Aug 20, 2014 by Smart Blog
Most people pay little attention to their feet, which is odd - in physical terms feet are, after all, at the base of much that human beings do. They contain around a quarter of all of the bones in the human body and have as many nerve endings as the lips, but still the humble foot remains largely ignored - until a problem arises.
Foot problems, in contrast, can be impossible to ignore. Foot pain can be acute and persistent, and may radiate to other parts of the body. Furthermore, problems with the feet can cause pain elsewhere - in the hips and back, for example.
Much foot discomfort arises from the arches: most people believe that humans have just one arch in the foot but in fact there are several, running along the inside, the outside and across the ball of the foot. When these arches are not supported appropriately, problems occur. These problems are chiefly arches that are too high and arches that are too low (correctly referred to as 'excessive pronation' but widely known as 'flat feet'). Low arches can contribute to other medical issues such as bunions, corns, calluses and deformed toes.
Feet may also suffer plantar fascitis (inflammation of the base of the heel), inflammation of the achilles tendon and arthritis.
Medical trouble with the feet may result from one or more of several causes, such as:
- Heredity - some foot issues run in families.
- The types of shoe worn - there is no 'perfect' type of shoe that suits everybody; the footwear needs of individuals vary widely. However, footwear that is unsuitable for the person wearing it can cause big problems. In some cases, orthotics can help - these are man-made forms or supports that can be slipped inside the shoe to provide support. However, they must be prescribed by qualified personnel, since incorrect orthotics can cause even greater problems.
- Activity - although crucial for health, physical exercise affects the feet and may cause injury. The surfaces involved are relevant; running on concrete or pavements may cause effects different to those caused by running on grass.
- Other health issues - diabetes can have major effects on the feet. Obesity can change the shape and size of the foot, and can cause gout.
The Royal College of Podiatry suggests the following steps to protect the feet:
- Keep feet well cared for - keep them clean and dry and cut toenails regularly. Anybody who finds this difficult should speak to their GP's surgery about the foot care services available locally.
- Wear supportive footwear - old, sloppy shoes and slippers make the wearer unstable when walking; indeed they are a major cause of falls in older people. Footwear should be supportive - a chiropodist or doctor can provide advice.
- Keep feet warm - for example with cosy socks or tights. Avoid tight footwear and consider bed socks on cold evenings.
Although feet age, just like the rest of the body, if they are given a little thought, care and attention there is no reason why they should cause problems. All of which is a great reason to step up and start looking after those feet today!