In a single day, your feet absorb about 453 kilograms of force. And we mistreat them terribly — standing on them for hours; walking on hard, unyielding surfaces; and cramming them into shoes that may be fashionable but are often far from comfortable. It’s no wonder that four out of five adults eventually suffer from foot problems.
Your feet are amazing pieces of engineering, perfectly designed to give years of service — if you treat them right. Each foot has 26 bones — together the feet have almost one-quarter of the bones in the entire body. Thirty-three joints make the feet flexible, and 19 muscles control movement of foot parts. Tendons stretch tautly between muscles and bones, moving parts of the feet as the muscles contract. Two arches in the midfoot and forefoot, constructed like small bridges, support each foot and provide a springy, elastic structure to absorb shock. Numerous nerve endings in the feet make them sensitive. And the whole structure is held together by more than 100 ligaments.
To keep your feet as healthy as possible, we recommend following these 10 tips:
- Don’t ignore foot pain—it’s not normal. If the pain persists, see a Podiatrist.
- Inspect your feet regularly. Pay attention to changes in colour and temperature of your feet. Look for thick or discoloured nails (a sign of developing fungus), and check for cracks or cuts in the skin. Peeling or scaling on the soles of feet could indicate athlete’s foot. Any growth on the foot is not considered normal.
- Wash your feet regularly, especially between the toes, and be sure to dry them completely.
- Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Be careful not to cut nails in corners or on the sides; it can lead to ingrown toenails. Persons with diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems should not treat their own feet because they are more prone to infection.
- Make sure that your shoes fit properly. Purchase new shoes later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest and replace worn out shoes as soon as possible.
- Select and wear the right shoe for the activity that you are engaged in (i.e., running shoes for running).
- Alternate shoes—don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day.
- Avoid walking barefooted—your feet will be more prone to injury and infection. At the beach or when wearing sandals, always use sunblock on your feet just as on the rest of your body.
- Be cautious when using home remedies for foot ailments; self-treatment can often turn a minor problem into a major one.
- If you are a person with diabetes, it is vital that you see your Podiatrist at least once a year for a check-up.