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Foot Care & Prevention

Footcare PreventionFoot is an important structure of the human body and its primary function is locomotion. Compared to the feet of other mammals, the human foot has specialized to take the load on the hind due to the upright posture of the human body. An average human being walks about 10,000 steps in a day and walks an equivalent of around 4 times the circumference of earth in his lifetime. Hence, it is prudent that you take good care of your feet if you want them to give you no trouble.

1. Parts & types. The foot consists of ligaments, joints, tendons, muscles and 52 bones. The foot contains about 25 percent of the bones of our body. The foot consists of heel, sole, ball, instep, toes and toe nails. Generally feet are classified into three types. A wet feet test is used to determine the type of feet. The three types are flat foot, high arch foot and the normal foot. The difference between the three is the percentage area of contact of the feet with the ground. The flat foot has the highest percentage contact area and the high arch foot has the least percentage contact area. Most people have normal feet.

2.  Common problems.  Unlike other mammals, in humans, the entire body's weight comes on two feet. Hence the feet have to undergo more stresses and are prone to foot pains and inflammation. The common disorders of the feet include, Club foot, Flat feet, Morton's Neuroma, Athlete's foot, Morton's Neuroma, Callus, Verruca (plantar wart) and Bunion. All these disorders can only be overcome by medical treatment. However the most common problem with feet is inflammation and pain. Invariably the cause of this is wrong shoes and improper walking gait.

3. Foot care. To take good care of your feet all you need to do is to take simple precautions in your daily life. The first and foremost is to get a good pair of shoes. Purchase shoes in the evenings because feet spread and swell in the evenings and are the largest at that time. Hence, if you buy a shoe in the evening, it will be comfortable to use for all times during the day. Try both the shoes on you, as most people have the right foot larger than the left foot. Walk a few steps and check if the new shoes fit properly and are comfortable or not. Ensure that the shoes have arch support and good insoles so that the pressure comes on a larger area.

The material of shoes should be preferably leather or canvas because these are natural materials and allow your feet to "breathe". If you are purchasing shoes made of synthetic material ensure that the shoes allow for air circulation. The feet consist of a large number of sweat glands. The feet sweat to cool the skin and tissues of the feet. The cooling takes place by evaporation of the sweat. However most shoes do not allow this sweat to evaporate which causes the socks and shoes to emit an unpleasant odor. The unpleasant odor is not due to the sweat itself but due to a type of bacteria known as brevibacteria. Brevibacteria feed on the dead skin especially between the toes and soles. They convert the dead skin into methanethiol which has an unpleasant odor.

To prevent this odor you have to purchase shoes with good ventilation as well as wear cotton socks. Nylon socks do not allow the feet to breathe and are one of the common causes of feet odor. People who have excess foot perspiration it helps to expose feet to sunlight and frequently taking of shoes to allow sweat to evaporate.

A special mention of high heeled shoes for women needs to be made because of the frequent problem in women's feet due to high heeled shoes. High heeled shoes are not ideal for long walks or use through out the day. Long-term use of high-heeled shoes shortens the Achilles tendon. Hence when women shift from high heeled shoes to flat shoes they get pain in the back of the heel due to stretching of the tendon. The guiding rule for purchase of shoes should be comfort before style.

Dry skin is another common problem in feet. For this, wash your feet regularly in warm water. Hot water should never be used to wash the feet as hot water washes away vital oils from the skin making it prone to dryness. Do not soak your feet more than ten minutes in water. Dry them thoroughly, and frequently apply moisturizers.

Other precautions that need to be taken care of include cutting nails in a proper manner. Do not cut nails too short as this may result in infections. If your feet hurt regularly and is persisting you should approach a doctor for medical care.  
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