One foot, two feet.......
The improvement in the weather has brought along with it some warmer temperatures, which makes sense to dump the heavier winter attire for something more suitable and this includes your footwear. Although not known for showing their toes, the English male was slowly adopting a more European attitude to shoe, "more is less", then Brexit happened and we're right back in the dark ages where shoes are concerned.
Summer is a great time to let your feet out of their cramped quarters and let them experience a bit of freedom before winter returns again. Unfortunately, the majority of people regard their feet to be ugly and are more than happy to keep them shielded away from the general public for fear of retribution or arrest. That's a shame, as our feet like the rest of the body will definitely benefit from some specific care and attention.
Our feet are very complex, where approximately 25% of the bones in the body are located. Each foot comprises of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons (double that if you have a pair). The 26 bones of the foot, consists of eight distinct types, including the tarsals, metatarsals, phalanges, cuneiforms, talus, navicular, and cuboid bones. The skeletal structure of the foot is very similar to that of the hand, but as the foot has to bears more weight, they tend to be stronger and rigid. Along with the bones, a pair of feet have approximately 250,000 sweat glands each, mainly concentrated on the souls of our feet that can typically produce up to half a pint of perspiration per day.. This concentration of glands means there are more per square centimetre on our feet than in any other part our body.
With so much weighing on our feet, it's not surprising that they go through a tough time, some of the common issues are:
Athlete’s foot; Itchy, stinging, and burning feet and between the toes may be signs of athlete’s foot. This contagious condition appears after you make contact with fungus, usually in wet environments such as a changing room, public showers or swimming pools. Other signs of athlete's foot are; blisters, crumbly toenails or cracked and dry raw skin on your feet. The condition can be difficult to treat but start with creams from the chemist and wearing lighter shoes or preferable bare feet. Change socks and footwear daily.
Ingrown toenail; A toenail that grow into the surrounding skin. These can occur if you have nails that curve, poorly trimmed nails, compressed toes, or an injury to your toes although genetics can also play a role. Mild cases can cause discomfort as the skin around the nail becomes very tender. Treated these cases at home at with warm soaks, pain relievers, and topical antibiotics. More severe cases may not heal on their own, becoming infected resulting in redness, bleeding, pus, and pain. These should be treated by a doctor and may even require surgery to remove the ingrown toenail.
Fungal nail infection; Scales or streaking, crumbling, flaking, and yellow spots on your toenails may be signs that you have a fungal infection. This can occur from fungi entering your toenail because of its moist environment. You can also develop the fungus from a medical condition like diabetes, injuring a toenail, exposure to contaminated nail instruments, swimming pools or changing room. The symptoms can develop slowly and can be very persistent. Antifungal medication along with airing your feet will help.
Gout; Known as the "rich man's disease" is a condition that often affects your feet and especially in the big toe and is usually as a result of too much uric acid (a waste product found in blood created when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. Most of the uric acid dissolves in the blood, passes through the kidneys and leaves the body in urine. Food and drinks high in purines also increase the level of uric acid.)in your body. It can be very painful for the affected area. Gout can develop slowly and become more painful and chronic over time as your joints become damaged over time. Eating certain foods and drinking alcohol (steak and red wine, hence the title) may aggravate its onset. Gout tends to affect mainly men between 40 and 50 years old although younger patients have been known and can be hereditary. Treatment usually from a doctor with steroids and recommending healthy lifestyle habits with plenty of water.
Plantar fasciitis; Can cause pain in the bottom of your heel or in the lower part of your middle foot when walking or running. Occurs when the plantar fascia ligament becomes strained due to soft-soled footwear with poor arch support, frequent standing, long-distance running, weight gain, or other foot conditions. Can develop over time, with the pain ranging from dull throb to sharp prick. Pain can even be experienced when resting when your feet for prolonged periods. Treatments for the condition include applying ice, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and stretching the foot daily. Corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, orthotics, or surgery from the medical sector may be necessary if the problem persists.
Blisters; Raised pockets of fluid usually caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes, having sweaty feet or walking or standing for long periods of time. Blisters aren’t a serious condition and can be treated at home. Try to let the blister heal naturally and cover with a plaster for comfort. Draining the blister is an option but only done with the proper sterile equipment. If you choose to drain a blister, make sure to keep it covered with a bandage and antibiotic ointment as it heals.
The health of our feet shouldn't be overlooked, on average have walked over 50,000 miles by the time, we reach 50. Summer is a great time to kick off the shoes and wear as little footwear at home and lighter shoes when out an about. With so many glands concentrated in one small area on your feet, to prevent the build-up of bacteria/smell, it's vital to change both your footwear(wearing shoes on alternate days) and socks every day. The shoes we wear are just as important. Ensure that are comfortable and provide adequate support if they are to be worn all day. Always try before you buy, preferably with warm/ hot feet as the difference in fit is remarkable when your feet are cool/cold. If they don't feel completely comfy in the shop, don't buy them!
Summer is a great time to go feral on the shoe front. Thankfully I don't like wearing socks, as they don't look great with my flip flops...
I probably need to let my feet breathe more than I do, I seem to always have athlete's foot ! I always seem to wear the same shoes, so will try switching it up. Like Brett, I like kicking off the socks and shoes as much as possible.