Extremities: How To Take Care Of Feet And Hands?

The skin on the back of hands is fine and soft with both sebaceous and sweat gland openings, while the skin on the palm is coarser and tougher and is one of the driest parts of the body because, unlike most other areas, it has no sebaceous glands. It does, however, have numerous sweat glands which are often triggered off by a nervous or emotional reaction — hence the description clammy or sweaty palms — and the same is true of the soles of the feet.

Hand and wrist have great mobility from twenty-eight beautifully balanced bones. There are twenty-six bones in each foot; their strength, combined with a mass of ligaments and muscles, bears the brunt of the body weight and makes the human vertical position possible. The big toe is vital to this strength and balance as is the ball of the foot and the arch which absorbs most of the weight.

A hand can show age more quickly than any other area and, whereas surgical lifts are possible almost anywhere else, so far they have not proved successful on hands — so maintenance through care is essential. Hands that are frequently immersed in water and exposed to detergents and shampoos will dry out first. Wear rubber gloves whenever possible, always dry thoroughly and always use a hand cream afterward. Don’t neglect feet either — message them with a good hand or body cream, paying special attention to heels and toes. Pay a regular visit to a chiropodist who will attend to patches of dry skin, corns and check for infections like athlete’s foot and verrucas. This is an investment that will pay dividends by avoiding problem feet.

Manicures and pedicures are more a cosmetic treatment designed to beautify the nails, but they also keep the nail and cuticle area healthy and strong. Professional treatments are best, but you can learn to be very professional yourself and maintain finger and toe-nails between visits. Circulation in both hands and feet is vital to their health and mobility. Here are some exercises designed to make hands more flexible and graceful, to strengthen feet and to improve circulation.

nails filed, massage cuticle cream

Step-by-Step Manicure

1. File sides of the nails very gently; the ideal shape is a rounded one with straight sides. Keeping sides straight helps nails resist splitting and cracking.
2. Massage cuticle cream into nailbed and fingers and soak cuticles in warm water for a minute or two.

Hand and Finger Exercises

1. Clench the fist tightly, hold a second, throw open the fingers as wide and stretched as possible. Exercise both hands simultaneously. Repeat six times.
2. Put hands straight in front of you, palms down, fingers pressed tightly against each other. Spring fingers apart as wide as possible. Repeat six times.
3. With a limp, relaxed hands rotate them from the wrist in circles, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise. Turn ten circles in each direction with each hand.

orange stick, cotton wool, remover lotion, clip cuticle

3. Push back cuticle with an orange stick wrapped in cotton wool, then with pumice stone dipped in cuticle remover (lotion).
4. Clip cuticle where necessary.

4. Holding hands palms down, lift up slowly from the wrist, then lower, keeping the hands relaxed but not limp. Repeat ten times.

Useful Tips

A mask (the kind you use for your face) will cleanse, tone and moisturize your hands too.
A lemon will cleanse skin and bleach discolored areas around nails. The lemon juice tends to dry the skin, so rinse off, dry and finish with a good massage of hand cream.

apply coat nail tip, nail orange stick

5. Apply base coat under nail tip as well as on top of the whole nail. Then wrap nail in paper nail tissue painted before wrapping with nail mender. It goes right around and under nail tip.
6. Prod nail tissue into place to the exact shape of the nail with an orange stick.

Warm olive oil is useful as a special treatment for hands, especially in winter when they are inclined to be chapped and dry. Soak them in it for about half an hour.
Cotton gloves should be worn at night whenever you can. Put them on over a layer of hand cream or petroleum jelly.
Gloves should be worn much of the time; heavy duty ones for gardening, rubber for washing activities and leather, silk or wool outside when it’s cold, wet or snowing. Even in summer leather or cotton will prevent hands drying.

paint coat nail, apply nail polish

7. Paint on another complete base coat over top of nail and tissue to seal in wrapping.
8. Apply an extra base coat as a top sealer which prevents polish cracking or splitting. Apply nail polish under nail tip and on top. Repeat once.

Foot Exercises

One of the best exercises of all for the feet is walking barefoot along a beach; try keeping to the water’s edge, where the sand is wet.

Others are:

1. Stand up straight, feet pointed ahead, and raise yourself up on your toes, then lower. This helps strengthen the foot arch and tendons around the ankle joint.
2. Cover a large book with a towel and place in front of you; with feet on the book, toes extending over the edge, curl toes and try to pick up the towel. This helps strengthen the metatarsal arch, overcomes the tendency for toes to curl up and helps prevent callouses.

holding foot hand, roll circle

Six exercises to put you back on your feet. Spare five minutes to do them, once a day, every day.

1) Holding your foot in one hand, twist ankle inwards, then out. Repeat with the other foot.
2) Grab all your toes, bend them upwards and release. Take each toe separately and roll it around in a circle.
3) Slip


Emery boards — for shaping nails and smoothing away hardened skin at the sides.
Pumice-stone — to soften rough cuticles or calluses and keep legs smooth.
Cuticle cream — to keep cuticles smooth and soft, avoid hangnails and encourage strong nail growth.
Orange sticks — for nudging back cuticles very gently and pushing the cuticle cream underneath.
Hand cream — to keep skin soft and supple.

foot toes, press each toe

your fingers between your toes. Bend your foot down and pull it towards you.
4) Squeeze your foot with both hands while flexing your toes up and down. Pull each toe gently away from the one next to it.
5) Press each toe firmly between thumb and index finger, then press thumbs along the top of the foot between each of the bones at the base of the toes. Continue up to the ankle.