First, the basics. Our feet are comprised of 26 bones, 30 joints, 19 muscles or tendons, 112 ligaments and 125,000 sweat glands. This puts the vague complaint of "my foot hurts" into a little perspective. The typical American takes 2,300 to 3,000 steps per day. (Just a little FYI: approximately 10,000 steps are recommended to lose an average of one pound a week.) You can use a pedometer to measure how many steps you are taking per week to see how you stack up. Those are a lot of steps and if you are suffering from any type of foot pain each step is agony. Nearly 80% of people ages 21 and older have had a foot problem, according to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health. Some of the most common complaints of foot pain are bunions, tailors bunions, hammer/claw/mallet toes, heel spurs, neuromas, corns, calluses, ingrown toenails and stress fractures. Anything from improper shoes to high impact exercise can trigger a condition.
Next, a little vocabulary lesson so that as you follow in future blogs you are familiar with some anatomy terms. We have bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments working together to help us move or ambulate. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and ligaments connect one bone to another. There are 26 bones in the feet. Fourteen phalanges (single is phalanx) make up your toes; two in the "Big toe" known as the Hallux and three in the lesser toes. Just proximal to those or moving closer to the leg will be 5 long Metatarsal bones. Next are the tarsal bones 3 Cuneiforms, the Navicular, Cuboid, Talus and Calcaneus (heel bone).
Now how are you going to start to love your feet? Be mindful that with the thousands of steps you are hopefully taking everyday you are putting the pressure of approximately three times your body weight onto each foot every step. Our feet are working hard everyday to keep us moving and when they hurt it may even prevent us from wearing our favorite shoes, going out to an event, working, our fitness routine or just daily activities. To avoid injury, take discomfort seriously. It is a sign that maybe something is out of balance. Ill-fitting footwear is one of the biggest causes of problems. In future blogs we will discuss shoe fit and some tips to help even the 4 inch heels (and for the guys running sneakers, golf shoes, sports cleats) a little more bearable. First tip: good shoes are essential don't expect the same quality and support from a cheaper brand. Next step is visiting a podiatrist at the first sign of an injury this can often prevent a more serious condition like an infection or fracture. As always, good hygiene and proper equipment for exercise is always key.
Follow the blog for more helpful tips on how to keep your feet happy :)
Danielle McNeil, DPM