Whether it’s exercise or following a strict diet, many people put in a lot of effort to being healthy. But there are so many different aspects of health that some will inevitably receive more attention than others. Our feet are perhaps one of the most neglected areas of our bodies when it comes to healthcare as, unless they are visibly damaged or in extreme pain, they can be quite easy to overlook. Apart from sudden injuries like cuts or broken toes, many of us adopt a wait-and-see approach when it comes to our feet. So will this work for most people, or is podiatry something more of us should consider?
A lot of foot problems appear to come and go, and can often be attributed to circumstance. I was on my feet all day, those shoes were uncomfortable, that’s just the way my feet have always looked. But in comparison to other areas of our physical health, many of the issues that affect our feet develop slowly over time. This can make them harder to identify, as we fail to notice the small changes, or simply attribute them to growing older. But the fact that these problems develop over long periods of time, and the fact that we can ignore them for so long, ultimately means that they will take longer to rectify.
Take the example of bunions, bony bumps that form at the base of our big toes when they are pushed against our other toes. These can occur as a result of genetics or improper footwear. Since they are gradually occurring, many people will not notice them until they are already at a relatively advanced stage. By that point, they are so well-formed that the pain accompanying them will likely stick around for a lot of the long healing process, and in extreme cases, surgery is required, which is never an ideal situation.
Overpronation, when we walk with our feet rolled slightly inwards, and supination, where we walk with the feet rolled slightly outward, are both more examples of problems that develop over time. These often occur as a result of fallen arches and improper footwear, and can affect our bodies in a few different ways. Firstly, it makes our gait less stable, meaning we are more likely to fall. Secondly, it means that we do not absorb shock as well as we normally would, which can have negative effects on our bones. Thirdly, it can affect how we move our legs, knees, hips, backs, and even our necks, meaning that all of these areas are at risk of developing pain. Few people realise just how far the cause of pain can be from the actual site of the pain itself, and most people would not consider that pain in their back or neck could be caused by a problem in their feet.
Hammer toe, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, fallen arches, and so many more common foot problems all face the curse of occuring gradually over time. Sometimes, it is the people who are trying their hardest to be healthy that inadvertently allow these problems the room to grow. People who fail to properly prepare to run, such as by wearing the wrong kind of footwear or running the exact same route every time, are putting in all the effort, but at the same time, causing problems that are easily avoidable.
Footcare is something that few people view as urgent, but as we have shown above, small problems can easily grow into much bigger ones when given the time to do so. Podiatry is essential in identifying these issues in their earliest stages and preventing them from developing into bigger problems that will take more time and effort to resolve. It may not be the most exciting or glamorous aspect of healthcare, but in the long-run, it can be one of the most fundamental.