Sharon Reid


I had the dubious ‘pleasure’ of once being approached by a man with a foot fetish; this questionable encounter took place when I worked in retail as a 20 something. I’m convinced that I received this unwanted attention because of my penchant (at the time) for wearing a rather fetching gold ankle bracelet which I paired with black suede high -heeled Carvela mules. I couldn’t comprehend why anyone –let alone a man with a bona fide fetish would find my feet attractive! Don’t get me wrong my feet are not exactly rough hoofs; however fuelling desire is a bit of a stretch.

My feet are like the homely girl, who despite not being blessed with beauty makes the most of what she’s got, so I know only too well the importance of keeping them well moisturised and sticking to my pedi appointments. Always open to improving on my feet maintenance I recently met with Michael Ratcliffe, a Podiatrist at Carnation Footcare, who has kindly compiled essential tips for keeping one’s feet in tip top condition, such gems include the correct way to cut your toenails, and the importance of wearing shoes with either laces or straps.

What are your 5 top tips to make sure your feet are in a good condition to walk your 10,000 steps a day?

1. Wash your feet daily with a mild soap, particularly after an episode of activity, drying carefully between the toes. Leaving feet unwashed for days allows microbe escalation and potential smells through the build-up of shed skin between toes. If you suffer from excessive sweating within your feet then use antiperspirants (Carnation’s Cool Foot Spray) and wear hosiery made from absorbent natural fibres rather than washing your feet too frequently each day which can damage natural skin bacteria.

2. Wear clean hosiery every day and rotate your footwear daily i.e. try not to wear the same pair of shoes every day. Research has reported that wearing the same socks and occlusive footwear for long periods can lead to a irritable disorder on the weight bearing area of the foot called pitted keratolysis (Fernandez-Crehuet and Ruiz-Villaverde 2015) where a bacterial infection leads to the keratin in the skin’s top layer, the stratum corneum being digested leaving a pitted, crater like appearance within the skin and creating a very powerful and unpleasant characteristic odour.

Michael Ratcliffe - Carnation Footcare

Michael Ratcliffe – Carnation Footcare

3. Apply an emollient foot cream to the feet daily (Carnation’s Cracked Heel Cream and Intensive Moisturising Foot Cream). Research reports that callouses, corns, dry skin and heel skin fissures are less hydrated and less elastic than unaffected normal skin (Hashmi et al. 2015) so moisturising the skin daily restores hydration and elasticity reducing the build-up of skin conditions.  Then gently reduce hard skin before it develops into cracked and painful areas (using Carnation’s Silky Heels).

4. Cut your toenails either straight across or in a gentle curve that follows the curve of the end of your toe, do not cut down the sides of your nail – this potentially can give normal skin dwelling fungal organisms called dermatophytes a portal of entry into the nail bed and softer underside of the nail plate where they can thrive.

5. Massage your feet following periods of activity using a foot roller (Carnation PediRoller) gently underfoot for five minutes per day to reduce the potential soreness in the following days.

What are your top tips when choosing a new pair of shoes?

1. Make sure there is enough room in the front of your shoes (the toe box) to wiggle your toes freely -this is really important and not just for comfort. If the shoe is to tight here then you put yourself at risk of compression lesions such as corns and callous and in worse cases numbness and ulceration if you have impaired sensation and circulation in the toes. Your longest toe should finish about 15 – 20mm from the end of the shoe (roughly the width of your own thumb – a ‘rule of thumb’!), remember this could be your big toe or the toe next to it.

2. Staying with the toe box, ideally there should be enough room in the width so that no joints receive pressure or rubbing for both comfort and safety. Also try to ensure that the sole at the toe box flexes at the same point where your toes bend (go up on tip toes to check this) which helps with push off as you walk, also that the upper material does not crease into your toes. If you are choosing closed shoes or boots there should be sufficient room at the entrance to the toe box to easily slide your foot in when wearing hosiery, if this area is to tight i.e. across the ‘bridge’ of your foot then you can experience rubbing, pressure and eventually swelling from inflammation.shoe-1174452_6403. Ideally your shoes should have a fastening of some sort e.g. laces or straps allowing you to adjust the fit of your shoe when necessary.

4. The shoes should have a slight heel gradient. The heel height of your shoe should be around 20 – 40 mm high and broad for stability and to offset any tightness that you may have in your Achilles tendon. Walking in flat heels and tightness in the Achilles tendon can lead to discomfort and pain in the muscles at the back of your leg and potentially heel pain.

5. The upper part of the shoe should be made of natural materials for general flexibility, durability and comfort reducing the possibility of pressure problems to the upper part of your foot.

6. Cushioning inside the shoe is great for comfort and the reduction of the shock of impact when landing on your heel and pushing off from the balls of your feet whilst walking.

7. Choose shoes that are firm in the midsole which is the portion of the shoe between the heel and the toe box (so that you can’t twist them like a dishcloth), this facilitating plantar fascial offloading whilst walking.

About Michael Ratcliffe: Michael qualified as a podiatrist from Brighton University in 1989. Michael has clinical experience working in the National Health Service specialising in lower limb gait rehabilitation post trauma. Michael has commercial and industrial experience, working for an orthoses manufacturer and academic experience, as Lecturer in Podiatry (Anatomy and Pathomechanics) and Head of School at the Birmingham School of Podiatry, Birmingham Metropolitan College. Michael’s academic interests centre on researching the mechanical behaviour of the heel fibro-fatty padding within gait. From December 2014 Michael has been appointed as Sales Training Manager for Cuxson Gerrard Co Ltd. He continues also to work in private practice.

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