front of you. Also, make sure you saw him or her take it out of an autoclave.
“Just ensure your nails aren’t getting cut too short because you are traumatizing the nail plate and making yourself predisposed to get more fungus," Dr. Zaydenberg advised.
3. Believe it or not, your heels aren’t the sole culprit.
The biggest offender? Flats.
“The most damaging shoes are flats that offer zero support,” Dr. Zaydenberg warned. “If you’re buying shoes and you can fold them a few times, guess what? It helps you develop deformities and arthritis. For those who already have those things, it will progress even faster."
Instead, look for flats with structure and support.
4. Your tootsies need some post-shower love, too.
You moisturize yourself after your shower, so why not do the same for your feet?
Dr. Zaydenberg recommends using a moisturizing cream at the bottom of your feet on a regular basis and an antibacterial cream on any open cracks.
Additionally, use hypoallergenic soap and make sure to dry the space between your toes post-shower, ocean or pool. This is especially important if you have poor circulation in the area.
5. You’re still wearing cheap shoes.
Those $20 heels you copped at Forever 21 might not be doing you any favors. Both synthetic socks and liners make your feet sweat and produce a lovely pungent aroma.
Also, moisture isn’t great for your feet. Fungal organisms love a moist environment and your feet will be the not-so-willing hosts.
6. Your toes need some space.
Stay away from point-toe shoes and tight toe boxes. Seriously, your blister-free feet will thank you.