How to Prevent Cold Feet

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Feet that become cold due to moisture, wind or lack of blood flow not only make your whole body feel chilled, but are also at greater risk for injury because of decreased sensation. Barring any serious medical conditions, keeping feet toasty whether you are indoors or out requires just a few simple measures. Learn how to prevent cold feet by choosing the right socks and shoes, using thermal shoe inserts and improving your blood circulation.

Things You'll Need

  • Moisture-wicking socks Water- and windproof footwear Warming shoe inserts
  • Get checked for medical conditions that can cause cold feet. Heart and circulatory diseases, peripheral neuropathy (often a complication of diabetes), multiple sclerosis, restless leg syndrome, pinched nerves and Raynaud's disease can all cause cold feet. With a correct diagnosis, you may be able to find a treatment to eliminate the root cause of your cold feet.

  • Choose socks made of man-made moisture-wicking fibers such as acrylic or CoolMax. These fabrics take moisture away from your skin and keep your feet dry, which is essential for keeping them warm. Conversely, natural fibers like cotton and wool retain water. Wool, however, is acceptable outdoors because it retains heat even when wet. One pair of medium-weight socks generally provides enough warmth. If not, wear wicking socks next to the skin and insulating socks of fleece or wool over them. Both pairs should be loose enough to not restrict circulation.

  • Choose shoes or boots made from material that can keep feet dry and warm. Shoes should be waterproof and windproof. Fleece-lined footwear made of leather or made-made insulating material is a good choice. Choose footwear that covers the ankles to keep snow and water out. Footwear should fit snugly, but not be so tight that it impedes circulation. When wearing winter socks, you'll likely need footwear a half-size larger than normal.

  • Fit your shoes with warming inserts. Shoe inserts made of insulating or heat-reflecting material minimize loss of body heat from your feet. Battery-operated heated shoe inserts, powered by a battery pack attached to your calf, are also available. First try insulating or heat-reflecting inserts, which are cheaper and easier to use. If those don't help enough, try battery-operated inserts.

  • Improve your circulation through exercise and diet. If you sit or stand for long periods, occasionally move around enough to get your heart pumping. Even walking briskly around the room can help. Do aerobics several times a week to improve your overall heart and circulatory health. Get sufficient magnesium, calcium, and vitamins E and C. Foods spiced with cayenne pepper, curry, ginger or cinnamon can increase your heart rate and get more blood flowing to your feet.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try graduated compression hosiery to boost your circulation. Not everyone finds that compression stockings prevent cold feet, though, so try an inexpensive pair before you invest in a more comfortable, pricier pair.
  • Don't warm up cold feet too quickly, such as by placing them near a heat source or soaking them in hot water. Doing so can cause chilblains, a painful inflammation of the small blood vessels in the feet. Instead, wrap your feet in warm towels or soak them in lukewarm water.

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