Help for Tired Feet

After a day on your feet at a trade show or festival, you're going to have one heck of a pair of tired feet!

(1) When I'm ready to collapse after a day like this, the first thing I do when I get back to the hotel room is to draw a hot bath. I have some little fizzy thingies--not really bubblebath but more like scent and color and fizz. They're called Acti-Bath (made by Jergens). Soaking my feet in this fizzy stuff seems to help.

They're meant for a leisurely bath, and if you've time for this when you return to your hotel room, by all means indulge yourself! You deserve it!

The tablets difficult to find, and I don't know why. So far, I find them packed individually in foil-type wrappers. They don't seem to be available in, say, a box of 6 individually-wrapped cakes. When I see them, which is seldom, I buy a bunch because I know it will be months before I see them again. At one point, I thought they had been discontinued, but then about a year later, I found some more. I don't know what the problem is with availability, but if you see them, buy them right then! My best luck has been in drug stores, although once I found them in Target.

I'm sure there are other foot soaks available. Products from The Body Shop receive high marks, according to friend and designer SharonG (of the needlepoint bras fame). She mentions "a foot cooler that stinks but works; leg cooling gel which is great; and peppermint foot lotion which is the best."

My friend Joyce Greenfield told me that during the "trade show" portion of her life, when she returned to her room, she'd put her feet in icy water (as in ice cubes floating in water in the bathtub!).

(2) After you've soaked your feet, stay off them if you possibly can! Room service is a nice idea! Pad around your hotel room in socks or barefooted; try to wear your shoes as little as possible! Only too soon tomorrow morning the alarm will go off, and then it'll be time to put your shoes on again, and believe me, your feet will remember those shoes!

Sharon, on the other hand, feels that recuperating in one's room after a day at a trade show is not the way to go. Quoth she:

"I love hanging out in the lobby or having dinner with fellow exhibitors or shop owners. I always enjoy the social part of shows too much to stay in the room. Being a designer is such a hermit life that I crave social interaction with others. You learn so much by talking with others who are in your type of business. I always say I can sleep on the plane (and always do). Being accessible is a nice thing. Another one of my famous sayings is; 'I will sleep enough when I am dead, so why waste time doing it now!'

"But, yes, I have been known to do room service once in a while but not as a habit. Truth of the matter is, at TNNA shows because I am so involved, I am lucky to have any time for dinner. Try being an exhibitor, having a class or two, being a member of various committees and on the Board of Directors, and being involved in events during the evenings. You eats when you can and doesn't get fussy about it! As I said, you did not go to a show to sit in a tub, eat, or sleep. You can do it all later. Room service dinner, if it happens, is usually at 10 or 11 PM.

"I may be the unusual one, but I need very little sleep. My roommate clocked how many hours I slept at one trade show, and it was about 15 for 5 or maybe 6 days. As they not try this at home."

(3) Joyce also says to elevate your feet at night while you sleep.

(4) Wear flat shoes. Make sure the toebox is square, so you have lots of room to wiggle your toes.

(5) Don't wear a brand-new pair of shoes! Take ones which are broken in.

(6) Try to avoid socks or stockings that have enthusiastic elastic that hits you 4-8" up the leg. Cutting off circulation with your socks doesn't do your feet any good.

Sharon says the feet "grow" when you stand on them all day.

(7) Take band-aids in case you develop blisters! Another product, called moleskin (it isn't, really!), can be cut and placed on the inside of your shoe where it particularly rubs.

(8) If you can, put something on the floor of your booth that's soft. Hard concrete on those convention center floors is murder after 12 hours, especially on consecutive days.

(9) Have your honey give you a foot massage in the evening before bed!

(10) Treat yourself to a pedicure and massage when you get home!

(11) Now an idea that works at home as well as on the road. You may have heard of a "salt rub" or a "salt glow treatment" given at an expensive spa. Here's the secret!

Mix granulated table salt (about 1 T) with a bit of oil (about 1/2 t). Use the palms of your hands and rub it on your feet, especially the heels, for at least one minute per foot (designer Thea Dueck suggests 5 minutes per foot!).

This treatment will slough off all the dry skin and leave your heels feeling as smooth as a baby's bottom. The massaging increases blood circulation, and, followed by a fizzy soak/fizzy bath, you will feel like a million dollars!

If you don't have access to this much salt on the road (room service!), granulated sugar will work, too, but it's a finer texture and will take longer. Any kind of oil will do: salad (ask for your vinegar and oil dressing to be brought up in separate containers), petroleum jelly (which you brought for dry lips), or baby oil (which you may have brought for make-up removal).

Brush off excess salt when finished.

Be careful walking, especially in the bathroom with wet tile floors, until you can wash the oil off your feet. You don't realize how much you use your heels to "grip" the floor with until you find they no longer do that job!

Try this concoction on your elbows and knees, too.

2003 Update: Jergens discontinued the Acti-Bath product in 2000. Boo hoo!

copyright 1999, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.

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