It’s time for a crash course in Healthy Feet 101 because experts say foot injuries are on the rise. Which is a big deal, because minor foot pain today can lead to bigger problems down the road - including back, shoulder, and neck problems. So, here’s what to do for better foot health, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association:

  • First, the moment you wake up: Instead of jumping out of bed, stretch your feet. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, and angle your toes toward your head, and then away from it. Do that several times to warm up the Achilles tendon. That’s better than jolting out of bed with cold muscles, which can cause painful inflammation known as plantar fasciitis.

  • The 2nd foot health tip: Wear the right shoes. Experts say most foot problems come from wearing shoes that don’t offer proper support – or shoes that put your foot in an unnatural position – like stilettos. And never wear shoes that allow your ankle to roll from side-to-side, because that increases the risk of sprains.

  • How can you tell if you’re wearing the WRONG shoes? Experts say one red flag is if your feet feel tender when someone touches them. A foot rub doesn’t even feel good. That’s a sign you may have a pinched nerve, and need shoes that offer more support. Also, check the bottoms of your shoes. If one side looks more worn out than the other, it means your feet aren’t landing properly, which can cause a collapsed arch. So, either get new shoes, or consider getting inserts called orthotics.

  • One more healthy feet tip: Before every workout, exercise your TOES. Say, by picking up marbles with your toes. Or wrapping a rubber band around your toes, and trying to expand them outward. Also, slowly roll your foot over a soft tennis ball. Experts say these exercises help strengthen major muscles in our feet, while stimulating nerve endings, and protecting us from foot injuries.