Feet are as important to service members as their properly-sighted weapons. It is essential to the infantry as the fighter jets are to the airmen pilots. So, if the foot sucked at being a foot, you can bet it would affect your performance and possibly even turn for the worse if not treated right away. Like tanks, jets, and other armored vehicles, the feet of individual service members need to be inspected and maintained for potential damage and repair.

The long-enduring walking, standing, running, and rucking, combined with the rigid combat boots and dress shoes, make sore feet a common ailment in the military. In fact, and I’m sure you should know this by now if you’ve gone and graduated to basic training, Foot Care is among the most important mantra, especially for the Infantry MOS (Military occupation specialty), who heavily rely on their feet all day long. This is why perfectly-fitting boots and running shoes are a must and don’t forget to wear socks that would create a buffer.

Listed below are five basic tips on maintaining and keeping your feet in shape after long hours of strenuous activities.

#1 Good Personal Hygiene

This is common sense. Give your feet a good scrub using soap and water, and between your toes. Then, make sure to dry them thoroughly before putting on your socks and shoes to keep your feet from developing athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.

Another thing to consider is cutting your nails and how to trim them properly. You probably don’t want discomfort just because you neglected to trim your toenails. Obviously, you’d naturally follow the growing white nail pattern. But it is important not to cut too short or to curve too much on the corners, or you’ll risk having ingrown toenails, and you’d not want that. Nevertheless, if damage has already been done and you have ingrown toenails, it’s best to consult a medical specialist to properly take care of it.

Foot callouses offer both pros and cons. But if the cons are weighing too much, you can easily treat it by soaking your foot in the water for 15-20 minutes and rubbing the callous using a pumice stone (preferable). If you can, though, do this with the help of professionals, or at least don’t grind it off in one go, or you’ll end up skinning too much, leading to infection.

Finally, clean your wounds whenever you get blisters to prevent further infection. Again, wash it with soap and water, and dry them completely before applying alcohol or ointment on open sores.

Use the dedicated spray if you’ve unfortunately developed an athlete’s foot or for prevention measures.

#2 Properly-fitting Boots or Shoes, including Socks

As mentioned earlier, grabbing some perfectly-fitting boots or shoes can significantly reduce foot sores. In addition, socks are good cushions. But make sure it is not too loose, or it’ll cause more blister than comfort. You don’t want them too tight as well. The military issues socks are made of a rayon or polyester blend that are proven good layers compared to thick wool boot socks, so if you want to have another pair (recommended so you can change midday), make sure to grab those with the same material.

#3 Air Out: Go Barefoot Whenever You Can

If possible, allow your feet to spend ample time in the open air to naturally dry themselves from the moisture and sweat and avoid getting athlete’s foot or stinky foot. When outdoors, with no visible dry towels in sight, going barefoot is the best next thing you can do.

#4 Carry Out Feet Exercise

Did you know that you have twenty muscles in each foot? To maintain strength and flexibility, ensure foot and heel exercises to warm them up before starting a long-day walking, running, or racking, and a cool down after accomplishing some tiresome activities. Moreover, it allows you to examine your feet and see concerning problems before they worsen.

Below are some seated stretching exercises you can do for your before-and-after activities, according to Healthline.

  1. Using a frozen water bottle or ice-cold can roll each foot back and forth while sitting comfortably on a chair. Do this for at least one minute each;
  2. Grab your big toe, pull it gently towards you, and hold it for about 15 to 30 seconds before switching to another;
  3. You’ll need a lengthwise towel to create a makeshift exercise strap to stretch the entire foot. While seated, wrap the towel under the arches of each foot and, using both hands, gently pull it towards you. Hold for at least 15 seconds before switching to the other, and repeat three times.

Another way to relieve tension from your feet is through a foot massage. While seated, press the knuckles of your left hand into your right foot and knead it as you would in bread. Then, pull each toe back and forth or apart to gently stretch the muscles underneath. Once done, repeat this on the other foot.

#5 Rest Your Foot As Much As Possible

After all, prevention is better than cure. While resting, you can do numbers 3 and 4, let those feet catch some fresh air, and do some stretching.

Another thing you can do while relaxing is to apply either a hot or cold compress, depending on what your feet need at the moment. According to Harvard Health, as a rule of thumb, use ice if your skin feels warm to the touch (this indicates that your foot is inflamed and possibly swollen). However, Don’t apply warmth to an inflamed area; it will only increase blood flow, causing a worse inflammation. Meanwhile, if your feet are tired and sore, but your skin is normal or cool to the touch, soak them in a warm bath to relax and soothe them.

If foot pain persists, it is best to seek and consult medical professionals.