NZ Farmers – feeding and clothing the Nation!

Landscape with forest and grazing sheep, North Island, New Zealand

As a profession that feeds and clothes the nation, you often forget to help yourself. This post is to help to keep your feet healthy during these unprecedented times. We appreciate the incredible work you are doing to keep our nation fed, so we are here for you as sore feet don’t stop when you are busy.  

Footwear is an essential aspect to consider. Gumboots are not always the most comfortable. At times if they do not fit correctly, it can result in blisters on feet and bruised toenails. Generally, one foot is larger than the other and it is extremely important to fit for the larger foot by checking the length of the longest toe (which is not always the big toe for some people). It is best to spend a bit more and purchase a gumboot that is lightweight, is the correct fit in width and length and has enough space in the toe box. There are so many gumboot brands it can get quite confusing. A few recommended brands would be Boonies, Muck Boots, or Skellerup Quattro. Gumboots that are higher up the leg offer more protection however are not needed for all farmers. If it is not too muddy then a lace-up boot can offer the same comfort and protection as a gumboot. When purchasing a gumboot make sure it feels comfortable and fits well. The toe area should flex, the middle of the arch should not twist or bend, and the back of the heel needs to be firm. This together with a slight lift in the heel would be the characteristics to look for in a good gumboot.

Farmer's gumboots

Callus formation usually develops on high pressure areas and if left can develop into a painful corn (a small hard, cone-shaped ball of callus, generally overlying a bony area).

The best and easiest way to remove a corn is to make an appointment with your local podiatrist! I would not advise the use of corn plasters, they do more evil than good and you will be left with more pain than what you started with initially.

In times when you cannot see your podiatrist face-to-face, the best way to keep on top of your hard skin would be to use a foot file or pumice stone, and for best results use on dry skin. Another option would be to give your feet a soak in warm water and Epsom salt (reduces pain and swelling) with a few drops of an essential oil such as Tea tree oil (antiseptic and anti-fungal properties) or lavender oil (antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties). Soak your feet to soften and soothe the skin before applying a high urea concentrated moisturiser (5–25%) to break down callus and promote healing of cracked skin. Urea cream is a humectant, which means it preserves and retains moisture to the skin.

You can read about some more specific treatments for corns and callus from our Resonance Podiatrist Bronwyn here.

Athletes foot and fungal nail infections are very common for those who spend long hours in closed-in footwear. The average foot on a hot day sweats at least a cup of water a day. If you are prone to sweaty feet generally you are at a high risk of fungal nail infections and athletes’ foot. The sweat is trapped in the shoes and can result in athletes’ foot or fungal toenail infections. Simple ways to reduce sweaty feet are to

  • wash and dry your feet properly twice daily;
  • a foot powder can be used to maintain dry feet;
  • changing your socks during the day to help defer excess moisture away from your feet and lessen the chance of blisters forming. When buying socks look for socks that are made from synthetic material, which can reduce foot odour, wick moisture away from the skin and offer padding to reduce blisters. Sock brands such as Drymax and Thorlos which can be purchased at any Shoe Clinic store or online.

And, if possible, have a couple pairs of shoes to alternate between daily. 

With long hours on your feet come many foot related problems. Arch pain and heel pain are the most common, and unsupportive footwear can aggravate the situation. Your local podiatrist can offer ankle and foot strapping, orthotics, and footwear advice to reduce sore achy feet. There are some great exercises to improve your foot and ankle stability, improve your lower limb circulation and keep your muscles strong to reduce fatigue and achy legs. These exercises can be done while making a cup of tea or when brushing your teeth.

Here are some strengthening exercises that may help:

Make sure that when you get home – take off your shoes and give your feet some TLC.

Please reach out if you need some specific advice, as we have video conferencing and phone appointments available. 

Thank you for being in the frontline and supporting the nation during this difficult time!

Resonance are here for you every step of the way 

By Resonance Podiatrist Akira Stephenson

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