We all want to take good care of our feet so that they will remain healthy and pain free. But feet are complicated! All those nerve endings and bones and ligaments in one place—lots of stuff can go wrong. How is a person supposed to know what is fact and what is fiction when trying to take good care of their feet?
Fortunately for us living in the modern era, there’s plenty of science out there that helps clear up some of the foot myths that have circulated society for generations.
Here are a few of those myths, as well as the truth.
Myth #1 – Sweat and Odor
Do men’s feet really sweat more than women’s feet? And what is that awful smell anyway?
The average pair of feet—male or female—has about 250,000 sweat glands, more than any other part of your body. And the average pair of feet generates up to a cup of sweat per day. A man may sweat more than a woman because his body runs hotter or because he has a physically active job where he wears hot shoes or boots all day, but a female foot’s sweat capability is the same.
As far as the smell goes, foot stink (like most body stink) comes from bacteria, not the sweat itself. Give foot sweat (and the bacteria from your feet that is in it) a chance to evaporate during the day with good quality socks that wick moisture away from your skin, and make sure your shoes dry out completely between wearings. You’ll find foot smell becomes much less of a problem.
Myth #2 – Toenails
If you cut your toenails rounded, then you’re more likely to get ingrown toenails, right?
Not if your shoes fit correctly. A properly fitting shoe leaves room for your toes to wiggle and doesn’t press on the edges of your toes and toenails. Cut your toenails in a nice arch, following the natural shape of your toes, and make sure your shoes are sized properly.
The average foot with a healthy arch expands two shoe sizes with you stand up on it. And, keeping that fact in mind, nine out of 10 women wear shoes that are too small for them. Getting your feet professionally sized will make sure you’re buying the right size shoes.
Myth #3 – Corns, Warts, and Fungus
People have devised all sorts of DIY methods to treat corns, plantar warts, and foot fungus over the years. Some people dig and cut at their corns trying to get the corn “root” out so it will die. Others use household products like mouthwash on their foot fungus, assuming that if a product is made to kill bacteria, then it will help with the bacteria on your feet.
We shouldn’t have to point out that these are terrible ideas, but…people, these are terrible ideas! Corns are a buildup of skin caused by pressure or friction. There is no root to remove. Unless you are a podiatrist, you shouldn’t be doing surgery on anyone’s feet, even your own.
Plantar warts are caused by a virus, which is often introduced into your system through a cut or from the floor of a communal shower. You can get athlete’s foot the same way, and ringworm too. Get a cheap pair of flip flops if you have to use a communal shower.
If you suffer from foot fungus, let a doctor diagnose it so it can be treated accurately. Don’t go splashing any old household cleaner on there and hoping for the best!
The Simple Truth
A quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet, along with all those sweat glands, and nearly 8,000 nerves. We often ignore the health of our feet, when simple maintenance and care would go a long ways to supporting them, and therefore the health of our whole body.
Pay attention to your feet. Learn what they need to stay healthy, inside and out. Get shoes that provide good foot alignment, along with proper support and cushioning. Your feet—and the rest of your body will thank you for it!