Feet get us around – we use them for running, walking and jumping. And yet, most people know very little about what actually goes on inside the foot. Feet generally get taken for granted – that is, until something goes wrong with them. Nothing incapacitates you as much as a broken or badly infected foot.
Foot bones, anomalies Most people have 26 bones in each foot, but some people have 28. These extras, called supernumerary sesamoids, are found on the bottom of the foot just behind the big toe.
Foot bones, digits Fourteen of the 26 bones are found in the toes. Each toe has three bones, except the big toe, which has two.
Sweat The soles of your feet contain more sweat glands and sensitive nerve-endings per square centimetre than any other part of your body.
Flat feet Flat feet are not always problematic – if flat feet are well-aligned, they enable a person to stand for longer periods of time, as the weight is distributed over a larger area.
Foot related medical problems Lower backache, headaches, indigestion and a misaligned spine can often be traced to problems with your feet.
Gait pattern The gait pattern of your right foot does not usually match that of your left.
Normal gait When you are walking normally, the whole foot is never flat on the ground.
Structural alignment If your feet are well-aligned, your toes will point straight ahead when you are walking. The first point of contact is your heel, then the outside border of your foot, then the ball of your foot, and finally the big toe.
Standing vs. walking fatigue Standing in one spot is far more tiring than walking. The reason for this is that demands are being made on the same few muscles for a length of time.
Corns and calluses, prevalence and indications Corns and calluses are never normal, but they are the most common foot problems. They indicate that you could benefit from foot alignment or from better choice of shoes. The next most common foot problems are warts, blisters, athlete's foot and fissures.
Skin thickness The skin on your feet is thicker than it is anywhere else on your body.
Stress related susceptibility When you are stressed, you are more susceptible to the virus that causes warts on the foot.
Shoe selection tips When buying shoes, it is a good idea to buy them late in the day, when your feet are tired and may be slightly swollen. It's best to buy shoes that fit your feet under this condition as you are then unlikely to purchase shoes that are too small. Have your feet measured every time you purchase shoes, and do it while you're standing. When you try on shoes, try them on both feet; many people have one foot larger than the other, and it's best to fit the larger one.
Achilles, Nomenclature Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior hero gave his name to the strongest tendon in the body.
Walking, distance statistics The average person walks up to about 160 000 kilometres, or 115,000 miles, in their lifetime, enough to walk around the earth 4 times. That works out to around 6 and a half kilometres a day.
Foot step, force dynamics While walking, each step can exert a pressure on your feet that exceeds your body weight and when you're running, it can be three or four times your weight -- which adds up to a cumulative force of over 500 tons a day. With certain sporting activities this force can go up to 7 times bodyweight.
Foot structure There are 26 bones in each foot, a total of 52 bones in the both the feet. There are 206 bones in the body which means more than a quarter of all our bones in our bodies are in our feet.
Thirty-three joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and tendons hold the structure together and allow it to move in a variety of ways.The 52 bones in your feet make up about one quarter of all the bones in your body.
Nerve and sensory information There are more nerve endings per square centimetre in the foot than any other part of the body. Our feet constantly supply us with information about the surface we walk on, without our being even being aware of it. They tell us whether the surface is hot or cold, rough or smooth, which side it slopes to, etc.
Sweat gland statistics There are about 250 000 sweat glands in the feet. The average person will lose about a cup of moisture a day through the feet.
Bone development process At birth the bones in the foot are mostly cartilage and slowly harden as the foot grows. The bones in the foot will only be completely ossified (hardened) at around 21 years of age.
On feet duration and distance During a typical day, the average person spends about four hours on their feet and takes between 8,000 and 10,000 steps.
Chinese foot binding tradition The Chinese tradition of the binding the feet of women lasted for 1,000 years from the early 10th century until it was outlawed in 1912.
Foot problems, pervasiveness statistics Seventy-five percent of Canadians will experience foot health problems of varying degrees of severity at one time or another in their lives. About 19 percent of the Canadian population has an average of 1.4 foot problems each year.
Gender propensity for foot problems Women have about four times as many foot problems as men; lifelong patterns of wearing high heels often are the culprit.
Toenails, trimming Trim your toenails straight across with clippers specially designed for the purpose. Leave them slightly longer than the tips of your toes.
Foot health, exercise Walking is the best exercise for your feet and is also good for your overall health. It also contributes to your general health by improving circulation, contributing to weight control and promoting all-around well being.
Foot symptoms can portend serious disease Your feet mirror your general health. Such conditions as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet -- so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.
Canadian Practitioners There are about 800 Podiatrist/Chiropodists that actively in practice in Canada.
Pathology, progression of foot problems Heredity plays only a minor role in the early development of foot problems, as only a small percentage of the population is born with foot problems. It's neglect, and a lack of awareness of proper care -- including ill-fitting shoes -- that bring on the problems. A lifetime of wear and tear, plus neglect, accounts for the fact that most practitioners serve an older population.
Corns and calluses, causes and treatment concerns Corns and calluses are caused by friction and pressure from skin rubbing against bony areas when wearing shoes. If the first signs of soreness are ignored, corns and calluses rise up as nature's way of protecting sensitive areas.
Of the three major types of foot problems (infections, toenails, and corns and calluses), people are less likely to receive treatment for corns and calluses and more likely to continue to have corns and calluses as a problem without treatment.
Sweat production There are approximately 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet, and they excrete as much as half a pint of moisture each day.
Plantar warts, causes Plantar warts are caused by a virus which may invade the sole of the foot through cuts and breaks in the skin. Walking barefoot on dirty pavements or littered ground can expose feet to this sometimes painful skin infection.
Common foot conditions, statistics Athlete's foot / other foot infections: About 5 percent of the Canadian population has foot infections, including athlete's foot, other fungal infections, and warts each year.
Corns and calluses: About 5 percent of the Canadian population has corns or calluses each year.
Fallen arches / other feet injury: About 6 percent of the Canadian population has foot injuries, bunions, and flat feet or fallen arches each year.
Ingrown toenails: About 5 percent of the Canadian population has ingrown toenails or other toenail problems each year.
Most frequently occurring foot problems About 60 percent of all foot and ankle injuries, reported by the Canadian population older than 17, were sprains and strains of the ankle.
Income and foot health As a person's income increases, the prevalence of foot problems decreases.
Insect bites The foot is the most common body part bitten by insects.
Sources: The People's Almanac. Editors David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace. Dallas Fell, Cape Town chiropodist.