Feet get an enormous amount of wear and tear. It’s a wonder we don’t have more problems with them! The average moderately active person apparently walks around 7,500 steps each day. The average person walks around 150,000 miles in their lifetime.

Since the advent of the fitness smartwatch, Fitbit, people are seriously monitoring the number of steps they do each day in a bid to either lose weight or simply as a motivation tool to increase the amount of exercise they do.

Our feet, it seems, take quite a pounding. Here are some interesting facts about feet you may not know, as well as some common foot problems and how to treat them – as per information from chiropody and podiatry specialists the Sussex Foot Centre. With the amount of work our feet do, it makes sense to look after them. Podiatrists and chiropodists are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat foot problems and are a good place to start if you are having any particular foot problems.

Feet facts

Our feet are an awesome part of our anatomy. Did you know:

  • One fourth of all bones in the human body are in the feet
  • Your foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons!
  • Skin on the bottom of your foot is twice as thick as skin on other parts of your body
  • There are nearly 8,000 nerves in our feet
  • Toenails grow slower than fingernails
  • There are around 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet
  • Sweat glands in the feet can produce around an egg cup of perspiration each day
  • Foot sweat itself is odourless; it’s the bacteria on feet that causes feet to smell
  • Foot ailments can be the first sign of a serious medical problem, such as arthritis, diabetes and nerve and circulatory disorders
  • Standing in one spot is more tiring for the feet than walking
  • Running increases pressure on the foot by up to seven times that of body weight

Find more interesting foot facts here.

5 common foot problems and how to treat them

  1. Athletes foot

Athletes foot (also called tinea pedis) is a common fungal problem affecting the feet. Symptoms include itchy white patches between the toes, cracked skin and red, sore flaky patches. Athletes foot is unlikely to get better on its own and usually requires treatment. Treatments are available from most chemists in the form of creams, sprays and powders.

If you have athletes foot is essential that you dry your feet well after washing them, particularly between the toes. Wear clean cotton socks and change socks every day. Take your shoes off when you are at home. Wear flip-flops in public changing rooms and showers. Avoid wearing footwear that makes your feet hot and sweaty.

If over-the-counter topical medications don’t work, see a podiatrist or your GP. It is very important to see a health professional if you have developed athletes foot and have a weakened immune system or diabetes. You may need prescription oral ant-fungal medication or steroid cream.

  1. Verrucas

Also known as plantar warts, verrucas are small, rough lumps on the feet. See here for some examples. They are a form of infection caused by the ‘human papilloma virus.’ Most verrucas go away by themselves in due course. There are a number of over-the-counter treatments for verrucas, including creams, gels and medicated plasters.

Boosting the immune system with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise and rest may be enough for the body’s healing powers to fight off the virus. However, veruccas can be stubborn to treat. There are many old wives tales about how to treat verruccas.

Conventional treatment usually involves freezing the wart (cryotherapy) or using acid to burn it off (salicylic acid). Freezing should only be carried out by a trained health professional.

If you are worried by any growth or skin condition on your feet, see a registered podiatrist, chiropodist or your GP.

  1. Corns

Corns are essentially small areas of thick, hard skin. Corns usually develop on the soles of feet and most commonly on the tops and sides of toes. Corns can be incredibly painful or not hurt at all, and are usually caused by shoes that don’t fit properly.

Treatment options include cushioning pads to relieve the pressure, salicylic acid plasters and liquids to remove the corn, or the use of moisturisers and a pumice stone to soften and wear the corn down. Corns can quickly and easily be removed by a chiropodist.

  1. Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition of the heel in which the tissue that connects the ball of the foot to the heel (the fascia) becomes inflamed. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Symptoms include stabbing pain that usually occurs when you first get up in the morning. The pain can be excruciating on the first few steps, but often subsides the more you move around.

Pain can also be triggered by long periods of standing, or when rising from a long period of sitting. Plantar fasciitis is more common in people who do certain types of exercise, such as long-distance running, and in those who are obese. Also, people with flat feet or high arches can find the mechanics of the foot place added stress on the plantar fascia.

Treatments that can help include laser therapy, exercises, rest, heel pads and arch supports, and in extreme cases steroid injections.

  1. Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails (also known as onychocryptosis) generally occur when you don’t cut your toenails properly. Poor cutting of toenails can cause the corners of the nail to dig into the skin as the nail regrows and hence it becomes ingrown. This can be very painful and can easily become infected. It is important you seek professional medical advice if you suspect an ingrown toenail and it is painful and inflamed.

When you cut your toenails cut them straight across and avoid cutting them too short. If you are finding it difficult to cut your own toenails, a chiropodist or podiatrist can do this for you. Soak your feet in a footbath with Epsom salts or apple cider vinegar. See here for more information on this condition and natural treatments that may help to prevent infection.

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