FOOT 1. (noun) The terminal part of the vertebrate leg upon which an individual stands

FOUR-LETTER WORD

Meeting professionals are a shoe-in for foot problems. Long hours on their feet during conferences wreak havoc on the 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles that make up the intricate structure of the foot. Blisters and tired muscles come with the territory, but there are strategies that can help.

WET FEET

Keeping your feet dry can protect against blisters, but it's not easy: There are approximately 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet, and they excrete as much as half a pint of moisture each day. It's helpful to change shoes throughout the day, as well as socks or hose. Foot powders and spray antiperspirants that contain aluminum chlorhydrate or aluminum chloride will also help. A thin layer of petroleum jelly can also be applied to the feet to decrease friction.

SHOP THERAPY

More and more shoe companies are focusing on comfort, but be sure you buy a shoe with the support you need as well as the cushioning. Planners recommend a variety of brands, including Dansko, Hartjes, Aerosoles, Beautifeel, and Ana-Tech. Web retailers such as walkingonacloud.com and comfortoneshoes.com focus on brands that make comfort a priority.

THE HEEL DEAL

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, women suffer about four times as many foot problems as men; high heels are often the culprit. Especially for women planners facing long days racing around a conference, heels should be avoided whenever possible. Another tip: Buy a pair of shoes that is a half size larger and a size wider than you normally wear. They'll be welcome at the end of the conference when everything else feels too tight.

CLOSE FIT

To ensure a good fit, shop for shoes in the late afternoon. Feet swell over the course of a day, and the end of the day is when they're the largest. Take the time to have your foot measured. Don't assume that you're the same size you were last year. Also, be sure to try on both shoes.

OUCH

Painful blisters that are intact should be drained. First, clean the blister with rubbing alcohol or antibiotic soap and water. Then disinfect a pin over a flame; once cooled, use it to put a small hole at the edge of the blister. Drain the fluid, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover with a bandage. Change the bandage throughout the day.

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Sources: American Podiatric Medical Association, www.apma.org; The Physician and Sportsmedicine Online, www.physsportsmed.com; Merriam-Webster Online, www.m-w.com