Don’t Forget Your Feet
WHEN you are accustomed to traveling always by car, going on foot can be a newfound pleasure. Wheels may get you there sooner, but for the sheer pleasure of travel, what can beat your feet?—when in good condition. Only on foot can you fully enjoy the earth. The beauty of the majestic hills, the fragrance of the delightful forest and the songs of birds are most enjoyed when you are walking.
However, your feet do more than make you self-mobile. They respond automatically to your senses, and to your inward emotions. They stamp the floor in anger, leap for joy and pace during anxiety.
Those who are older, and able to get out and walk, give their hearts, lungs and muscles the exercise they need, resulting in increased blood circulation, better appetite and ability to sleep well.
What exhilaration you can experience when you run, dance, skate or even take a casual stroll! Surely your feet were designed to cooperate with all your other members for the well-being of your entire body. Should they not be treated as something of great value?
Your estimation of their value will increase when you see your feet from the viewpoint of a foot specialist or even an engineer. Although simple in structure, they are mighty in strength. They will probably walk in the vicinity of 75,000 miles in an average lifetime of seventy to eighty years. To absorb all the shock associated with this, each foot consists of an intricate arrangement of 26 bones and 214 ligaments.
They are all beautifully fitted together to form an arch from the heel to the ball of the foot. In walking, the heel is the first part to take your weight. Then your weight follows through the irregularly shaped tarsal or ankle bones, the five long metatarsals or instep bones and on to the fourteen toe bones, which give the thrust forward.
Foot Care and Proper Shoes
Like other important parts of your body, your feet need proper care. A little attention pays big dividends in better health and happiness; for, as it has often been said, “when your feet hurt, you hurt all over.” And this can be true. Your feet can cause you to become nervous and irritable. They can give you headaches, make your leg and back muscles ache, cause nausea, ruin your appetite and generally upset your entire body. These are certainly good reasons for taking good care of them.
Probably the first concern in foot care is the choosing of your shoes. Dr. Simon Wikler, in his book Take Off Your Shoes and Walk, says: “There is now no question in my mind but that the major cause of foot trouble is the type of shoes we wear.”
When choosing shoes, here are a few things to keep in mind: All-leather soles and sides give perspiration a better chance to evaporate. (If perspiration is a problem in hot weather, sandals are helpful.) Rubber heels are recommended for shoes as they reduce shock. Fitting is best done toward the end of the afternoon because your feet tend to swell as the day progresses. Measure both feet, for one is often a little larger than the other, and then fit the longest foot. Allow for at least a half inch clearance in length so that your toes can move freely. It is unwise to try to “break in” uncomfortable shoes.
Fashion is no respecter of foot comfort or health, and this is particularly true in women’s footwear. High heels, narrow and pointed toes are contrary to the structure of the feet, and are important factors in causing women to have four times as much foot trouble as men.
For the sake of the children it is wise not to try to save by buying long-wearing shoes. They may need new shoes as often as every four to eight weeks when they are two to six years old.
With young children tight socks can cause deformities, therefore, “stretchies” would bear watching. With the very young, care should also be taken that crib sheets are not tucked around their soft little foot bones.
Common Disorders and Some Suggestions
If you should forget your feet, they can remind you in many ways. Corns, ingrown toenails, fallen arches, bunions, poor circulation and athlete’s foot are a few of the more common reminders.
Corns are caused by pressure spots on your toes. A thick growth of tissue builds up. This, in turn, presses on the deeper skin layer, causing it to become tender. Corns usually develop over the joints of toes of persons whose shoes do not fit well. When inflammation occurs and pus forms under the corn, you will be moved to attempt a cure. It is best to leave any surgery to a competent doctor. Unwise use of razor blades and foot medications can complicate a simple ailment. A moleskin plaster can ease the pain, but well-fitting shoes are necessary for a more permanent solution.
An ingrown toenail can result from poor-fitting shoes. It can also be caused by tight-fitting stockings exerting pressure on improperly clipped nails. Treatment will require the cleaning of the corners and use of medicated cotton under the nail. Severe cases may require surgical removal of the nail. For prevention, avoid shoes that cramp your toes; also cut the nails straight across and not too short.
A bunion is a hard, painful swelling on the foot, especially on the first joint of the big toe. Here the tissue becomes red and thick. Since a bunion can be disabling, it is well to avoid tight-fitting shoes. Specially designed appliances can be obtained that will help to alleviate the problem, or surgery may be necessary to straighten the toe. It pays to choose your shoes carefully.
Fallen arches, like bunions, have inherited weaknesses as a contributing factor. However, we can be on guard against those things that hasten their downfall: long hours of standing or walking on hard, unyielding surfaces. For persons who cannot avoid this, soles that are thick, soft or of the louvered type are recommended. Also special shoes and supports may give some relief.
Calluses may develop on the ball of your foot; if they do, you can obtain wedges, lifts and appliances to relieve the excess pressure on this area. In the meantime keep on looking for shoes that really fit, that allow for the movement of the bones of your feet and yield to their expansion and swelling.
In the close confines of your shoes, heat and moisture often build up, and under these conditions an ordinarily harmless fungus can become active in a skin crack or crevice. Athlete’s foot or ringworm of the foot will remind you to give closer attention to the care of your feet. If you should get the signs of athlete’s foot, wash your feet twice a day with a nonirritating soap, drying well between the toes, then apply an antifungus medication. Start the treatment as soon as a rash appears, because it can spread once it gets a “toehold.” Should an extensive infection occur, it is usually wise to consult a doctor for more specific treatment.
These ailments and many more come as a price that man pays for neglecting his feet. He pays in time, money, comfort and convenience. However, by daily paying a little attention, you are repaid immediately and greater returns can be expected in the future.
Something that will help you to relax all over is foot massage. The feet are kneaded with a rotary movement of the fingers, using cold cream or olive oil to reduce the friction. If you are high-strung and tense, the first few seconds of massage will be quite sensorial; but let the massager exert more pressure as you exercise self-control and soon relaxation will ensue.
Your feet were designed for you alone. Greater appreciation for them will mean greater appreciation for, yes, gratitude to, your Maker and Master Designer, Jehovah.
Do not forget your feet; more importantly, do not forget Him who gave them to you!