Our feet are astonishing, complex tools that we often neglect as mere appendages hanging out at the end of our legs. Consider their make-up; each foot is a functional unit crafted from 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments, and the connective tendons that help hold it all together. The soles of the feet have more sweat glands and sensory nerve endings per square inch than any other part of the body. The feet’s only anatomical rivals are our hands, which of course are fantastic things themselves.
However, our feet shoulder (see, even the shoulder gets credit for the feet’s work) the burden of carrying our bodies over an average of 8,000 – 10,000 steps per day, which adds up to 115,000 miles in a lifetime. And that is just an average. Many of us tax these marvels by running, hiking, skiing, dancing, kicking opponents in martial arts practices, and doing other upright, bipedal pursuits. The pressure on the feet when running can be as much as four times the runner’s bodyweight. One can only imagine what the pressure on a ballet dancer’s toes is when they are en pointe. Yet we expect the feet to do these things without complaint or malfunction.
One of the greatest disservices we do to our feet is to cram them into ill-fitting shoes. One would never consider doing a similar unkindness to our beloved hands. Women are the cruelest of all… imprisoning feet in high heels. It is reported that when wearing a 2 ½ inch heel, there is a 75% increase in the load to the forefoot. No wonder those fuzzy slippers feel so delicious at the end of the day! It is also important to recognize that many of us have one foot that is up to ½ size larger than the other. It is best to fit the larger foot to help prevent fatigue, soreness, and injuries. So be kind to your feet. Wear shoes that fit and support your feet.
It is also advisable to pay attention to the condition of your feet. Foot ailments are often the first sign of serious medical problems as your feet often mirror your general health. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in your feet. Take the time to properly care for your feet; keep them clean and dry when possible, trim those toe nails to prevent painful and infection-inducing ingrown nails, look for signs of circulation problems (swelling, discoloration, etc.) and then at the end of each day, give them a round of applause and thank them for all they did to get you through your day!