The Foundation of The Body
You may be surprised at the link between your feet, and the health of your entire body! By understanding the impact of your feet and legs on your health, you can be more physically active, and improve your health. And nothing is more important than that!
They tell a much bigger story: Your feet and lower limbs are often a critical factor in developing or avoiding non communicable health diseases elsewhere in your body. Even if it doesn't immediately seem connected to foot health, the link is real. Think obesity, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and a range of other conditions.
They are a work of art! Or at least Leonardo Da Vinci thought so when he said, ‘The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.’ Did you know that your foot contains 28 bones, 33 joints, more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments, and 250,000 sweat glands? Your feet support your entire body and need to work well for you to be active and healthy.
Ageing is a fact of life. After your feet have carried you millions of miles through your life, they can eventually wear down. But there are ways to keep your feet healthy as you age – through proper maintenance, care and regular check-ups.
What happens to feet as they age?
As you age, you can lose cushioning and soft tissue fat in the pads of your heels and balls of your feet, near your toes. Like the skin on your face, there is also a loss of elasticity in the skin on your feet, making it thin and vulnerable.
Bone deformities – such as bunions or arthritis – and difficulties undertaking basic foot care, can lead to foot health issues and sometimes an increased risk of falls – which for many can have drastic consequences.
Nails also become more brittle, thicker and harder, making them difficult to trim and prone to ingrown toenails, fungal breakouts and other infections.
Can foot problems be improved?
For older people, most foot problems can be improved by regular maintenance and care, keeping weight down, shoe modification and use of cushioned insoles.
Taking good care of your feet as you age is good for your foot health as it helps you stay active and mobile.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are common skin conditions of the feet that can be easily treated, but good foot care and properly fitted shoes can prevent them developing
How do corns and calluses develop?
Corns and CallusesGiven your feet carry your body weight, footwear can make this more challenging if it creates extra friction on areas of your foot. When this happens, your body responds by thickening the surface layer of the skin. These hard patches of skin are called calluses, and if the pressure is concentrated in a small area, a hard corn may develop. If not relieved, pressure may produce inflammation resulting in pain, swelling and redness. ‘Soft’ corns can also form between the toes, where skin is moist from sweat or inadequate drying. These appear white and rubbery and are also caused by excessive friction or pressure. Corns and calluses are most often found on the balls of the feet or the tops of the toes, as well as on the heels and along the sides of toenails. Everyone can get them, especially the elderly, who lose fatty tissue and flexibility with age, and those who work in occupations that keep them on their feet.
What are the treatment options?
Because calluses are generally symptoms of other problems, it is important to have a footcare provider examine your feet and biomechanics to work out the cause. Over-the-counter remedies, such as corn paint or plasters, tend to treat the symptoms, not the underlying problem. To treat your corn or callus, your footcare provider will gently remove some of the hard skin of the callus or corn, so that the centre can be removed. To allow for healing and to prevent future cases they may redistribute pressure on the foot with soft padding and strapping or deflective appliances that fit into your shoes (orthoses). Your footcare provider may also discuss your footwear and how all these options can reduce excessive weight-bearing forces on the foot and provide long-term relief.
Can you prevent corns and calluses?
Yes you can! Pay attention to your feet, keep them moisturised and ensure you have properly fitted shoes – especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet or you are elderly.
Diabetes and Your Feet
Have you wondered about the connection between diabetes and your feet? Here is what you need to know about your feet and diabetes – and why it is so important to look after your health.
How does diabetes affect feet?
Having diabetes may increase your risk of developing diabetes related-complications that include nerve damage called ‘peripheral neuropathy’ or poor circulation in your feet called ‘peripheral vascular disease’.
Nerve damage may affect how you feel pressure or pain and may lead to numbness in your toes or feet. Changes to your circulation may delay your ability to heal any cuts or sores. This may also increase your risk of developing ulcers that may even lead to amputations.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Feet are often the first place to show such diabetic-related symptoms. This is why it is so important to pay attention to any such changes in your feet if you have diabetes.
Do you have cold feet, numbness, a sharp pain in your leg after walking, pins and needles, or any changes in foot colour, such as redder skin? Also look for any nail changes, corns, calluses, cracked or dry skin. Seek urgent care if you have any signs of an infection, or your skin starts to breakdown – such as via an ulcer or a crack in your heels. Or if you have a new pain, swelling or redness in this area. This is even more important if you have already been diagnosed with nerve damage.
What can you do?
How else can you look after your feet?
To prevent future foot problems, try and keep your blood glucose levels in your target range, avoid smoking, and keep physically active. Also, keep up-to-date with your annual cycle of care visits.
Did you know…
Your feet house a quarter of the bones in your entire body? This is why it is so important to ensure your shoes fit properly!
Want to ensure your shoes fit correctly? Look no further than your thumb! You should leave about one thumb-width (1.5cm) of space between the tip of your longest toe and the front end of the shoe you are fitting for. This is because as you move, your foot slides forward. If your toes are touching the front end of your shoes, then they are too small! Remember – your longest toe may not necessarily be your big toe!
There are two kinds of sports injuries...
Do you experience pain after exercising? Here are some of the most common sporting injuries, which can affect your legs and feet – to explain why they occur, and how your foot health practitioner can help.
Sore knees and hips are caused by many reasons, but often surprisingly, this pain can be caused by your gait, which is the way you walk. A foot health practitioner doesn't just focus on the feet, they can look at the bio-mechanics of your foot and lower limb region to assess the potential cause of any hip or knee pain.
This can make walking - or any exercise-very challenging! You might have a stress fracture or a neuroma. When it comes to likely causes for a painful ball of the foot., the list of possibilities is endless. Make sure you book in with your foot practitioner to have this properly assessed and treated.
This is caused by haematoma. A haematoma is a bleed under the nail, which can be caused by ill-fitting shoes when running or hiking. The first thing you may want to do is check the fit of your shoes is correct - and see your foot practitioner if symptoms don't improve.