Put Your Best Foot Forward for a Great Feat

Whatever your lifestyle is, think about all the different activities your feet can do. Say, walking, running, jumping, skipping, jogging, kicking, climbing, even dancing. It will be hard to get anywhere without the help of your feet. The average adult takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to about 115,000 miles over a lifetime. That’s more than enough to go around the circumference of the earth four times!

A newborn human has an average of 300 bones in the body while adults have 206, and of these are found in our feet. When they are out of alignment, the rest of the body follows. 52 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles make our feet sturdy enough to handle all these activities. But that doesn’t mean our feet are not prone to injury and disease. The skin between the toes is soft, supple and often moist while the skin on the heel is firm and the undersurface of the forefoot is tough enough to take consistent pounding but flexible enough to bend. Most of the time, people take their feet for granted until they get in trouble.

Foot ailments can be a sign of serious medical conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and nerve and circulatory disorders. One common foot disease is called Athlete’s Foot or Tinea Pedis, is a fungal infection caused by dermatophytes which feed off the dead surface of human skin, hair and nails. It is a common foot infection found in the warm, moist environments of pools, showers, locker rooms and other sports facilities, where people walk with bare feet. That is why the warm, moist environment of sweaty socks and shoes encourages these fungi to grow and infect the feet. There are three kinds of fungus – Microsporum, Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, the most common being Trichophyton Rubrum.

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot include:

Intense itching of the feet

Cracked, blistered or peeling areas of skin, especially between the toes

Redness and scaling on the soles

Generally, signs of fungal infection are seen on the webbed skin between the toes. In some people, the infection spreads to one or more toenails, causing the nail to appear unusually thick and cloudy yellow.

Four patterns of infected feet:

between toes (red, mushy changes in web spaces)

dry, scaly skin on whole underside of foot, and cracks on the heels are common

tiny blister-like eczema on instep

skin and toe nail involvement.

In order to prevent athlete’s foot, always keep your feet clean and dry. More specifically, you can try the following:

Make sure you wash your feet thoroughly daily and always wear a clean pair of socks after you take a bath or shower.

Take enough time to dry your feet, especially each toe, thoroughly (especially the webbed area between the toes) after you bathe, shower or swim.

Whenever you use public pools or showers, always wear thongs or sandals to prevent your bare feet from touching floors contaminated with fungi.

Go for leather shoes rather than vinyl, since leather lets feet “breathe” so they are more likely to stay dry.

Choose cotton socks to absorb sweat well.

Try not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row if possible. Doing so will give shoes a 24-hour break to air out and dry out.

Sharing shoes is not advisable.

Treatment of foot fungus:

Antifungal creams

Descaling moisturizers containing lactic acid

For people with chronic illness or those whose nails are involved, oral antifungal medication may be needed. It’s important then that these steps be followed to avoid fungal infection and to ensure the skin of your feet remains healthy. Aside from skin infections, the feet are also prone to injury such as muscle sprain and stress fractures. Improperly fitting shoes, impaired circulation or incorrectly trimmed toenails can deter you from enjoying an active lifestyle. Remember, every step you make, always put your best foot forward.

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