After a long day of work or activity, it feels great to get off your feet. For some, soaking them in a nice water bath is even better. But why is that? Because it feels good? Because momma said to? For many generations, soaking feet has been a therapeutic practice to help ease sore, achy sensations. We know it’s relaxing and rejuvenating, but from a podiatry perspective, what does it really do and is it safe? Let’s jump in!
The benefits of soaking your feet
- Relaxation – Soaking your feet can help with finding calm and reducing stress. Warm water can also relax muscles.
- Improved circulation – Soaking your feet in warm water helps blood vessels vasodilate (become bigger) which gets more blood to the legs and feet. This can reduce pain and swelling.
- Softening – Foot baths can help soften the skin and nails. It can also help remove unwanted skin that builds up or causes pain.
- Remove toxins – Soaking the feet in Epsom salt can help draw out toxins through the skin. Epsom salt is made from magnesium sulfate, which has many benefits, including relieving muscle soreness. Epsom salt soaks can promote stress reduction and relaxation, help exfoliate the skin and reduce inflammation.
Risks to consider when soaking your feet
- Loss of sensation – Patients with loss of feeling to the feet should not soak their feet unless they discuss it first with their healthcare provider. This would include those with diabetes, neuropathy, poor circulation or people with wounds or sores on their feet.
- Pruning – Oversoaking your feet for long periods of time causes the skin to break down and leads to dry and cracked skin.
- Skin irritation – If you have sensitive skin, you may experience skin irritation if you’re using products with additives in the water. It’s important to patch test on the skin prior to using new products to see if you will have a reaction.
- Infection – If you share a foot bath with other individuals, and the tub is not cleaned properly, there is an increased risk for bacteria or fungal infections. It’s important to clean your foot bath regularly and properly, and, if you’re going to an establishment for services like a pedicure, make sure they are doing the same.
There can be many benefits to soaking your feet. Just make sure you practice safety and remain mindful of any potential risks.