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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Our Neglected Feet: Guest Author Gemma Gerb

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind - The World’s Problem With Foot Care
We treat our faces with semi-obsessive care and attention. We cover our hands in expensive creams that they probably don’t even need. We brush and floss our teeth, we exercise our biceps - we even pamper our hair (and our hair doesn’t actually do anything other than keep us a little tiny bit warmer, and make us look good). But we put our poor feet through an awful lot of casual abuse. We force them into appalling shoes, we mash them up with our gaits, we lock them up in humid boots - and then we act surprised when they start hurting, look strange, or develop skin conditions.
The way we treat our feet simply isn’t fair. Our feet do a hell of a lot for us. If you’ve ever suffered from foot problems, it will have been driven forcefully home to you just how vital your feet are for everyday life. Living with compromised feet is not impossible - but it’s tough. And, with feet, assuming that you can just pop a painkiller and carry on is generally wrong. When feet go wrong, they take time and patience to heal. Blithely walking around as normal with a hefty dose of opioids inside you (as Americans tend to do) is only going to heap damage upon damage. There’s a reason why evolution put so many nerve endings in your toes and soles - it needs you to seriously know about it when you’re in danger of damaging your feet! That’s why stubbing your toe or treading on lego hurts so much.
Our attitude towards feet is strange. We either think they look ‘weird’, or fetishize them, or pretty much ignore them. I’m of the opinion that our peculiar attitude towards feet stems from our habit of hiding them away in shoes, the fact that they’re in contact with the ground, and the fact that they’re far away from our faces (they also smell - but that, in fairness, has a lot to do with the shoe thing). Our peculiar attitude towards feet is probably related to our peculiar attitude towards ‘dirt’ in general. We’re increasingly moving towards an unnatural, hyper-sanitized world in which feet don’t quite seem to fit. And, as the associations of feet become implicitly ‘forbidden’, foot fetishism is on the rise
But enough cod-psychology. Here’s what we SHOULD be doing to care for our feet.
  • Wearing good shoes. Shoes are, hands down, the number one cause of foot damage. High heels, flip flops, poorly-fitting shoes, non-ventilated shoes, worn out shoes...all of these will damage your feet in different ways. If your shoes are too big (or are flip flops), you’ll strain your arches ‘gripping’ them. If you’re a habitual heels wearer, you run the risk of shortening your tendons and damaging the bones of your foot. If your shoes have poor ventilation, you’re creating the perfect environment for fungus and bacteria to thrive - causing problems like athletes foot, verrucas, and pitted keratolysis. Ideally, your shoes should be well fitted, without any pinching, and without your toes butting the ends. They should have a decent amount of support for your arch, but not throw your gait off like high heels do, and they should be reasonably well ventilated.
  • Washing and drying your feet. It’s amazing how many people scrub the rest of their bodies assiduously, but don’t bother so much with their feet. Perhaps it’s because washing your feet involves bending down in the shower? Whatever the reason, your feet need washing just as much - if not more so - than the rest of you. And dry them well, to limit the risk of bacteria proliferating in the damp between your toes!
  • Trimming your toenails properly. Cut your toenails straight across, and carefully. Cutting at an angle can cause ingrowing toenails.
  • Moisturising and/or filing. If your feet have hard skin, you can moisturise them, or file the hard skin away. Do be careful, however, about how deep you file - overdo it and the skin will grow back harder than it was before!
  • Changing your socks frequently. Wrapping our feet in socks and then enclosing them within shoes gives fungus and bacteria a fantastic environment to thrive - which causes a nasty smell, among other things! Change your socks frequently to stop this from happening.

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.