What is Podiatry?
Our feet are often the most neglected part of the body.
Often it is not until they become painful that we pay them any attention. And it's at this moment we begin to realise how much we rely on our feet for our mobility and independence – particularly when we get older.
Research has shown that people are more likely to have serviced their car than to have had their feet checked by a podiatrist. Yet our feet are our main mode of transport, carrying us on a journey of 128,000 kilometres in a lifetime – the equivalent of three times around the world.
Why do feet need specialist care?
Our feet are very complex – they house a quarter of the bones in the body, as well as a network of muscles, ligaments and joints. They are also vulnerable to injury and disease; there are over three hundred identified foot ailments.
While our feet suffer wear – by the age of fifty, our feet have lost up to half of the shock-absorbing capability of the natural foot pad – they cannot be replaced like a pair of shoes.
Some feet have special needs – children's feet, sporting feet, working feet, mature feet and feet affected by disease.
- Children's feet are still forming and are quite fragile. They can be damaged easily by shoes and socks that are too small. Early examination of children's feet is a preventative measure.
- Sporting activity – walking, running, jumping – places greater physical demands on the body than normal day-to-day activities. While running, your feet can absorb up to 3 times your body weight. Not surprisingly, injuries to the foot and lower limb make up a large proportion of sporting activities.
- Working feet can cover as many as 24 kilometres in a day as well as absorbing heavy loads associated with walking, lifting, running and jumping on and off machinery or in and out of cars. Nearly 20% of all workplace injury claims relate to injuries to the feet and toes, and research has shown that workplace foot problems including those related to ill fitting or inappropriate footwear are common.
- By the time we reach the age of 50, our feet have covered 86,000 kilometres, making them more prone to injury and disease. Clinical studies show that by 50, we are 80% more likely to develop arthritis in the foot and ankle as well as being 100% more likely to develop toe and joint deformities.
It is recommended that you visit a podiatrist if
- You have pain in your feet
- You are on your feet all day
- You have skin or nail problems (ingrown or discoloured toenails, corns, skin rashes)
- You have foot odour
- You have a foot injury
- You have health problems such as diabetes or arthritis
- You have recurrent trips and falls
- You have problems getting shoes to fit comfortably
- You have lumps or bumps, bunions or misshapen toes