Our feet serve us well: they help us balance, and carry us the equivalent of 5 times round the earth in an average lifetime. In return we rarely give them the attention they deserve, hiding them away in shoes and forgetting about them...until they rebel.
Instead of putting our feet last, we should put them first.
Each foot consists of 26 bones, supported by a network of ligaments, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Along with our eyes and hands, they do more work than most parts of our body, so it's little wonder that things sometimes go wrong.
Our feet are also mirrors of our general health. Signs of diabetes, arthritis, circulatory and neurological diseases, often appear first in our feet.
Proper footcare is essential to healthy, painless feet and should be as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. It's never too early, nor too late, to start caring for your feet, and there's a lot you can do for your feet:
For the elderly, who have priority in NHS footcare, diabetics, and anyone whose feet are a cause for concern, special care is needed.
Checks should be made frequently for any signs of redness, soreness or swelling, and injuries should be treated as soon as possible.
You should have your feet seen regularly by a State Registered Chiropodist who will be able to make you more comfortable, treating bunions or corns painlessly, and cutting toe nails, if you have difficulty doing this yourself. You can help yourself by wearing adequate, roomy shoes, and by applying creams or lotions to dry skin if these are prescribed by your chiropodist.
Basic hygiene and nail cutting may be all that's needed to maintain feet in good health. But when normal feet turn into problem feet, it's best to seek professional help. The most common foot problems are:
Some are inherited; some develop from illnesses in middle age, or from the pressure of ill-fitting shoes.
State registered Chiropodists are trained in all aspects of care for the feet and lower limbs. They will be able to do more than you realise, treating corns and bunions effectively and painlessly removing ingrowing toe nails, eradicating verrucae, and applying protective padding to take the pressure of sensitive areas.
Through Biomechanics - the study of locomotion - State Registered Chiropodists are able to tell if your particular style of walking may be causing the problem. If it is, they will produce a corrective appliance (orthosis) moulded to the shape of your foot, which fits easily into your shoe and distributes your weight more evenly, at the same time correcting any abnormalities in the way you walk.
Some people are biologically more likely to develop foot problems than others, but ill-fitting shoes can certainly hasten the onset of any problems, and aggravate existing ones. Shoes should be wide enough to allow the toes to move freely, with laces or buckles to hold the heel in place.
Don't try to treat any problems yourself. Minor problems may become major ones. Always seek professional advice from State Registered Chiropodists, with the letters SRCh after their names, who are there, not only to treat your present problems, but to prevent any future ones.
For more information about caring for your feet, or for the address of your local State Registered Chiropodist, get in contact with your local health centre or:
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
53 Welbeck Street
[This is a copy of a leaflet available for free. It is available in
the foyer of Paul
Trickey's clinic, and from the address above.]