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Best Foot Forward

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 27 Feb 2012 | comments*Discuss
Foot Care Feet Podiatry Toe Nails Shoes

Did you know that walking puts up to 1½ times your bodyweight on your feet, that during the course of a year, on average, you will cover about 1,000 miles and that during one hours of exercise your feet will cushion up to one million pounds of pressure? That's a lot of footwork, so you need to be kind to your feet and understand how to take care of them the best you can.

Foot Facts

  • Each of your feet contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles.
  • ¼ of all the bones in your body are down in your feet. If these bones are out of alignment, so is the rest of your body.
  • Women have about four times as many foot problems as men; wearing high heels are partly to blame.
  • 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.
  • Your feet mirror your general health. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet.
  • There are 250,000 sweat glands in both of your of feet. Sweat glands in your feet excrete as much as a half-pint of moisture a day.
  • On average you will take 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to about 115,000 miles over a lifetime. That's enough to go around the circumference of the earth four times.

Foot Hygiene

Because your feet sweat so much every day, it is important to keep them clean, in order to keep them healthy. It's the mixture of sweat and bacteria and your shoes and socks that make your feet prone to foot odour and infections. To maintain proper hygiene and thus healthy feet, you should wash your feet at least one a day in warm water. Always make sure that you towel them completely dry, particularly between the toes. Using a pumice stone on heals and toes, while your feet are soaking, can prevent calluses and applying a moisturiser after your feet are dry will prevent dry skin.

The Importance of Exercise

Exercise it vital for healthy feet, but it is important to wear the right shoes for your sport and to throw them out when they are worn out. For example, running shoes should be discarded after around 300 miles of use. They should also fit correctly. There should be a half thumb's space between the longest toes and the tip of the shoe.

Take Care of Your Toe Nails

Trim your toe nails regularly. Use nail clippers to keep them neat and to avoid irritation of the skin. Cut straight across the nail, avoid cutting the corners of your nails, and smooth any rough spots with an emery board. If your toenails become thick, yellowed, or are growing into your toes, speak to your general practitioner.

Athlete's Foot

Tinea pedis is a fungal infection, usually called athlete's foot. The moist area between your toes provides the perfect environment for fungus to grow. If you have athlete's foot your skin will appear itchy and red; the surface may have a moist white coloured film. Athlete's foot can also spread to the toenails (tinea unguium).


Creams and spays can be bought over the counter at the drug store. They contain anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compounds. They work by attacking the layers of fungus embedded in the skin. If you prefer a natural remedy you can soak your feet in a garlic footbath. Though your feet won't smell like roses, garlic is an excellent anti-fungal antiseptic and will relieve itching and burning between the toes. Ginger also contains anti-fungal compounds. An ounce of chopped ginger root simmered for about 20 minutes in a cup of water will do the job. Simply apply the liquid to the affected areas twice each day.

Ways to prevent tinea pedis:

  • When you're at home, take your shoes off and expose your feet to the air.
  • Change your socks and underwear every day, especially in warm weather.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas. Instead, wear "flip-flops," sandals or water shoes.
  • Throw away worn-out exercise shoes. Never borrow other people's shoes
Other foot care tips:
  • Always wear shoes that fit well.
  • Avoid wearing high heels.
  • If you're sitting for long periods, wiggle your toes for a few minutes form time to time.
  • If you're in the sun, wear sun block on your feet.
  • If you experience foot pain, consult your doctor.

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