1. Seventy-five percent of Americans will
experience foot health problems of varying degrees of severity
at one time or another in their lives.
Your feet mirror your general health. Such conditions as arthritis,
diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial
symptoms in the feet -- so foot ailments can be your first sign
of more serious medical problems.
The foot is an intricate structure containing 26 bones. Thirty-three
joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and tendons hold the structure
together and allow it to move in a variety of ways.
The 52 bones in your feet make up about one quarter of all the
bones in your body.
Women have about four times as many foot problems as men; wearing
high heels often are the culprit.
People take on average 10,000 steps in a day, adding up to 115,000
miles in a lifetime, enough to circle the planet four times.
There are times when you're walking that the pressure on your
feet exceeds your body weight, and when you're running, it can
be three or four times your weight.
Shopping for shoes is best done in the afternoon. Your feet
tend to swell a little during the day, and it's best to buy
shoes to fit them then. Have your feet measured every time you
purchase shoes, and do it while you're standing. When you try
on shoes, try them on both feet; many people have one foot larger
than the other, and it's best to fit the larger one.
Trim your toenails straight across with clippers specially designed
for the purpose. Leave them slightly longer than the tips of
Walking is the best exercise for your feet. It also contributes
to your general health by improving circulation, contributing
to weight control, and promoting all-around well being.
The podiatrist (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine or D.P.M.) is the
health care professional trained in the care of your feet. He
or she receives conventional medical training, plus special
training on the foot, ankle, and lower leg. All 50 states, the
District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico require that they pass
rigorous state board examinations before they are licensed,
and most require continuing education programs for regular license
There are about 10,700 podiatrists actively in practice in the
United States, and they receive more than 55 million visits
a year from people with any number of foot ailments. This is
probably only a fraction of the number of foot problems. Mostly,
say podiatrists, that's because many people have the erroneous
notion that their feet are supposed to hurt.
Only a small percentage of the population is born with foot
problems. A lifetime of wear and tear, plus neglect, accounts
for the fact that the practices of most podiatrists are made
up of older Americans.
Corns and calluses are caused by friction and pressure from
skin rubbing against bony areas when wearing shoes. If the first
signs of soreness are ignored, corns and calluses rise up as
nature's way of protecting sensitive areas.
There are approximately 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet,
and they excrete as much as half a pint of moisture each day.