Da Vinci used no codes when he described the human foot as a “masterpiece of engineering, and a work of art”.  Indeed, the human foot is a biological masterpiece. It is strong, flexible, adaptable, and its design enables it to do its job well and without complaint (if you take good care of it).

The foot can be compared to a finely tuned race car, a vehicle whose function dictates its design and structure. And like that car, the human foot is complex, containing within its relatively small size 26 bones (the two feet contain a quarter of all the bones in the body), 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles, to say nothing of blood vessels and nerves.

These components work together to provide the body with support, balance, mobility, and sharing of the tremendous pressures of daily living. An average day of walking, for example, brings anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 steps, with each step putting up to 1.5 times your body weight through each foot.  Do the math! That’s 675,000 to 2,250,000 lbs per day for a 150 lb adult!

Believe it or not, the human foot is designed to withstand all that stress.  However, not all feet are created equal. While some feet seem to take incredible abuse with no complaints, many are not so lucky.  Although ill fitting or improper shoes may cause some foot discomfort, the foot itself is usually the problem.  A structural flaw or malfunction in any one part can result in the development of problems within the foot and elsewhere in the body. Likewise, abnormalities in other parts of the body can lead to problems in the feet.  So heredity, our lifestyle, what shoes we wear, and how active we are, all affect our risk of foot problems. The young foot is typically more resilient, and may easily recover from minor injuries, or structural abnormalities. Wear and tear eventually take their toll however, and the tissues lose there ability to fully recover. Hence, foot complaints become more prevalent as we age.  This was put into words very well through a sign reportedly seen in a Chiropodist’s window: “Time wounds all heals”

There are hundreds of different ailments of the foot, none of which should be ignored.

In most cases, pain or excessive foot fatigue will alert you that you may have a foot problem, although some problems may go unnoticed, particularly if you suffer from diabetes.

Indeed, foot pain has a multitude of causes. A Chiropodist can accurately assess your problem, and devise a management plan to treat it appropriately via conservative (cutting nails or shaving callus, for example), pharmaceutical, biomechanical (custom orthotics, braces, custom footwear or footwear recommendations), surgical, or ‘high-tech’ means (like our laser treatment for plantar warts and fungal toe nails).

Yes, those of you who suffer with ‘the agony of de-feet’ know that painful feet can affect your ability to enjoy the most basic activities in your daily lives. Thankfully, many foot conditions can be easily prevented or treated.

Greek philosopher Socrates summed it up well: “When your feet hurt, you hurt all over.”

 

Mark Smyth, D.Ch.