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Keep your health on solid footing

Few things are as important at this time of year as wearing socks on your feet. You scoff, perhaps. But I have it on good report that for older adults — people of any age actually — wearing socks “keeps foot issues from forming.”

One reason apparently is that feet sweat, and it’s important to keep them dry “to prevent bacteria and blisters from growing.”

I researched this topic and found that “feet sweat about half a pint a day.” That’s probably a detail you do not need except if you are in a “I just got a new pair of shoes” discussion with your age peers and the conversation falters.

Well-fitting, good quality socks keep chilly feet warm and toasty — and circulation flowing. If they have gripper bottoms i.e. “safety socks,” they may make it less likely your favorite older adult trips and breaks a leg — or a hip. And we are less likely to hurt a toe that gets stubbed on the corner of a chair leg if it’s nestled in a protective sock.

When our kids were still kids, they had a penchant for going barefoot, no matter the season. I invented the possibility of getting “toe pneumonia” — and I’ve noticed our 40-something “children” still use the term in reminding their own children to “put something on your feet.” Note to those grandchildren — wearing socks also makes it easier to run and slide joyously on the wooden floor at grandma’s house.

The benefits of wearing socks go way beyond being comfortable. There’s a riveting website titled “yellow toenails cured.” I will not go into the detail it offers except to say that foot infections and fungus can often be alleviated by wearing the proper-fitting socks and tending to good foot care.

I always like to offer the pros and cons of any ideas I pose. That said, the aforementioned website also indicates, “biochemically speaking, the human body is designed to walk around barefoot,” and if you are on a beach or a grassy backyard that allows going shoeless and sockless without likelihood of injury, feel free to indulge — connect with the earth. And when you get back home, kick off your shoes and show off your socks. I have a pair of wildly colorful socks that are imprinted with, “This is what a feminist looks like.” They are always conversation starters.

A decade ago, my husband did very creative gifting for my autumn birthday and made me a “sock tree” from wire coat hangers. I think it was in response to a comment I made one cold morning, “I definitely need more socks.” I recall being amused that he heard and remembered that when statements like “the oven is not working” went untended.

The sock tree had a bit of genius to it. It was quite elaborate and there were dozens of colorful socks and funny birthday cards hanging from it. Joyous gifting with a “stay healthy” element. I intend to resurrect the idea this coming holiday with our children/grandchildren — maybe add some twinkly lights. A holiday tree with a message.

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator. Reach her at sharon@rbtrv.org.