Our feet bear the burden of nearly every movement we make. From standing at the sink doing dishes to running a half marathon, our feet keep us stable and centered while we move through our days. For millennia, people have recognized the importance of foot health. That’s where foot soaks began!
Traditional Chinese medicine is often credited with routinely incorporating foot soaks to improve reflexology. Chinese medicine experts believed the feet were energy centers and needed specific, distinct baths and care. Many ancient peoples, including Greek and Roman civilizations, also performed foot soaks. They recognized the benefits of foot soaks, including the following.
- Circulation: Warm water used for foot soaks helps your blood vessels dilate, increasing the flow of oxygenated blood to your lower legs and feet.
- Pain relief: By increasing blood flow to the feet, the muscles and tissue can repair more quickly. That can decrease or relieve pain in the feet and lower legs.
- Relaxation: Because warm water helps muscles relax, foot soaks are great for anxiety and stress relief. Smelling crystals used in foot soaks also increase relaxation. Additionally, the circulation increases from foot soaks and the associated relaxation can help lower blood pressure!
- Sleep: After being relaxed by a warm foot soak, many people report better sleep! This effect is likely because increased circulation at the feet helps the body regulate temperature, improving sleep quality without making people feel too cold or hot.
After a long or stressful day, you deserve – and might even need – a foot soak. But how can you get the most out of these great relaxation and pain relief baths? Below, Dr. Fedorchak explores several at-home, easy foot soaks that can make your feet feel as good as new.
6 Foot Soaks to Make Your Feet Feel Brand New
Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral compound – not a salt! The compound’s first documented discovery was in 1618, but the mineral wasn’t named until the 1690s. When added to water, the compound breaks down, releasing magnesium and sulfate. Experts theorize that these are absorbed into the skin, helping reduce pain and swelling caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions. There is some evidence that magnesium also helps lower blood pressure, in addition to the positive decreases seen with all foot soaks!
Magnesium sprays are quite different from foot soaks. However, because of the reported benefits of Epsom salt soaks, many people now use magnesium sprays on their feet. Magnesium is a vital mineral in the body, helping joint, bone and skin health. Although there is limited evidence that magnesium sprays on the feet are as beneficial for the body as oral magnesium supplements or magnesium from the diet, many people report the same benefits as Epsom salt soaks with magnesium sprays!
Coconut milk and honey
Coconut milk and honey foot soaks are great for relaxation, pain relief and moisturizing. Coconut milk is incredibly full of healthy fats and oils that make the skin feel soft and clean, while honey moisturizes.
Baking soda and colloidal oatmeal
This soak is perfect for itchy feet! Baking soda is a natural exfoliant that easily and gently removes dead or irritated skin cells. Oatmeal is soothing and moisturizing, and when mixed with baking soda and warm water, it helps to seal the skin off from irritants that make it itchy. Use ½ a cup of baking soda, 1 cup of ground oatmeal and a small tub of warm to hot (but still comfortable) water. Mix these ingredients, then soak your feet!
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antifungal and antibacterial properties that help clean and nourish your feet. Although apple cider vinegar isn’t a good treatment for athlete’s foot and other fungal infections, it does help remove and decrease odors. Add one cup of apple cider vinegar to a large bowl or small tub of warm water and soak for 15-20 minutes.
Oils and Epsom salt
Mixing and matching products is one of the most fun aspects of foot soaks! Epsom salt is a great place to start, but add your favorite diluted essential oils for additional relaxation effects. Some of our favorite oils to add are peppermint, tea tree and lavender oils.
Make the Most of Your Foot Health Today
Foot soaks are an ideal way to start your foot health journey. But foot soaks alone can’t prevent, cure or treat many common foot problems and diseases. It’s important to see a podiatrist if you have health conditions affecting your feet or experience foot pain or discomfort. Contact the team at Dr. Fedorchak’s to schedule an expert podiatric consultation today.