Sock it to them: Get your feet and footwear snow-fit for the season

As we bask in late September warmth, it’s sometimes hard to get motivated to do anything much related to snow, ice and winter temperatures! However, now is the time to get your feet ready for the winter, and to give your winter footwear some TLC too.

Feet first

As we gently ease into October, the average temperature here in our part of Ontario will also slide down from highs around 20 degrees to a less enjoyable average 14 degrees. So if you are still in open-style shoes, you’re likely to want to swap them out for something warmer.

Over the summer, your feet have probably been enjoying the outside life too. As a result the skin on your feet may have hardened on your heels, and your toenails may have grown longer too. In flip flops, deck shoes, sandals or open-toe shoes, longer toenails may be just fine, but once you return to covered footwear, these could prove to be a problem.

Tackle those toenails

If toenails are left untrimmed and as a result have pressure applied by your winter shoes, this could lead to issues such as in-growing toenails and thickening of the nails, which become increasingly difficult to trim.

Thickened nails can also lead to corns, and allow bacteria to build up underneath, causing infections. Ill-fitting shoes due to long and/or thickened toenails can also affect gait and balance, especially for seniors.

So, trim those toenails properly (i.e. straight across, not on a curve) using good quality toenail clippers or nippers, and file to a smooth finish. Or call us if you have difficulty doing this yourself, have diabetes, arthritis or cannot reach your toes due to age or mobility issues.

Do a winter shoe survey

This is definitely something to do in the last rays of September sunshine! Empty your closet of every pair of winter shoes and boots you possess. Put them all outside in the sunshine, and check each pair thoroughly. Clean off any accumulated dust, and try each pair on with the appropriate hosiery or socks on. Put aside any that are too tight, clean the rest of your ‘inside’ shoes, polish if possible, and leave them to air as long as the sun shines.

Now pick out your winter boots and outside shoes from the “yes they fit OK” section. Give them a good brush or gentle wash to remove any remains of last year’s salt or dirt, and leave to dry. Check them over for cracks, splits, broken stitching or possible sources of leaks, and also any frayed laces. Fix anything you can do yourself with proper shoe repair products, and waterproof them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Now you are probably left with a selection of shoes that simply don’t fit. It really is not worth keeping these; if you do wear them, they are likely to rub your foot if too small, or not support your foot properly if too big. Consider donating the best pairs to charity, and recycle the rest (where possible).

If this process leaves you with a shortfall in any type of shoe, plan a visit to the store to get a new pair. Again, it simply isn’t worth wearing worn out or damaged footwear that might leak, don’t have sufficient grip, or (let’s be honest) are smelly and way past their best! Yes you can buy shoes online, but it’s better to try on new shoes in person if you can.

Sort out your socks

Also check out your stock of socks for the winter, and assess which pairs are OK to keep, and how many new pairs you might require.

Just as winter weather can be tough on boots, it can be tough on socks too. If you regularly change and wash your socks, great, that’s the best way to keep your feet fresh and fungal infections at bay. However, constant washing can leave socks saggy and ill-fitting.

So, be ruthless with your sock collection. If they fit well, have some elasticity left in them, are not pilled or have holes, they are probably good to go for another season. The rest can be recycled and used as car polishing cloths, shoe shiners, to clean blinds and shutters, cut up for plant ties, as golf club covers or whatever! (Reader’s Digest suggests no less than 88 ways to upcycle old socks )

Foot or heel pain post-summer?

It may not just be a change of shoes that’s causing the pain. Contact us for an appointment to discuss ways to improve your foot health overall. We’re happy to help any members of your family, from children to seniors – and everyone in between!

Call us to make an appointment at one of our three local foot clinics in Ontario.

• Stratford foot clinic
Ingersoll footcare clinic
London footcare clinic

Published On: September 23, 2021