Why feet are so important?
Your feet carry you through life and they’re worth looking after. Not only are they as individual to you as your fingerprints, face or smile, but your feet hold 25% of the bones in your body. It takes 15 muscles to smile while it takes 19 muscles in one foot to take a step forward.
A healthy baby is born with feet that are between 5 to 8 cm long and approximately 5 cm wide. Any parent will attest to the fact at how quickly feet grow. They double in size every two months until the age of two years old and then keep growing up to the age of around 20 years old. If you find that your children are outgrowing their shoes at a rapid rate, expect a growth spurt say scientists.
Simply looking at your children’s feet can tell you so much about what to expect down the line regarding growth patterns and health concerns. That’s because growth spurts happen in the feet before growth happens in the rest of the body. More importantly, wounds tend to heal a little more slowly on the foot because the skin is thicker. Another reason is because of poor circulation as the feet are the furthest point from the heart.
Did you know?
- With 125,000 sweat glands, the soles of your feet have the most sweat glands matched only by the palms of your hands. That’s between 250 to 550 sweat glands per square centimetre. This is how the feet excrete byproducts and cool down.
- A normal foot has a total of 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles and tendons and more than 100 ligaments.
- Feet are the base of the body while your toes provide the balance and grip. Taller people need bigger feet because they need longer and wider support bases. This is often why taller people wear bigger shoes.
- Toenails are hardened skin cells made from keratin. Their purpose is to give toes structure and more importantly for protection. This is why it’s important not to cut them too short which may lead to ingrown toenails.
- Whether a healthy person takes the recommended 10,000 steps daily or not, the feet are subjected to an estimated 13 tons of pressure a day. That’s the same amount of pressure that two fully-grown African elephants would exert. Imagine the extra pressure that we place on them by teetering on incredibly high heels.
- Despite the heavy burden and beating we subject them to, we can train our feet to do miraculously intricate tasks for us too, like tapping out lyrical melodies in impossible shoes, pirouetting en pointe, knitting, changing lightbulbs or even painting our very own masterpieces with our toes.
When we are younger, we tend to be more active and perhaps a little more footloose and fancy free about our feet. By the time that we are forty years old, we start to pay them more attention and respect. Our feet tend to become noticeably flatter, wider, and more tender. That’s when the appropriateness of shoe fashion might lean towards style, health and comfort. If only we had known this sooner. Could this be why the South African footwear industry is estimated to be worth just over R40 bn?
The importance of choosing the right shoes
Wearing the right shoes from the starting blocks might just help and prevent many problems later in life. They may also help overcome some embarrassing, odorous, and onerous ones right now. When it comes to shoes, form should always fit function. Consider investing in shoes that fit comfortably and properly. Make sure that you’ve tried them on both feet respectively, and make sure that your feet can breathe in them. Here’s why:
- Shoes are designed to support and protect your feet. Ill-fitting shoes are one of the leading causes of musculoskeletal problems such as back, hip and knee problems. Forcing your feet into shoes that don’t fit properly puts constant strain on your feet, ankles, shins, and calves which impacts the way you walk, especially while exercising or jogging.
- It’s best to select shoes that fit your feet comfortably with a little bit of wriggle room. Big or small, be careful of shoes that are ill-fitting as these can cause blisters and chaffing, corns, and calluses, especially when you are running long distances. If you plan to wear thick socks, consider trying them on in-store, remembering that the shoes will stretch with time.
- Squeezing your toes into unnatural shapes that hurt, also causes chaffing and inflammation. Your body finds ways to accommodate for this by creating buffers. Bunions, blisters, calluses, corns, collapsed arches, deformed toes, diabetic foot, fungal nails, hammertoe, ingrown toenails, neuropathy of the foot, plantar fasciitis, sore feet, and shortened Achilles tendons are often a result of our choice in the style of our shoes.
- Around 60% of people have slightly different sized left and right feet which is why it’s so important to try on both shoes when going shoe shopping. Most people have a dominant foot meaning that each foot develops different muscles making it form and grow differently. Try each shoe on both feet respectively and walk around in them before buying them to be certain of the most comfortable fit.
- With all those sweat glands, it’s also best to opt for natural and breathable fabrics. When in doubt, try your best to wear natural fabric socks when you’re wearing closed shoes. This will help collect any accumulating sweat and remove the sweat from your feet and shoes.
Top tip: When wearing leather shoes such as boots that are still taking the shape of your foot for the first few times, consider rubbing the areas of your feet that are prone to blisters with methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol and a few drops of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil on cottonwool. Not only will this help avoid blisters, but it will also help you avoid any other potential infections too. Try to avoid getting the alcohol on existing blisters if you are sensitive to pain or if your feet are very cracked and dry.
What do podiatrists do?
Podiatrists are highly trained professionals who specialise in foot care. They are often called upon by other physicians and healthcare professionals for consultation and treatment when foot issues arise.
“Foot health problems can be experienced by anyone, from children to seniors,” says the Podiatry Association of South Africa.
This is why Living Naturally recommends seeing a homeopath and podiatrist, if possible, to treat the following foot problems. They have remedies to help clear the problems.
- Ingrown toenails.
- Agitating the problem area could break the skin and lead to a secondary infection which is both sore and dangerous.
- We advise keeping your toenails at the correct length to avoid ingrown nails.
- This problem is always best treated by the appropriate healthcare professional such as a homeopath or more specifically a podiatrist.
Top tips for blisters:
- Never pop blisters or cut the skin off around them.
- One drop of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil directly onto blisters will help dry them out.
- Applying Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Cream will help keep them from cracking and may prevent secondary infections too.
How to treat foot problems naturally
Living Naturally recommends watching what you eat and drink for happy feet. This is why it is important to follow a healthy diet that includes more wholefoods, five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, raw nuts and seeds as well as drinking 2 litres of filtered water consistently throughout the day, every day. It’s also best to try and avoid refined carbohydrates, bad fats such as those found in deep fried foods, too much salt and fizzy drinks.
Fungal foot infections
Fungal infections are quite common and can appear anywhere and everywhere on the foot. This includes the nail which, like the skin will eventually go yellow and thick. That’s because fungi are contagious, have spores, and thrive in warm, moist places such as showers and closed shoes. They typically start in the cracks between the toes and spread to the feet, including the heels.
Recommended treatment for fungal foot infections:
- Add 10 ml A.Vogel Molkosan to a bowl of warm water.
- Soak your feet for approximately 5 minutes.
- A.Vogel Molkosan helps to strip the fungus from the feet.
- Dry your feet thoroughly with a clean towel.
- Clean the towel properly afterwards and do not reuse the towel if it’s not cleaned.
- Apply it to the infected area directly in severe cases and then leave it to air dry.
- Apply x1 drop Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil to an infected nail.
- In mild cases, add x5 drops to 200 ml clean warm water and use cottonwool to wipe your feet thoroughly. Let feet air dry naturally.
- In more severe cases, consider applying one drop directly to the infected area, such as between the toes. Use sparingly. If discomfort occurs, discontinue and rinse with clean, fresh running water immediately.
- Apply Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Cream to the entire foot.
Repeat until the infection clears.
An important note:
- Put a few drops of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil into your shoes daily to lessen the chance of reinfection.
- All shoes and socks need to be sundried to kill fungal spores too.
- The bathroom and bathing areas need to be thoroughly and consistently cleaned.
- Consider adding x15 drops of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil to water in a standard spray cleaning bottle and spray the shower and floors in the bathroom to help get the job done properly.
Cracked heels are a common sight, especially in spring and summer due to wearing open shoes or walking barefoot. Wearing open shoes and walking barefoot seems like a privilege but it also takes its toll because feet dry out. During winter we want to keep our feet warm and protected and tend to wear closed shoes, this locks in moisture. It’s best to wear shoes and socks that allow the feet to breathe because it may result in other issues such as smelly feet. Menopause and poor foot care may also be contributing factors to having cracked heels.
The soles of the feet have many layers making them the thickest part of the skin on the body and this is why they take a long time to heal.
Recommended treatment for cracked heels:
In the evenings before bedtime, consider adding the following to your sleep hygiene routine.
- Clean feet properly with warm water, soap, and a foot brush.
- We do not recommend over scrubbing your feet because this can lead to further cracking and secondary infections.
- Then soak your feet in a bowl of warm but not hot water with a drop of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil added to help clean and clear or to prevent infections on the skin. Cracks can become infected.
- Dry the feet thoroughly with a clean towel and allow to dry.
- Add two drops of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil to a carrier product such as beeswax, coconut oil or petroleum jelly.
- Rub thoroughly into the feet and into the affected areas.
- Put on a pair of socks immediately thereafter and go to bed with your socks on.
Pain in the feet
There are many reasons for foot pain besides having broken or fractured bones. Arthritis, gout, plantar fasciitis, and tendinitis are a few of the reasons. Another reason could be neuropathy or nerve damage in the feet which is often caused by diabetes. Weight issues put extra pressure and strain on the feet too. Over time, the burden may also lead to pain. You are also more likely to experience foot pain with age as the joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the feet start to experience wear and tear.
For arthritis-related foot pain Living Naturally recommends:
Did you know that gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis? Uric acid builds up in the joints and in what is called the synovial fluid between the joints. It is typically felt in the feet first and especially in the big toe.
THRESHHold Real MSM is used as an anti-inflammatory and assists in the temporary relief of pain, swelling, redness, inflammation and difficult mobility of joints in patients with arthritis.Also available as a topical gel.
Oxiprovin is a potent antioxidant made from pure South African grape seed extract which your feet need because they are the furthest point away from your heart. It promotes healthy veins and circulation.
This balances out the acidity in your body which is believed to be the leading cause of arthritis.
Foot washing symbolises respect, reverence, and subservience, an act of humility and love of others and self. At Living Naturally, we always say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. An investment in them is an investment in all of the aforementioned. Wash them, care for them, file them down, give them a good rub down and massage, trim your toenails appropriately and nurture them, and most importantly invest in good shoes. You only have one pair of feet.
Living Naturally has a dedicated helpline to see you through every season of your life. Feel free to get in touch on:
09:00 to 16:00 – Mondays to Fridays.
Yours in good health,
The Living Naturally Team
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