Are warm feet. So, if you are thinking of getting me a present, please can it be some thick, warm socks? If there is one thing that is guaranteed to sap my morale quickly in the garden, it is having cold feet. On a cold morning it can feel as though the frost is seeping in through the soles of my boots, and once the ice reaches my toes, there is little chance of warming them up again.
As anyone who spends most of their day on their feet will tell you, it is worth taking care of them. Feet are one of the most complex structures in the body. They need to be tough enough to bear our weight, delicate enough to absorb shocks and grip uneven surfaces yet resilient enough to keep going all day. There are 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 tendons and ligaments in this wonder of nature and, as with all of our most useful tools, they need taking care of.
This starts with the right footwear. A good pair of boots should have a grippy sole and plenty of ankle support. The majority of injuries in the garden come from slips trips and falls, so just starting with sturdy footwear will set you on a sure footing. It is worth getting some with toe protection. I always have steel toe caps, as it is a legal requirement when operating machinery, but it is surprising how easy it is to lose a toenail if you manage to drop something on your foot. I also get boots with mid-sole protection. This is often a steel plate running through the sole of the boot. It won’t be in walking boots, as they need to be light and flexible, but will protect your foot from damage when digging. The edge of a spade can make short work of a boot’s sole. Top of the list of demands though is that they are waterproof. Wet feet get cold quickly and can be prone to all manner of problems. Take good care of your boots. Clean them regularly and feed the leather to keep it waterproof and prevent it cracking. If they are wet, don’t be tempted to dry them on a radiator; it will cause the leather to harden and cracks will quickly develop.
To stay warm, it is also essential to have good socks. I prefer natural fibres like wool and cotton as they are warm and wicking (taking moisture away from the feet) although there is a huge range out there (including anti-microbial ones to keep odour at bay). Don’t ever underestimate the power of fresh socks. I often carry a spare pair, and a quick change will refresh the feet, giving me a new spring in my step.
Most of us will spend hours every day on our feet and they can take a real hammering. It is well worth spending a few moments each evening to take care of them. Trimming toenails and filing down any hard skin on the contact points of the feet will reduce rubbing, discomfort and the wear and tear on your socks. Make sure they are clean, and thoroughly dry after every washing, using talcum powder if necessary. Check them for any cracked skin and apply moisturiser or balm where needed. Cracked skin can easily become sore or infected in the warm, moist atmosphere around our feet.
Our feet are our direct connection with the Earth. We need to be aware of what they are telling us if we are going to be able to stick to the right path, without stumbling or stepping on others.
I’m going to put mine up for a few days now.